motor boats and kayakers

I have been reading topics on motor boaters and jet skiers not respecting kayakers and canoers. I may go kayaking in boyd lake sometime, a lake with many motor boats and jet skies. So what could I do if someone is careless ?? What if they are not really being kind to me and my property ?? Should I tell a staff of the lake or park ?? Thanks for youe tips !!

Don’t sweat it
I have never had any trouble woth power boats or jet skis. I have read accounts of @#^holes on jet skis, but I think they are few and far between. Personally I like the boat wakes, a free ride if you can catch the wake. Just stay out of the main boat lanes or ski areas and if you use a ramp to launch, do so quickly, no putzing (sp?) around.

If someone does harass you, try to get a boat hull # and tell the park police or lake patrol. Go have fun.

Maybe I have been lucky but
I have never had a probelm with another boater. More times than not it may be I who has created a problem for other boaters, probabl without even knowing it, while paddling in busy water. It is easy to do. A few moments of inattentiveness while daydreaming without realizing or even understanding someone elses intent could turn another boaters attention toward a paddler in an ugly way real fast. I have watch kayakers park at a boat launch and unload all there stuff onto the ramp then pack it all into their boats while guys with boats on trailers fume probably wondering why the kayakers couldn’t launch from the grassy area just to the side of the ramp. I have watched kayakers paddle out into the middle of traffic lanes on Lake Winnipesaukee without a clue as to where they were. Then when the marine patrol offers up a suggestion to paddle somewhere else they get insulted. I have watched kayakers shake their fist at jet skiers that were easily a hundred feet away from them as they passed. Then the jet skier, seeing the fist and middle finger, does a few circle around them just to piss them off. I have seen kayakers get yelled at over the loudspeaker of a coast gaurd boat for crossing a shipping lane in front of an oncoming tugboat. It is no wonder powerboaters hate kayakers and joke about using them as speed bumps. We as paddlers are despised because of the actions of a few meatheads or probably even moreso because we are the slowest boats out there. Nothing like trying to avoid a pedestrian on a super highway.

I suspect if you bring just a shred of common sense with you as you go about your paddling you will have very little problems with other boaters. It may go a long way towards helping future paddlers get along with powerboaters.

It has been my limited experience that paddlers are a general pain in the ass to powerboaters in busy water and powerboaters could care less about the frown of a paddler. Sometimes I think all it takes to provoke someone to rage is a single dirty look. I think a wave and a smile work better.

I know and paddle with people that use some of the busiest waters in the northest. Once in a great while I hear of rude powerboater stories. I hear many more stories if idiots in kayaks.

I agree 100% and have had same sort of experiences.

Paddlers who get upset by wakes need to become better paddlers. Paddlers who have issues around other craft need to become better boaters. Paddlers who wave or blow horns instead of simply maneuvering CREATE the problems they complain about. Anyone who sees any of this as being anything anti-paddler is an idiot -of the sort described in the post above.

Get used to motorized crowds
They are in most CO reservoirs in summer.

You will get used to dealing with crisscrossing wakes. Unless the boat is very big (bigger than what you’d see in Colorado), the wakes won’t be bad.

What you should not put up with is them getting really, really close to you or, worse, circling you with their jetskis and trying to cause a capsize–you must always assume they could be drunk and not in control of their jetskis or boats. I’ve only had this happen one time, and the guy got bored of his failed attempt to cause a capsize and eventually left. Ignoring them is usually the best tactic.

Pick up a free copy of the Colorado boating regulations and highlight the important stuff. It will help to know whether it’s appropriate to sic a ranger on somebody if you know what the regulations are in the first place.

In summer, EVERY time I go to certain places, powerboaters and jetskiiers WILL break some laws. Usually it’s not dangerous, more irritating than anything else. There are just too many people in one place.

If you are really worried, carry a cell phone and program the park office phone number into it.

Thanks soo much guys!
Soooo refreshing to read those last two posts. I get so tired of self righteous kayakers who are terrible mariners preaching about how bad everyone else is. I have paddled thousands of miles in a sea kayak. I also hold a USCG Masters license (captains license) and have run power boats for years.

My experience is that kayakers are mostly ignorant about the Colregs (Rules), and in fact are discourteous, and ignorant mariners. They’ll talk BS about kayak design, and how fast they are etc., and gloat in their aura of superiority over power vessels, which is total hypocracy. Truth is they don’t understand what they are too lazy to learn, and for that I have little respect for many sea kayakers. I know a handful after 20 years that I’d consider competent mariners. Most are lousy athletes, and incredibly ignorant water travellers. How many reading this in anger right now could pass a USCG Rules test? 1%?

Lets face it, power vessels account for many sea kayak rescues anually where I live! Jet skis are becoming world renowned as rescue tools as well, and if operated courteously are a clean efficient means of water travel within the power vessel category. In fact Honda is donating them for patrol craft in sensitive areas. Kayakers drive many miles, ride ferries, utilize water taxis, etc. They just read their own press too much. Ranger in San Juan Islands told me that kayakers are his biggest problem group. Don’t pay camp site fee’s, camp illegally etc. I believe it. I love paddling, but I’m tired of kayak superiority geeks…especially when they can’t even paddle well.

I stand ready for the assault…

Sounds like
you have never been run down from behind by a drunk power boater.

No I have not
BTW, power boaters where I live are worried about hitting things with their expensive boats. Have you been hit? Or are you just being dramatic? Sure there are rude power boaters, not denying that, but I’ve never had a bad experience…honestly. I think kayakers get overly reactive sometimes.

I also have a similar article
It under Paddlers’ Place Discussion Forum and the title is “Boat safety and respect…”

Glad to hear somebody who knows
the Rules!

My biggest pet peeve is listening to kayakers bitch about other boats because “kayakers have the right of way”.

Not quite sure where they learned this, but I can’t find anything in the rules that specifically gives the right of way to kayaks.

If anything, I see kayakers in designated channels impeding the ability to navigate of boats that are already restricted in their ability to navigate.

Agh—don’t get me started.

Some advice for new kayakers

– Last Updated: May-02-06 6:31 AM EST –

that have a fear of power boaters and jet skiers:

The jet skis and fast power boats make the least wake of any boats on the lake other than your kayak unless you are just about next to them.
If you are fifty or more feet away, by the time their wake reaches you, it will be almost flat. The next time you are out their observe and you will see, that the big rooster tail that they are putting up is just a bluff.

It is the large heavy slow moving poontoon boats that put out the biggest displacement, (wake), and if you see the large waves coming from them, just head bow first into them.

Large cabin cruisers and ships are a different story, but you don't se many of those in lakes.

Lastly if you still have a fear of the power boaters and jet skies, stay close to the shore line. There is a lot more wildlife in and around the little coves, and most of the fast boats want to be out in the middle of the lake where they can go fast and strut their stuff.

Keep in mind: that jet ski is someones toy, just like your paddlecraft is your toy and they have the same right as you.

With all that said, I hate their noise and I hate the power boaters exhaust, and I like to seek out places away from them.


I really enjoyed this post. Ive been on the water all my life and have saw alot of bone head moves. One of the lakes near her I see something about every trip. I grew up on and around the water and it surprizes me how many people dont know the rules or just dont even attempt to follow them. Ive saw alot of paddlers who thought they had the right of way and didnt.If you dont know the rules go learn them it could save your life. If your not sure about something use common sense and be curtious to the other boaters.

"worse, circling you with their jetskis and trying to cause a capsize"

I had that happened to me once, paddling in the Hudson. He was enjoying it first when I was startled. But once I knew he was there, I ignored him. After circling around a few times and realized his wake doesn’t seem to bother me, he left.

I generally acknowledge them with a smile or wave. Most of them are quite friendly.

I live on a lake.
And while I generally agree with comments made by Salty I have to say that I see a lot of unsafe and illegal behavior on the part of PWC’s and power boats. Chief among them is going too fast near docks where there are childeren swimming. Ask yourself, how many PWC drivers or power boat drivers know the rules? I would bet no more than kayakers.

you must be lucky

– Last Updated: May-02-06 12:14 PM EST –

By far most powerboaters are benign if not just as clueless (lot of tourists renting boats around here) as the average kayaker but I have encountered some jerks and dangerous operation.

Just yesterday I was doing intervals in a "No Wake Zone" on the river. I was doing a hard piece and had a wave runner blow by from behind very close and yell something about getting out of the way as he passed. I was going far in excess of the speed that most power boats can travel in a "no wake zone" and yet this putz had the nerve to yell at me for being in the way.

Another common problem around here is boats running at high speed around blind corners in narrow rivers.....

Fortunately the jerks are rare. Most of all though, we all must obey the law of gross tonnage and give way whether legally required or not. Visibility and defensive operation are key.

have the same problem with kayakers
But it goes both ways. I think you’ll find that most recreational users of the water (no matter the craft, but especially user friendly toys like the average jetski, runabout, and rec kayak) no nothing about navigation rules, weather, boat ramp etiquette, etc… Go to a busy boat ramp on a weekend and watch the antics. It’s hilarious to observe, maddening to try to navigate.

The motorized subset that knows and respects the rules is tiny as is the subset in the kayaking world that learns the rules of the road. I remember coming into Wallace’s Bait and Tackle in Fox Hill at the end of a day cobia fishing. A cabin cruiser is exiting Back River as we enter. A wave runner almost landed on us as he jumped out from behind the larger vessel. Then at the ramp, after we loaded and were weighing in our fish, I see some guy totally kitted-out in a spankin new NF Legend getting blown sideways across the channel in front of incoming boats but a 5-10mph wind. When he finally made his way in, he backed his Volvo down the ramp to load his damn kayak…(actually if FL makes me register my kayaks I will start using ramps in that way).

I’ve always said that I feel safer around large commercial traffic on the water than around any recreational traffic. Operating around high speed recreational boaters is like trying to second guess a squirrel.

sometimes they’re fun
Nothing more entertaining than a pontoon boat full of drunk women…The ski boats around here tend to have lots of eye-candy too. Now that I’ve got the balance to paddle my sprint boat in traffic, I love nice weather when the river is packed with boats. I wish they’d all convert to less smokey and quieter outboards but the eye-candy and whistles from the women are nice for the ego and make me paddle faster…Only a problem when the man driving the boat doesn’t like his “old lady” giving me attention.

Simple Rules
1. YOU have to look out for yourself and other craft on the water since you are normally the lowest and slowest.

2. If the boater or jet skier is waving at it then they are normally not paying attention to where they are going so be especially alert and on the look out.

3. If you do have trouble with a boater or jet skier intentionally trying to “wake you” get the hull number or boat name and report the event to the local water enforcement folks.



recent experience
in Annapolis harbor,it’s TIGHT for busy traffic. In front of the Chart House a fellow in a new 40 sailboat drops someone off at the dock then slams the boat in reverse at full throttle spinning 270 degrees while a watertaxi and other boat traffic come to a full stop waiting to see what he does next. I was in a kayak about 50’ away. Kinda scary in that he described a 120’ diameter circle that was a collision zone for about six boats in motion.

Be careful on that number 3
Last summer I asked a NC wildlife officer on Badin Lake, NC what the rules regarding power boats and jet skies were, and he said that a power boat has to leave no wake within 50 feet of a dock. A jet ski can leave no wake within 100 feet of a dock.

He said there is no law preventing them from coming by a paddlecraft at full speed if they so desire.

He didn’t like the rule, but that is the way it is.