Stanley Yacht Services: Just Say "No" To Teak Surfing!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Just Say "No" To Teak Surfing!

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It's boating season pretty much everywhere right now and while we all enjoy the sun, fun and company of good friends, it's important we don't ruin the moment by undertaking dangerous activities such as "teak surfing" (also called "drag surfing"). YouTube videos abound featuring happy-go-lucky youths holding onto the swim platform of an underway boat, often letting go to body surf in the wake. In some instances, swimmers body surf back to the boat and grab the swim platform again. Sure, it looks and sounds harmless enough, especially if you ignore the obvious possibility of another boat running over the person body surfing in the wake, but there are other, hidden dangers that will certainly ruin your day on the water.

Any experienced boater will warn people in the water behind the boat: "Beware the prop!" Even when the engine is turned off, a boat's prop can cause serious injury to inattentive swimmers. How many of us have accidentally bumped into it when re-boarding via the swim platform ladder? Props are sharp blades, by design, and can cause severe, even lethal, lacerations - just ask a manatee. One can easily imagine the damage a moving prop can inflict on a person who gets too close to it while teak surfing.

Diagram | AZ Game & Fish Dept.
While proximity to the prop is bad enough, the United States Coast Guard is particularly concerned with teak surfers' proximity to the engine's exhaust ports which emit lethal carbon monoxide. As explained on the USCG website:
Although teak surfing is not illegal in some states,1 it is extremely dangerous due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and sudden loss of consciousness resulting in death.
Carbon monoxide ("CO") is odorless and tasteless, therefore, undetectable until symptoms first appear. The preliminary indicators of CO poisoning include dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath and fainting.2 Needless to say, losing consciousness while in the water is not ideal. And when we take into account many teak surfers refuse to wear life jackets because they hinder the ability to body surf, drowning is almost inevitable.

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The USCG advises against teak surfing and is urging responsible boaters to help spread this safety message. We hope you will. And remember, as the captain of your boat, it's your duty and prerogative to just say, "No!" to teak surfing.

Let's all enjoy a fun, happy and SAFE boating season!

For smooth sailing and zero stress ... call SYS!©

1. While teak surfing is not specifically prohibited by Florida's boating regulations, the argument could be made that the practice falls under the definition of "reckless or careless operation of a vessel" as set forth in Chapter 327 of Florida Statutes. See Fla. Stat. §327.33. Violators of that section are guilty of a first degree misdemeanor and face up to one year in prison and a fine of $1,000. See Fla. Stat. §775.082(4)(a); §775.083(1)(d).

2. Learn more about the dangers of CO poisoning and best practices to protect yourself and your passengers here.

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