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chathamsolutions

Wakesurfing - Roosted by the Ranger

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chathamsolutions

Back on MBO there was quite a bit of discussion about the legality of wakesurfing / teak surfing and all the concerns that go with CO2 poisoning and prop dangers, etc.

I was out with our crew on Memorial Day, 12 people on the boat, 5 adults and a bunch of kids. Basically everyone else on the boat besides me and the CFO are regular foot, so we started the ballast tanks/fat sacs on their side. Moved all the sacs to the goofy side and I happened to be the last rider.

The ranger was out in his boat, doing his thing and I happened to be riding past them without a rope, carving the wake, going up and back the wake. CFO was driving. The siren came on and we came to a hault.

He looks at me and says, "You know what your doing is illegal right?" I said, "No, it's NOT illegal."

- Needless to say, that wasn't very bright of me.

He got on his hobbie horse, yelling at me about whether I wanted to ask that question to a judge. And I said no. He told me to get in the boat and then for us to circle around so 'We can talk.' I was really looking forward to that.

CFO was having a hard time getting in close to him so the ranger, and I, had some time to rethink our approach to this situation - they saw that all our kids were in vests, none of us were falling off the boat inebreated, etc.

He asked if I knew that teak surfing was illegal, I said, "Yes, sir." Reverting to my normal approach to showing authority respect - hopeing to be a good example to my kids, AND not get a ticket. Then he asked, "Were you holding a rope when you were back there?" I said no - and figured that's where he may have gotten me on the law. Becuase I don't KNOW the law, even though I should.

So, he said, "What you were doing is really a 'gray' area." And I agreed, it's gray. And he said he believed the boating commision was going to outlaw it outright and frankly, becuase I was so close to the boat he just plain wasn't comfortable with it. He said if I use a rope, no problem.

So I surfed with a rope with my boy until they left, dropped the rope and road for a few and that ended the day.

So, where can I find the section of the Boating Code that is specific to wakesurfing? I believe I'd like to copy it and carry it in the boat.

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88Skier

If it's a grey area, than it sounds legal. Don't they give you boating law book in CA when you register your boat? Your state's web site should have all your laws on it.

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LS-One

I had this same discussion with the Head Mariposa County Sheriff, the day after being pulled over for surfing While it is a gray area he admitted it is not illegal and therefore the Deputy had no right interepting the law because he was (uncomfortable). Did you explain to him that the term teak surfing is defined by hanging off the platform with your bare hands like body surfing in the ocean ?

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Chauncemaster

Very interesting. Did he also give yo ua hard time about having tons of ballast on one side of the boat or just the surfing?

Also, just out of curiosity, if you were to teaksurf with a rope would that be ok then according to this ranger?

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chathamsolutions

No, we don't get a CA Boating Law book with registration.

Sorry, both he and I understood what teaksurfing was/is. He was simply trying to co-mingle the teak surfing issue with the wakesurfing issue becuase they both contain the 'surf' term, apparently. I'm sure though it's becuase of the CO2 issue.

Funny, becuase they both were a bit amazed at the fact that I was surfing behind the boat without a rope. And his sidekick admited that he had done it on a long board.

While looking at my boat, fully loaded, with two fat sacs in the locker, "Ya, you should get a longboard and some fat sacs, then you can ride waaaay back. I've done that."

The officer/ranger was ALL about his personal enterpretation. And really, what do I do? Claim that he doesn't have the right to do that and then get a ticket - and spend my time fighting it?

Yes, I know where to find the regs. But they are 300 pages long. I was hoping someone would be able to tell me specifically where to look. And since the regs were recently changed for wakesurfing, I was hoping someone would have this info as well.

Edited by chathamsolutions

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Brad B

Its CO1

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chathamsolutions

Thanks.

Here's the CA Boating law pdf:

http://www.dbw.ca.gov/PDF/cbl2004.pdf

Not sure where to look. And since it's last update was 2004, not sure if it was after the regulations were put in place or before.

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05wake

There is actually a wakesurfing specific handle that you are supposed to use. It does not have as big of a throat for you to get your head stuck in if you have a lot of slack when you fall.

So you were not any safer by using a rope, and the rope would have done nothing for you if you passed out from fumes.

That said, you did the right thing by not arguing with the patrol boat on a busy weekend. You will never win an argument on the water. The only thing you can do is have the book on hand and tell the "nice man" how you were interpreting the law and then ask for his interpretation. If you can make your case without embarrasing them, you have succeeded. Best of luck next time.

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CRMNGRN

long story short, ask what specific rule, regulation or ordinance you are in violation of, If he comes up with one, just sign the ticket, tell him to have a nice day and get on with yours.

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jklein

On page 13 of the 04 ABC's of California Boating Law, it says:

"Peace officers are also authorized to order the operator of an unsafe vessel to shore.... in the judgment of the officer, the continued operation of the vessel would be especially hazardous."

and it says:

"In addition to state law, many counties, cities, and districts have special laws or ordinaces which restrict activities in certain areas, prohibit certain acts at certain times, or establish additional requirements. ... and prohibit acts which would be contrary to public interest. Boaters must comply with these local rules as well as with the state laws."

Both of these statements IMO give the peace officer broad powers.

In addition on page 14 it says:

"No person shall operate any vessel or manipulate any water skis, aquaplane or similar device in a reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person."

That last one is wide open to interpretation by the peace officer.

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CRMNGRN

So than, the ticket would say, "Violation of page 13 and 14 of the ABCs of California Boating Law"?

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chathamsolutions

I agree JK, I'm sure there's some ordinance somewhere that says, "If he wants to nail you, he can." That's why I backed down.

End of last season there was a Wake Surfing Competition at Callero lake. It's in Santa Clara County - the same county I was nailed in. The rangers are all the same, regs all the same, my yearly pass even works at all county lakes. So I know it's not completely foreign to these guys.

So JK pointed out how I could have been nailed. Anyone know where the regs are that are PRO wakesurfing?

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stewart

I posted some info on this on MBO. I had emailed the commissioners office, plus a few other agencies as part of a campaign to stop some state A.H.'s from banning teak surfing etc. The proposed legislation would have banned any activity within 20ft of the boat.

None of the aganices said wakesurfing was illegal. Most said it was too new a sport. Purely, legislation sighting distances, etc. could have been banned from the sport.

Nonetheless, the Sheriff could still sight you for unsafe operation if he wanted to. Then you and he could go to court, state your case and see if the judge agrees.

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chathamsolutions

Stewart - I can't find your stuff you posted on WSR.

What should I be searching for, what text? 'surfing, law, commissioner' came up nada.

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stewart

I think it was posted under the teak surfing thread.

I looked through my emails, but when I dropped Earthlink, I lost some of my saved ones. Cry.gif

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jklein

There are special loop holes for Pro events and such. Some are stated in the boating laws such as not wearing a USCG Approved vest.

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stewart

Here is the Law that was dealing with Teak Surfing, etc. LINK

It is known as the Anthony Farr and Stacy Beckett Boating Safety Act of 2004 and became law on May 1, 2005.

It looks like they excluded the proposed 20ft law and there is NO mention of Wakesurfing in this law. Yahoo.gif

Here is a LINK to the California Harbors and Navigation Code.

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jklein

That law looks pretty straight forward to me. No mention of the 20 ft rule.

To be in violation it seems to me that you need to be either holding onto the swimstep while underway, or on your back or stomach in the wake behind the vessle while underway.

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chathamsolutions

Ya, it doesn't address anything like wakesurfing.

88, here's the requirement for the state to get a new registrant info:

"651.5. The Department of Motor Vehicles shall provide every person

who originally registers, or who acquires the ownership certificate

of, a vessel required to be numbered pursuant to Division 3.5

(commencing with Section 9840) of the Vehicle Code with a copy of

guidelines for safe vessel operation prepared by the Department of

Boating and Waterways."

I don't remember getting this. If I did, it was probably a short brochure.

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RogerQ

While the code seems to put the power in the hands of the local law enforcement people, I'd have to believe one visit to court would get this dismissed. The question seems to be, is that worth the risk.

I saw wake surfing for the first time yesterday and was amazed at how cool it is--worth the risk. I saw it on two different boats. One used a very short rope with a "T" shaped handle that had knots in it to aid in positioning the surfer initially. I assume you've all seen these ropes? The other surfer had no rope at all.

I'd probably want to get a ruling from a judge / Santa Clara County Sheriff in advance, but if the ruling comes back the wrong way, now you had advance knowledge it was illegal.

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chathamsolutions

I totally agree it's worth the risk.

My main plan will be to do it when the ranger is not around :) But would like to have the info in my back pocket if I need it.

Looking at the code, looks like I'm out of luck. And the ranger even said, 'Ya, we thought it looked really cool. But just a little too close for our comfort...' Ugh.

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CRMNGRN
But just a little too close for our comfort...'  Ugh.

So than, the ticket would read, "following too close for our confort"?

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Dan P

You have to keep in mind that the Ranger is not trying to ruin your day - just the opposite - he wants to keep people safe.

We as a group are safe, experienced, knowledgable boaters. Unfortunately, we know the wallies often out number us. The water police want to keep the wallies from hurting themselves, or us.

That being said, continue to wakesurf. If you do get stopped, respectfully explain that you have thoroughly researched the laws and do not believe you are in violation. If that particular water cop has a different opinion, let it go. His only motivation is safety.

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VinRLX
His only motivation is safety.

And letting you know who's filling in for Poseidon.

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CRMNGRN

Well if:

You have all the required safety devises.

You do not drink, have any open containers or, you’re sure you could pass a breathalyzer/field sobriety check.

You are not overloaded/ too many passengers.

Your registration is current.

You have no warrants out for your arrest.

It’s your boat.

They’re your kids.

It’s your wife.

Your name does not end in abar or bula.

You speak English.

Tell the ranger to either write the friggen ticket or get out of the friggin way or, if it happens the Ranger’s being a nice guy, compliment his boat than challenge him to a race around the no-wake buoys.

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