Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Washington State
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Should Boating be Licensed
Not sure whether to put this here or in the Seamanship thread. I elected here.
So, should boating be licensed? Should you have to take classes and pass a test to be able to operate a vessel. On top of that, should it be categorized like in driving a car: This tonnage rated, this tonnage rated... etc.
I bet many of you are saying: NO! HELL NO! THat is what I have always said... until my partner told me another one of his stories. Now I am not so sure.
Read on and see if you can understand where I am coming from:
He has a Sea Ray 340. Most people already know what I think about these boats. However, be as it may, he represents the typical, large, MV.
He went out about a week or so ago. ANother evening cruise through south Florida. He grabbed a single (1) Bear Claw as a snack on his way to a restaurant many miles away. He had never been to this restaurant before, and never at night. So, he blares his SR at a half plane (as all SR's seem to do) through the ICW. As you know, on that model (and most of their models), at a half plane you cannot see what is in front of you (well, except what is WAYYYY ahead of you). Although, you do get a great view of the clouds. SO, he does what he always does and steers by his Chartplotter and radar. Unfortunately, he does not know how to work them very well. If you do not push find ship, you can track off the map and not realise it, right?? Well, he did. He put that tub so far off of the ICW and the water that most of the front of the boat was not even hardly in the water.
You ain't backing off of that one... but he tried. It lasted about a minute. Then his engines overheated and shut down.
He did what every good SR owner would do... and called Sea Tow. They came out and walked to his boat as their flat bottom would not even get to him. THey were in ankle deep water by the time they got there. "Well, Captain... we ain't gettin' you off of this till the Tide comes in. And by the way, this is considered a hard grounding and that will costs you $2,000. See you tomorrow at 3:00 pm."
ZZZZzzzzzppppppppp. They were out of there!! (I am sure laughing all the way and counting the money).
Well, they now had one bear claw between him and his wife for dinner, breakfast, and lunch the next morning. Luckily they had a TV and plenty of Vodka. Thus, he decided to watch a little of the tube (after several vodkas) and flipped on the generator so he could watch his 12 volt TV (you do not need a gen to run your 12 volt TV). Oh well. You can guess how long that one lasted... not even a minute before it shut down too.
In an effort to be extra safe, he turned on all his lights (including running) that night to make sure everyone could see him (should there be hover craft out there, I guess).
There are many more entertaining pieces of this story, including the eating of the single Bear claw between them over 24 hours. But in the end, he got off, thanks to Sea Tow. Obviously his props are not looking good and his engines are not doing really well. You laugh... but this is at least the fifth or sixth time this has happened.
He is not the only driver whose seamanship skills are... lacking. His total lack of understanding of navigation, safety, seamanship, and even his boat laid him up on the hard for a day. However, no one was killed. Still, the question comes up:
SHOULD BOATING BE LICENSED?
I am sure the manufactureres do not want it licensed - thus, it probably never will be. But in many cases a boat can be as dangerous or more dangerous than a car. Yet, any Joe Blow can buy one (at any size) and get after it. All he needs is money. Money does not equal common sense and it sure does not mean seamanship.
I think if it was up to me, today, I would probably vote 'Yes'. It should be licensed. The way I see it, it might just save my life, my family's, or yours.