Boaters are divided into two categories: sailors and power boaters (we believe fisherman are a separate category). And in Brooklyn, like everywhere else in the world, the two mix about as well as oil and water.
In order to operate a powerboat, all one needs is enough money to rent, buy or own a boat; enough money to fill the tank; and the ability to turn a key and push the throttle forward. Operating any vessel under power skillfully is another story. Sailing is is a never-ending learning experience of controlling a boat through water using the wind and tides in conjunction with the sail trim, boat angle which creates lift (like an airplane wing) to move the boat. Unlike a car or powerboat, you can't just point a sailboat and expect that it will move in the direction you want it to move. In many cases, the wind, or perhaps shallow water, will prevent a sailboat from being able to move in a particular direction. Sailboats also can't turn on a dime or quickly stop and move into reverse.
This weekend, in our local waters, we experienced some classic boneheadedness by a number of stinkboaters. One fishing boat (seen in the picture above, and better seen if its enlarged), was motoring along from some unknown point West to the Gateway Marina. As it is cutting through the Rockaway Inlet, we could notice that this boat was emitting a cloud of yellow-brown smoke from its transom. Upon closer inspection we could see a long cloud of smoke trailing for hundreds of yards from the boat.
We're also fairly convinced that a good number of the stinkboaters in our local waters have no idea that there are "rules of the road." These rules, known as the International Regulations for Preventing Collision at Sea, dictate which vessels shall stay clear of the other in various situations. Our most common beef is with the local fleet of Rodneys is they ignore the basic rule that power gives way to sail. The reasoning behind this rule is that boats with unrestricted maneuverabilty need to give way to those boats with restricted maneuverability for obvious reasons.
Sailboats under sail have restricted maneuverability. For that reason, a powerboater, like the knuckleheaded guy in the 25-foot boat with a 300 horsepower engine, who also happens to be towing his 8-year old kid behind the boat in a tube should not head right in the direction of a slowly moving sailboat and expect the boat to quickly move out of the way (yes, that did happen over the weekend).
There are also New York State and Coast Guard laws governing boat speed in the vicinity of docks and noise limitations, which we interpret as: the illegal boat will be forced to dock and not leave until sound suppressing equipment is installed and operable. We're guessing that the powerboater, driving the obnoxiously loud Scarab that sounded as loud as five top-fuel dragsters, with a driver who yells"yo, we got the right of way," as he plows in front of a sailboat approaching a mooring field had his mufflers on order and was shaking out the engine briefly before installation.
The US Coast Guard Navigation Rules are free and and available right now. (We put the link there to make it easy.)