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Boating Regulations…What do you know?

Guest Blog by: James Strawbridge 4/2/2013


   This is going to be a great blog to really stir the pot. Some people will hate what I have to say and some people will agree. Either way I think this is something we all need to look at and be willing to educate ourselves about. Weather you agree with me or not, I thought it would be a good blog for debate as well as education.

   With the 2013 boating season upon us I thought I would just ask a couple questions. But, before I ask them I must rant a little. I’ve been a boat owner for over 20 years, some in this State and some in others. The thing that bugs me the most is how uneducated people are to rules and regulations. Some people think you buy a boat to fish with, drink beer, and water ski, but there are rules to navigational safety. Not to mention, boats drive a bit different than your truck or car (like no brakes). I’ve had boats come within 30’ of me (pulling a skier) and drown me with their wake. Do you know you are responsible for your own wake and the damage you cause!. I’ve had jet skiers zoom between me and the shoreline that I’m fishing. Not that I care, but there can be underwater obstructions you can't see going that fast. Now don’t get me wrong…I’m no saint, and never claimed to be one, but for everyone’s safety we all have a responsibility to ourselves and each other. I think we all need to understand the rules when it comes to boat/PWC ownership! And for God's sake, put a lifevest on yourself and kids!

   One thought that crosses my mind is this.…..To get a drivers licenses you need to take a written/physical test, to get a hunting licenses you need to take a hunter safety coarse, to carry a concealed weapon you need to take a class/coarse (and pass). But when you buy a boat you just launch that thing and off you go. No formal training, classes, or safety courses. Maybe we should hold a boater’s safety card before you can even purchase a boat. I know that there are safety courses available, but not required. Believe me I’m not for more government getting involved in our lives, but people who own boats really need to get a clue. I’m not saying this course is a good idea, but an idea that needs to be concidered. My personal opinion is the one of self preservation (see paragraph below). Our lakes aren’t that big and we all need to be responsible. Here is an example that I laugh at every time.

   If I pull out of any cove at Horsetooth Reservoir I should be able to nail the gas and have the right to go across the lake (untill I get to the middle) or turn right and head south with the right of way. YEAH RIGHT! Like that will ever happen! Here is the rule according to the 2013 Boating Regulations!

   14. Crossing situation:
a. When two motorboats are crossing so as to involve risk of collision, the vessel which has the other on the starboard side shall keep out of the way and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel.

   Based on this rule any boat leaving a cove on Horsetooth has the right away over the boat traveling south on the main lake due to travel regulations. Now, once you reach the middle of the lake the boats traveling North have the right of way over you (because they are approaching from your starboard side)! There are many more situations that I can come up with like this, but this is a blog, not a book…lol! I not your dad nor am I trying to be a mister know it all, but I want us to all have fun out there this year, learn the rules, and keep each other safe.

   But most of all, if you just bought a boat please practice launching and loading. There is nothing worse than learning on a jammed pack lake with the wind ripping and 100 people waiting for you to figure it out. Launching a boat should take about 30 seconds, and if done right should take about 2 minutes to load and pull away. If you ever want to see how it’s really done stop by one of the local bass tournaments in the morning or at the end of the day. These guys launch 20 plus boats in about 10 minutes.

   Self preservation is my rule, and I will do what ever it takes to keeps me and my passengers safe. Regardless if the other guy is following rules or not! Like I said before, lots of you will have my back on this subject and lots will say I’m pressing my opinion on you and I should mind my own business. But the fact is there should never be an accident on or off the water if we all follow the rules…you choose!

   Well enough of my ranting….below are 5 basic questions every boater should know, and if you can’t answer them (without checking the regs) then you need to study up! Lets see how well you can score. All comments are welcome, good or bad. Have fun boating and be safe in 2013!

1. What is the definition of “wake” and what’s the max speed you can travel in a wakeless area?

2. When operating a boat at night and you see a green light on another boat, which side of the boat are you looking at?

3. When overtaking a vessel what responsibility do you have….. (hit the gas, wave and say hi as you speed pass

4 .What vessel has the right of way over “anyone” on the water? (this one is a shocker to most people)

5. Is there a limit as to how many people you can have on your boat, or doesn’t it matter……after all it’s your dam boat!

Who is Jim Strawbridge you ask! Jim is a person who has a passion for bass fishing like no other. Jim grew up in Albany, N.Y. and started bass fishing with his grandfather at age six. His decision to leave New York in 1996 and head to Colorado was a tough one indeed. Although the trip was long, it really paid off. Since Jim has arrived here in Colorado his bass fishing passion has grown to new heights. Jim says, “Bass fishing in Colorado has made me a better angler”. Jim grew up fishing the Mohawk River, Hudson River, Lake George, and lots of local Ponds. He now faces the challenge of deep, clear, western reservoirs. After fine tuning his skills, Jim has decided to pursue bass fishing at the tournament level. Jim fishes The Bassmaster’s Open and is a Tournament Director for The Colorado Couples Series. The Couples Series is a male/female team type format that fishes six lakes along the Front Range, from Pueblo to FortCollins. Jim and his wife Sharon were two time winners in The Colorado Couples Series in 2010, and state champs in 2010 & 2011. Jim and Sharon also qualified for the National Championship in 2010 and 2011, and were ranked 72nd in the Nation. Jim hosts rod building seminars, and owns “Galaxy Custom Rods and Supplies”. He also will make appearances at trade shows, and sports expos. Jim loves to talk bass fishing, so the next time you see him, stop by and say hello. Remember, you don’t have to be the best, you just have to out fish the rest! Jim would like to give a special thanks to all his great sponsors, Sportsman’s Warehouse, MHX Rods, Nitro Boats, Red Dog Signs, and Galaxy Custom Rods and Supplies.
Blog content © James Strawbridge
Member comments
troutman300, CO   4/2/2013 8:10:43 PM
1.where you make white water. 5mph. 2. The right side. 3.I don't really do that, but id say you need to be from them a certain amount. 4.park ranger. 5.yes,every boat has a weight limit.
KayakerFishfinder, CO   4/2/2013 8:17:43 PM
Good article. The big issue for me is the distance boaters are suppose to give to other boaters engage in the act of fishing on the lake. Even I yield to the vessel you talk about in question 4. Had to do it quite a few times on Granby last summer. Even though I fish from a kayak I have read thru the boating regulations top to bottom.
moosegoose, CO   4/2/2013 9:10:02 PM
Thank you for writing this!! I only have a kayak too, but these are serious issues for everyone.
Good Sam, CO   4/2/2013 10:55:12 PM
1. 5 mph 2. Their right side (starboard) 3. The vessel being overtaken has the right of way. 4. Sailboats, when under wind power only, always have the right of way. 5. The capacities plate will tell you. Steve
Good Sam, CO   4/2/2013 10:57:35 PM
I might be wrong on #2. I think about it like driving. When approaching head in, pass to the right. Steve
Jimi, CO   4/3/2013 6:57:00 AM
BOAT RAMP ETIQUETTE SHOULD BE A REQUIRED COURSE OF EDUCATION when You purchase a boat... TOO many screw ups at boat ramps occurr because people just dont know the proceedures. NOBODY knows that "EGRESSING" boats have the "right of way" over departing boats... at ALL TIMES! DO NOT perform your maintainance at the ramp.... Do Not let Kids and Dogs run loose at ramp areas... Just a few of My pet peeves...
IceFishingFool, CO   4/3/2013 8:23:27 AM
Good Blog, you bring up some good points Jimi.
Coyute, CO   4/3/2013 8:36:43 AM
Belly boaters ALWAYS have the R.O.W! :P
Fishful Thinker, CO   4/3/2013 8:41:58 AM
Please clarify the "crossing" rule about entering the main lake from a cove. It was taught to me in Florida by a Coast Guard that the boat in the main channel or boating lane has the right of way over boats entering said channel. Boats exiting a no wake zone must yield to boats already in the boating lane or channel. By that rule, boats leaving a cove would have to already in the main lake would yield to each other according to the Starboard rule. Does CO differ from Coast Gaurd regs?
shiverfix, CO   4/3/2013 9:14:40 AM
I was trolling at about 2mph with two lines when overtaken by a group of small sailboats, one of which then crossed in front of my bow. I put the boat in neutral so as to not hit him, however my forward momentum caused me to make contact with him (literally, my bow hit his head). He yelled at me for not giving him the right of way, I argued he didn't have the right of way. 12. Overtaking: a. Notwithstanding anything contained in these regulations any vessel overtaking any other shall keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken. b. A vessel shall be deemed to be overtaking when coming up with another vessel from a direction more than 22.5 degrees abaft the beam: that is, in such a position with reference to the vessel being overtaken that at night only the stern light, but neither of the side lights, of the vessel being overtaken would be visible. c. When in any doubt as to whether another vessel is being overtaken, the assumption shall be made that this is the case and the overtaking vessel shall act accordingly. d. Any subsequent alteration of the bearing between the two vessels shall not make the overtaking vessel a crossing vessel within the meaning of these regulations or relieve the overtaking vessel of the duty of keeping clear of the overtaken vessel until past and clear. And does trolling fall into this category? b. A sailing vessel underway shall keep out of the way of: (1) A vessel not under command and (2) A vessel restricted in its ability to maneuver
James Strawbridge (Team Galaxy), CO   4/3/2013 10:41:49 AM all the Fishful is correct. I would never just blast out of any cove, anywhere, on any water way, but rather trying to get my point across. A vessel crossing a river shall keep out of the way of a motorboat ascending or descending a river. Like I said, I'm not perfect, but I think this blog got some people to look at the regs and understand them better. If that truly is the case, then mission accomplished. Keep studying (as I will myself) and have a safe 2013.
Anteroman, CO   4/3/2013 1:14:29 PM
Although I have had a 100tom Masters license for 20+ years I still find your information enlightening. I, as most Captains, trained for and used my license in salt water venues. I guess the right of way thing is different on the lakes. In salt water coastal as well as offshore rights of way are precise. NUC Vessels are highest priority. (Not Under Command) Riatm. (Restricted in ability to maneuver) is next CBD next (Constained by draft) Fishing vessels with gear out, Not sportfishing. Sailboats, Sailing, not under power, Power boats Seaplanes Thank you for your informative blog, doesn't matter how much time you spend on the learn something new every day. BTW, any adult can buy a 100' motoryacht, get in it and drive away, no license required.....INSANITY IMHO!! Bill
Wuandbeag, TX   4/3/2013 6:20:51 PM
Having spent a good deal of time under sail on the Great Lakes, I cn tell you that you better know the rules up there or 1) the USCG will fine you into oblivion, and God love them for it because there are way too many retards out there or 2) you'll get dead pretty quickly. It amazes me as a sailor who dislikes ”stink boats" aka those that run on motors (tho I have a fishing boat with an outboard and a big diesel on the sailboat) the mass of people that will just go out on the water and wing it. I just attribute it to Darwinism.
catchn, CO   4/3/2013 10:04:55 PM
"These guys launch 20 plus boats in about 10 minutes." Was that on a 2 lane? I've seen 60 launch in just over 10 minutes with 4 lanes going strong! Growing up in AZ it never ceased to amaze me the amatuer hour at the ramp. REally you have a 120,000$ boat and you don't know how to back up your trailer? good blog,... I will add here in CO no one turns off there damn headlights at night when loading. Maybe it's because night fishing is not all that poplular here and in AZ if you want to fish from June - aug,... you go at night. But it is damn hard to back down a ramp with your F***ing headlights blairing in my face!!
EricCO, CO   4/4/2013 10:11:07 AM
A guy got killed at Big Mac last year when a jet ski landed on him while he was sitting in his boat. I don't think he cares much now who had the right away. So I follow the same rule as I do on I-25....DEFENSIVE DRIVING. This means I assume the other guy has the right away regardless of the rules.
Kvelez, CO   4/4/2013 10:23:12 AM
Great article Jim. The biggest concern I have on the water is vessels overtaking me in dangerous places. Several times I've had large yachts pass in between me and the bank on Horsetooth. where they are less than 100ft away from me and only another 100ft or so from the bank. Not only are these boaters putting their lives at risk they are also endangering mine. If a boat of that size traveling 50+ mph hits a large obstruction they could potentially end both of our lives. I'm all for having fun, but lets keep it safe fun.
Jakers83, CO   4/4/2013 8:50:00 PM
1) No not 5mph. It is the speed in which your boat does not create white water at the bow or stern. 2) Starboard. Right. 3) Pass at a safe distance and speed and not create a wake that will disrupt the other boat. 4) My boat does. Bit other than my boat a working boat/barge then sail boat or the larger boat has right of way 5) It goes by weight and or max person on the boat. if it says 5 people then you can only carry 5 people on the boat even if the weight is not yet reached. So what ever one comes first. Boats older than 73' I think do not have it listed in the boat all the time so it goes by how many seats are there or for weight we can do math to find that out but wont bother you with that unless people want to know
James Strawbridge
"Team Galaxy"
Guest Blogger