Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Waterskiing spotters on a boat...

Another question we get here often enough, is with regards to spotters onboard pleasure craft that are engaged in waterskiing and other towing activities.

The Part VI of the Small Vessel Regulations (Section 41) set out the requirements for waterskiing and other towing activities.

The Regulations include the following safety measures:

- there must be a spotter (other than the operator) on-board, who is keeping watch on the person being towed,

- there must be a seat available for each person being towed in case recovery is necessary (only personal watercraft designed to carry three or more people can be used for towing),

- if the person being towed is not wearing a lifejacket or a personal flotation device, the vessel must carry the equipment that would be required if the person were on board,

- towing activities are not allowed during the period beginning one hour after sunset and ending at sunrise; and

- the towing vessel cannot be remotely controlled.

The question we deal with the most regarding the spotter, is what age does this person have to be. The regulations of course, do not stipulate this. All they do address is that the person is required to "keep watch on the person being towed". They are a safety number, who is responsible for the safety and well-being of the person on the other end of the rope. It only follows logically then, that the person should be of an age and maturity where they can be relied on to carry out this duty in a responsible manner.

You cannot possibly know how many people will sit there on the phone and argue with you that their 6 year-old is incredibly mature for his age. First of all, you have no business being a parent if that's how your mind works. You're going to try and saddle your 6 year-old with being responsible for another person's life??? Are you fucking serious??? The spotter must not only keep watch on the person being towed, but must have the mental wherewithall to relay to you exactly where the person fell and help in locating them, should for some reason he or she fail to surface.

That of course would leave the door wide open, for you to be charged appropriately under Section 43 of the Small Vessel Regulations: No person shall operate a small vessel in a careless manner, without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons.

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