What Is The Worst Thing On The Water?

This post has been saved as a draft for months now, since a discussion in a captains group I’m in. I’ve held off on publishing it, because I was afraid of the shit storm it may start. But after an article from BoatUS just a few days ago about boat wake damage liability, I figured what better time than now.

Most cruisers and live aboards will say the big sport fishers are the worst, and no one seems to like jetskis. In my experience, though, and I’ve yet to find someone around here who hasn’t had similar experiences, nothing tops flats boats, when it comes to thinking they own the water, and having zero regard for anyone else out there.

sport fisher

I’m not saying they’re all like this. The guy with the boat in the photo actually operated in a safe and responsible manner. Earlier in the season there was a captain who was Sparky’s buddy. He’d actually cruise at idle speed, and not speed up until he was clear of the entire anchorage.

But by far, the majority of these boats are operated in an unsafe manner, with zero consideration for anyone else on the water.

The Wonderful Things They Do

I’ve seen them pass at high speed, much closer than 100′ from vessels with a dive flag up. It’s happened more than once, and one time a guy almost ran over people I had in the water.

They speed through every narrow cut, and rarely slow down no matter how much boat traffic there is. Often they’ll even slam kayakers and paddleboarders into the mangroves with their wake.

flats boat

They’ll constantly pass extremely close to anchored vessels, often within 10′ and at very high speeds. When I first moved back down here, one of them cut a neighbor’s anchor rode by running over it.

Another neighbor had one of these guys tell him that he came really close to a boat to purposely try to cut the anchor rode, because according to him it was in the channel. It really wasn’t.

My boat is currently anchored very close to shore, in shallow water, inside of a no wake zone. Every single day I see them come in, and not slow down until their well past the buoy marking the no wake zone. They’ll also slam their throttle when they’re still well inside the no wake zone on the way out.

Pretty often these boats will pass very close to mine while doing this (and I’m in the no wake zone). Just a few days ago I was hanging off the back of the boat on the paddleboard, getting Sparky back aboard, when one of them slammed us with their wake. There’s also a place on the beach that’s putting people out on kayaks and SUPs right in front of where they do this.

I had one pass in between 2 jetskis on a tour, on another tour one cut right in front of a ski, and just recently one passed very close behind the last ski, without slowing down, or moving to give him more room. Every time this happened, we were crossing over from starboard.

Navigation Rules and Regulations Handbook

You may not like jetskis, but the USCG defines them as a vessel, and we were clearly the stand on vessel. Here’s a little book you may want to get, that explains these rules that you should already know…especially if you’re a captain.

What Makes Them Worse

Besides the way many of these guys operate their boats, they’re also hypocrites. As soon as they drop their hook in the water, they’ll jump up and down, flailing their arms, screaming and yelling at you, if you’re even in the same ocean.

They have this fake unwritten rule that everyone should give them at least a few hundred feet, and never pass inshore of them when they’re fishing. How can you expect people to obey this “fake” rule, when you don’t even show the same respect for everyone else on the water?

Earlier in the season, they’d often anchor right next to some of the inlets. I’d even see them right in front of Indian Key, a state park, with a dock. Even those guys would start screaming when you got too close. Maybe park services should close the park down because you’re fishing?

You Need To Change Your Ways

Like I said at the beginning of this post, not all of them are like this. If you’re one of the few who operates you’re boat like the captain I mentioned earlier, THANK YOU! This post isn’t directed at you.

If you’re one of the others, though, you really need to think about this. The water doesn’t belong just to you. You need to start acting in a more responsible manner, so everyone can be safe out there, and we all can enjoy the water.

8 Responses to What Is The Worst Thing On The Water?

  1. I used to cruise around with friends on their twin hull years back.

    I’ve seen the insane ways Jetskis and speed boats of all sizes misbehave near popular resorts and beaches, with disregard for swimmers, canoes and kayaks around, and that was 40 years back then.

    As you observed, not all Boaters are as irresponsible. But those who has no regard for life and limb of their victims, it’s a wonder not more people were hurt, and there were quite a few as it were.

    There should be some kind of barrier to stop these irresponsible types getting too near the shore line or docks, except at certain points of the docks to allow them to park safely for all concerned.

    With today’s higher engineering technology, the thoughtless and irresponsible will go berserk with their new toys and speed even more recklessly than ever. I can only pray your post will reach more people.

    If I have your permission, I would like to share this page to social media friends and public. Do let me know Chris.


    • Shirley,

      It would be impossible to have barriers along the entire shore line. I can’t even imagine what the cost would be. Even if they built them just in front of resorts, it would be extremely expensive, and you’d be ruining the view that your guests paid for.

      What they really need is better education, more enforcement, and much stricter penalties. If you get pulled over on the road for reckless driving, you get more than just a warning or a slap on the wrist. And you can’t use I didn’t know as an excuse.

      I also believe it’s somewhat of a good old boys club in some areas, with selective enforcement. Long time locals can behave as badly and as dangerously as they want, and often get a pass.

      Sure, share this post anywhere you want!

      Thanks, Chris

      • Thanks for the acknowledgement Chris dear.

        Just wishful thinking….but wouldn’t it be great if a way can be found to stop those irresponsible idiots?

        Thank you for your permission, and I’ll certainly post this anywhere and everywhere…just to bring some awareness you know.

        God’s blessings for you and Sparky Chris……

        • I wish there was a way. Moving out of Florida may be the answer.

          More boats than anywhere else in the country, and more boats in the Keys than the rest of the state. And highest boat insurance in the country. And the high rates aren’t because of the hurricanes.

          I think we just need to be somewhere with less idiots on the water.

          • Not much we can do about idiots, they’re always there.

            Not much better in my own country. Worse part is they do not need to own the boats! They can easily rent the blessed speedsters, and no licence to prove they’re responsible adults.

            I’ve heard the owners discussing ways to attract the idiots. Anything to make a quick buck.(sigh)

            God bless you for caring Chris dear. I can only pray for some divine intervention for the innocent.

            Blessings of all that’s good from the ONE above for you and Sparky….


          • Sorry for the slow reply Shirley. I’ve been ripping my hair out trying to get a new custom menu to work.

            Yup, there’s not much you can do other than live in a cave. We have the exact same thing here. Anyone with a pulse and no experience at all can rent a boat. And same as there, the boat rentals are some of the worst companies. Anything to make a dollar. They’ll put anyone out on the water!

  2. Take your time Chris….you have enough to keep you busy. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness to always reply to my rants.

    But really, that was just one of my pet peeves. I most hate the abuse of animals and little children who has no voice and the inability to tell anyone of the abuse.

    My son was a case in point. He was subjected to mental and physical punishment by a pastor’s wife for 12 years. I had sent him to her house from 2 months old 6 days a week when I returned to work.

    He had been slapped, kicked and even punched in the face at 16, and she told him I told her to beat him. Then when he comes home, he gets love and presents. This went on for 26 years of his life, when he finally told me about it. It’s a wonder my boy didn’t turn neurotic or worse.

    What I’m trying to say is I know now how helpless little children are, and subjected to all kinds of abuse, especially in present times when more vile things are done to them. And don’t get me started about the abuse of animals…..

    But as like the irresponsible idiots at sea, alone we can’t do much of anything, but the internet has 3 billion users and growing, so we can at least share to the public, facebook, tweeter etc…and maybe some will hear and take action.

    As for me, I use the internet to get the message across and I do a lot of praying nowadays, not for God to destroy those people who hurts the helpless, but to stop them and let justice prevail….

    God’s blessing always on you dear Chris, always with my love….Shirley

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