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“Do unto others as you would have them do….” Well, we’re sure you know the rest.

No matter how large or small your boat, you are responsible for your wake and any damage or injury it may cause. If the threat of legal action isn’t reason enough to get you to throttle back, the “Golden Rule” should be — because the driver who causes damaging wakes may find one day that he is on the receiving end.

Uncontrolled wakes can create damage to property, docks, boathouses or lawns. They can also bother other boaters and fishermen who are anchored or on the shore. It’s not uncommon for someone trying to enjoy a fun day on the water to find themselves muttering unprintable words as they watch a careless boater disappear in the distance, while the wake he left behind wreaks havoc.

In order to respect the rights and safety of others when boating nearby, be sure to periodically look behind your vessel and check your wake. If it is causing other boats to rock back and forth, or is crashing against the shoreline, then limit your wake by slowing down.

You should also slow down before meeting or overtaking other boats, or entering narrow channels or confined spaces. It goes without saying that you should always follow posted speed and no-wake zone signs; they’re there for a reason. Traveling at no-wake speed means moving forward at the slowest speed you can while still maintaining steering.

Be extra cautious around smaller vessels such as canoes, kayaks or paddleboards, which may be less stable and prone to capsizing. Also be especially mindful of your wake when in the vicinity of marinas and launch ramps. Boats may be entering or exiting the waterway at very slow speeds with limited control. As always, you are responsible for any damage to other boats, passengers and personal property.

In case doubt still remains about the seriousness of wake violations, let us cite 46 USC 2302(a), which states that “[a] person operating a vessel in a negligent manner or interfering with the safe operation of a vessel, so as to endanger life, limb, or a property of a person, is liable for a civil penalty.” As used in 46 USC 2302(a), negligence is a failure to use that care which a reasonable person would exercise under similar circumstances.

So, be sure to watch your boat’s wake.

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8 Responses to Watch Your Boat’s Wake

  1. Kevin says:

    “…you are responsible for your wake and any damage or injury it may cause.” To me, that’s something that many boaters aren’t aware of. In my experience, there are plenty of boaters who don’t care or give no thought to how their wake impacts others, but if they were made aware that they are legally responsible they may learn to think otherwise.

  2. Jason mboekholt says:

    Well I am a power boater and a sailor. I always read articles posted and I find them interesting and useful. Especially for those new to the water. I have to say my son ten years old sails opti prams is a member of the USODA sails state championship and east coast championship races. Boat wake is the topic here and you didn’t address it with sailboats nor do you mention the right away. We have large boats that throw a huge wake go by so recklessly that boats swamp these snotty yachties even yell at us. These are kids not speed boat races. So it would be nice to mention sailboat regattas or any sailboat has a right of way. So watch your responsible wake!!! Thank you for teaching everyone that follows you randy.

    • Bert says:

      That’s nice to know, cause I am one of those guys who always slows down for bigger or smaller boats. I always gave credit to those making the wake as not knowing better, new day I realize I am paying for someone else’s arrogance. Hope your son grows up not punishing everyone for what somebody else does!

  3. James says:

    I don’t know if this information is given to new yacht owners or not, but it should be. This same information should be posted at marina’s where these monsters sit. My wife and I were cruising down the Tennessee river one morning during this summer season. The water and wind were calm. Only two boats in sight. One was ours a 22ft Crownline. The other was a yacht, maybe a,30 to 40 ft. I guess he had his cruise set at make a huge wake. Neither myself or my wife truly realized how big of a wake this yacht was creating until it was to late. I situated the boat to cross the wake at about a 45 degree angle, and reduced the speed to almost nothing. When the wake and my boat met, I saw my wife tossed like a sack of potatoes about 3-4 ft up in the air. When she finally touched back down to the seat, right to the floor she went saying nothing but get me to the ER, I think my back is broken. She was in excruciating pain. After a minute or two we got into the water, the temp was cold enough to act like an ice pack on her back, Thank God for rain. This took away the pain. I wish I could have got close enough to that inconsiderate rectum to get the registration number. But after what happened I was not going to cross the wake again. Now I’m really enjoying all of the doctor bills. Thanks a bunch rectum.

  4. BC says:

    One time my son and I were eating lunch on our 12 ft Boston Whaler not near the channel and a 28-30 ft Cruiser came by us at full speed and swamped our boat, nearly capsizing us. My son was only 9 years old and he was freaked out. Now I have a larger boat and laugh about it, but when I go by a no wake zone where big cabin cruisers are docked I do not slow down, paybacks a bitch. I hate big cruisers, they are the SUV of the boating world, rich creeps…..

    • Frank Finley says:

      So you’re worse than the guy who swamped you. That captain was probably guilty of cluelessness. You know better and do it on purpose. That’s really irresponsible.

  5. George W. Washington Jr says:

    The Pier 3 Marina, Phila. Pa.,19106 experiences violent wakes all the time. To include Coast Guard passings. What can be done to prevent this practice. The entire members of the Marina will sign a petition in support. Thank you.

  6. Don says:

    Also be careful (or mindful) around sailboats. Moving at slower speeds and with a pendulum 30 feet above the point of rotation can cause a lot of mayhem in a sailboat cockpit. Like going over bumps fast in a car, a powerboat will be jolted more than tossed about by another’s wake. A sailboat, however, will swing wildly back and forth. Not only is this dangerous for the occupants, but it stalls the engine (the sail collapses) and control is lost.

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