Ahoy, fellow boaters! Please pull alongside my tub in the no-wake zone for a pre-launch inspirational talk, delivered today by the Rev. Ben Swamped of the Church of the Heavenly Harbor. Brother Swamped …
“Thank you. I see we have a fine gathering on the lake this morning - Sunday sailors, houseboat herders, pontoon partyers, bass warriors, skippers of runabouts and day-cruisers. It’s good to be with you.
“Friends, these are turbulent times. The Antiboater - the personal watercraft - buzzes among us like, well, a swarm of locusts. About 25,000 of them in Georgia, at last count.
“Yea, ‘PWC’ is the mark of the beast. And though verily we all know them as ‘jet skis,’ we call them not by that name, lest retentive trademark lawyers get on our case.
“Whatever you call them, let not the untrained and inconsiderate among PWC riders sink your spirits.
“When a PWC barely misses your bow, or dangerously rides your wake or turns sharply and drenches your deck, curse not the rider as a moron and a jerk. He can’t hear himself think, much less you yelling at him.
“Yea, he could be busted for his wanton recklessness. But the chances of a DNR officer bearing witness to his transgressions are slim. For many are the acres of lake and miles of shoreline, and though the officers do good works and plenty, their numbers are few.
“And when the PWC repeatedly strafes you and throws up a wake that rocks you like a skiff in a squall, whatever you do, brothers and sisters, don’t take the law unto yourselves like that fisherman in Florida, who finally grabbed a shotgun and blew a PWC right out from under its rider - although nobody got hurt, and I don’t think he had to go to jail for it.
“Besides, the PWC rider is doing all too good a job at bringing great harm upon himself. Behold the numbers: Although PWCs accounted for 8 percent of the registered boats in Georgia last year, they were involved in 46 percent of the accidents. The misguided PWC rider is more than nine times as likely to be involved in a mishap on the water as you are. And when his misguided PWC crashes, his chances of being seriously hurt are much greater than yours. Pray for him.
“And be warned: If you offer the arrogant rider counsel, he will rebuke you, and tell you where to go, that he has as much right to the water as you do. Beseech him to show common courtesy, and your words will go in his ear and out his bilge pump.
“But understand, my floating flock, that the unlightened PWC riders are not here for what we’re here for. Yea, though we may call each other ‘stink pot’ and ‘wind fairy’ and such, we are bonded as boaters, not riders.
“We obey the rules of the road, and rarely do we ram ourselves. We talk and laugh with each other as we sail, or cruise or drift. We drop anchor, eat and sup, and savor sunsets. These things have meant naught to those who could stay ashore and have just as much fun with a motorcycle and a pressure washer. They know not what they miss.
“But let us look to that time - and it shall come - when riders grow weary of scooting across the lake gripping a powerful gasoline engine between their legs and catch a glimmer of a serenity unimagined in their handlebarred havoc.
“As the PWCs grow bigger, to accommodate two or even three people, let us pray for the day when that first rider realizes: ‘Hey, I really can’t do much with this expensive, freakish machine. Can’t chat, can’t snack, can’t fish, can’t sunbathe, can’t get on the water at night - can’t rest. And I can’t hear myself think, much less what that red-faced guy is yelling at me.’
“It is written: ‘When the scales fall from their eyes, in that instant shall ye riders be transformed into ye boaters, and the plague shall begin to lift from the waters.’ “Yes, brothers and sisters, I’m here to tell you: They will see the light and become boaters, and thus seek but one thing first and forever-more: a bigger boat.”
Amen, and anchors aweigh.