The Handbook of Michigan Boating Laws and Responsibilities contains more than 60 pages of rules and regulations that apply to Michigan boaters.
One section is devoted to boats pulling skiers, and the handbook notes that one person in the boat must be a designated spotter, watching the skier, tuber or wakeboarder at all times and alerting the driver to what's happening behind the boat. This allows the driver to concentrate on everything ahead of him or her.
What isn't addressed in the handbook, or anywhere else that we could find, are rules regarding personal watercraft following boats pulling towables.
Personal watercraft - Jet Skis, Sea-Doos and the like - are fast, easily maneuverable and a ton of fun. They're especially popular among young drivers, who relish the thrill of the wind in their hair and the water splashing in their face.
One popular activity among personal watercraft pilots is to search out a boat throwing out a big wake and to crisscross back and forth behind that boat, jumping the waves.
That's fine, until that boat is pulling a skier, a tuber or a wakeboarder.
In those situations, personal watercraft should back off.
That's common sense, right? But go spend a Saturday afternoon on a busy lake anywhere in West Michigan and you're almost guaranteed to see Sea-Doos launching off the waves of a boat pulling a wakeboarder or a tuber.
The problem is, when that skier falls, he or she stops, and the personal watercraft continues to move forward at 30 miles per hour.
That's a recipe for disaster.
Each year, we hear of tragedies that occur on the water. Anything we can do to help avoid another tragedy is worth the effort.
We feel our state's lawmakers should make it illegal for personal watercraft to ride too closely behind boats pulling a passenger on any sort of device.
We live in the Great Lakes State. Let's do all we can to keep those lakes as safe as possible for those who enjoy them.
- Grand Haven Tribune