You Are Operating Your Powerboat Near A Shoreline. What Should You Do To Help Prevent Erosion?

Erosion on the shoreline has many negative effects, and how boaters operate on the shoreline has an impact on the water environment. There is the need to protect the shoreline from erosion or a lot of damage will be done to other boaters, the larger boats will end up causing problems to the smaller ones.

The wake sent by boats and ships when setting out on the water is one of the important factors that determine the condition of the shoreline.

Boaters have a responsibility towards the environment in order to keep it safe and that’s what we’ll share in this article. We’ll talk about what boaters need to do in order to prevent erosion on the shoreline.

Causes Of Shoreline Erosion

  • Human influences.
  • Natural water forces.
  • Natural land forces.

The human influences are the most rapid ones and it’s caused by human activities on the shoreline, it’s also called “Accelerated Erosion”. It occurs faster than natural influences (water influences and land influences).

Not only does it happen faster, but it’s also the most difficult one to reverse, sometimes in an attempt to prevent shoreline erosion, but boaters can also end up causing more damage to the shoreline.

Effects Of Shoreline Erosion

The environment is affected and if there are properties and vegetation nearby, they’re the ones affected the most. If there is also aquatic life, they will be affected negatively. On another note, the shoreline is where individuals tie their boats.

If the area is eroded, boaters will find it difficult to tie their boat until it’s reversed which might require occupying more land area and will cost a lot in terms of money and damages.

If Operating Your Powerboat Near A Shoreline, What Should You Do To Help Prevent Erosion?

If Operating Your Powerboat Near A Shoreline, What Should You Do To Help Prevent Erosion?

Reduce Wake Speed

The best thing to do when you’re at the shoreline is to maintain the wake speed. Wake is the main cause of erosion near the shoreline and it’s rapid when the wake speed is high. You want to reduce the speed and ensure you’re not deviating in the counterclockwise direction.

Maintaining the wake speed means reducing the boat speed when setting out on the water and when you’re approaching the shoreline.

Most vessels come with the option to reduce the throttle to “No Wake ” speed, you need to switch to this speed when you’re approaching the shoreline, this plays an important role in preventing erosion.

Don’t Operate In Shallow Water

This is the second action you can take in order to prevent shoreline erosion. The reason why you want to avoid this is to avoid pump or prop intake which will result in stirring up bottom sediments or end up destroying aquatic life and plants.

Larger vessels have a more negative impact while operating in shallow water and hence it’s recommended to avoid approaching such areas. If you have to, make sure to reduce the wake speed as low as you can, the “No wake” speed is the recommended speed as mentioned above.

Drain The Bilge Before Leaving The Waterway

This is also another measure to take that will prevent shoreline erosion, not draining the bilge and cleaning the prop will carry plants and animals from one waterway to another, this results in disrupting the natural balance of the shoreline area or the entire environment. Draining the bilge and cleaning the prop will help greatly in preventing shoreline erosion.

When operating your powerboat these are some of the measures you can take, there are still other human activities that cause erosion at the shoreline.

Regulatory Zones

In order to protect the environment, some regulations were made to ensure that boaters are not causing damage to the shoreline. Let’s take a look at the common regulatory zones that will help protect the shoreline;

  • Idle speed-No wake Zone; This is where boaters are required to move at a very low speed, the speed should be only what’s required to move the boat and maintain steerage and headway. At this speed, a boat isn’t supposed to create a wake, that’s why it’s referred to as “No wake” speed and the throttle can be easily navigated to this speed. There will be a sign telling you to move your vessel to Idle speed or no-wake speed.
  • Minimum wake – slow speed zone; In this area, the vessel can move slowly in the sense that if it has to create a wake, it’s minimal. That’s to say it won’t cause any effect to the shoreline, nearby vessels tired shouldn’t be affected. You shouldn’t elevate the speed in this area or it will be considered as not following the rules.
  • Restricted speed zones; In these areas, you can increase your vessel to not more than the mentioned speed, the speed will be mentioned like 25MPH zone or 35MPH zone. Once you enter this area, you’re not allowed to go beyond the speed mentioned, sometimes a range will be provided. Whatever the case might be, just obey the speed limit and you’ll be safe.
  • Vessel exclusion zone; Some zones are swimming areas and no boat is allowed to pass through that area. They will be marked with a vertical diamond shape in the center of a square cube. This sign can also mean a dangerous area, meaning that there might be a rock or it’s not safe to pass in these areas. Vessel exclusion zones show that you’re not allowed to enter the area for various reasons.

Safety Tips To Help Prevent Erosion On The Shoreline And Also Prevent Damages Or Accidents

  1. Whenever you come across a smaller boat or marina, you should reduce your speed from 500 feet away. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the no-wake or slow wake zone, this will make sure that your wake isn’t disrupting the smaller boat or when approaching narrow wake or marina.
  2. The moment you’re approaching posted wake signs, you should slow down your boat as well. If you move at high speed, your wake can reach restricted areas which will end up impacting the shoreline as well.
  3. Start with the smallest wake when you’re entering the no-wake speed areas. You should also drive towards the vertical direction or trim the outboard.

Is It Illegal To Move At High Speed Or Create A Large Wake?

Yes, it’s illegal and in most states, you’ll be fined for it especially if there are regulations with signs mentioned. Suits can be filed against you when you fail to abide by the regulation, you’ll be sued based on the damages caused by the operator. Some of the elements that will be considered include the following;

  • Size of the wake; Larger wakes are known to not only cause erosion but also cause a lot of damages to small boats. They can cause capsizing or lead to accidents between other boats.
  • Speed of the boat; There is no excuse in driving at a high speed especially when you’re in traffic, or when approaching or leaving the shoreline. Moving at a high speed is the fastest way to get sued.
  • Visibility issues; If there is restricted visibility, you’re required to move at a very slow speed and you have to use various signals which can be in the form of light or sound to alert other boaters on the way.
  • The traffic of the area; In high traffic areas, you’re also required to move at a reasonable speed and also avoid sending a large wake. You have to adjust vessel speed based on the traffic of the area, or you’ll end up with fines.
  • Sending a signal when approaching smaller vessels; If the boat is approaching a larger wake, they have to send signals to smaller boats on the way, and failing to do so can also be used against them if they cause damages or accidents.

Read More: Under Federal Law, Which Type Of Boat Must Have A Capacity Plate?

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