On February 10th a new poll question asked viewers of this website to register their opinion on Jet Skis at Clark Lake–see main page, lower left.
To provide more context to this important topic, Beth June researched the issue and found that there are guidelines for their use and writes about the topic below:
The website poll currently indicates a clear majority (64%) feels that guidelines are needed and that jet ski operators should be more respectful. For the record, Jet Skis, Ski-Doos and Wave Runners are types of Personal Watercraft (PWC) with the main difference having to do with manufacturer and brand. For the purpose of this article, PWC will refer to all brands and models regardless of manufacturer. Did you to know that there are guidelines already in place for operating PWC? It’s true!
Two summers ago, visiting family teens wanted to take off on the lake with our Wave Runner. We put them off by saying that they weren’t old enough and didn’t have a boating safety certificate. Would it surprise you to know that there are very restrictive guidelines for use of PWC? And those guidelines come directly from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)/The Handbook of Michigan Boating Laws and Responsibilities.
It may surprise you to know that:
• NO ONE less than 14 years of age can legally operate a PWC.
• Those 14 and 15 years of age may operate legally ONLY if they have obtained a boating safety certificate AND he/she is accompanied by his/her parent or legal guardian or by a person at least 21 years of age who has been designated by the parent or legal guardian OR he/she is operating or riding the PWC at a distance of not more than 100 feet from his/her parent or legal guardian or from a person at least 21 years of age who has been designated by the parent or legal guardian.
• Those at least 16 years of age and born after December 31, 1978 may operate a PWC only if they have obtained a boating safety certificate.
• Those born on or before December 31, 1978 may operate a PWC legally without restrictions.
Yes, you read that correctly!
Those at least 16 years of age and born after December 31, 1978 may operate a PWC legally only if they have obtained a boating safety certificate. Those born on or before December 31, 1978 may operate a PWC without restrictions.
Of all the people on Clark Lake last summer operating a PWC who were born after December 31, 1978, how many do you think had a boating safety certificate? How many were illegally operating that PWC? My guess would be quite a few. Now for the big question: How many were allowing someone to use your PWC who did not meet the laws? If you allow someone to use your PWC, you are responsible, both legally and financially. These laws are a reason to say “no” to family and guests who cannot legally operate your PWC.
Getting that all important boating safety certificate is not difficult. Contact the Jackson County Office of the Sheriff (http://www.jcsd1.org/marine_division/) or you can take the course online at www.boat-ed.com/michigan.
My opinion: People operating a PWC on the lake should be respectful of others. Everyone on the lake needs to be respectful of others. If the laws are followed, I bet that the PWC issues on Clark Lake would diminish quickly and significantly.
What do YOU think?
Take the poll now on the main page, lower left.
Comment from Bryan (no last name given):
“Me and friends ride our stand up skis on Clark a lot during the summer months. We also dock our pontoon at the Pointe. We as responsible riders already know all of the applicable laws and ALL carry our boaters safety cards with us. This is including the guys that are pictured in your article. They know the laws and have the appropriate licenses.”
Response from Beth June:
Good for you, Bryan. Responsible riders/operators are exactly what we need! Thank you to you and your friends!