Every year, we are excited to get our boats out of storage and into the water, especially after long winters. It’s invigorating to be cruising around the water with our friends and family for the first time in months! However, it’s easy to forget about boating safety and regulations after being out of practice for so long.

Boating accidents happen in the open water more often than not. What we sometimes ignore is the damage that can happen to boats that are docked or at rest in the water. We see boats that are docked 24hrs a day for multiple days in a row. As we cruise, most of the time we don’t realize the wakes created from our vessels. These wakes can cause docked boats to drift into their docks, causing boat damage.

This is a very common scenario that we see regularly, especially during launch time. The question that arises from these occurrences is – who becomes legally responsible for the boats that were damaged?

Yes. Under General Maritime Law, any damage to a boat at rest, whether at a dock or mooring or other property caused by the wake of the passing vessel, is the sole responsibility of the owner and/or their USCG Licensed Captain of the vessel creating the wake. The owner of the docked and/or resting boat is not responsible for this damage.

For more information on this law, check out this article. In Chicago, there are two Harbor Code Ordinances referencing no-wake zones: 10-40-400 and 10-40-261(3), which references waking within 150 feet of any other vessel

Being mindful of other vessels on the water will help us to keep all of our cruising speeds in check – ultimately keeping our boaters safe.

If you’d like to take a look at our class offerings to get more comfortable out on the water, visit our schedule here. Feel free to also reach out to us at any time with other questions you may have at info@chicagoyachtworks.com.

Stay safe out there!