Going out on the boat is supposed to be about fun and relaxation, but safety rules never take a break. The reality is that the captain of the boat must maintain control at all times. And even though you may be on a small watercraft, such as a Boston Whaler, you still need to maintain control. That means you don't get to drink and drive. It means at times you have to be the heavy hand of reason. That's just the nature of owning a boat.
I grew up on the waters off of Bristol Harbor, in Bristol Rhode Island. We hung around at the end of Fales Road where Denny Capinagro and Johnny Cloud lived. They owned boat but I was too poor. They owned a 13' 6" Boston Whaler. Because I weighed only 80 pounds I was the first to try and water ski with the 25 horsepowered Evinrude. The Whalers today are a lot prettier than back in the late 60's and early 70's but the rules remain the same. We had lots of fun on the water but we never forgot who was in charge.
No matter how young of a captain you may be, remember the consequences of what you do or don't do. Control your passengers and when they get out-of-hand, you can always drop them off on shore or at the dock.
Take a good hard look at the second news item from Omaha, Nebraska and you'll see how one decision lead to a difficult ending to what would have been a fun day.
Iowa – As of May 2009 Iowa made wearing a safety vest for those boaters under age 13 mandatory. There is an exemption for commercial boats with a capacity of 25 people or more or while in an enclosed cabin and below deck.
Omaha, Nebraska – Two women were being pulled on an inner tube behind a boat and one died when the inner tube was whipped around on a turn and struck a dock. This accident occurred in Douglas County on West Shores Lake. The women injured were Jennifer Dwyer (30) and Kimberly Spangler (29). Todd Spangler (30) the boat operator was reportedly cited for suspicion of a BUI. (Boating under the influence.) This was certainly a tragedy and one in which a day of fun turns into a lifetime of heartache and painful memories. Both women needed to be flown to an area hospital where Dwyer died. There is no indication of whether she died of head injuries or spinal injuries. From a legal standpoint there are many issues we can’t discuss but operator error is certainly an issue along with those being pulled watching out and dropping when danger approaches. Of course being whipped around makes it difficult to see what is coming. Drinking alcohol and driving never helps or contributes to a safe boat outing.
Ogollala, Nebraska – Three people were injured and another killed when a mechanical problem cause a speed boat to flip and roll. The boat broke apart causing all passengers to be ejected. A Colorado man was killed. The other passengers were his wife and two children ages 15 and 9. The family is from Parker, Colorado a suburb of Denver.
Missouri - See what it’s like to patrol the waters in Missouri with the state water patrol. Officially they are called the Missouri State Water Patrol.