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News and Resources

Personal Watercraft Safety is Key - June 12, 2016

                The summer boating season is officially upon us, and that means when you gaze out onto the Coastal Bays, lines of personal watercraft (PWC) are seen cruising through the waterways.  PWCs, or more commonly referred to as “jet skis” or “wave runners”, are a fun and economical way for visitors to experience our bays. They can accelerate efficiently, maneuver without much effort, but lack the ability to stop very quickly. PWC may also pose a challenge with other boaters on the water if all users are not following safe boating practices. Use of PWCs is the fastest growing form of boating in Maryland, so it is important to practice boating safety.

                PWCs are a very popular resort experience with many rental operations throughout Ocean City providing safe guided tours of our bays. The tours are offered thanks to responsible PWC outfitters who attend an annual training program conducted by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Natural Resource Police (NRP).

                Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) is proud to partner with DNR and NRP on various projects. Due to these partnerships, MCBP has the opportunity to attend these trainings and educate the new guides about protecting our bird species, avoiding submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) beds, responsible marine mammal viewing techniques, and provide lists of agencies to contact for stranded or deceased marine life.

                All employees of PWC rental operations are required to attend this annual training and are issued a Guide Certification card upon passing the course. In order to be eligible to attend this class, they must provide a valid certificate of boating safety and a completed guide application form signed by the guide and rental owner.

                Ocean City PWC rental owners take customer safety very seriously and attend this NRP training as well, so that they can share their experiences, both positive and negative, to ensure guides understand their commitment and responsibilities. Even after attending this course, the PWC guides will be challenged to ensure that renters of the PWC understand their responsibilities and are considerate of both other boaters and our coastal environment. 

                NRP Boating Safety Education Coordinator, Julie Brown, has been conducting this training for several years. She teaches new guides that their position is more than a romantic image of simply cruising through our waterways on a daily basis with happy customers. It is a position of huge responsibility, with many factors ranging from first aid and CPR training to discipline, patience, and the ability to determine when to take away the keys and beach an irresponsible customer. In her class, she gives countless examples of situations that have occurred in the past to better illustrate just how complex and complicated decision making can be for a guide. Operation owners and experienced guides also attend and present their own experiences as well. Situations from life threatening, life ending, and thankfully, mostly silly customer antics are covered; providing quite the scope of opportunities that can occur on what ideally should be a fun and simple experience in our Coastal Bays.

                Thankfully, because we have responsible PWC rental operators and a solid education and training program provided by the NRP, PWC guides are thoroughly equipped to conduct safe and successful tours.  For more information on PWC and Maryland’s laws for PWC, both privately owned and rented, visit www.dnr2.md.gov to learn about the laws and safety of operating a PWC or call the NRP Safety Education Section at 410-643-8502.

 

Smith is the Development and Marketing Coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

 



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