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Make Boating Great Again

Michael Peters

Sightlines - May 2016

Make Boating Great Again

Every movement needs a catchy slogan.


Boating is such a basic freedom that the writers of the Constitution didn’t even bother mentioning it. It is the most inalienable of all our rights, because as we all know, no one owns the water. While our founding fathers lacked the wisdom to outlaw sailboats, they knew that any form of restrictions on powerboats would cause another revolution. Despite their obvious intentions, we have suffered an onslaught of regulations and restrictions on our boating freedoms ever since.

When I was growing up, there were no restrictions on fishing and no protection of endangered species. Man dominated beast. The ocean is huge and if a species can’t replenish itself, why are we messing with nature? If migratory fish enter our waters, they don’t always send their very biggest, but they eat all our resources and leave nothing but a bunch of poop, so why protect them? Eat them or send them home!

I have seen hundreds of manatees over the years, and I’d say almost half of them don’t have any big propeller scars in their backs. Why do we make laws that affect only half of a population? We wouldn’t do that for people. Along comes some guy named Jimmy Buffett and he makes us fall for these homely creatures. Believe me, they are not cute like puppies and you wouldn’t let them lick you in the face, but we have no-wake zones all around Florida just for their protection. 

We can no longer discharge our own poop, pump our bilges, or spill a little fuel. I pee in my swimming pool and my grandkids haven’t turned yellow yet, so how can this make any difference. The ocean is like a bazillion gallons, it’s huge! I shipped an outboard motor home from California last year, just because I was afraid to spill even one drop of gas in the water and have some overzealous member of the Sierra Club turn me in for a $5,000 fine. Come on, one drop, lighten up a bit!

Noise regulations have all but omitted the use of generators overnight or the ability to run straight exhaust on your Cigarette. Has anyone ever tried to sleep on a boat at night in Florida without air conditioning? My daughter Katie and I tried sharing a bunk when she was six and we had to be separated like Siamese twins in the morning. Without the bellowing sound of horsepower and the subsequent loss of the fast boat industry, the devastating economic impact has even trickled down to businesses like breast augmentation. Regulations kill jobs.

Don’t kowtow to the sea cow! Prop up your own rights as a boater! If you agree with Michael, please share your crackpot ideas in the comments below.

Safety regulations have gotten out of hand with mandatory bowrails and life jackets for everyone. With all those life jackets on board there is hardly any room left over for a decent-sized cooler of beer. Years ago we all sat up on the bow with our feet hanging over the sides, but now the slight possibility of running over your kid has become completely illegal. Today’s generation of boaters is losing its basic freedoms to the nanny state.

This right-of-way stuff doesn’t work either. No more of this power versus sail versus towing stuff. It should be simple; yield to the biggest or fastest boat or you are going to get your ass run over. Whoever thought up this green and red light stuff wasn’t looking through beer goggles after partying all night, so it needs to be repealed too. And according to the constitution, sailboats shouldn’t be here anyway, so they should be sent back to France where they came from.

This isn’t really a law, but it irks me anyway. What the hell is it with all this hand waving? The same guy you wave to from your boat is probably that same jerk lawyer that your ex-wife hired during your divorce, but when you are boating, you feel so obligated to be nice. I still prefer the old single-digit salute and say screw that PC stuff, if I don’t like you on land, you are dead to me on the water, too.

It is really easy to get agitated when you see that the government has encroached on our boating freedoms all in the name of safety or the environment. If you believe that there is no such thing as a good regulation, please contact me for your free red baseball cap (send along $199.95 for shipping and handling) with the embroidered slogan “Make Boating Great Again.”

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.