Boat rage is unwelcome water behavior

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 1, 2003

Most everyone has heard of or experienced road rage first hand. You know what I mean. You are driving along, minding your own business, doing the speed limit and a driver comes right up on your bumper and essentially forces you to &uot;give way&uot; as they honk their horn or flash their lights.

They drive aggressively with little regard to your safety – or theirs.

Every day on Route 58 similar events occur. Picture yourself heading to Portsmouth: it’s a clear sunny day, and suddenly you have a bright red sports car fly between you and the car next to you. You’re forced to jam on your breaks, as is the other safe driver, narrowly avoiding an accident. The occupant of the sports car flips you both a gesture of ill will as he speeds off darting between more cars.

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Still another example is the possibility of two cars driving along a two-lane highway. The one in front is doing the speed limit, while the other wants to pass and gets angrier and angrier. Finally, they get to a stop sign and the incensed driver actually gets out of his car, goes to the first car and assaults the first driver. All because the second driver thought that he wasn’t going fast enough. The stories are endless.

Recently, unfortunately, the whole idea of &uot;road&uot; rage has now found its way onto the waterways. The new term some are using is &uot;Boat Rage.&uot;

Although no reports of this type of incident has occurred recently here in Hampton Roads the whole idea of one boater assaulting another, or one boater causing a collision with another because of a perceived slight is something every recreational boater should be aware of.

Think it doesn’t happen? Think again! The Miami Herald reported last week that the Coast Guard responded to shots being fired at a vessel, by another vessel, because the first vessel felt he deserved to be in the fishing spot the second vessel occupied. Shots fired because of a perceived opportunity to catch more fish? Unreal.

Like the reckless drivers on Route 58,

reckless boaters, who place others in danger because of self-imposed demands or deadlines is just plain unacceptable. It’s also illegal.

Mariners who are caught operating their vessels in a reckless manner are subject to both state and federal law. The State of Virginia is very specific in their

&uot;Boat Virginia&uot; booklet: &uot;Reckless operation of a boat or Personal Watercraft (PWC) is illegal in Virginia. Reckless operation is defined as the failure to exercise care necessary to prevent the endangerment of life, limb, or property of any other person.&uot; Sounds simple enough.

I am sure everyone of us have seen occasions where we are motoring along, at or below the posted speed limit, and another boat who just has to get into the dock ahead of everyone flies by, creating a massive wake, which leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

The bottom line is that the boating law requires that operators respect each other, and act appropriately. Shooting at another vessel because they are supposedly in a favorite fishing spot is just incredible. In fact I had to read the story over three times to believe it.

You go on the water to relax and de-stress, not create even more rage and hostility.

There is no place for boat rage in and around the waters of Hampton Roads – or anywhere else for that matter! Until next week: Boat Safe, Boat Smart!!

LCDR Joe DiRenzo III is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist.