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How To Boat Safely at Any Speed
Marc Granet (left) and Scotty Begovich (right) have won multiple World Championships, and understand the importance of boating safely at any speed.
When Granet eases off the throttles at a no-wake-zone sign, the boat continues on plane for what seems like 40 or so feet past the sign until it settles into idle speed displacement mode. Without trying, he demonstrates a point brought up in every Coast Guard lecture or introductory boating course I’ve ever seen: There are no brakes in a boat.
As today’s boats become faster, people need to be even more aware of what’s around them (today many boats are capable of 50, 60 or even 70 mph).
“The closure speeds that we are used to, most people aren’t used to,” Granet says. “It’s like running across a road: You think there’s plenty of time to get across it and you start running, and halfway through you realize, ‘Oh my God, the cars are coming at me way faster than I thought!’”
Studies that many insurance companies use estimate that the average car driver’s reaction time — the time when they perceive something to the time they actuate the brakes and start slowing the car — is around 1.5 seconds. This is not a hard and fast number; tons of other variables can factor in, but we can apply it to boating to illustrate a point.
At 50 mph, a boat is traveling 73.3 feet per second. So with a hypothetical reaction time of 1.5 seconds, the boat will move more than 100 feet before driver response takes place. Think of this and ask yourself: Are you a safe enough distance from the other boats around you?
Car driving has a three-second rule — you should pass a fixed object three seconds after the car in front of you. Boaters, without brakes, should build in more time.
Plus, the same issues that people have on the road in cars — wandering from lanes, texting or doing something else distracting, and tailgating — occur on the water.