About the Study Guide

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Washington law designates the following dangerous operating practices as illegal.

Negligent Operation is operating a vessel in disregard of careful and prudent operation, or in disregard of careful and prudent rates of speed in a manner that unduly or unreasonably endangers the life, limb, property, or other rights of any person. This includes:

  • Not paying attention to the operation of the vessel
  • Failing to keep a proper lookout
  • Failing to follow the navigation rules
  • Causing danger from the effects of the vessel’s wake
  • Allowing passengers to ride on the bow, gunwale, or transom of a vessel not equipped with adequate railings to prevent falls overboard
Riding the stern is negligent operation

Controlling Your Wake

Wake is the wave a boat generates as it moves through the water. The wake disperses an amount of energy based on the boat’s speed and the amount of water the boat displaces.

  • The wake created by a boat may endanger others.
    • A boat’s wake may rock, swamp, or capsize other boats.
    • Passengers also may be thrown off balance or overboard, leading to serious injury.
    • Unreasonable wakes also cause erosion of the shoreline, damaging important habitat.
  • Each operator is responsible for the vessel’s wake. When a boat’s wake causes damage, you could face very serious consequences. Excessive boat wake may be enforced as Negligent Operation with a fine of $343. The operator also may be held responsible for the damage caused by a boat’s wake and face a civil lawsuit.
  • To reduce the effects of your wake:
    • Slow down well in advance when you are passing within 200–300 feet of a small boat, the shoreline, or a marina.
    • Trim the drive or outboard to a vertical position when you are operating at “no wake speed.”
    • Shift in and out of gear as you proceed if your vessel produces a wake in idle gear.