On a recent fishing trip at Lake Nockamixon, boat after boat blew past the many kayakers who were out enjoying a peaceful evening paddle. There is a 20 HP restriction on the lake but the wake caused by such a motor running full throttle can swamp a non-powered boat especially at a close distance. There are some kayakers who like to be rocked by waves caused by motorboats, but most don’t.
Kayaking has grown wildly in popularity. Most kayakers tend to stay along shorelines and avoid the main channel areas in lakes and rivers, especially when there are high horsepower or no horsepower limits. Unfortunately, many boaters, especially jet skiers show no compassion for kayakers, canoeists and those fishing. Boaters will zip by at close range, whether they are plain stupid or just wise-asses.
When boating, always be respectful of others. Non-powered boats have the right of way over motorboats. Steer clear of unpowered crafts or boats that are fishing. Slow down when approaching them and do not return to a higher speed until you have passed by them. A large wake could flip or swamp a small or anchored boat. Remember, “You are responsible for your wake.” Boaters are held responsible for any damage to another boat or property. If you want to stay at full speed stay a good safe distance away which could easily be 50 to 100 yards.
There are a lot of idiots driving boats, some of which are intoxicated. Most boaters should take a boating safety course, even if not required. (All persons over the age of 12 are required to have the Pennsylvania Boating Safety Education Certificate when operating a personal watercraft on state waters. Any person born on or after January 1, 1982 must have the certificate to operate a vessel over 25 hp.)
Kayakers need to be alert and aware of their surroundings and avoid possible conflicts with powerboats if possible. Also, all paddlers should wear a life jacket, not just have it on board. On average, 80 percent of all recreational boating fatalities happen to people who are not wearing a life jacket.
PA boating law states the following on the responsibility between boats. A power-driven boat underway shall keep out of the way of: (1) A sailing boat, (2) A boat restricted in its ability to maneuver. Also a sailing boat underway shall keep out of the way of a boat restricted in its ability to maneuver.
Boats are limited to slow, no wake speed when within 100 feet of the shore line; docks; launching ramps; swimmers or downed skiers; persons wading in the water; anchored, moored or drifting boats; floats, except for ski jumps and ski landing floats; or other areas so marked. Click here for more Boating Regulations in PA.
Share the water and have safety as your number one goal when boating. Give paddlers a break and slow down. It is only a matter of common courtesy and safety.