Are you wake#8217; responsible? By Joe DiRenzo 04/03/2006 Want to get on the wrong side of law or fellow boaters quickly? Try gunning your engine(s) in a No Wake or Minimum Wake Zone; it is pretty muc

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 3, 2006

Want to get on the wrong side of law or fellow boaters quickly?

Try gunning your engine(s) in a &uot;No Wake&uot; or &uot;Minimum Wake Zone;&uot; it is pretty much guaranteed to get the attention of everyone on the water with in hearing distance or who feels the result of the added wave action.

There are few things on the water that get more under the skin of law abiding boaters than those few who think that they are &uot;to good,&uot; &uot;to powerful,&uot; or &uot;to self-important&uot; to follow the rules that not only are designed not to disturb the eco-system, but also are put in place for the safety of other boaters.

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Just like the individuals who ride the right hand lane of Route 264 on the Portsmouth side of the Downtown Tunnel, and then cut in front of everyone into the middle lane, nearly causing an accident before the tunnel goes down to two lanes, boaters that violate the no-wake laws are both dangerous and just plain inconsiderate.

For this discussion I have developed three &uot;non-wake-responsible&uot; examples to paint a visual image:

(1) &uot;The Gunner&uot;


&uot;The Jumper&uot;

(3) &uot;Badges … we don’t need no stinking badges&uot;

The Gunner:

I bet every boater reading this column has, at one time or another, seen this type of inconsiderate boater, who takes his or her engine from an idle, or bare steerageway position to an &uot;all ahead flank&uot; position.

Besides wasting gas, and putting strain on your engine, this maneuver is also an especially noisy evolution. In addition to the plume of smoke (which can’t be good for the environment), the wake that is emitted can be felt around the waterway.

Fishermen will especially appreciate this wake (especially if it is large), as they quietly wait in the flat bottom boats, drinking a hot cup of coffee.

The Jumper: This second non-wake responsible recreational boater can usually be found in areas that are extremely crowded or busy. I have seen &uot;jumpers&uot;

on lakes in Indiana,

near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, near Waterside in Norfolk and while I was down in Key West.

&uot;Jumpers&uot; are usually found on Personal Watercraft also called PWCs. They fly along as fast as they can, jumping over the biggest waves they can find, while cutting in and out of traffic. I watched three jumpers cut in front of a cruise ship last month in Key West and held my breath. What would have occurred if one of those modern day Evil Kenevils

fell of their ride in front of that massive vessel. Cruise ships don’t stop on a dime.

Jumpers are in it for the rush and don’t care about the nautical rules of the road .

The third and final group I like to refer to this group as the &uot;badges … we don’t need no stinking badges&uot; team. This is the group that simply flaunts the signage that states &uot;No wake zones.&uot;

They zip along creating a huge wake. Perhaps this group doesn’t understand that &uot;No Wake Zone&uot; means boaters must proceed at a speed that is only enough to generate steerage way. Additionally, many don’t understand that people living along the shore, such as the near by Intercoastal waterway tend to get really upset when a vessel flies along and wakes their boat, slamming it against the pier.

All of the groups described above can be found on waterways throughout the United States including right here in Suffolk. These maneuvers can be dangerous, not just to the boater him or herself – but every other boater on the water.

There are cases in which people were standing on their boat moored along a pier, in a no wake zone, perhaps doing maintenance, or even talking on a cell phone with the back towards the water. A non-responsible boater flew by, created a huge wake, and threw the individual into the water as their boat slammed against the pier.

The person was almost badly hurt (think if the water was shallow and the person landed on their neck?) Not only did the offending boater not obey a very simple rule, but they also forgot that the owner/operator is also legally liable and financially responsible for all injury and damages caused by their boat’s wake – which will hopefully make the gunners, jumpers and &uot;badges…we don’t need no stinking badges&uot; groups out there think twice before they continue their non-responsible ways.

Joe DiRenzo has been a columnist for the News Herald for five years. A retired Coast Guard Officer, and former cutter Commanding Officer, he is a nationally known writer on maritime and port security issues.