Is recreational boating going to be regulated out of fun, and hence, existence?
Interesting question, and I wonder if some organizations are now just trying to justify their existence and funding by proposing new regulations for boaters. What am I talking about? The Coast Guard has just released another Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in the Federal Register for a new national regulation to be imposed on the recreational boater.
The ANPRM is based on no science and a knee-jerk reaction to an infrequent type of boating accident from propeller strikes and carbon monoxide casualties. I do not want to downplay the seriousness of being hit by a propeller, but this is a rare occurrence in the boating world – more people are bitten by sharks. However, the proposed rule would require all boaters to shut down their boat’s engines if someone is in the water and near the back of the vessel, to prevent propeller strikes and CO poisoning.
What? Come on and give me a break, please.
So I will be required to shut down the main engines and my generator if anyone is swimming off the swim step. How stupid, as this action would make me lose control of the vessel and all AC power onboard. Really? Shut down my power, electronics, HVAC, lights, steering, and other equipment?
Furthermore, this action would be strictly against man-overboard procedures, and I would have to leave the helm to shut down the genset. Water skiers, get ready to shut down every time someone jumps in or is picked up – and how many dead batteries will this cause? Oh, lifeguards on rescue boats need to prepare to shut down your engines while in the surf line when you are picking up distressed swimmers.
Interesting that this ANPRM was recommended by the National Boating Safety Advisory Council, yet I do not see any science or statistical data to support this regulation affecting all boaters. I know that the law of unintended consequences will rear its ugly head, as I think that this rule would realistically make boating more hazardous and put more boaters in jeopardy.
Keep in mind that a national survey proved that boating and fishing is the No. 1 activity for families to spend time together. Furthermore, in my Aug. 19 column (available online at newportindy.co), I took issue with the statement from the US Coast Guard that the number of boating deaths remains unacceptably high.
I wrote, “the 2010 recreational boating statistics show that total boating fatalities were at an all-time low of only 672 while boating participation was at a record high of 32.4% of the population or 75 million people. If my math is correct, then 672 annual deaths divided by the 75 million people who participated in boating for the year equals 0.00000896 or 0.000896%.”
Can you say less than 1 percent? Way, way, way less?
So why does boating need more regulations, when it already is a very safe activity and the empirical data proves this? The reason is that boaters are an easy target for knee-jerk regulation because boaters go to the water on the weekends and then go back to work during the week. Boaters are not watching for new regulations being introduced by non-boating legislators after a constituent’s best friend’s second cousin was injured while boating. In other words, yes, people do get hurt, but I know of people who have fallen and broken a wrist while walking on the sidewalk. Therefore, we should we require that everyone wear wrist guards while walking on sidewalks.
There is a 90-day comment period that is open until Nov. 25, and do not forget that the proposed rule to mandate the wearing of lifejackets on vessels less than 18 feet is still weaving its way through the system, too.
As I said on my radio show, “I will just wrap myself in bubble wrap when I leave my house to go boating. The bubble wrap will maybe protect me from hurting myself, and if I fall in the water then I will float easily. Oh wait, the bubble wrap is not an approved floatation device by the Coast Guard, so I will not be in compliance, even with bubble wrap. Therefore, I think we might need a new boating law for mandatory wearing of bubble wrap, helmets, and wrist guards – you have to walk down the docks.”
Tip of the week is for boaters to make your voices heard to all your legislators whether locally, at the state level, and in Washington, before boating and fishing regulations knoc all the fun out of the No. 1 family recreational pastime.
And don’t forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead’s Boathouse Radio Show, broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network every Saturday at noon, Pacific Time and replayed on Sunday at 10 am Pacific. Join Chandler Bell, Craig Carpenter, and me as we talk about “all things boating.” You can find the station listings, cable TV channels, live streaming on the Internet, and now available are apps to listen to the show for your iPhone, Blackberry, iTouch, Android, Palm, and Windows Mobile at www.BoathouseTV.com or www.BoathouseRadio.com.
Until next week, Safe Voyages!