View Full Version : No Wake regulations: is there a definition out there?

09-28-2009, 08:12 AM
just asking...I know a lot of lakes have 'no wake/5mph max' regulations.

Wondering: is this an either or situation OR is it saying 'up to 5mph BUT NO wake?'

and of course, the key issue: what exactly is a wake? how is it defined? the wake made by a flat-bottomed boat at 5 mph is a lot different that a deep v makes...and what about those sailboats with deeper hulls?

Lots of questions...just curious.

Mostly because I've seen time and again when a wake roles up on the area I'm targeting bass at...the bite just shuts off. This of course in water less than say 6 feet of depth...

Scott Eveland
09-28-2009, 08:32 AM
From Title 163, NAC, Chapter 3:

001.01L Wake -- The swell, moving waves, track,
path, or water pattern astern of a vessel passing
through water

001.01M No Wake Speed -- A speed at which the
vessel does not produce a wake, not to exceed 5
miles per hour.

Further, most lakes that have a no-wake reg. have this in the wording for each lake:

Speed in excess of five miles per hour is prohibited. Speed of all vessels must be reduced so the wash and wake will cause no discomfort, hazard, injury or damage to person, vessels or property.

Like it or not, as you can see, there is a little subjectivity to it. Nebraska follows the federally-suggested wording.

Lots of vessels underway at 4.7 MPH will still create a "swell." What is probably more important is if that wash and wash causes no discomfort, hazard, injury or damage. You can see that it is NOT an "either/or" regulation. Someone "plowing" at 4 MPH may not be exceeding 5 MPH, but they can create one heckuva wake.

BoatUS recently put out a press release on wakes I'll share with you:

Boat Wakes Make People Angry - And Can Injure

ALEXANDRIA, Va., August 26, 2009 - Boat wakes -- those long, frothy, V-shaped waves trailing from the stern of a powerboat as it slices through the water -- have a sinister side. When other vessels encounter them, they can hurt people. They can make people angry, and they can bring the wrath of law enforcement, for good reason.

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.) recently looked into the issue of boat wakes by combing through the insurance claims case files, where swampings, broken teeth, and back injuries are found. "You avoid being the recipient of gestures from other skippers by using a little common sense and courtesy," says BoatU.S. Director of Damage Avoidance Bob Adriance. "This means coming completely off plane when you enter a no wake zone or anywhere your wake could compromise the safety of other boats," he adds.

Here are some tips to help prevent boat wake injuries to you and other boaters:

Slow early: Boat wakes travel distances, so slow down before you reach a slow-speed zone, not as you pass the marker.

Just a little slowing down isn't good enough: Upon entering a no wake zone, some boaters react by only slowing the vessel slightly, and then plow through with the bow way up and stern dug down, actually increasing the wake. Come completely off plane.

Make her level: Without using trim tabs, a slowed vessel should be level in the water. With some smaller boats, shifting passengers around can help, as too much weight aft increases wake size.

Watch the shallows: Shallow water increases wake size.

Small boats aren't innocent: Wakes are not just a big boat issue -- small vessels in the stern-down position can throw surprisingly large wakes.

When approaching a wake, slow down but don't stop: Motorboats are more stable when underway, so stopping could make things worse. Avoid taking a wake on the beam or head on. The best approach is at a slight angle. This will keep your passengers in your boat.

Take care of older crew: The BoatU.S. insurance claims files show that persons over the age of 50 have the most personal injuries, mostly as a result of being seated near the bow when the boat slams into a wake. It's best to seat passengers -- especially older passengers -- amidships.

Warn the crew: A simple "Hold-on. Boat wake" should do the trick, just as long as you shout the warning well before the wake arrives.

BoatU.S. - Boat Owners Association of The United States - is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters providing its 600,000 members with government representation, programs and money saving services. For membership information visit BoatUS.com: BoatUS Home Page (http://www.BoatUS.com) or call 800-395-2628.

09-28-2009, 12:14 PM
thanks Scott. This is very informative and helpful.

Would be better if it were a little more 'definite'...but what I appreciate is that, and correct me if I'm wrong, it seems the regulations allow speeds 'up to' as long as they don't create a wake...

sure wish they'd define 'swell' vs 'ripple...although they are the same (physics!) thing aside from amplitude...

Scott Eveland
09-28-2009, 12:58 PM
You are correct, it would allow speeds "up to" 5MPH if you aren't creating a wake.

It does leave a little grey area, but it would be very, very hard to make a very black and white definition that is easily understood AND enforceable. Try writing a regulation that defines amplitude...:xCrazy:

Again, it is somewhat subjective, as can be many laws (disturbing the peace comes to mind right away). The key would be moreso that you are not causing discomfort, hazard, injury or damage rather than the size of the ripple you are leaving behind.

Most people that actually get cited tend to be ripping along at much more than 5 MPH and are leaving a definite wake.

09-28-2009, 01:29 PM
Most people that actually get cited tend to be ripping along at much more than 5 MPH and are leaving a definite wake.

I could see a reg like this as 'particularly helpful' when needing to stop potentially dangerous behavior...

the whole 'you are responsible for your wake' thing is real...but another issue that I think would be challenging to enforce...

Scott Eveland
09-28-2009, 01:37 PM
the whole 'you are responsible for your wake' thing is real...but another issue that I think would be challenging to enforce...

You are not only responsible for your wake, but for any damage/injury your boat may cause, no matter who is operating it...:shock: I wish more people would think of this before they set their 10 year old off on the lake on a PWC...

37-1267. Civil liability of owner; recovery limited to actual damages.

The owner of a vessel shall be liable for any injury or damage occasioned by the negligent operation of such vessel, whether such negligence consists of a violation of the provisions of the statutes of this state or neglecting to observe such ordinary care and such operation as the rules of the common law require. The owner shall not be liable unless such vessel is being used with his or her express or implied consent. It shall be presumed that such vessel is being operated with the knowledge and consent of the owner, if at the time of the injury or damage, it is under the control of his or her spouse, father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, or other immediate member of the owner's family. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to relieve any other person from any liability which he would otherwise have, but nothing contained in this section shall be construed to authorize or permit any recovery in excess of injury or damage actually incurred.

09-28-2009, 02:53 PM
know that's the law...might be challenging to prove...say, last Saturday I was out at Zorinsky enjoying a wonderufl day...took my Rolex off and perched it ever so carefully on the gunwale...then took a wake from a fishing boat operator intent on getting back past 168th street...and the rolex fell overboard...never to be recovered.

Guess I shoulda gotten the registration numbers?

(situation is totally hypothetical: I can't tell time - ask my wife - so don't need a rolex...)..

and Scott, even on your own time I will not ask you to comment on this...

Scott Eveland
09-28-2009, 03:03 PM
You're absolutely right, it is difficult to prove, but a law on the books nonetheless. A little easier to prove when someone is hurt/killed, and that is where the "actual damages" add up quickly. Civil damages also take less of a standard of proof than criminal charges (ask OJ).

And, no, even on my day off, I can't comment on your ability to tell time.:lol: