Memorial Day On The Water


Memorial Day has come and gone, and happy to report for the week end holiday, here in Missouri, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Water Division reported No Boating Fatalities, & No Drownings Over Memorial Day Weekend.

Boating Statistics

Crashes -- 6
Injuries -- 3
Fatalities -- 0
Drowning -- 0
BWI -- 7
Drug Arrests – 0

However, always a but.  It was really evident that there were many first-time boaters, boaters that were not educated in the basic navigation rules. Boaters that didn’t care or had the attitude for I am on vacation and what I do stays here and do not take responsibility for my actions.


With that in mind, let’s review some simple boating navigation rules and boating courtesy.

1.      There are two types of vessels on the water ways.  They are: Stand-on and Give-way.

So simply put, the Stand-on vessel is the boat that continues at the same speed and direction.  The Give-way vessel is the vessel the yields.

 When you are driving to your favorite water way, what side do you drive on?   The right side Correct?  When are you driving back home you drive on the right side Correct?  So, on a lake imagine a white line down the center.  When you are going upstream drive to the right of the center of the lake.  When going downstream drive of the right of center.  Just like you would on a highway.

 Avoid wandering from shore to shore, this only confuses other boaters, as they cannot read your mind, you can not read theirs.    One way to help communicate your intentions is to drive with convection.  Pick a fixed point on land, go directly to the fixed point.  Understand that may not be your finial destination. But continue this process until you get where you are going.  In other words, A to B, B to C and so on.  By driving in straight lines, you are telegraphing your intention to other boaters.

2.      When do you Stand-on or Give-way?   Again, just like driving a car.  You will encounter three basic scenarios.

a.        Head on.   If another boat is approaching, you head on, both boats are Give-way.  both boats will turn to their right.  Each vessel will pass each other port to port.

b.      Crossing.  Just like when you are driving a car and come to a four-way intersection that is uncontrolled.  The Boat to your right is the Stand-on vessel. Your boat is the Give-way or yield to the boat to the right.   Be sure to pass the stand-on boat to its stern, never attempt to cross in front of the stand-on vessel.

c.       Over-Taking.   In the instance you are approaching a boat that may be slower than you.   The boat you are overtaking is the Stand-on vessel, you boat is the Give-way, so if traffic allows you pass the vessel you are over taking and pass to the left, in some cases you will pass to the right.   Note, when passing pass with enough distance where your wake will not cause damage or swamping, rocking the other vessel.  A distance of 100 ft is recommended, between both vessels. 

When in doubt if you are a Stand-on or Give-way?   be the Give-way, remember you job as the captain is to avoid boating incidences and accidents.

3.      Towing a skier and tubing or wakeboarding.  What is needed, when to use the skier down flag.

a.      When towing a skier or pulling a tube.  You must have an observer. In Missouri, rear view mirrors are not permitted.  The reason for the observer their job is to be a look out to notify the captain when the skier falls off the skis or when the people on the tube gets tossed off.   

When a person is in the water, that is when you raise the orange /red flag.  The sole purpose of the skier down flag is to make other boaters, that is a person in the water, and you are attempting to pick them up or allow them to get back on the skis or tube.

When that person is back up and skiing or tubing the flag comes back down.  DO NOT ride around with the flag up all the time.  The Missouri water patrol will most likely stop you and issue a warning.

b.      When skiing or tubing do not do this activity in the main channel.  It is difficult to see when someone is in the water and could be injured by a prop.  Find a large enough cove to perform this activity.  Please, when Skiing, Tubing or Wakeboarding.   1, Stay at least 100 feet away from docks. 2. Be considerate of other vessels that may be anchored, or fishing stay away at lease 100 feet.  If necessary, reduce your speed. 3. Understand all posted Buoys.  Remember to share the waterway.  Be sure all involved wear a lifejacket. 

4.      Over the Holiday, one unfortunate boater ran aground on an underwater reef, at Lake of the Ozarks.    The area was plainly marked off with exclusion and danger buoys.  Lucky, no one was hurt and all on board escaped.  The boat, however, was a total loss.

What is a buoy:    A buoy is a floating object that is used to show ships and boats where they can go and to warn them of danger, provide information, or regulate traffic.

There are four main types of buoys used in inland waters.   They are:

Information Buoy: These are marked with a square, they give information other than the edges of safe water areas. They are found on lakes and rivers and give directions and information, mark controlled or closed areas, indicate where food and gas possible hazards.

Here at Lake of the Ozarks information buoys are mounted on dock floats and a large billboard with written instruction.

Danger Buoy:  Diamonds warn of hazards such as rocks, shoals, or turbulent waters. Always proceed with caution and keep a safe distance. Never assume that every hazard will be marked by a buoy.

Control Buoys: Circles indicate a restricted boating area such as no wake, idle speed, speed limit, or wash restrictions. You must obey the restriction inside the circle.

Keep-Out Buoys: or also called exclusion area buoys   these are marked with crossed diamonds indicate areas where pleasure craft are prohibited such as dams and spillways, swim areas or endangered aquatic habitat.

When boating is a good idea to keep a distance of 50ft away from a buoy.  The reason is all buoys and anchored to a weight (sometimes call a dead man) by means of a cable or chain.  At low water tables, the cable of chain could become entangled in the lower unit of the motor, and cause damage.

5.       Gas Dock Courtesy With the number of boaters, it was noticed that there were lines of boats waiting for fuel.   Most people were patient and courteous.  However, many were not.

At any given time at Lake of the Ozarks on a weekend or holiday there can be over 160,000 boats on the water.  Before going out on the water, it is important to fuel up the day before if possible.  Remember, most of the gas docks are limited to the number of gas pumps as well as personnel to service you.

A few helpful hints.     

a.       Know your fuel tank capacity.  When fueling only fill to 90% do not keep filling so that the fuel exits through the over-flow vent.  This contaminates the water and causing a fire hazard.

b.      If you are approaching the fuel dock and there is a line wait your turn, be courteous. Don’t  barge in front of a boater waiting to dock or may have problems is docking.  

c.       After fueling is complete if you have a inboard or a inboard/outboard run the blower for at least 4 to 5 minutes.   Go in to the sea store pay for your fuel and other items.  Then start your engines and leave the dock allowing another boat to gas up.  Don’t not linger, inform your passenger to purchase or use the restroom quickly. Remember, there other boaters,

d.      Lastly tip the dock people. They are doing their best.

Remember, everyone is on the water to enjoy and make great memories. Do your part in sharing the water-ways, be courteous, and safe.   


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