Chapter 8: Operator Responsibility

Chapter Review

Carbon Monoxide:

The latter part of this chapter focused on the danger of carbon monoxide gas. This odorless, colorless gas poses a major threat to boat operators and passengers, to the extent that is often referred to as the "silent killer." Carbon monoxide is produced when carbon-based fuel is burned, so gasoline engines, generators, and cooking ranges can all give off carbon monoxide fumes.

Carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels, in a matter of minutes, if not properly ventilated. One area where this gas can easily build is the enclosed area beneath a swim platform. This is where the exhaust is vented and this area should be avoided as even a few breaths of this built up gas can cause serious injury or worse.

Water skiing, teak surfing, or dragging within 20 feet or a moving watercraft can also result in a large amount of carbon monoxide inhalation, which could be fatal. Keep an eye out for other vessels when docked, as their exhaust may emit carbon monoxide gas onto any boat. Stay at least 20 feet from running vessels, to be safe. Finally, to keep the boat safe, schedule routine engine and exhaust maintenance and while operating always keep air flowing through the vessel.

Operator Responsibility:

It is one's responsibility to operate a vessel in a safe manner. In order to do this, complete a pre-departure checklist, ensure that the vessel remains in good condition, and check for any local hazards before heading out on the water.

Propeller Safety:

Finally, because a propeller is submerged and therefore not visible, one needs to ensure that all on board remain aware of its location. Whenever a person is close to a boat, especially the stern, shut off the engine as a safety precaution.

One can also increase safety by using propeller guards and ladder interlock kill switches. Propellers are high speed and hard to see. So, be sure that one is operating in a way which keeps those around safe from propeller strikes.

Courteous Boating:

As a boat operator, one must also strive to be courteous to swimmers, other boaters, and property owners. This means monitoring the wake and ensuring noise levels are acceptable, especially whenever operating near the shore or at night. One must also dispose of garbage properly and adhere to and be familiar with the laws of the area in which one is operating.

Homeland Security:

Here are a few Homeland Security measures one should be aware of and adhere to as a part of one's operator responsibility:

  • Stay at least 100 yards away from any military, cruise, or shipping vessels.
  • Slow down to no wake speed around any military vessels.
  • Avoid all security zones.

Remember that violating Homeland Security measures is a significant offense and comes with grave penalties.

Boating Under the Influence:

Drinking and boating is never a good idea. Boating under the influence is a major cause of boating fatalities, and because of the wind, sun, and motion of the water, the effects of alcohol are multiplied out on the water. This means that even a single drink will affect reaction times and judgment and can endanger oneself, the passengers, and fellow boaters.