With the boating season well under way I would like to remind everyone to pull out their Michigan Boating Laws Handbook and/or the Federal Boating Laws and review them. Laws do periodically change, and our memory may not always be as sharp as we may think when it comes to remembering all of those navigation rules. As the boat owner/ operator it is your responsibility to know the law.
With the much-anticipated warm weather finally arriving, I have observed a few people operating their pontoon boats with passengers riding on the front deck with their feet in the water. This scenario is a horrific accident waiting to happen! As a result, I would like to address boat speed and the design of those pontoon boats. If someone falls off the front of a pontoon boat, they have nowhere to go but right into the motor resulting in a serious or deadly prop strike. I often wonder if boat operators realize just how quickly their boat travels? Did you know that at 13.6 miles an hour, your boat will travel 20 feet in 5 seconds? That is basically the length of your boat in just 5 seconds! Increase your speed and that time lapse goes down. Even at a “slow no wake” speed, by the time you, as the operator, react, a person will most likely be into the motor. As the operator of a boat, you must take every precaution to keep everyone safe while underway!
Be safe, wear your life jackets and have a great rest of your summer!
By: Dave Windsor
(Retired Captain, Indiana DNR Law Enforcement Division)
(HLPS Board of Directors) (Reserve Mason County Marine Patrol Deputy)