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Old     (jeffnel)      Join Date: Jun 2006       05-26-2008, 8:07 AM Reply   
I heard last night that wakesurfing had been banned at Lake Powell unless you are greater than 20 feet from your boat. Tell me this is just a bad rumor!!
Old     (bigshow)      Join Date: Feb 2005       05-26-2008, 3:00 PM Reply   
Why 20 feet? There are a couple of CDC reports one on FAE the other on side swipe. One of the reports basically says that the CO level is acceptable on a standard inboard five feet back and five feet above the water line. That said I have a strong preference for surfing behind a boat with SS or FAE just so I don't have to smell the other fumes.
Old     (trash4life)      Join Date: Jun 2005       05-27-2008, 10:06 AM Reply   
We were down there last week and there wasn't anything from the ranger station about a ban on surfing. Actually surfed right in front of a ranger one day and he didn't stop us. I hope its just a rumor.
Old     (t_mann)      Join Date: Mar 2008       05-30-2008, 1:26 PM Reply   
Jeff The rumor you have heard is true to some degree. At all federal waters you are not allowed to do anything within 20 ft of the back of the boat. I have been stopped multiple times at Powell. I have talked at length with the rangers. The good news is that if you are using a 20 ft rope they are ok with that. Most of the time when they have stopped us we are not using a rope, go figure. But when they ask, we show them the 20ft rope and they send us on our way. I have heard that is wsia is working with the feds to change the rule so you can be standing with in 20 ft. Bottom line get a 20 ft rope and you should have no problem.
Old     (darryl)      Join Date: Sep 2006       05-31-2008, 1:09 PM Reply   
I was just at Powell this week and surfed right in front of the water cop... no problems. It was on Wednesday and we were about the only boat running in Warm Creek Bay. Thanks for the heads up on the rope. We go there about 6-7 times in the summer so that would not be good if they banned it.
Old     (kawaik)      Join Date: Feb 2005       06-01-2008, 11:40 AM Reply   
We just got back from Powell. We were stopped and told our rope was too short. I am uber bent. We just put FAE on our boat for this purpose. The ranger was an ass about it too. Now that I think about it I have never dealt with a ranger that wasn't an ass. WTF!

(Message edited by Kawaik on June 01, 2008)
Old     (trash4life)      Join Date: Jun 2005       06-02-2008, 8:51 AM Reply   
Jerbul, Where at Powell were they giving you crap about it? If your rope were longer it wouldn't have been a problem then? What was the final word from them? Did you have to stop surfing? --Sorry, tons of questions cause we're going down again next week.

BTW, how was the water temp?
Old     (kawaik)      Join Date: Feb 2005       06-02-2008, 2:49 PM Reply   
Kenny, we launched from Antelope Point and drove around to the back side of Castle Rock. We didn't actually see a ranger there the entire time until the last day when dude snuck up on us. He was very vague with the information that he gave us. Apparently a longer rope would have made things alright. He said that if we moved the rope we were using from the tower to the swim deck it would be ok. They gave us some weird looks and asked some questions about the boat registration and then drove off. I stopped surfing at that point more out of a desire to wakeboard than respect for the ranger's ish. as for the water temp i thought it was great. it still gives you that shock when you first jump in but from there i had no problem spending extended periods of time in the water. We didn't do any early morning stuff because the place we were riding at was glassy the entire day anyway. i think the last day the water was up to 73.
Old     (trash4life)      Join Date: Jun 2005       06-02-2008, 3:53 PM Reply   
Thanks, I guess I'll just pull from the swim deck then? This is messed up! I'm heading to the Bullfrog end so hopefully they're not as anal up there.
Old     (wakebrdjay)      Join Date: Apr 2008       06-02-2008, 4:09 PM Reply   
Damn they call this freedom?? If I want to kill myself while wakesurfing behind my boat,that should be my business.Are they that hard up for my taxes they have to babysit my every move? This is B.S. they take more and more of our rights everyday.
Old     (kawaik)      Join Date: Feb 2005       06-02-2008, 6:43 PM Reply   
sorry i meant the sun deck.
Old     (kawaik)      Join Date: Feb 2005       06-02-2008, 6:57 PM Reply   
is there anything we can do about this? there has to be someone out there that isn't completely brainless who can see that there is no more risk involved in surfing than there is in any other water activity including swimming. i would bet a large amount of money that there have been more drownings in the past year from people just swimming out in the lake than there have been deaths from wake surfing. why the hell not ban swimming too then? if anyone has any ideas let's hear it.
Old     (dennish)      Join Date: May 2005       06-02-2008, 9:13 PM Reply   
I looked everywhere I could and the only reference to 20 behind the boat was a study the Federal Government did on CO poisoning. The 20 foot applied to pulling a tube because at that distance the riders face was within 2 feet of the surface of the water and CO was strong there. If the rider was at 5' the distance was safe. Not sure what they are using as regulation. The USCG follows the same guidelines as most States in making teaksurfing illegal which is appropriate.
Old     (lovinpowell)      Join Date: Jul 2005       06-03-2008, 10:52 AM Reply   
I just got off of the phone with two people at Lake Powell the first was a Brent McGinn, Chief Ranger and the second was his boss, Eric Scott, Downlake District Ranger. I was speaking to Brent first and after a while Eric came in the room so he put him on speakerphone and I spoke to both together. Initially Brent didn't seem to understand what wakesurfing was. He cited the 20' foot rope rule and when I asked him "what happens when they drop the rope?" he didn't think that it was possible. "How do you stay behind the boat? Is the rope attached to the board?" he asked. After thoroughly explaining it to both of them, they both agreed that they wouldn't have any problem with this activity. They both said that they are concerned about the safe activities of the boaters and if they came up and saw this activity, they would deem it safe and move on to the next boat. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is their main issue, I cited the Utah law and they reccommended that I speak with the head guy in Salt Lake. I think it helped out alot when I told them that I have already had correspondence with him. I am going to be sending them a couple of pictures of wakesurfing, they said that they would like to inform their rangers that it is safe, and I invited him (Brent) out on my boat so that he could see how safe it really is. Don't know if he'll take me up on it, but I want to make sure that these guys in charge are not misinformed and apply other appropriate laws (teak and body surfing) to this activity. If I get pulled over and ticketed while I am at Lake Powell, I will be going directly to this guy's office to fight it.
Old     (trash4life)      Join Date: Jun 2005       06-03-2008, 11:39 AM Reply   
That's great news! And even better education that you're providing! Thanks for taking action.
Old     (kawaik)      Join Date: Feb 2005       06-03-2008, 11:46 AM Reply   
Awesome. If there is anything that can be done to help I will gladly volunteer what little I can. Nice work.
Old     (t_mann)      Join Date: Mar 2008       06-04-2008, 10:54 AM Reply   
I am glad to see that there is a lot of interest in this issue. I sit on the board that all new boating laws in Utah go through. Utah has a great law concerning wakesurfing. You just have to be standing, not laying down or sitting within 20 ft of the boat. Lake Powell, although in Utah, is federal water so they can make there own rules. Most of the rangers at Powell do not really understand the law. I am down there 10+ times a year and have been stopped all over the north end of the lake from Bullfrog all the way to Good Hope. Most of the time I have to clarify the law to them. If you have a 20 ft rope (accurate makes one) they have no problem. Please let everyone you know surfing has NOT!!!! been banned at Powell, you just have to understand the rules. This is not a huge issue currently. But when you are dealing with the government things can change quickly.
Old     (lovinpowell)      Join Date: Jul 2005       06-04-2008, 2:47 PM Reply   
what board do you sit on? Is there anything else that can be done to educate those that are in need?
Old     (justcoz5)      Join Date: Apr 2007       06-05-2008, 3:02 PM Reply   
This seems like one of those things that people try to get passed just to tick off wakeboarders/wakesurfers because many wakeboarders/wakesurfers have been uncourtious in regards to other boaters. I imagine stuff like this would go away if everyone were polite and whatnot. We should be doing our best to change the image that we have either caused or inherited.
Old     (t_mann)      Join Date: Mar 2008       06-06-2008, 9:51 PM Reply   
You can sit on a surfboard and butt surf, it is pretty fun. As far as education goes, I think that the folks in charge at Powell need to inform their employees about the rules. I had a customer in today that was at Wahweap this past week, and was stopped by a female ranger. She informed him that what he was doing was not illegal(true), but was very dangerous because of CO. I have searched everywhere and asked the people that I meet with from the state each quarter and can find no instance of someone being seriously hurt while wakesurfing from CO. I believe that we are being lumped in with the idiots that teak surf(lying down and holding on the swim platform while body surfing). When possible we need to inform those that make the rules aware that there is a major difference. Wakesurfing is very safe with the proper boat(inboards only). I am just not sure how prove it to those that make the rules.
Old     (dennish)      Join Date: May 2005       06-06-2008, 10:14 PM Reply   
The error that the Rangers are making is in regards to the NASBLA Model law. When it was first enacted it stated a tow rope of less than 20 feet should not be legal. Through the efforts of many in the wakesurfing community, the rule was amended to allow wakesurfing. The model law now states that teaksurfing and holding onto the swim platform should be illegal. Here is the reference for you.
Old     (dennish)      Join Date: May 2005       06-06-2008, 10:27 PM Reply   
You may also want to look at this report testing CO levels behind a boat.
Old     (surfdad)      Join Date: Sep 2004       06-07-2008, 6:57 AM Reply   
As Troy points out, there is CURRENTLY a 20 foot rule in Utah contained in 651-224-2, that states, in part, that it's illegal:

"while a person is being towed in a non-standing position within 20 feet of the vessel."

I would guess that technically it's illegal for the 2 seconds when you are being towed but not standing UNLESS you have the 20 foot rope. Easy enough fix, as Troy points out.

Full text, which folks in Utah might want to copy and carry with them:

R651-224-2. Unlawful Methods of Towing.
No person shall operate a motorboat or have the engine of a motorboat run idle while a person is
occupying or holding onto the swim platform, swim deck, swim step or swim ladder of the motorboat or while a person is being towed in a non-standing position within 20 feet of the vessel. These restrictions do not apply when a person is occupying the swim platform, swim deck, swim step or swim ladder while assisting with the docking or departure of the motorboat, while exiting or entering the motorboat, or when a motorboat is engaged in law enforcement activity.

PDF of Utah regs:
Old     (lovinpowell)      Join Date: Jul 2005       06-07-2008, 12:46 PM Reply   
I agree with you surfdad, a while back I sent an email to the Utah director of parks and recreation (they who make the rules), he replied saying basically the same thing. I have laminated his reply and carry it with my registration.
Old     (kawaik)      Join Date: Feb 2005       06-11-2008, 9:09 PM Reply   
is this the same for federal waters (i.e. lake powell?)
Old     (surfdad)      Join Date: Sep 2004       06-12-2008, 5:09 AM Reply   
The Feds have no 20 foot rule. It's my understanding that federal law preempts minimum state controls for boat and equipment standards. The United States Coast Guard has enforcement authority of federal laws and regulations on all federal and navigable waters in the United States that are not privately held. However, individual states can impose requirements beyond federal rules to meet uniquely hazardous local conditions or enforce local laws and regulations directed at safe boat operation and are enforced by locally designated peace officers, which would be the case here.

(Message edited by surfdad on June 12, 2008)
Old     (kawaik)      Join Date: Feb 2005       06-12-2008, 4:50 PM Reply   
So I guess where I am confused is that technically we were in Arizona when we were stopped. Does Arizona have the same 20ft law as Utah? I thought that dude had said it was a national law. Sorry if this is all really obvious. I just want to know for sure when we are in the wrong. I am certain the easiest thing is to get a 20ft rope but a little education never hurts right?
Old     (surfdad)      Join Date: Sep 2004       06-12-2008, 6:54 PM Reply   
Oh, the lake spans two states...Lake Tahoe does that here: part in California and part in Nevada.

My uderstanding is that only two states have the 20 foot rule, I believe the other is New Jersey (or it could Pennyslvania), Arizona does not have the 20 foot rule.

As you concluded, it's probably best to just have a rope that allows you start 20 feet away from the boat - so possibly a 30 foot rope if you are on the tower.

California and Nevada have very similar boating laws, but over the years there have been differences and a Sheriff's Deputy shared some words of wisdom with a 'bro. Do you really want to take the day off work to defend your ticket?

I would think it's wiser to adhere to the more stringent of the two regulations in the event of a conflict. To answer your question, I honestly don't know if there would be different enforcement issues on one side of the state border than the other in a lake that joins both states like that.
Old     (surfdad)      Join Date: Sep 2004       06-12-2008, 9:04 PM Reply   
I did a quick check and it is Pennsylvania and not New Jersey, the regulations is:

"It is unlawful to operate a motorboat at any speed when towing a person on water skis or other devices using a tow rope of 20 feet or less"
Old     (talltigeguy)      Join Date: Sep 2003       06-23-2008, 12:51 PM Reply   
I talked to the ranger at Lake Powell last week.

He said that the National Park Service is the culprit. For example, he was a Utah ranger and said you can be behind the boat as long as you are upright according to Utah law, but that there is a new NPS rule that says that it is illegal to be within 20 feet of the transom. SO that means that Lake Powell and Lake Mead will be subject primarily to the NPS rules. We need to fix this.
Old     (lovinpowell)      Join Date: Jul 2005       06-23-2008, 3:25 PM Reply   
That is contrary to what the head of the National Park Service told me when I spoke to him on the phone.
Old     (lovinpowell)      Join Date: Jul 2005       06-23-2008, 3:26 PM Reply   
Did you get the name of the person who you spoke with?
Old     (talltigeguy)      Join Date: Sep 2003       06-23-2008, 5:34 PM Reply   
No, he was just a ranger out on the lake. He did say he would not ticket me for wakesurfing, as long as I was standing, but said he thought the NPS probably would.

I suppose that it would make sense that the state ranger may not be up to date with what the NPS rangers are up to.
Old     (surfdad)      Join Date: Sep 2004       06-23-2008, 6:09 PM Reply   

It is my understanding that Part 3, Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard and State law establish the regulations for boating and NOT the NPS, and the NPS doesn't establish regulations separate and distinct from these sources. I'm hearing the same thing that lovinpowell heard, that is there is no FEDERAL law that institutes a 20 foot rule.

I'd be very interested in anything to the contrary, specifically a code section or something else in print.
Old     (lovinpowell)      Join Date: Jul 2005       06-24-2008, 8:06 AM Reply   
Tall, Did he pull you over for wakesurfing?
Old     (surfdad)      Join Date: Sep 2004       06-24-2008, 3:45 PM Reply   
In looking in the Federal Register - there is a provision that would be applicable, I'm not sure when it was added, but as of June 20, 2008:

Title 36, Part 3, Section 3.12, Paragraph (c)(6) states:

No person shall operate a power driven vessel using a tow rope 20 feet or less in length when towing a person. n=div8&view=text&node=36:

So again it's the same basic concept we discussed before, a 21 foot rope takes care of the issue, for that brief period when a person is being pulled up.. Also, it isn't a 20 foot from the transom rule.

Hopefully we will see rop manufacturers addressing this issue by including enough length to make the rope 21 feet long...or 21 feet long from the transom.
Old     (surfdad)      Join Date: Sep 2004       06-25-2008, 7:54 AM Reply   
Just a CC of the discussion over at

From what I can tell, it hit the Federal Register on 3/23/2007. The reference
is: 72 FR 13702, Mar. 23, 2007, authority is: 16 U.S.C. 1, 1a2(h), 3. The full reference is above. The reference in the FR is from when the feds redid their regs, read paragraph 33:

33. One commenter recommended
that the NPS have a requirement that
tow ropes be 20 or longer to reduce
exposure to carbon monoxide.

NPS Response: The NPS agrees and
has added this requirement to the

It's obvious that the folks involved were clueless about wakesurfing and it would seem not well informed about CO poisioning either. Normally the NASBLA and WSIA are Johnny-on-the- spot with this sort of thing, so my guess is that this blindsided everyone.

URL to applicable Federal Register:

Copy of the Federal Register:


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