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jklein

Boat Drivers

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jklein

Last weekend my son who is barely 14 asked if he could drive the boat while I would be pulled on my wakeboard.

Kind of pulling from the cobwebs of my memory, I told him he had to be 16 years old, or 14 years old and pass a boater's safety course in order to pull a skiier.

Since then I read the ABC's of California Boating law 2004 (that's the latest edition) and I don't see that there's any special restriction except that the driver be 12 years of age and be supervised by someone at least 18 years of age when the craft is less than 30 feet in length and if it's over 15 horsepower.

So I guess he can legally pull me if my wife or other person greater than 18 years of age supervises his driving.

Is that right? As of now, I've got him enrolled in a "basic power boating" course given by the local college that's 3 evenings where he learns all the basics of driving, navigating, docking, etc.. in their boat.

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obski

That's basically what we have in Oregon, with the exception that they have to have an Oregon Boater's Education card. The supervising adult also must have their card.

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Brad B
As of now, I've got him enrolled in a "basic power boating" course given by the local college that's 3 evenings where he learns all the basics of driving, navigating, docking, etc.. in their boat.

Emphasis on "in their boat"!

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RogerQ

You are correct with the ages. I will say that the local law enforcement will watch VERY carefully if they see a younger driver pulling a skiier. I had them follow us for a while on Monday near Discovery Bay, CA.

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summerfun

I know your asking about CA law, but I just thought I would jump in here and give WI law in case someone else reads this post.

In WI, you only need to be 12 to operate the boat alone if you have passed the DNR safety class. You can pull skiers as long as you have a spotter. A spotter does not have to be of any age, just able to relay signals to the driver. Obviously a baby does not count, but if a 5 year old can understand the signals and relay them to the drive, he counts.

Edited by summerfun

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mlange

As Summerfun stated, Wisconsin is 12 yrs old if you've taken the safety class. Even if you haven't taken it, you are allowed to drive at 10 if there's another adult in the boat.

My step-son is very mature for his age (11 years old now) and I started having him drive last summer for the first time, expecting that he'd be able to drive for me by the end of the summer. He did so well, that he's now the best driver I have both for footing and slalom.

Regarding spotters, etc... while there is a state law, lots of lakes around here have stricter rules. For example, WI state law says a spotter just needs to be competent, yet my lake states that they have to be 10 years old. So, make sure you check your local laws in addition to your state laws.

Mike

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MARiley

i always thought it was 16 years old. period, end of story.

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VinRLX

Legally in NY, 10 - 17 you can operate a boat with an adult or by yourself with the safey class. This would include pulling a skier with a spotter 10 or older. (I just imagined three ten year olds out skiing with my Malibu. Shudder.)

Reality would be based on experience. I think my son will drive for me somewhere between 10-14, with supervision. At three, he steers the boat at 30-35 MPH, can turn and straighten out, and knows to NOT let go of the wheel.

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summerfun
So, make sure you check your local laws in addition to your state laws.

Good advice. Although my lake, Pewaukee does not have an age on spotters, they do have a rule on skiers wearing life jacket. WI law does not require them to be worn by a skier, just an approved jacket accessable for everyone on board.

The life jacket rule is a real pain to us as we do a lot of barefooting. Although barefoot suits offer ample flotation, they are not USCA approved and therefore illegal without another life jacket over the top. A real pain.

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WakeAndSnoWife

I think it is so important for children and adults to get some sort of driving education course. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have seen people not know the "laws" of boating or cut us off, etc.

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doughickey
Last weekend my son who is barely 14 asked if he could drive the boat while I would be pulled on my wakeboard.

Kind of pulling from the cobwebs of my memory, I told him he had to be 16 years old, or 14 years old and pass a boater's safety course in order to pull a skiier. 

Since then I read the ABC's of California Boating law 2004 (that's the latest edition) and I don't see that there's any special restriction except that the driver be 12 years of age and be supervised by someone at least 18 years of age when the craft is less than 30 feet in length and if it's over 15 horsepower.

So I guess he can legally pull me if my wife or other person greater than 18 years of age supervises his driving.

Is that right?  As of now, I've got him enrolled in a "basic power boating" course given by the local college that's 3 evenings where he learns all the basics of driving, navigating, docking, etc.. in their boat.

Careful on the word "supervising". If you are actually "spotting", then the police officer could say you're not supervising his "driving", because you're not really watching where he's going/how he's driving.... you're just being a "spotter" and watching the skier. He may say you can't do both. Then, you may need 2 "spotters" in the boat. One to be the "Skier" spotter, the other being the 'driver supervisor". 

In Canada, rules are different. Age and HP restrictions aplenty. We also have a new Boaters Course that is being phased in depending on length of your boat.

BOATER CERTIFICATION

All operators born after April 1, 1983  Requirement for Boater Certification is now in effect.

All operators of craft under 4 m (13') in length, including personal watercraft Requirement for Boater Certification is now in effect.

All boat operators require Boater Certification September 15, 2009

AGE/HP RESTRICTIONS

Under 12 years of age, and not directly supervised** Can operate a vessel with no more than 10 hp (7.5 KW)

Between 12 years and under 16 years of age, and not directly supervised** Can operate a vessel with no more than 40 hp (30 KW)

Under 16 years of age, Not allowed to operate a PWC***

16 years of age and over, No power restrictions

** Directly supervised means: accompanied and directly supervised by a person 16 years of age or older.

***Personal Watercraft

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Wkerat

In PA it is now 12 with a safety course. I started pulling skiers recreationally when I was 8 (supervised) and throught the course at 12.

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Baddog

NJ law says 16 or have the safety course. I am taking it next week for the dark side: PWCs and will drag him into it. My son is 12 and is the best driver in our family besides me. When behind the wheel he knows he has to be more responsible and competant than anything else he does in his life and does. i'm proud. My wife is just too scared of all the obsticles out ther to be better at driving so I prefer my son.

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jklein

My 11 year old daughter is actually a really good driver... better than my son. I feel comfortable enough to sit in the back of the boat when she drives while my wife observes for her. I don't feel that comfortable with my son because the testosterone is raging through his 14 year old body.

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billb

You can get barefoot suits that are approved. I'm almost positive that mine is, and I bought it 10+ years ago.

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stewart
You can get barefoot suits that are approved.  I'm almost positive that mine is, and I bought it 10+ years ago.

whoa, where did that come from?

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VinRLX
You can get barefoot suits that are approved.  I'm almost positive that mine is, and I bought it 10+ years ago.

whoa, where did that come from?

The life jacket rule is a real pain to us as we do a lot of barefooting. Although barefoot suits offer ample flotation, they are not USCA approved and therefore illegal without another life jacket over the top. A real pain.

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stewart

Thanks Jack! :)

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VinRLX

You gotta stop speed-reading! ;)

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summerfun
You can get barefoot suits that are approved.  I'm almost positive that mine is, and I bought it 10+ years ago.

Not going to say the don't exist, but I have not found one. We use Barefoot International and Eagle suits. Neither are USCG appoved.

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andyb

In New Zealand, the rules are set by the Maritime Safety Authority. Nobody under the age of 15 may skipper or navigate a craft that is capable of exceeding 5 knots. Bit of a twist. An observer must be 10 or over and obviously accompanied by someone 15 or over driving the boat.

I found out that skiing is prohibited between sunset and sunrise but I can remember some nights when it was still light enough and we had been waiting all day for it to glass off!!

We don't have CHiPs hovering around every corner yet and Tommy, my youngest (7 going on 8) has been around skiing all his life (first ski at 4) and he observes when I need him.

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