Boating

Area of Life
Boating is an outdoors sport that takes place on lakes (natural or man-made), oceans, and rivers all around the world. Boating is usually open to the public on state owned property or can be done on privately owned property. In either of these cases, permission or even a fee may be required for their use. Boating is primarily considered a summer activity in Montana, but can be enjoyed year round in other areas where weather permits.
The equipment involved to partake in this activity is both vast and costly. Not only do you need the boat, but you also need a vehicle that is big and strong enough to pull the trailer that your equipment is on. There are also many requirements that need to be obeyed before you have some fun in the sun. These include licensing and registration, certain equipment is required to be on board at all times, maintenance needs to be kept up, and responsible operation and control in emergencies are also major requirements. With so many rules and regulations, boating proves to be an expensive activity which requires an immense amount of responsibility. Boating usually consists of at least a two person party. However one person may go alone for purposes such as fishing.
Boating is an activity that many people have been fortunate enough to partake in. It can server as a form of exercise, and can allow fun for others in the sport of wakeboarding and water skiing. The travel that is involved with this activity can be a great time in itself. People may have had the opportunity to travel to different states. Boating gives many family’s an opportunity to spend some quality time together. One element that has begun to put a damper on the amount of boating for many family’s is the immense increase in gas prices over the past few years. Yet, boating continues to be an exciting activity that allows people to enjoy themselves and get away from the stresses and worries of the everyday life.

Juridic Controls
Although boating seems to be a carefree activity, underlying that picture perfect exterior is an “ocean” of rules and regulations that are to be followed at all times. A list of these is as follows:
It is unlawful to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There is certain equipment that needs to be in the boat at all times while in use. This includes fuel tank(s), a horn of some sort, navigation lights for travel between dusk and dawn (a red light on the port (left) side, green on the starboard (right) side, and a white light that is visible in all directions), a flashlight, a Coast Guard approved PFD (personal flotation device) for each person in the boat, a fire extinguisher, a paddle or an oar, and also, if needed, a navigation unit. A child 12 years and younger must wear a PFD at all times while in a boat.
When participating in boating activities keep in mind some of these guidelines that are required in Montana. A child that is 12 years or younger cannot operate a motorized boat unless someone 18 years or older is on board. From the age of 13 it is required to have a valid Montana motorboat operator’s certificate, which can be obtained from an online course. You must be 18 years or older to rent a motorized boat. If pulling a person on a wakeboard or other device, the person being pulled must have on a certified PFD. Also there must be an additional person in the boat with the driver to observe the person out on the water.
Montana law also prohibits driving within 100 feet of other boats or skiers, as well as driving at high speeds that enable the driver to stop efficiently in the case of an emergency.
There are many rules for boating, some being enforced on the boat, and others in the water. Boats should be launched and loaded at the appropriate areas provided for them. It is illegal to dump wastes such as garbage or sewage into the water, designated waste disposal areas are often provided. When fueling the boat on the water the operator must be sure to allow no gasoline to spill into the water or in the boat to avoid any unwanted fires and pollution. Boats cannot emit sounds greater than 86 decibels measured at a distance of 50 feet.
Boaters must stay at least 200 ft away from a "diver down" flag, 20 ft away from designated swimming areas, 75 ft away from someone else engaged in hunting or fishing activities, and 50 ft from a swimmer in the water. These are the rules enforced and designated my Home Land Security. It may seem there are too many rules on boating, which may be frustrating and make the event itself not as enjoyable. Yet, these rules and regulations are for your safety and your fellow companions. Boating can be a dangerous activity and if accidents or injuries happen they are to be reported to the local sheriff.
All boats are required to be registered within the particular state's guidelines. In Montana all boats 12 ft and longer are required to be licensed and registered in order to operate. Crafts exempt from this include manually propelled and government owned boats. Out-of-state boats need a special registration for the desired state if there stay consists of more than 90 days. In Montana, boat owners must obtain a certificate of ownership (title) and certificate of number (which lists the boat’s registration, decal, hull and title numbers) and pay all fees to the County Treasurer in the county where the owner resides. The certificate of number must be carried on board the boat and be available for inspection whenever the boat is in operation.
Every boat MUST be registered. The registration number must be painted or attached to the bow. The registration numbers need to read from left to right, be at least 3 inches in height and still be readable when the craft is in the water. The color of the decals must be a contrast color of the boat and there must be a space or hyphen between the MT and the number the boat is registered under. Capacity plates also need to be placed in the boat near the steering wheel and on the trailer that is hauling the equipment. The plates in the boat tell the maximum horse power recommended for the boat, the maximum allowable weight of persons on board in pounds, and the maximum carrying weight of the vessel in pounds. On the trailer, a label providing the maximum weight that can be hauled, the trailer ID number, and the specific weight certain tires can haul.
As with most sports, safety and common courtesy is a big rule that should be followed to make boating a pleasurable experience for everyone involved. Being cautious, having the correct safety equipment, obeying the implied rules and regulations, and respecting to other boaters make this activity an exciting experience.
You can find all of these rules and regulations online or in books and pamphlets that each state has available. In Montana they can be found at Fish, Wildlife, and Parks facilities and other places such as the courthouse or boating outfitters and suppliers. Punishments are put in place for those who do not wish to comply with these fairly simple, rules can be fined up to $500.00 or sentenced up to 6 months in jail. Also boating licenses can be revoked and a person’s privileges of participating in this activity can be taken away from them.

Burden of Juridic Load
The rules and regulations described above are only a handful of the restrictions placed on the boating community. The main focus is on the basics that are to be followed while participating in the activity. Many other laws are made on towing, how certain activities while boating are to be done, unloading and loading your boat and so forth. The boating rules and regulations may frustrate humans, yet they provide a safe and fun experience for everyone. After a while, the rules become second nature and you just follow them to get the most satisfaction out of participating in any activity. The whole idea of boating is fun. Follow the rules and compliances; watch out for yourself and the others around.

How to Escape These Controls
One way to escape such controls, or lighten the the burden would be not going boating at all because there would be rules almost everywhere you go. The one exception would be boating on a private lake on private property. So unless boating on private lake, a person should obey the laws. However, a person could still choose to break the rules at his/her own risk, but if caught, the consequences are great.

Informational Resources

http://fwp.mt.gov/fishing/regulations/boatrestrictions.html http://www.uscgboating.org/regulations/Nasbla_Ref_Guide_6.pdf http://www.boatingbasicsonline.com/course/boating/10_0.php?new_state=MT
An interview with Bill Cook regarding information on this topic took place on the 28th of October 2007.

Revised Fall of 2008

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