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Monday, 09 July 2018 12:03

Liability For Damages, Boating Responsibility Featured

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Under the law, both Federal and State of Florida, damage caused by a boat wake is treated exactly the same way as damage caused by a physical, fiberglass-crunching collision.
Recently a Yacht and sportfishing boat were involved in such a case. Perhaps the operators of both the yacht and the sportfishing boat did not realize how their wakes could combine into a veritable tsunami, or they were just more interested in making it back to the dock than in reducing their speed. Regardless, the combined wake of the two boats violently rolled a Jon boat, causing serious injuries to its passengers. The passengers sued both vessels and their owners for their injuries as well as pain and suffering.

It's important to realize that the incident took place outside of any no-wake zone, so neither captain was likely overly concerned about their wakes nor realized the extent of their liability.
Hopefully one day every citizens will learn to respect the other people who travel the waterways and the marine life that live there too. Till then more no-wake zones are needed.
There are many inland waterway areas that are not designated no-wake zones, this summer a group of locals are creating videos of boaters on the Coast of Florida creating dangerous wakes on such waterways.
They say they have over 60 volunteers in our area traveling inshore and offshore with video cameras running.
The videos will help state officials to create miles and miles of additional no-wake zones in our inland waterways.

What you really have to know, see state chapter below. The entire chapter is too long to print here but here are some good points to consider:

327.33 Reckless or careless operation of vessel.—
(1) It is unlawful to operate a vessel in a reckless manner. A person who operates any vessel, or manipulates any water skis, aquaplane, or similar device, in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property at a speed or in a manner as to endanger, or likely to endanger, life or limb, or damage the property of, or injure a person is guilty of reckless operation of a vessel. Reckless operation of a vessel includes, but is not limited to, a violation of s. 327.331(6). A person who violates this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

327.46 Boating-restricted areas
(1) Boating-restricted areas, including, but not limited to, restrictions of vessel speeds and vessel traffic, may be established on the waters of this state for any purpose necessary to protect the safety of the public if such restrictions are necessary based on boating accidents, visibility, hazardous currents or water levels, vessel traffic congestion, or other navigational hazards or to protect seagrasses on privately owned submerged lands.
(a) The commission may establish boating-restricted areas by rule pursuant to chapter 120.
(b) Municipalities and counties have the authority to establish the following boating-restricted areas by ordinance:
1. An ordinance establishing an idle speed, no wake boating-restricted area, if the area is:
a. Within 500 feet of any boat ramp, hoist, marine railway, or other launching or landing facility available for use by the general boating public on waterways more than 300 feet in width or within 300 feet of any boat ramp, hoist, marine railway, or other launching or landing facility available for use by the general boating public on waterways not exceeding 300 feet in width.
b. Within 500 feet of fuel pumps or dispensers at any marine fueling facility that sells motor fuel to the general boating public on waterways more than 300 feet in width or within 300 feet of the fuel pumps or dispensers at any licensed terminal facility that sells motor fuel to the general boating public on waterways not exceeding 300 feet in width.
c. Inside or within 300 feet of any lock structure.
2. An ordinance establishing a slow speed, minimum wake boating-restricted area if the area is:
a. Within 300 feet of any bridge fender system.
b. Within 300 feet of any bridge span presenting a vertical clearance of less than 25 feet or a horizontal clearance of less than 100 feet.
c. On a creek, stream, canal, or similar linear waterway if the waterway is less than 75 feet in width from shoreline to shoreline.
d. On a lake or pond of less than 10 acres in total surface area.
3. An ordinance establishing a vessel-exclusion zone if the area is:
a. Designated as a public bathing beach or swim area.
b. Within 300 feet of a dam, spillway, or flood control structure.
(c) Municipalities and counties have the authority to establish by ordinance the following other boating-restricted areas:
1. An ordinance establishing an idle speed, no wake boating-restricted area, if the area is within 300 feet of a confluence of water bodies presenting a blind corner, a bend in a narrow channel or fairway, or such other area if an intervening obstruction to visibility may obscure other vessels or other users of the waterway.
2. An ordinance establishing a slow speed, minimum wake, or numerical speed limit boating-restricted area if the area is:
a. Within 300 feet of a confluence of water bodies presenting a blind corner, a bend in a narrow channel or fairway, or such other area if an intervening obstruction to visibility may obscure other vessels or other users of the waterway.
b. Subject to unsafe levels of vessel traffic congestion.
c. Subject to hazardous water levels or currents, or containing other navigational hazards.
d. An area that accident reports, uniform boating citations, vessel traffic studies, or other creditable data demonstrate to present a significant risk of collision or a significant threat to boating safety.
3. An ordinance establishing a vessel-exclusion zone if the area is reserved exclusively:
a. As a canoe trail or otherwise limited to vessels under oars or under sail.
b. For a particular activity and user group separation must be imposed to protect the safety of those participating in such activity.

Any of the ordinances adopted pursuant to this paragraph shall not take effect until the commission has reviewed the ordinance and determined by substantial competent evidence that the ordinance is necessary to protect public safety pursuant to this paragraph. Any application for approval of an ordinance shall be reviewed and acted upon within 90 days after receipt of a completed application. Within 30 days after a municipality or county submits an application for approval to the commission, the commission shall advise the municipality or county as to what information, if any, is needed to deem the application complete. An application shall be considered complete upon receipt of all requested information and correction of any error or omission for which the applicant was timely notified or when the time for such notification has expired. The commission's action on the application shall be subject to review under chapter 120.
(3) It is unlawful for any person to operate a vessel in a prohibited manner or to carry on any prohibited activity, as defined in this chapter, within a boating-restricted area which has been clearly marked by regulatory markers as authorized under this chapter.
(4) Restrictions in a boating-restricted area established pursuant to this section shall not apply in the case of an emergency or to a law enforcement, firefighting, or rescue vessel owned or operated by a governmental entity.

 

https://codes.findlaw.com/fl/title-xxiv-vessels/fl-st-sect-327-46.html

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