Fishing... is it dangerous to your health? After witnessing a bad boat crash near the ramp at Kowaliga last week my thoughts, turned to why fishermen are part boat racers and part fishermen. It grew from a man’s desire to go fast, the thrill of speed on the water, beautiful days with the wind blowing past you as you barely touch the water going to your favorite fishing spot at speeds almost as fast as you drive your automobile on the interstate. But is going fast really worth it?
In my younger days I was one of those who wanted his boat to run fast just like everyone else however, note in those early years, there were not nearly as many boats on the water as there are now. Way back boats with a fifty HP motor were considered the top of the line. Now if you don’t at least have 225 HP you are behind times. Boats are much bigger and much faster than they have ever been. Not like cars that have to have more and more safety features built in each year boats just get bigger, fancier, prettier and all with huge HP motors pushing them down the lake at speeds over seventy MPH. The only safety features of a boat is your life jacket, kill switch and hot foot (accelerator that is spring loaded so when your foot leaves it your boat comes back to idle). There are no air bags, no roll bars and none of the safety features that you see on true race boats. Most of all no boat has brakes the only way to slow them down is trim the motor down and back off the throttle.
In the past fifteen to twenty years fishing has grown especially tournaments from a few fishermen to over two hundred boats per event. Two hundred boats on the lake in one day all capable of running well over sixty MPH and that is on the low end most will run well over seventy plus MPH. What have not grown are any laws at all determining speed or requirements for a driver to have passed any driving test on the water in regards to safety. No stop signs, no red lights, no speed limits, no improper lane usage, no center line or divided running lanes. Yes now we do have classes for younger boat operators and a boating license. Older boat operators were grandfathered in when the new licenses were required. Speed, safety on the water, cost of operation all are factors that have driven some older people to just quit fishing.
Last but not least of all is a person’s age as it relates to high speed boats. Oh sure you can say you can handle your boat as good as always but I know from my experience that reaction time, eye sight and other factors change as you get older making your high speed boat operation a risk factor. Over the years there have been some very bad boat accidents on the water people have lost their lives and some lost limbs but nothing has changed in regards to laws of the water that will slow boats down. I will see that crash in my mind from last week for a long time. By the grace of God there was no one killed the boats can be replaced but lives can not. I only hope all that read this will set down and take a minute to think over how you operate your boat and the next time you are on the water you will be more cautious and maybe think about slowing down just a little no one has ever credited winning a tournament to having had the fastest boat on the water. You may save your life or a friend’s life. Till next week I’ve gone fishing.
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