Report #3- We spoke with a police commander about where marine enforcement will be focused this summer
Our connection with a "top cop" inside marine policing has given us the ability to report the boating violations that enforcement agencies are currently focused upon. Monthly meetings with the man that we call "Deep Voice" have allowed us to forewarn boaters. Knowing police priorities gives you advanced knowledge of this months cop priorities to help you avoid legal problems and expensive fines.
Yesterday we went back to the Walmart parking lot, for another "under the radar" meeting in my car with Deep Voice.
He pointed out to me a mistake that many boaters make when travelling on open water.
"It seems that in theory, boaters understand who has the right of way when two boat paths are crossing. The boat approaching on your starboard side has right of way over you and you must give way. Conversely, a boat that is approaching you on your port side must give way to you."
"There are two problems that we continue to see," Deep Voice continued. "The first being some boats that should give way, don't. They seem to play chicken with the other boat and try to squeeze by, rather than stopping or making a wide course change to avoid the possibility of collision. When we see this situation now, we will hand out a ticket. No more warnings. This unsafe habit has resulted in too many accidents."
"The second problem with right of way on water, is that the rules work work differently than on land. A car that fails to stop at a stop sign is in the wrong -- period. But on water, even if a boater has right of way, he must do everything possible to avoid a collision. If he doesn't he will share the guilt in any resulting accident."
We noted that some boaters may just be confused about the rules, so I explained to Deep Voice the memory crutch I use to remember right of way. When facing forward, port is on your left (port wine is red). The port light is red. A red light means stop --- so when another boat is approaching you from your left and you show him red, he must give way.
The opposite is true for your starboard side. Your starboard light is green so you are telling an approaching boat to proceed and not stop. However, if it appears that a collision is possible, you must take immediate and major action to avoid the possibility. Deep Voice commented that he liked my memory crutch, before jumping out and heading back to his car.
You might also like: "Top Cop" - The Inside Scoop on Current Marine Policing Priorities (Part 1)