Consumer Q & A

Subject
Topic: Can you please define "bowriding"?
Coralkong
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Posted: 29 June 2005 at 8:17am | IP Logged

I have a 36' Trojan with a "built-in" seat on the front of the boat.

I am well aware that bowriding is illegal. OK, well, can someone please define bowriding, once and for all (as to how the Coast Guard and the police define it.)

Thank you.

 

ksucat99
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Posted: 29 June 2005 at 8:57am | IP Logged

I would also like to know, as I have a 36' express cruiser with a sunpad that has grab rails around the perimeter in addition to the regular rails.

MichaelNJ
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Posted: 29 June 2005 at 9:10am | IP Logged

Who said it was illegal?

My understanding is that as long as you have a bow rail and no part of the body hangs outside, it's legal.

This is what I've heard.  I've seen people riding on the bow at cruise speed.

Personally, I do not allow anyone on the bow while the boat is moving except at ilde speed if they are handling lines or fenders or doing something involving docking.


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jvalich
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Posted: 29 June 2005 at 9:25am | IP Logged

From my experience, it varies.  We had one of out Power Squadron members get stopped recently by the water patrol for his wife sitting on the back of the seat in his bow rider.  They were in an idle zone.  She was sitting inside on the back of the seat with her butt against the windshield.

Evidently, Florida has re-worded the regulations that states you need to be in a seat.  From what it was explained to him, even sitting on the sunpad with your feet on the seat in the cockpit is now no-no while underway.

No vessel shall be operated within Florida in a reckless or negligent manner. Examples of reckless or careless operation include:

  • Excessive speed in regulated or congested areas
  • Operating in a manner that may cause an accident
  • Operating in a swimming area with bathers present
  • Towing water skiers where obstructions exist or a fall might cause them to be injured
  • Bow riding or riding on the gunwale or transom where no seating is provided
  • Operation of a personal watercraft which endangers life or property  
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boatingncst8fan
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Posted: 29 June 2005 at 9:39am | IP Logged

Personally, I don't see the difference in someone sitting in the front seat of a bowrider vs. someone sitting on the foward deck of an express cruiser equipped with a bow cushion, grab rail and bow rail.  I've been in a bowrider where the passengers in the front seat were bouncing 4-6" off the seat in rough water, which is why I was in the back.  Would a person sitting on the forward deck of an express cruiser equipped with grab and hand rails be more likely to be thrown over the bow vs. someone sitting in the small seating area of a bowrider in these same conditions?

Garrett

Edited by boatingncst8fan on 29 June 2005 at 9:40am
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PascalG
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this is one that will probably vary depeding on who you ask...

it's my undertanding that sitting on a sunpad with grabrails and bow rail around the bow is ok.  i can understand that sitting on a transom or gunwale being dangerous...

usually, the definition of bow riding includes body parts outside the boat.

Some boats have seats ahead of the sunpad... mine does.  so... if sitting on the seat in front the sundpad is ok, why not on the sunpad itself ?


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rwidman
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Posted: 29 June 2005 at 9:46am | IP Logged

well, can someone please define bowriding, once and for all (as to how the Coast Guard and the police define it.)  

Many opinions here, but the only place you can get an answer that will hold up in court is from the boating authority in your state.  If you write or e-mail your question, you will receive a printed explanation which you can carry with you in case you are challenged.

Ron
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T3RockHall
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Posted: 29 June 2005 at 10:16am | IP Logged
photo

Washington:   12.28.100                  Bow riding. It is unlawful for any person to ride on the bow, gunwales or cabin top of any vessel or watercraft. (Ord. 86-41 1 (part), 1986)

Ohio: Sitting, Standing, Walking on Moving Vessels Restricted  (ORC 1547.22)  No occupant of a vessel underway shall sit, stand, or walk on any area not designed for that movement except when immediately necessary for safe and reasonable navigation or operation. No person shall permit any occupant to violate this section. No person shall operate or permit operation of any vessel in violation of this section.

NJ: No vessel shall be operated in a reckless or careless manner. Reckless or careless operation shall include operating any vessel in a manner which unnecessarily interferes with the free and proper use of any waters, or unnecessarily endangers
other craft therein or the life or limb of any person upon any craft or in the water.
Big Bliss
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Posted: 29 June 2005 at 11:39am | IP Logged

Well all the definitions nare fine and dandy and they will be different in any state.  Sorry but I think the USCG rules don't matter much when your DNR sets their rules for their state and they don't mean much when you get stopped by your local water lawa enforcement officer.  Yeah, you can go to court and fight it but first you get the ticket.  Court expenses of course are out of your own pocket, such as day of from work.  Here in MD the "law" says children under 12 in boats under 21 feet need a life jacket on while underway.  Good, bad, ugly, that's the law.  If the friendly water LEO stops you in your 25 footer and you have a 13 year old without a jacket he may give you a ticket and then you have to fight on your own expense.  Again this is just in regards to the letters of the law, not whether it is prudent to have them kids wear one all the time, no matter how old and what size boat we are talking about.

Same with bow riding, it is ridiculous that you can ride in the front of 18 foot bowrider but not on the sunpad of a 40 express.  Again the law here says that bowriding is not allowed in MD, for me that would include bowrider's bow.  But the exact words state:

Bowriding or riding on seatback, gunwale, or transom - may constitute negligent or grossly negligent operations.  The fine for reckless and negligent operation in MD is up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year, or both.  First offense penalty in the state of MD is $500.

Now how broad and vague is that????? It is completely up to the water LEO's interpretation what is reckless and negligent operation in this case and at the very least you will invite them, if you have somebody on the bow, to stop and board you.  Not worth it, it ticks me off, but not worth it.  Sometimes I see people flying in a little bow rider when I feel that the Bay is too snotty for anything smaller then a 30 footer or too many people in a walk-around center consol with seats for two, everybody standing and just holding on with one hand without any rail and a gunwale that is maybe knee-high, how are they more save then somebody on my 14 foot wide, double railed bow with hand rails next to the double wide sunpad?????????

 

Edited by Big Bliss on 29 June 2005 at 12:48pm
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T3RockHall
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Posted: 29 June 2005 at 11:52am | IP Logged
My center console boat is rated for...NINE!

Incredible! If I had 9 on board, I SHOULD get a ticket!
Edited by T3RockHall on 29 June 2005 at 2:48pm
Flutterbye
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Posted: 29 June 2005 at 12:02pm | IP Logged

California's regulations are similar to Florida's.  Everyone must be seated in an area designated for seating.  Sunpads should only be used when the engine is off, but a forward deck seating area is okay.  The water cops out here are really coming down hard in this area this year.

 

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boatingncst8fan
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Posted: 29 June 2005 at 1:05pm | IP Logged

Those states' lawmakers who absurdly mandate everyone be seated must have never seen a Center Console style boat...imagine that.  Our 20'er only had two pedestal seats behind the console and a cushion-topped cooler in front of the console just big enough for one person.  Add that up and you get THREE people allowed to ride in the boat based on their stupid law, but it was certified for up to 6 or 7.

Where do these states do their research before putting a law into effect???  Oh I forgot...they don't research it!

Garrett

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Chimoii
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Posted: 29 June 2005 at 6:36pm | IP Logged

T3Rock Hall

Our 23 Boston Whaler is rated for 12! Our 13 B-W is rated for 6 (as long as the total weight doesn't exceed 900lbs). Since I certainly exceed 150lbs, as do my friends,  crew reductions are a rapid necessity

captharv
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Posted: 29 June 2005 at 9:42pm | IP Logged
Not only are the laws differing from state to state, county, or munipality, but the definition as to what constitutes proper seating varies among the officers.
Another thing, the "badge mentality" works like this: IF an officer recently investigated a case where a person was "bowriding" and fell overboard and got hit with a prop, ANYTHING which even remotely resembled "bowriding" gets cited. They do this ahore with cars, too.
I see nothing wrong where a large cruiser/trawler has manufacturer installed seating forward. However, on a sunpad on the fordeck of an express cruiseer, underway, NO.
My $.02
Captharv
Sarge62
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Posted: 30 June 2005 at 7:31am | IP Logged

I'm buying a CC this week to replace a Cuddy. Of course no one was allowed on the bow of my Cuddy. They would be extremely unsafe up there even pleasure cruising. BUT, my 18' 6" is rated for 7 people. Two cushioned seats on the baitwells port and starboard, two cushioned pedestal seats, 2 skinny people on the cushioned bench in front of console and cushioned bow area for the 7th. Now, with anyone sitting on the bow cushioned area, am I subject to being stopped and fined? The bow is cushioned completely and has side rails. Sitting on the edge facing to the stern is just like having a large port to starboard bench seat. Of course when cutting up fish from stem to stern the cushions will be on shore leave.

Sarge

rwidman
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Our 23 Boston Whaler is rated for 12! Our 13 B-W is rated for 6 (as long as the total weight doesn't exceed 900lbs). Since I certainly exceed 150lbs, as do my friends,  crew reductions are a rapid necessity  

"People" (or "Persons" as they love to put it), include children of any size or age.  Most of the boats we own would be seriously overloaded if we put the allowed number of full sized adults on board.  Mine's rated for 10 people!  

Ron
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T3RockHall
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Posted: 30 June 2005 at 8:17am | IP Logged
Sarge62 wrote:

Now, with anyone sitting on the bow cushioned area, am I subject to being stopped and fined?

 


Maybe. But it's just something else your friendly LEO can add to your summons if he catches you out there being a complete a/h. Really, is it smart to be calling attention to you and your boat? Do you want to be boarded? Blow into a balloon? Have your boat searched?

If you hit a big wake, what will happen to the person sitting on that cushion? Is the cushion part of a molded seat in the bow area, or is it just on top of the forepeak? A little common sense can go a long way here.


DiverDon
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Posted: 30 June 2005 at 11:21am | IP Logged
A few years ago I almost got ticketed for riding on the "gunwale" of my rollup 8' Zodiac while under way with my 4hp motor at no-wake speed on a lake in Wisconsin that averages about 4' deep.  I finally convinced the LEO that sitting on the "Floor", as he put it, was not condusive to safe operating due to limited visabilty.  
M-pulse
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Posted: 30 June 2005 at 11:45am | IP Logged

This seems like "great art."  I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. 

Personally, I dont allow any passengers on the bow of my express cruiser while underway, except when docking.

M-pulse
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natethegreat978
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Posted: 30 June 2005 at 1:03pm | IP Logged
I'm going to try and e-mail the water cops now, stay tooned for a post
later with their response.

nate
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waterone1
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I think the consenses is, at the least you are drawing attention to your boat and inviting law enforcement to stop you. At the worst (from a law enforcement perspective) you are facing a hefty fine. My opinion on the real-world side of this: In calm seas, at no-wake speeds, an adult, on the sun-pad of a 30 foot or above cruiser....OK, anything else.....absolutely not. Under normal conditions, all of this may seam OK, however, let something go wrong, and this can lead to tragedy. While I know none of us would think of turning off the key switch on a cruiser running at speed (on plane), that is exactly what it is like when your outdrive hits something and shears a shaft or an engine blows. If you have ever been there, you know what I'm talking about. Now imagine someone on the bow when that happens...they don't stand a chance!!
rwidman
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Friday I was on the water and observed a small cruiser (about the size of mine) on plane with a woman (holding a dog) lying on the sloping and rounded front deck.  People have no sense!  Clueless!
Ron
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jyasaki
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Posted: 19 July 2005 at 5:52pm | IP Logged

I have an 18' RIB.

Rated for 12 people; seating for 4. Normally, when I have 4 or more, there are only 3 in seats; everyone else is on the tubes. Per CA law, I suppose that's ticketable, but where else are you supposed to sit?

Boat is used primarily for diving, so deck space is at a premium (hence the not-very-many-seats thing.)

 

jky

 

 

carp
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Well-so much for bowriding but along these lines.  Is moving about the craft in a no-wake to tie  on fenders, ropes etc. a no-no?
Greenstreak
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I pass dozens of boats on the St John's river here in Florida every weekend with women and children riding on the bow. The law enforcement does not stop them. the only time they will get stopped is if they are hanging their legs over the side.

art


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Flutterbye
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carp wrote:
Is moving about the craft in a no-wake to tie  on fenders, ropes etc. a no-no?  

That type of activity is considered safe, necessary movement about the boat.  The skipper should warn if anything unexpected, such as a wake, should occur so that the crew can hold steady.

 

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natethegreat978
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well, after a long wait...no reply from the water police... o well. maybe i
had the wrong e-mail or something.

But, It definetly still is not clear as to what a seat would be... Is a sunpad
on the bow ok? I saw a guy with 2 seats attached to both bow rails on the
sides of his boat, like where fender holders would go. The seats were like
the style of a "crazy creak chair". He must've been going 20 kts + w/ one
person on the sunpad and 1 on each chair...

What if a person goes up to handle fendors/lines? I stop the boat when
we have to pull up the fendors etc. but when we're coming in to a dock
and a line needs to be thrown from the bow, obviously your moving at
least slowly...

still questionable.

Nate
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T3RockHall
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Greenstreak
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I really get furious when i see boaters allowing their children to sit on the bow with their feet dangling over the side. Here is the reason why it should never be allowed.

Last weekend at Bresford lake just east of Hontoon State park on the st John's river a family had rented a Pontoon boat and was cruising on the lake with their 13 yo daughter sitting on the bow with her leggs hanging over the side. She fell off and went between the Pontoons and she hit the prop before he stopped the engine. It cut her legs badly. Also, she was cut  in the chest area. I have not heard the latest on the accident. But, this is why no parent should allow their children to do this. It seems that I hear more to often that they were inexperience boaters. What does being an experienced boater got to do with it? It is just plain common sense.

art

Edited by Greenstreak on 22 August 2005 at 10:29pm

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waterone1
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Art, those of us with experience know that anything can and will happen. The in-experienced bunch are too busy having fun to think about consequenses or what can happen. Most of the time, they get away with nothing happening, but when things go wrong, they are terrible. I can't imagine giving my keys to someone who never owned a boat, yet every day, there are places that turn someone loose with a 60 foot houseboat that have no experience, in some cases, this is our government doing this.......talk about irresponsible ??
natethegreat978
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Posted: 23 August 2005 at 10:20am | IP Logged
There is a fine line between hanging your legs off and tending to fenders.
I agree, it is completly common sense. Obviously no one should ever be
fooling around on a boat.

My question was more: Is it ok when docking to toss a line? Or fenders?
Is the sunpad only made for when the boat is anchored or docked?

Nate
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T3RockHall
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Posted: 23 August 2005 at 12:55pm | IP Logged
natethegreat978 wrote:
Is it ok when docking to toss a line? Or fenders?
Is the sunpad only made for when the boat is anchored or docked? Nate  


You'll have to apply the laws of common sense. If a person can roll off the sunpad as you cross a wake, then the answer is just stay off the sunpad while the boat is under way. YOU are responsible for what happens on your own boat. YOU will be hauled into court if YOUR DECISIONS cause a crew member or guest's injury or death. Like the rules that govern right-of-way, they only apply until an accident is imminent, and then they're tossed out.

So, when you let that bikini-clad babe up on the sunpad and she rolls off into the drink, YOU are responsible. Not her. Not the boat that caused a wake that YOU decided to cross at high speed. YOU let her be there and it's YOU who are responsible, statutes or not.

Just my opinion. I think this is becoming a ridiculous thread.
DavidK
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Nate-

If your bringing out bikini clad babes on the boat, I want you to admit it here in front of everybody.  Are you 17 yet?  

Rauzer
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... I only wish I had a boat (and bikini clad babes) when I was 17. 
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natethegreat978
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lol, that wasnt my question. haha

no.

happy boating,
Nate

i just wish the CG or whoever would say like "u can't ever be on the bow
of your boat while the engine is running" or something like that. It would
be so much easier, like, end of story. haha

nate
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CrownMine
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Posted: 24 August 2005 at 2:15pm | IP Logged
That's one of the reasons that my first boat (as an adult) is a big bowrider!  No question that I can use those seats underway, and it really helps with line handling to be able to run stem to stern inside the boat. I agree with the sentiment, however, that a small bowrider (particularly the "deckboat" style) is as dangerous as a larger cruiser.

That said, on a typical sub-30-foot cruiser, bow seating is generally unsafe at planing speeds.  You obstruct the driver's view, and on most boats you have very little to hold onto. Do you feel safe because you can bounce and roll to a railing?
Edited by CrownMine on 24 August 2005 at 2:21pm
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The following is the opinion of Florida Maritime Accident Lawyer Gabrielle D'Alemberte, as found on the internet;

A discussion has been going on for a while about what constitutes "bowriding." Some have said that riding anywhere on the bow where there is not a seat is "bowriding" while others, including a federal court judge, have said that some part of the body must be extending over the side of the boat in order for it to be considered "bowriding."

The Florida Boater's Guide (page 29) says this: Bowriding is "allowing passengers to rider on the bow, gunwale, transom, seat backs, seats on raised decks, of any other place with high likelihood of falling overboard"

That seems to answer the question. If you are on a large boat, people can ride on the bow as long as there is not a "high likelihood of falling overboard."

PeterD
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Posted: 16 November 2010 at 9:48pm | IP Logged

I will just add a short comment: The USCGcitation will be for "Negligent Operation" or "Grossly Negligent Operation"  Bowriding is considered negligent opration. Here is a link to a US Coast Guard Notice to Mariners http://www.uscg.mil/d1/prevention/NavInfo/navinfo/documents/ Enforcement.PDF 

A quote from that notice:

NEGLIGENT OPERATION

EXAMPLES OF NEGLIGENT OPERATION ARE:

Failure to reduce speed in areas where boating is

concentrated.

Operating at excessive speed under storm conditions or

in fog.

Operating while intoxicated or under the influence of

drugs.

Towing water skiers in an area where they might be hit

by another vessel.

Operating within a swimming area.

Cutting through a regatta or marine parade.

In accordance with Title 46 United States Code, Chapter 23,

Section 2302:

A person operating a vessel in a negligent manner that

endangers the life, limb or property of a person is liable

to the United States Government for a civil penalty of

not more than $1,000.

A person operating a vessel in a grossly negligent

manner that endangers the life, limb or property of a

person shall be fined not more than $5,000, imprisoned

for not more than one year or both

As a  Coastie I was always taught that bowriding was considered negligent operation.  Although not listed above, bowriding, riding on gunwales, sitting on the transom, hanging your legs over the side, and some times riding on a seat back were considered negligent operation. The degree was a judgement call by the boarding officer.   Through training the USCG tries to make the judgement call consistent but as was said you are dealing with individuals and so it will vary depending on the circumstances.

And every state has its own law and interpretation of what constitute negligent operation. Some have actually encoded the word bowriding into the law as some of the posts here have shown. The best thing is to contact your state boating law administrator and find out what your state law is.  http://nasbla.org/i4a/member_directory/feSearchForm.cfm?dire ctory_id=3&pageid=3335&showTitle=1    A lot of states have this on line.  For instance Washington http://www.boat-ed.com/wa/handbook/pdf_index

And as others have said, bowriding is just plain stupid.  There is no way a boat on plane can stop, or stop the engine, or even maneuver fast enough to avoid someone who has fallen off the bow or sides of the boat.

Ike
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Wisheye
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Posted: 20 December 2010 at 7:17pm | IP Logged
How would you consider this particular "bowrider" that is taking the picture ??  Safe, stupid ??  He is standing on the bow of an express cruiser, on plane, with a 5 year old at the helm.

PeterD
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Posted: 20 December 2010 at 7:43pm | IP Logged
AS I said Stupid. What he should have done was mount the
camera on the bow, set the timer and get into the picture.
That would make a nice family portrait. As long as an adult
is sitting next to that kid I don't have a problem with him
at the helm, but in some states this is illegal.
Ike
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