Chapter 7: Water Cleanliness and Small Vessels

Chapter Review

Environmental Impact:

One must be aware of the potential damage a vessel can cause through noise, oil or fuel spills, and the effect a wake can have on surrounding wildlife and the environment. One also needs to take care when changing oil or refueling. Use a closed system when changing the oil individually and never mix oil with other waste.

Proper Waste Disposal:

Review the rules regarding proper waste disposal. If one is within 3 miles of shore or in any lakes, rivers, or inland waters one may not dump any garbage overboard. In some areas, one may dump grey water or fresh fish parts, but never plastics or other forms of trash. Finally, one may never dump untreated human waste in any inland waters.

Marine Sanitation Device (MSD):

Pump Out Station

Because untreated human waste cannot be dumped, one needs to properly treat it. Type I and Type II MDSs treat waste so that one may discharge it overboard. Type III MSDs require using pump-out stations to discharge human waste so it does not reach the water. Finally, there are certain No Discharge Zones where one is prohibited from dumping any kind of waste, even if treated.

The Refuse Act:

Lastly, we learned how to properly dispose of toxic substances, the Refuse Act of 1899, and the Save Our Seas placard. These are all measures taken to keep our waters clean and to avoid the dumping of any oil or pollutants into the water.

Failing to comply with no discharge regulations can result in fines and jail time.

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV):

Operators need to take extra care near areas with submerged aquatic vegetation. This vegetation serves as a habitat and food source for various wildlife and it is very easily damaged by propellers, PWCs and the wake of a negligent vessel.

Personal Watercraft (PWC):

PWCs use a stream of accelerated water rather than a propeller. PWCs also use this stream of water for steering, which means once one's hand is off of the throttle, one will lose the ability to steer the craft. Additionally, it takes PWC a few hundred feet to stop. One must take these factors into consideration when navigating around any obstacles and get acclimated to the amount of time and space needed to turn around or come to a stop.

Personal Watercraft (PWC)

PWCs are fast and are designed to be sat, knelt, or stood on. With these fast speeds and sharp turns, it is not uncommon to fall from a PWC. This is why safety lanyards are so important to PWC operation. The lanyard attaches to the lifejacket or wrist and is removed from the PWC when one has fallen overboard. This cuts the engine so the PWC will come to a stop.

When operating a PWC, be aware that they are smaller and less visible than most other vessels. It is important to keep a safe distance from other vessels and be aware of surroundings when making a sharp turn. Also, one wants to start heading back to shore before beginning to use the reserve fuel tank. One never wants to run out of fuel, in open water, on a PWC.

Towed Water Sports:

Next, we learned about the proper procedures for towing someone behind a boat.

  • One should never drop someone off by running parallel to shore.
  • Check towing rope for any signs of wear before using it.
  • Turn off the engine before approaching anyone in the water.
  • Always approach someone who has fallen in the water from the operator's side.
  • Review communication signals with passengers before heading out to the water. Especially signals such as "stop" and "slowdown."
  • Remember that a towed person counts as being "on board" the vessel.

Hunting and Fishing:

When hunting or fishing, take care to never overload the boat. Remain seated as much as possible, always wear a lifejacket, avoid boating alone and always file a float plan. One will also want to be aware of surroundings, at all times, especially if hunting or fishing. Essentially, hunters and anglers should follow the same regulations and safety practices as any other boaters but pay close attention to surroundings and the balance of the vessel.

Paddle Sports:

Finally, we went over some of the additional risks associated with paddle sports. Canoes and kayaks tip over more easily than other vessels, which means that maintaining three points of contact and remaining seated are extremely important. As always, never overload a vessel, avoid foul weather, and always wearing a lifejacket.