The Lake Havasu Marine Association is dedicated to the promotion of safe and pleasurable boating for all. However, what is usually a highly anticipated renewal of on-the-water fun and recreation along the lower Colorado River, has been marred by an inordinate number of serious boating accidents and incidents since early May.
Some of the accidents have been appropriately reported and are under investigation by law enforcement to determine contributing factors and cause. Others have slipped through the cracks, remaining largely unreported except for discussions on social media boating forums.
The Lake Havasu Marine Association, recipient of the prestigious Hollister Award in 2013 from the Western States Boating Administrator Association for its contribution to the promotion of safe boating and education is compelled to speak-out in the wake of recent tragic occurrences. It appears obvious that everyone involved in the marine industry needs to seriously pause, reflect and then take action to curtail this recent spike in unfortunate incidents occurring on our local waterways. Here’s what we do know.
- The questionable driving practice of unsafe overtaking and passing of slower moving boats by faster boats have been a contributing factor in a number of these recent cases. Drivers of performance boats have been reported taking unnecessary chances, passing too close to slower boats, running in pack formations and operating at high speeds on narrow waterways with increased frequency. This needs to stop. Racing should be confined to organized races, not while pleasure boating with other recreational boaters. The Lake Havasu Marine Association is not advocating or campaigning for the creation of new boating laws, restrictions, regulations or speed limits. This is a matter best handled by boaters conducting themselves with responsible behavior when behind the wheel of their boat.
- Boating while intoxicated is against the law. It should never be tolerated. In 2012, the Lake Havasu Marine Association created and implemented a successful Designated Operator campaign designed to minimize as many impaired boat drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs as possible. Designated Operator is simple, just designate one person in your boating party to remain sober for the day, being responsible for driving the boat. It doesn’t mean alcohol isn’t allowed on your boat, it just asks that one person, for that one day, remain sober and in control for the safety of your passengers and fellow boaters.
- Wear your personal flotation device, especially if you think you’re going to rev-it-up and push your lake rocket to maximum speed. The law specifies that children of specific ages must wear approved flotation devices at all times when onboard, adults don’t have to, but if there’s ever a doubt that a situation might end better with a PFD on, wear it.
- Every boat should be equipped with a safety lanyard which instantly stops the engine when pulled. However, the lanyard is useless unless you securely attach it to the driver. Get in the habit, don’t start your engine until that lanyard is attached. Also, taking an approved boating safety course is a good way of reinforcing all safe boating practices.
- Never drive over your head. High speeds and limited talent at the helm are a recipe for disaster. If you have relatively few on-the-water hours behind the wheel of your boat, take it easy, don’t push your limits. Experience and boat driving proficiency take time to master. Don’t try to learn it all in one afternoon.
- Giant wake producing wakeboard and wake-surf boats aren’t making a lot of friends with mainstream recreational boaters. When your wakesport boat is in its extreme wake-making-mode, please be considerate of other boaters. Wakes do have consequences.
It is not the intent of the Lake Havasu Marine Association to limit, minimize or restrict recreational boating on Lake Havasu or any other body of water, only to make it as safe and enjoyable as possible.
Our motto remains, “Freedom to Boat – but with freedom comes responsibility, for those who are on our boat and for those who we share the Lake Havasu boating experience with us. We all need to be responsible.”
Thank you for your support and cooperation.
Jim Salscheider, president & CEO