Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: New Jersey
Thanked 78 Times in 76 Posts
Rep Power: 10
Yes, the proliferation of Jet Skis and fast outboards have forced States..and Canada to implement some requirements for safety education. Each state enacts their own legislation and regulations. Many model their programs to Nasbla or other standards. The one size fits all approach, has created consequences. Some may be intended, others not.
Placing burden on the " operator" while it may create anomolies like you described in the article; Should force people to "think" before they take the helm of a vessel or leave the helm to someone else. While, I agree that the long tradition of " Master of the vessel" might sadly be disappearing; the ready access to 40 mph vessels to those who have no concept of tradition, let alone the " Rules", required some action be taken.
I was recently in a crossing situation with a 50 ft power driven vessel
( a pleasure craft) , I was in a 24' sailboat under sail. I was the stand-on vessel.
Even if I were under power, I would have been the stand-on vessel, as I was to starboard. We were both doing approximately 5 knots. When the power vessel showed no sign of giving way, I tacked away to avoid collision.
There was a couple on board, there was a woman at the helm, ( no intent to disparage) as I tacked away I saw the man suddenly appear on deck looking rather confused.
I imagined the situation to be.. " here honey, take the helm, keep going straight, while I go below and take a leak" It was clear that the operator had no idea how to " operate" the vessel. Who knows if he would have acted any differently. She was probably calling down to him that she had a situation developing that she didn't know how to handle.
In this situation, ( NJ law) I believe the law would have held both the
" Master" and the " Operator" accountable. If the " owner of the vessel is aboard when it is being operated in violation of the law"
I think it also helps people think twice about operating a vessel, now that your drivers license is tied to your boaters license, and that you give " implied consent " to a sobriety test by operating a vessel"
I enjoy history and tradition, and may share some of your lament, but I have no problem making " operators" of vessels accountable for their actions along with the owner or master.