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
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.