We are a nation of individual freedoms and the rule of law. Laws and rules generally restrict the citizen’s right to infringe on the rights of others. Sometimes they reflect an agenda that specifies behavior that “ought to be,” in the eyes of the majority, though I personally consider this “dangerous ground.”
There is considerable impetus within the Coast Guard Boating Safety department, particularly and some law enforcement administrative organizations, for a regulation requiring full time life jacket wear on more than 80% of the recreational boating fleet. The effort began for all boats 26 feet and under. Protests from consumer and industry organizations have, at least temporarily, reduced the demand to under 18′. However, it is clear that this is not “the last bite at the apple.” Continue reading Coast Guard Push for Mandatory Life Jacket Wear
Earlier in my life, I did a lot of business flying in small planes. The joke about flying being hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror can be alarmingly close to the truth. I lost a good friend and fellow pilot last week to an aircraft accident. He managed to save all his passengers with truly superior airmanship. His two engines quit one following the other shortly after takeoff. He touched down initially on a pond in a subdivision, because that was the best shot he had – maneuvering to miss a house with a family inside in the process. His son and co-pilot said he never uttered another word after the engines began deserting him. He just used his skills and knowledge in his few remaining moments to make a difficult best of a really bad situation. I would like to think I would have done as well, but I wouldn’t want to bet on it.
Pilots are granted by law a tremendous latitude in a flying emergency to try and save their aircraft and all aboard. That used to be the case on the waters, too. I fear that we may be letting that slip away. Continue reading Is the Right to Screw-up in the Bill of Rights?
By US Coast Guard statistics, in 2008 there were 4784 boating accidents, 3331 injuries (a record low), and 709 deaths. The same sources estimate 83.6 million Americans boating and 12.7 million boats registered at the state level. They speculate that there are between 4 and 25 million canoes, kayaks, etc. not registered. You do the math. Regardless of whether you choose accidents, injuries or deaths for the numerator and boaters or boats for the denominator, the incidence of mayhem is very small. Most of the results will have 7 zeros after the decimal point before you reach a real number in the percentage calculation. Our sport is pretty safe, and we can be very proud of that as industry professionals. Continue reading How much of safety is the boater’s responsibility, and how much is enough?