The past few months in Lake Magazine’s “Behind the Boat” column I talked about the growth of wakesurfing and the boating industry’s response to the sport. The amount of products available in the manufacturers surfboard lines, the general differences in them. The boats out for 2014 with the all new surf systems, each a little different but all working to achieve the same thing. The biggest and best surf wave, which can be changed accordingly to fit the likes of the rider. I jumped right in the boats and boards this year.. I want to back up a little and hit a few refresher high points on safety.
I mentioned previously debris in the lake from the water hitting the full pool mark and quite a bit of rain already this year. Its still out there floating, watch for it. Docks were repaired over the winter,(or the dock is in a state which needs repair and coming apart) beaches and lots were cleaned; of which some of the bits didn’t get removed on the shore, or the dock rose up and old age took it’s toll.. there are boards, limbs and “things” floating about still. A positive note, there’s less of it, but still enough not to forget about, so keep your eyes open if you are driving OR riding.
Riding safety; most of us know this, but for people that are new to Lake Martin or boating in general a brief crash course. (hopefully no pun intended) Learn the hand signals between rider and driver, that means both the rider and driver know and understand. There are a few more signals than thumb up, thumb down, & slash at the throat. They are available online and some of us used different ones for the same things.. so drivers be clear with all your passengers. Make sure new people, friends, friends of friends are on the same page with you.. Oddly enough the one thing I see most with kids is (I know this sounds crazy) they won’t let go of the rope when they are ready to quit. Some of the beginners don’t want to let go with one hand to signal, so for the really newcomer, pay close attention, closer than you think you need to.
Etiquette… Etiquette’s definition – a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. I know people that have lived on this or other bodies of water most of their lived that have to learn some of the “rules”. I have written about these before, I’m going to hit a few of the worst of these. If you are towing a rider, OR coming into an area with the hopes of riding and someone is already there with someone behind the boat. Pull the throttle back to idle, not almost idle.. IDLE, stay clear of them, as long as the person being towed is up and makes a few passes, they have the right of way. If he or she falls, then they get to ride a few passes while you wait. The etiquette on their part, should be to finish up and then let you ride the slough and if they have others wanting a pull, then you both alternate riding/waiting. If you both try and ride.. you both will be miserable.. the water is terrible, the rider and driver are both stressed, and unhappy. Be nice, take turns.. simple. Next up on the complete lack of etiquette is the dreaded POWER TURN. Don’t do it.. EVER unless your rider is hurt. If your rider takes a fall pull back to idle and go get them, don’t turn around at speed. If someone takes a slam and doesn’t give a signal, go get them.. and get them fast. With that being said, you riders, throw up the hand and let the driver know your ok asap. The power turn sends waves everywhere, for all the other boats,your rider and peoples docks/boats which are being pummeled by your boat wake and your lack of etiquette. Don’t screw up the water for everyone.
Last thing I want to mention and it’s the first time in Behind the Boat… Sunscreen. Use it. I like a lot of you are out in the sun in and out boat in the summer. Skin cancer is no joke. There are plenty of good sunscreens out there, you should definitely use them. Some of my personal favorites: Beyond Coastal- Awesome line, it takes a little more time to rub in but worth it. Great sticks for quick application for kids and adults, & lip balm with spf is awesome too. Blue Lizard- great stuff, seems to last a long time in and out of water. Bull Frog works really well, comes in sprays now.. on a personal note, I don’t really like the spray sunscreens, haven’t had a ton of luck w/ them lasting like ones that have to be applied old school style. (plus they get all over the boats interior) My day in day out always have around sunscreen I keep in bulk is NO AD. I have big bottles of spf 30,45, and 60. Works great, easy to find and it lasts even though I’m in and out of water all the time. It is also very reasonably priced compared to lots of the others out there.
Be careful, be nice, wear sun protection and have fun…
See you on the water