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Published: Thursday, 9/4/2003

Boaters beware of jet-powered craft

BY SHIRLEY LEVY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

State watercraft officials are urging boaters to take extra care when operating or boating near the popular jet-powered boats known as personal watercraft.

PWCs are fun to ride and easy to maintain. And although they've gotten plenty of bad press, they aren't more risky than any other fast, agile craft.

The problem is that they're so easy to operate that people without any experience on the water think they can just jump on and go.

Another concern is that injuries sustained in PWC accidents tend to be more severe than those involving other types of boats. Broken bones are common, as are lacerations.

About 28 per cent of the 191 boating accidents reported in Ohio last year involved PWCs, according to Todd Doncyson, law enforcement administrator for the division of watercraft.

“Many of the accidents involved people who lack the experience and training to handle the jet-propelled craft safely,” he said. “Generally the victims' ages range from 12 to 30 years old.

According to Terry Wozniak, former president of Toledo Water Sports, the typical PWC owner is considerably older.

“Statistics show they're in their 30s, 40s and often their 50s,” he said.. “The problems occur when they let their kids run their watercraft.”

Under Ohio law, children under 12 aren't permitted to operate a PWC. Youths 12 to 16 can operate the boats if they have an adult on board who has a boater education course certificate.

Toledo Water Sports is a non-profit organization for PWC enthusiasts in Toledo and the Western Lake Erie basin. It maintains a Web site (toledowatersports.com) that lists online safe boating courses that lead to certification.

Boating safety classes will be offered this month by both the city Boating Education Center and Toledo Power Squadron.

The Boating Center will teach a boating education course in three sessions at the Ottawa Park Nature Center, Monday through Wednesday from 6-9 p.m. each day.

Subjects include boating waterways safety rules, navigation, docking and casting off, VHF radio protocol and the use of life jackets and other safety equipment.

The cost is $35; advance registration is required. For more information, call 419-936-3848.

The Toledo Power Squadron will offer a four-week “Boat Smart Class” to the public, beginning Monday. Classes will be held at the 577 Foundation in Perrysburg on Mondays.

The fee for materials is $30; but a second student sharing the book pays only $15. Call 419-874-4174.

REGATTA ROUND-UP:

Earth Voyager, skippered by Ryan Howe, of Rochester, N.Y., set an elapsed time record in the multihull division of the 2003 Trans Erie Race, Aug. 23. The 60-foot trimaran completed the 140 mile course from Grosse Ile to Erie, Pa., in 15 hours, 54 minutes and 30 seconds, knocking nine hours off the record it set in 2001.

Toledo skipper Jamie Matuszak, of North Cape Yacht Club, along with Sue Grassley and Ashley Harrison, crew, will compete at the Rolex International Women's Keelboat Championships in Annapolis, Sept. 27-Oct. 3.

Sixty-one teams from seven countries and 16 U.S. states, will vie for the title in J/22s.

The Toledo team will race Matuszak's Wuzant Me.

The Toledo Rowing Club's Fall Regatta was canceled due to the ongoing renovation of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Bridge and construction of the new I-280 crossing.

Originally scheduled for Nov. 8, the event has been moved to Oct. 16, 2004.

“Both bridges are right in the middle of our race course,” said TRC president Jeff Helmick. “We'll be back stronger than ever next year.”

LOGBOOK:

The state division of watercraft has proposed an amendment to the Ohio Revised Code that would limit or prohibit the use of outboard motors and power boats in certain wildlife areas.

Division spokesman John Wisse says it's basically a housekeeping amendment that brings the boating regulations in line with those of the wildlife division.

A public hearing on the proposed amendment will be held at 10 a.m., Sept. 18, at the division of watercraft headquarters, 4435 Fountain Square Court, in Columbus.

Copies of the proposed rule are available at the Ohio Legislative Service Commision's Web site at: http://www.registerofohio.state.oh.us/

SEPTEMBER EVENTS:

5-7: Associated Yacht Clubs Poker Run and Opening of the Cards, Detroit Beach Boat Club

6: Mid-Channel Race, North Cape Yacht Club

10-14: North American In-Water Boat Show, Cedar Point Marina, Sandusky

12-13: Regatta, Sun Parlour Boat Club

13-14: Fall Series, Jolly Roger Sailing Club

14: Ole Man of the River Award and International Order of the Blue Gavel District. No. 9 Rendezvous, River View Yacht Club



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