More safety needed for our waters

The Handbook of Michigan Boating Laws and Responsibilities contains more than 60 pages of rules and regulations that apply to Michigan boaters.
Aug 13, 2014


One section is devoted to boats pulling skiers, and the handbook notes that one person in the boat must be a designated spotter, watching the skier, tuber or wakeboarder at all times and alerting the driver to what's happening behind the boat. This allows the driver to concentrate on everything ahead of him or her. 
What isn't addressed in the handbook, or anywhere else that we could find, are rules regarding personal watercraft following boats pulling towables.
Personal watercraft — Jet Skis, Sea-Doos and the like — are fast, easily maneuverable and a ton of fun. They're especially popular among young drivers, who relish the thrill of the wind in their hair and the water splashing in their face. 
One popular activity among personal watercraft pilots is to search out a boat throwing out a big wake and to crisscross back and forth behind that boat, jumping the waves. 
That's fine, until that boat is pulling a skier, a tuber or a wakeboarder. 
In those situations, personal watercraft should back off. 
That's common sense, right? But go spend a Saturday afternoon on a busy lake anywhere in West Michigan and you're almost guaranteed to see Sea-Doos launching off the waves of a boat pulling a wakeboarder or a tuber. 
The problem is, when that skier falls, he or she stops, and the personal watercraft continues to move forward at 30 miles per hour. 
That's a recipe for disaster. 
Each year, we hear of tragedies that occur on the water. Anything we can do to help avoid another tragedy is worth the effort. 
We feel our state's lawmakers should make it illegal for personal watercraft to ride too closely behind boats pulling a passenger on any sort of device.
We live in the Great Lakes State. Let's do all we can to keep those lakes as safe as possible for those who enjoy them.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty, Mark Brooky and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



Um, the law is actually pretty clear about this:
A PWC must be operated at "slow, no wake speed" if crossing within 150 feet behind another vessel unless the other vessel is also a PWC.

150 feet is enough distance to allow a PWC room to adjust for skiers, tubers etc.

I think that's on page 39 of the hand book.

Don't get me wrong. I hate PWC. They are annoying, and blow through no wake zones without care. But know the actual rules before you post an article about a subject.


What they actually want then is the cops to slam dunk tickets for PWC's operating carelessly. A ticket can be written pretty much for anything. Ottawa county has 80 reserve deputies - I'm sure they can find one to do the job. But I don't know what the fuss is all about - has anyone seen a chemical analysis of the Grand Toilet lately? Its so filthy - Those people are just spraying themselves with toilet water - so Karma does come around. That alone is better than any ticket they will get from the Marine patrol. KARMA finds a way - but that old wheel will spin around once more, by Johnny Cash.


I ate a 16" Bass I caught in the river last week. Does that mean Karma is going to get me for fishing in the river? I also learned to water ski in the river. That was about 20 years ago. Karma still hasn't gotten me for that one. I agree it's pretty brown and GR needs to step up, but I don't see where it's out to get anyone for operating PWC's.


Heck I don't know if Karma what ever. But someone is complaining about PWC's and their operators causing a problem with getting too close to boats and jumping wakes. Just trying to console the guy - You play in the Grand River - you play in poop water. Have at it - this is America. Let em keep playing and laugh at em when they jump the wakes 10ft away from the boat - its great because its equivalent to playing in a dirty toilet.


We skied the river back in the 60's when the Tannery was running full speed ahead; it wasn't cleaner then, just different. The river has always been a great place to barefoot as it is usually like glass and very few boats, one does need to watch for debris in the water though, barefoot and logs are not a good combination.


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