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Unwritten Rules of the River...

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  • Unwritten Rules of the River...

    My favorite lake, Lake Granger, is fed by a small river, the San Gabriel. Launching on the lake and making your way up river can be a daunting task. The lake and river is fraught with shallows and stumps galore. You really need to have a good GPS track, or be well heeled in running the channel using visual markers, to run the channel on plane; otherwise you just go real slow. This has the unique benefit of keeping most of the people out of the river except for the hard core fishermen. The San Gabriel is a great fishing river, especially when the whites and crappie are running, so even with all the obstacles to get in the river, many people will come in to fish. Once you are in the river proper the channel is very clear and easy to follow and you can run on plane pretty easily.

    So this brings me to the rules of the river:
    1) If you meet a boat coming head on that is not on plane, you slow down to their speed to pass; if both are on plane just proceed at speed, no reason to slow down.
    2) Never overtake and pass another boat on plane and make sure to sound off when overtaking and passing.
    3) Stay to the right, just like on the road.
    4) Don't anchor on the channel.
    5) Slow down for bank fishermen, anchored boats and moored boats.
    6) Always be visible to other boats.

    The only problem with the San Gabriel in this area is that there is a primitive boat launch, made for canoes and kayaks, but it is pretty easy to launch up to a 14 foot Jon with motor. This allows people access to the river that otherwise wouldn't brave coming up from the lake. As you can guess, many of these people have no clue as to the rules of the river.

    One fine Spring day I was running up river and passed another boat coming down river, both of us on plane, we passed each other in a pretty sharp bend in the river; close but with plenty of room to spare. As I make it through the S curve, I hammer down. My boat is fast, it's a 17 foot Jon with a 150 HP, it will run 60 MPH top end and I know this river well. So when I say I hammered down, I was flying once me and the other boat passed each other. So I get to my spot up river, without seeing another soul, and throw the anchor out. As I'm getting ready to start fishing I hear another boat coming up river, it was the guy I met at the S curve; and he was pissed.

    He came alongside and told me what for, how I was going too fast, didn't have control of my vessel, was too close to him when we passed each other, etc, etc. I asked him where he was from as he was in a really nice flats boat, like you would see down at the gulf for fishing the flats. I told him what had happened was normal and if he was going to get this mad each time someone did this to him he was going to have a heart attack right here on the river. If he wanted people to go slow when passing, he should go slow. He was still mad and mumbling, but I was largely ignoring him by now. It was clear he wasn't a regular on the river and wasn't going to take my advice. He turned around and blasted off down river.

    He hadn't made it a few hundred yards when another boat rounded the curve in front of him by a few hundred yards. The other boat coming up river was Green Bean, a regular on the river and a pretty good friend. Well they blast by each other on plane and I just laugh at the timing of it all. Green Bean throttles back and we start talking about fishing and stuff. Well, Mr. Mad had stopped just shy of the curve, maybe a 1/4 mile down river and was sitting there watching us. I really expected him to come give Green Bean what for as well, which would have been real entertaining, because Green Bean would've probably knocked his teeth out. But he didn't, he just sat there for a few minutes steaming, and then left; heading down river on plane. I've never seen him on the river again.

    I have many more like this, but will post them in other posts to keep from making this one post too long.

    Who is John Galt?

  • #2
    Kayakers at Night...

    I'm primarily a crappie fisherman, so I fish at night a lot. And I have to say there is nothing more nerve racking than running up on another vessel at night which is not properly marked with lights.

    As mentioned previously, there is a primitive boat launch on the San Gabriel that allows kayakers to put in. They have as much right to be on the river as I do, but most of them have no clue about proper boating, or it seems that way to me anyway.

    On night I was moving fishing spots heading up river and almost hit one. I don't use a 50 inch light bar on the front of my boat like some yahoos do; I can generally navigate the river using moon light and the occasional flick of the Q Beam to get a visual bearing. So I hit this long stretch in the river and get on plane and I'm going at a pretty good clip, not full out, but moving along well.

    Now here's the part I don't understand. On a still night you can hear a boat motor for a VERY long distance, there just isn't much noise. Pretty soon I see a weak little light just to starboard of my bow, so I crank the wheel to port and shut the boat down. I literally came to a stop with a kayak right next to me on my starboard side about midship. I narrowly missed a collision with this kayak maybe by a few meters!

    Dude is mad at me!

    I politely told him it is HIS responsibility to be seen, he must have running and nav lights on, that's the law, not to mention it will keep you alive.
    He says, there's no reason to be going as fast as I was on the river at night!
    I told him there's no reason to be in the middle of the channel at night!

    I have a little battery operated bow light I keep for emergency use and told him to take it, put it on his kayak so he doesn't die. He did take the light.
    I saw him many months later and he gave me the light back. I asked him if he had lights for his kayak, he told me he did. He also told me he had no idea about needing lights being the law and he thanked me for telling him and not killing him that night on the river.

    I asked him why it took so long to get his light in play on that night. He said he thought he had plenty of time to finish doing what he was doing and then turn his headlight on and signal me. What he didn't realize was that I was moving at a pretty high rate of speed relative to him. So by the time he realized I was moving fast he almost didn't have time to get his light into play.

    I see him on the river quite a bit now and we have even fished together on occasion. He always wears a bright shirt during the day so he is visible in his kayak, and always has his lights on at night.

    I can't seem to break him from drinking that Natural Light beer though...
    Who is John Galt?

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    • #3
      You found a bozo and a good guy. These stories prove that 50% of people are of below average intelligence.
      Last edited by southkogs; April 14th, 2017, 01:43 PM.
      San Diego, CA "The 619"

      "Nemo" (since Jul 2004): 1978 StarCraft 15' TriStar, 1978-88 "FrankenMotor" Mercury 70
      Unnamed (since Dec 2016): 2000 Sea Hunt Triton 172 CC, 2014 Mercury OptiMax 125

      "It's always easier to ask forgiveness than permission" -Colin Powell, et.al.

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      • #4
        I'm not saying your wrong and certainly don't want to start an argument, but traveling at " a good clip" at night seems unsafe. I totally agree with you about anyone running at night without marker lights. That's just plain idiotic, unsafe for them and anyone else out there. Can you just imagine if you hit that jerk because he had no lights? On the lake I boat on there is a night speed limit of 25 Mph and it's a rather large lake too.

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        • #5
          Yeah... I almost ran over a paddleboat one night. The moon was out, I was not running very fast but the way the moonlight was striking the water hid them from me. At the last second I saw a small flicker, it was the paddle boat, clicking a lighter to get my attention. Hard turn to port, I missed them. I politely told them they need a light on the boat to be seen, they told me to watch where I'm going......It takes all kinds, could have been a bad night for all.
          If ya can't fix it with a hammer,ya got yourself an electrical problem.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by poconojoe View Post
            I'm not saying your wrong and certainly don't want to start an argument, but traveling at " a good clip" at night seems unsafe. I totally agree with you about anyone running at night without marker lights. That's just plain idiotic, unsafe for them and anyone else out there. Can you just imagine if you hit that jerk because he had no lights? On the lake I boat on there is a night speed limit of 25 Mph and it's a rather large lake too.
            I hear ya. Although I wasn't watching my speedo, I was probably running 20-25 MPH, that's about the minimum I can run and stay on plane; and that's what I do at night, just run the minimum to stay on plane. No night speed limit on the lake, but that's about all I will do for safety, stuff can go south too fast at higher speeds under the cover of darkness. That 20-25 MPH at night seems a lot faster, especially on the river; so to me that's a "good clip" at night.
            Who is John Galt?

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            • #7
              Kayakers may not need all of the gear boats do, but as a kayaker, I go out of my way to make sure the power boats see me. I know that even if I'm legally "right", I don't want to get hit. It's a lot like crossing the street at a crowded intersection.

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              • #8
                i run into it all of the time, i am on a limited hp lake , 9.9 so we get tons of canoe and kayaks the marina rents them out so at any given time their is 30 plus out, and its very common to run across then at night with no lights of any sort the closest i have come is 2 sitting in the middle of the channel in a nasty fog, i was about 2 miles away from the marina so i offered to toss them a rope and tow them in, i get the old no we are fine speach so after listing a moment i reply NO its not ok for you to be here in the dark with no lights its a death wish so i toss them a line and hook them up and at a idle i towed them in as i am dropping them off at the dock the woman thanked me profusely, i couldn't and wouldn't leave them in the dark and fog
                Bad Dog

                If it aint broke your not having enough fun

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                • #9
                  Any boat, powered by a motor, wind or paddles, is required to display lights at times of poor visibility or night. A flashlight is sufficient on a small sailboat or paddled boat. Flicking your Bic doesn't make the cut. It's safety thing you know.

                  Click image for larger version

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                  This came from https://www.uscgboating.org/images/420.PDF
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by HVACRat View Post

                    I hear ya. Although I wasn't watching my speedo, I was probably running 20-25 MPH, that's about the minimum I can run and stay on plane; and that's what I do at night, just run the minimum to stay on plane. No night speed limit on the lake, but that's about all I will do for safety, stuff can go south too fast at higher speeds under the cover of darkness. That 20-25 MPH at night seems a lot faster, especially on the river; so to me that's a "good clip" at night.
                    Sorry, but I have to agree with poconojoe here. That's too fast at night. Even ignoring the chance encounter with a paddler or swimmer, how do you think it'd go if you hit a floating tree trunk or telephone pole? It happens.
                    John and Linda
                    Long Island, NY
                    Escapade III
                    1992 Carver 26 Command Bridge
                    Twin Merc Alpha 4.3 'Gen +'

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JoLin View Post

                      Sorry, but I have to agree with poconojoe here. That's too fast at night. Even ignoring the chance encounter with a paddler or swimmer, how do you think it'd go if you hit a floating tree trunk or telephone pole? It happens.
                      Again, I totally agree that all and anything that floats at night should have marker lighting.
                      But I don't know...maybe it's just me, I just don't run on plane at night. If I were on the ocean or on a VERY large lake maybe, but on a river or average size lake...no. I boat on a 13 mile long Lake Wallenpaupack in northeastern PA. It's a good sized lake and at night I never get up on plane. I just cruise around slowly. Too many causes for disaster. There could be logs floating, pieces of someone's dock, the water could be low and expose dangerous rocks or stumps and you never know some dumb people or kids could be out there swimming or in a small raft or boat. It's not worth it. Can you imagine clipping someone or a couple kids playing around? I could not live with that even if it were their dumb *** fault. Or jeopardizing the occupants of my boat. I'm the one in charge of keeping everyone safe. Things can go bad real fast. Usually when they do go bad, your passengers don't have much time to even think about it, let alone react in a proper manner. I say have your fun zipping around in the daytime, but be super cautious at night. Hey, what's the rush anyway? Just being in the boat any speed, fast or slow, is fun by me.
                      But...that's me

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                      • #12
                        It's not just you, Joe. Around here, the big hazard is from jetskiers out after dark with no nav. lights. I and my Power Squadron friends never run fast at night or in any other condition where visibility is impaired. I'm just saying that in darkness or fog, you never really know what's in front of you. At 20 mph, it'll be too late to do anything about it.

                        (And in the 'weird stuff happens' category, 6 years ago my friend hit a floating telephone pole at 17 mph, in open ocean, 20 miles off Montauk Point in broad daylight. Bent a propshaft and both props. He was able to straighten one prop enough to get home at 5 mph.)

                        My .02
                        John and Linda
                        Long Island, NY
                        Escapade III
                        1992 Carver 26 Command Bridge
                        Twin Merc Alpha 4.3 'Gen +'

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                        • #13
                          I just wired up a white light on my kayak that is powered by a couple 9v batteries. Another one to add though : don't run too close to shore when people are fishing from it. You cut their lines, possibly drag in a rod or two in, and get a heck of a lot of fishing line around your prop shaft.

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                          • #14
                            HVACrat, I have to ask, would you drive your vehicle at 25 MPH down an unlit road at night without headlights on, zero illumination, just a small green and red marker lit? Not me. Whether I know the road or not. A great way to hit a Deer, Moose or get hit by another car. We used to run the Ottawa River after Walleye fishing at night. No way we would get on plane. Someone was always at the bow with a light on the water, a deadhead could pop up at anytime, GPS does nothing on a river with deadheads. Slow down please.
                            Experience is a lifetime of mistakes, wisdom is not making them again.

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                            • #15
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                              With the advent of LED lighting, it takes far less power to make far more light than ever before. The lights are dropping in price every day, and one could legitimately say you can buy a decent LED light at a convenience store for as much as some of the cigarette lighters on the same counter. People are running out of excuses for not having a light on board, and it will boil down to darwinism.
                              2007 Glastron GS259 with VP 5.0 GXI DP

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