Road rage can move to the water – quickly

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

The weather is getting a little warmer, baseball season is right around the corner and recreational power boats, sail boats and Personal Water Crafts (PWC) will soon hit the waterways.

One of the issues that always seems to come up, as we begin the transition between winter and spring, is overcrowding on the water. As more people have the capacity to buy vessels, even simple 18-foot boats, the amount of traffic on rivers, bays and marinas increases. This is similar, at least in Hampton Roads, to our growing problem with autos and gridlock. On any given day the cars are stacked up end to end trying to get through the tunnels or over the endless number of bridges in the area.

The same increase in vessel and automobile traffic can be found in every major city, from Boston, to Washington D.C. to Miami. This has led to significant tie-ups, with cars or boats nearly hitting each other in tight circumstances, especially at local boat launches such as those found off Shoulders Hill Road. It has also resulted in tempers flaring, angry words and gestures being passed, and in some cases fists being exchanged or cars/boats ramming each other. Boater rage is every bit as real as road rage.


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Fortunately for the boating public, the U.S. Power Squadron, in cooperation with Kawasaki Motors Corp USA saw the growing problem, especially regarding PWCs, and developed a web site that would aid in personal watercraft conflict resolution (

The site provides practical information on how PWC operators can avoid conflict when operating their vessels.

Quoting from the site, &uot;The United States Power Squadron and Kawasaki Motors Corp; USA acknowledge that increasingly crowded waterways have resulted in disputes among boaters, and shore-based recreationists or residents included in these concerns are those of over-use, increasing speeds, noise, environmental effects, irresponsible use of practices. Personal watercraft, in particular, seem to generate more controversy than many other boat types, possibly due to a combination of non-traditional use patterns and a rapidly increasing user population.&uot; The unfortunate facts are that all of these factors contribute to an increase in boater rage.

At the site, PWC operators will find case studies, education and safety materials, and useful links to similar web sites. I was especially impressed with the case study section which had more than 100 different events and the solutions that were used. Good stuff!

So before you get your wet suit on, and get back on the water, take a look at this site and give the ideas some thought. The last thing anyone wants is a frustrated angry PWC operator on a local waterway or river whose rage may get in the way of good sense and judgment! Think about it!

Until next week….BOAT safe, and BOAT Smart!

Joe DiRenzo lives in Suffolk and is a retired Coast Guard commander.