Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Jet Ski Drivers - according to Davo

Last month I spent some time at Woodgate – a small fishing and holiday village just south of Bundaberg. My family and I spend a lot of time associated with activities on, or around, the water – both the sea and the rivers that are in that area. Because a lot of our activities involves kayaking, paddling surfskis, stand up boarding, snorkeling and swimming (just to name a few activities) along with fishing – both in the ocean and in the rivers then we often come into contact (not literally) with boat drivers, people who are waterskiing, other kayakers etc and all these people can impact on our enjoyment. We are very conscious of the responsibility of our activities whenever we are in, or on, the water and we spend a lot of time making sure our activities do not negatively impact on other people e.g. we do not snorkel near people who are fishing, we do not take our kayaks into the waterways where people are waterskiing, when using our motorboat we make sure we slow down when we are passing another boat or anyone who may be using the same waterway as we are etc. Also because we partake of many different activities on the water – we are very aware of what is necessary by other boats to allow everyone to use the waterways safely and with maximum enjoyment. 
It is a pity that many other people do not think the same way. 
One of my pet “hates” is drivers of jet skis who either leave their brains at home when they take the jet ski for an “outing” or the people who license the jet ski owner are very “slack”. 
Now I am very much aware that not all jet ski owners are irresponsible and I apologize to these people from the start and I the following article is not aimed at them but is aimed at the people who have “no idea” of what impact their driving their jet skis near swimmers, paddlers or sailing boats or they just do not care.  
So I was standing on my SUP board (Stand Up Paddling board) just after a jet ski has tried to wash me off by passing with 3 meters of me whilst they were  dragging a person on a wake board when I thought – “I wonder how difficult it is to get a license to drive one of those”. And so I thought I would write a blog about a fantasy visit to the authorities to get a license. I will emphasize – I have NOT actually gone for a license and there is every chance I will never go for a license but this is how I think the conversation would go if I did apply.  
The rest of the blog is written as if I was listening to the examiner and what he would say  

“Good morning Mr. Challen – I believe you are here for your Jet Ski license. I would like you to fill out this application and we will take it from there”. 
I fill out the form and give it back to him. 
“It looks like we have a problem right from the start Mr. Challen – you have spelt your first name “David” properly and in the question “Write down all the numbers between 1 and 10” you have answered the question properly and there are no smudge marks where  you have had to change a number. I should have mentioned at the beginning that we have a 2 tier licensing system – if you had not been able to spell your name or if you had struggled with the number question then we would have given you a license straight away because you demonstrated a natural tendency to drive a jet ski. But we will now need to go to the 2nd system and I wish you well”. 
“Have you read the jet ski instruction manual and the owner and driver manual that is available on our website and available at all good “Hells Angels Headquarters”?” 
I confirmed I had studied the books and was ready for the tests. 
“Again Mr. Challen – it is not looking good for you. The appropriate answer would have been one of the following  – “What books”, “My dog ate them”, “It did not have any pictures so I could not read it” or answers to that effect” 
Here is the test and again I wish you all the best” 
I then go and fill out the tests and represent the form back to the examiner within a short period 
“Are  you sure you want to drive a jet ski Mr. Challen – most good drivers either scribble “Who cares” across the sheet or come back questioning which end of the pen are they to write withUsually it takes a good 3  to 4 hours for most future jet ski drivers to finish the first question – “What is your name?” on the top of the sheet. But let me check the answers you have given and we can take it from there” 
“Oh dear, Mr. Challen – on the question “What is the speed limit for Jet Skis in a waterway?” The right answer is “Depends on how fast my jet ski is” not that sooky answer you have given talking about built up areas, mangroves, other people and other boats etc.” 
“You seem to struggle with some of the other questions Mr. Challen. The answers to the questions “What is the common name for swimmers?” is “Speedbumps”, “What is common name for people in canoes?” is “Targets” and “What is the common name for people on stand up boards?” is “Future speedbumps””. 
“Here is another one you have wrong Mr. Challen. “How far should a driver of a jet ski travel down the river?” – the right answer is “It is time to turn around when no one can see me”. 
In the question “If you come around a corner of a river and find 2 boats stationary – one boat on the left is 5 meters from the shore and fishing towards the shore and one boat is anchored in the middle of the river and people are reading books – which side of the river do you travel on and what speed should you be doing?” – the correct answer is “Between the boat on the left and the shore, keeping as close to the boat as possible and travelling as fast as possible”. We would have given extra merit marks if you had mentioned “Yelling and screaming as you go past” and especially if you had used the word “Donut” in the answer”. 
“The right answer to the question “How close can you safely travel when passing someone on a non powered craft?” is “If I cannot see the white of their eyes then I am too far away””. 
“On the question “Once you have launched your jet ski at the ramp – what distance away from the ramp is seen as a safe distance before you “set up camp”?” The correct answer is “Right at the ramp – that way I can leave my car on the ramp, open up the doors and have the stereo playing at full bore and my friends can stand on top of the roof of the car and watch me whilst giving loud whoops and screaming”. 
“Oh dear oh dear oh dear. I do not think that owning and driving a Jet Ski is really the right thing for you to do Mr. Challen. I see on the question “You are bringing your Jet Ski into the riverbank and there are lots of people swimming around your landing area – what actions should you take and what is the driving method you should adopt?”  that you struggled with the correct answer. This is a common occurrence Mr. Challen and it is important that you get this right. There are a number of answers you could have given that are correct but the answer you have given about slowing down and taking aversion action and maybe walking the Jet Ski into the bank is not one of the correct answers. You could have written the following “I would accelerate whilst using one of the following driving methods – The No Hands Method, The One Hand on the Steering Handle Whilst Waving with the Other Hand Method, The Handstand Method, The Sitting Backwards Method, The Eyes Closed Method or even the Blindfold Method” would have been correct and shown that you really understand the expected actions of a responsible Jet Ski driver” 
Mr. Challen I could go on and on with these answers but, in reality, I do not think you are suited for a license to drive a jet ski and I feel that allowing you to drive a jet ski would only cause all jet ski owners to get a bad name. I think you should either give up the idea completely or spend more time around Jet Ski drivers and watch and study the way they act and maybe you might get some idea of what we are looking for in a Jet Ski driver. Good day Mr. Challen”.  

Again I apologize to all responsible Jet Ski owners and drivers. I understand that owning a Jet Ski could be fun and if the craft is used responsibly then there would be a “ton of fun”.  
But as a person who wants to use the water to swim in, to paddle in and to sail in – I also know that irresponsible Jet Ski drivers are dangerous and can spoil a “good day out”. 
I also know that there are many boat drivers who are just as dangerous and just as irresponsible and many of the above comments could be applied to them. 
I certainly think there should be blog written about boat owners who cannot reverse their trailers down ramps, who do not prepare their boats for launch BEFORE they reverse down the ramp, who park their trailers and their cars in ridiculous places because they “just want to get out boating” as fast as possible, who do not understand that the propeller that drives the boat along is very dangerous to swimmers and other people who are in the water. 

On the other hand I think I could also write a blog on people who think swimming near a ramp is OK. People who think that all other people and crafts should get out of their road, who feel that the ramp is a good place to walk down and stand there looking down the river whilst someone is trying to reverse their boat or trailer down the ramp, who feel fishing off the ramp or near the ramp is OK and all boat owners should “bugger off”. 
There is fault, on lots of levels, with people who go on holidays and basically “leave their brains at home” but maybe one day everyone will consider their impact on other people and we can all live in harmony and enjoy ourselves without causing problems for other people. 
In the mean time – I need to go and study Jet Ski ownership just in case I get hit on my head with a hammer and end up wanting to own a jet ski. 

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