Pain in the arse Jet Skis & Water Bikes invading Exmouth
Disclaimer: "most" users of jet skis & water bikes around Exmouth do so sensibly and with consideration to other water users, swimmers and wildlife. This article explores the small percentage of users whom have relatively limited common sense or intelligence who ultimately will have these things banned or restricted hopefully before someone gets injured or even killed (11 people where killed around the UK by these things 2020).
You've doubtless heard it before while visiting our beautiful coastline - "waaaa, waaaa, waaaa, waaa" - yes it's a bloody motorised mosquito set to break the peace and mow down little Jonnie as he enjoys a bit of a swim.
Let me get this into perspective though - everyone has a right to enjoy their pastime but not everybody has a right to annoy you with it or perhaps even endanger you with it and this is happening around our coasts right now by a small percentage of irresponsible idiots riding their toys at speed where they really shouldn't do.
The problem is that there's no legal power aside from local bylaw to restrict them therefore anyone can buy one, anyone can ride one and only lacklustre bylaws can protect us from them.
Exmouth and the water boy racers
Down here in Exmouth, Devon there's virtually no rules regarding jet skis or water bikes and this attracts many users from around the country to come down and terrorise the community and our visitors.
Just this weekend past Exmouth Rowing Club reported several water borne irritants circling them creating a wake and generally causing a dangerous and unwelcome situation - is the sea not big enough for them that they have to show off in close proximity to people that really are NOT impressed at all?
That same weekend many paddle boarders out in the Duck Pond also reported jet skis & water bikes passing extremely close to them at full throttle while there were kids actually swimming in the water.
What's the government doing about the nuisance?
- You can read about it here: https://bit.ly/38Na4q0 (Opens a new window)
- Nice article in The Telegraph here: https://bit.ly/3kTSSoo (Opens a new window)
Irritating jet skis & water bikes subject to maritime law
The general idea covered in the above articles is to make these waterborne irritants subject to maritime law and that means anyone found to be causing a danger is subject to COLREGS or collision regulations. Break that law and its a massive fine and/or 2 years in the clink!
The new law - if passed will require licensing of the craft and that the craft displays a licence plate so anyone caught riding like a twat is identifiable. Remember - not all jet ski riders are even insured so if they hit you, your boat, your child or worse you've had it unless you go through a private law suit costing potentially thousands of pounds!
Local bylaws for powered craft in Exmouth
- Bylaw 4: Do not exceed speed limit as defined by charts and buoyage: 10 Knots Max.
- Bylaw 4a: Power boat area: power boating allowed in marked area when predicted tidal height is 3.8m or more.
- Bylaw 5: Skiing only allowed in ski area marked by yellow buoys.
- Bylaw 6: Navigate with due care and attention and with reasonable care for others.
In general there's a blanket 10k max in the estuary outside of designated zones covered in bylaw 4 but when the predicted tidal height is >= 3.8m they can use the buoyed zones close to the slip at the recreation ground covered in bylaw 4a.
This is where things are a little dated because bylaw 4a gives them permission to ride full throttle bang smack through swimmers, paddle boarders, windsurfers and such - this bylaw needs changing because the irresponsible riders ignore bylaw 6 covering due care and attention.
If the government gets the go ahead to make these craft subject to maritime law then bylaw 6 would become a LEGAL prerequisite and thus riding like a proper TWAT in amongst other water users would be illegal.
As of publication it is NOT permitted to exceed 10k in amongst the moorings yet some of these idiots actively use other peoples boats and the moorings as a slalom course with no regard to anyone on their boat or anyone else.
Drunk PWC, Jet Skis & Water Bikes
It's also worth noting that there's currently no regulations as to being drunk on one of these things and having heard reports of users flying about p*ssed up - do you feel safe?
The only thing that protects us is if the rider has any alcohol in heir system and they kill you or your child it's manslaughter. Little help for the grieving!
We don't want to ban these PWC just regulate the idiots who may ultimately be responsible for having them all banned anyway!
Jet Skis, Water Bikes and the RSPB
The Exe Estuary is a breeding ground for many bird species and English Nature together with the RSPB have colluded to apply pressure on drone pilots. Fair enough I guess and to fly any drone you must register it with the CAA - it's a legal requirement in the UK as of 1st January 2021.
These organisations have kicked up a proper stink about drones around the nesting birds and quite rightly so. Personally, any drone pilot I have chatted with always abides by this rule and flies will away from the restricted areas and also uses common sense when flying over groups of birds.
By all accounts this tiny drone is MORE of a threat than a noisy, speeding, wake producing, petrol belching, oil polluting Jet Ski! Yeah I know they can run quite green but the effect is the same right?
Here's what they say:
- Keep your aircraft at a distance from wildlife to avoid disturbance (waaa waaaa waaaaaaa waaaaaaa)
- No drones at Dawlish Warren at any time
- Drone users should follow the Civil Aviation Authority ‘Dronecode’
What's the drone code the regulates drones in the area? Have a read here: https://dronesafe.uk (Opens a new window)
So to recap - drones are regulated by the CAA and have strict laws applied to them.
Water bikes & jet skis don't aside from some rather shabby local bylaws.
Which is worse for nesting birds and wildlife?
This is why the law needs to change regarding the use of PWC and until then there's an ongoing risk to life, peace, pleasure & wildlife. It is certainly NOT to ban them - I personally know a good few users who whizz about well away from other water users and that's great but there are a few TWATS whom think it their right to annoy people and endanger life - we need them regulated or better still BANNED FROM EXMOUTH!
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