Report #2- We spoke with a police commander about where marine enforcement will be focused this summer
The Scoop- There are very few boats for which marine police could not find some sort of infraction. In fact, there are just too many for marine enforcement to effectively pursue. To address this concern, marine police use research and accident reports to identify the specific boating infractions that warrant the most attention. These are then discussed and plans initiated to enforce the appropriate rules. Knowing these police priorities can save a boater from legal problems and unnecessary expense. We have found an inside source at the highest levels of marine management who is willing to discuss their action plans, in order to provide advance information to boaters. Top tips from a top cop who we will simply refer to as "Deep Voice."
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Yesterday I went back to the Walmart parking lot, for another 'under the radar' meeting with "Deep Voice." He seemed quite agitated as he told me about his frustrations with boaters who don't follow the posted speed regulations in 'No Wake' zones.
Speed regulations apply to all boats driving close to shorelines. Some regions apply a blanket rule of 'no wakes' within 100 feet from shore, while others enforce tougher rules by labelling it dangerous driving. Rivers and canals post their specific speed limits.
Deep Voice claims that many boaters simply don't know what they are doing when it comes to speed zones. Even though they are responsible for any damage they cause, they don't seem to care. He provided a useful tip for boaters with a boat that has a throttle control that moves forward to move ahead, and back to move in reverse.
He wants all boaters with this type of throttle control to try moving their throttle slowly ahead of neutral until they feel a slight "notch." This notch represents the forward idle speed of the boat and propels the boat at about 6 mph (9.6 km/h). For your reference, this is the same speed as a light jog in the park. If you think that your boat is moving faster than you normally jog, you are breaking the law in a speed zone and probably making an unacceptable wake. At 6 mph in a speed zone, a boat is normally wake free. But at just 10 mph (16 km/h) you are creating the largest wake that your boat can make. This is because when you push your boat, even the slightest bit over 5 mph, your boat is designed to think that you are trying to get onto plane, so the bow rises and the stern drops, which in turn creates a humongous wake.
Many marine enforcement officers spot speeders by using the "Bow Drop" method. You can check how this works yourself: when in a speed zone, pull your throttle back to neutral and if your bow drops, even just slightly, you were speeding.
Of course, when you are in a speed zone you can and should visually check that there is no visible wake behind your boat, as well as checking your speedometer/GPS. If you can see any wake, you should either slow down to 6 mph or be prepared to pay a $500 fine.
And with that, I thanked Deep Voice for this month's inside enforcement tip and dropped him off at his car.
You might also like: "Top Cop" - The Inside Scoop on Current Marine Policing Priorities (Part 1)