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Old     (ship_of_fools)      Join Date: Sep 2007       11-14-2009, 4:40 PM Reply   
OK, maybe I am just a little bored and already thinking of next summer...

But, when would you, or would you, let your kids take your boat out alone?

My son will be 16 next summer and while he won't have permission just yet to take the boat out, it can't be too far away where he will ask.

Scary things is, he got his boating permit when he was 12 (he could legally drive the boat by himself). If we were to have our boat docked at a marina (which we don't) he could have rode his bike to the marina and legally gone out on the lake with all his friends.

I know some folks have lake houses and their kids can probably go out already but this is a big change for me.
Old     (fuller313)      Join Date: Oct 2006       11-14-2009, 4:48 PM Reply   
This is a tough call. I would say when you know that he could handle an emergency well. I would hate for something to happen on the boat or around the boat and nobody could handle the situation.
Old     (rio_sanger)      Join Date: Apr 2007       11-14-2009, 5:11 PM Reply   
I don't think there is a magic age. You as the parent will know when they are ready. No two kids are alike, and it very much depends on where you boat, and how much boating they have been exposed to with you.

Both of our boys started driving with me in the boat at around 10 or 11, letting them launch, and dock, then they started pulling me around 14, which relieved mom of her duties, and soon thereafter I knew they were responsible enough to take the boat alone.

Actually, I would much rather have them pull me than some adult friends of mine...
Old     (highrock)      Join Date: Apr 2008       11-14-2009, 5:48 PM Reply   
I was about 11 or 12 when we got our first seadoo. My brother (9 or 10 at the time) and I were able to ride it by ourselves but couldnt go very far away from home. We got our first boat when I was 14/15 and I have been able to go out on it by myself since about half way through that summer so around 15-16 isnt bad if they know how to take care of stuff. Its now my boat and I baby it more than anything Ive ever owned. I really think it matters on how the kids act, and thats a tough call sometimes.
Old     (big_b_21v)      Join Date: Oct 2006       11-14-2009, 6:00 PM Reply   
Most insurance policies will only cover once the operator is 14. They recommend 16 but coverage is actually cut off at age 14.
Make sure you read your insurance policy carefully. You local waterway may approve age 12 but you may be allowing your kids to operate without coverage.
Old     (davomaddo)      Join Date: Feb 2003       11-14-2009, 6:09 PM Reply   
I was taking the ski boat out without parents when I was 14. The boat was on a bouy, so I didn't have to launch it.

A lot of the times I was with older Sisters, but it seemed like I was the one who always drove and did everything.

It just depends on how responsible your kid, how much you trust him, and what sort of trouble he could get into.
We lived on the Puget Sound - a large body of water with not much going on (at least where I lived).
On a crowded lake with lots of people with houses, etc - there may be more potential for issues with too many friends on the boat and damage.

Kids get into trouble and bad stuff happens when they start having a ton of kids on the boat.
Old     (davidggriffith)      Join Date: Sep 2008       11-14-2009, 6:56 PM Reply   
Old     (ship_of_fools)      Join Date: Sep 2007       11-14-2009, 7:00 PM Reply   
He helps launch it now. I back him into the water and he drives it off the trailer. I park the truck and he will come back in and get me on the dock. Sometimes he drives it on the trailer too.

I think he is pretty responsible and does a good job driving the boat. I just cringe at the idea of him taking the boat out with his friends and without me. I don't see that happening for a while.

As mentioned above, I would trust him driving the boat more than some adults I know, from a standpoint of both maturity and experience.

I visualize him and his friends pulling into "party cove" on the boat and then flash back to when I was 16. Man, it just doesn't turn out good!!!
Old     (mobv)      Join Date: Jun 2002       11-14-2009, 7:25 PM Reply   
My taught my son to pull, back, and launch our boat while he had his learner permit (15 years old) he took took our boat out on his own within one week of getting his drivers license. He is 19 now, and has taken it out hundreds of times without an incident.
Old     (05elitevc4)      Join Date: Jan 2008       11-14-2009, 8:03 PM Reply   
I started taking the boat out at 16 or 17. I knew what I was doing and luckily didnt have any incidents. We had ALOT of fun and man I would do anything to live one of those summers again!!!
I dont have kids yet, but I would have a tough time letting my 16-18yr old kid take out my boat. This is because now I look back and wonder how something didnt go wrong.
I agree all kids are different and the choice is yours. What I am saying is even though I didnt have an accident I would not let myself at 16 take out my boat today...if that makes sense.
Old     (wstr01)      Join Date: Feb 2001       11-14-2009, 8:12 PM Reply   
When he buys his own boat.

You could probably trust him alone, but can you trust him and his buddies? Can he control his friends? We've all had numbnut friends on the boat we have to set straight, would he be able to do that?
Old     (sidekicknicholas)      Join Date: Mar 2007       11-14-2009, 8:24 PM Reply   
I started taking ours out all the time when I was 14... my wakeboard buddy was 18 at the time so it made it a little better in my parents eyes...

the boat was on a lift on the water... and most of the lake knew who we were so getting away with stuff wasn't really an option.
Old     (wakeworld)      Join Date: Jan 1997       11-14-2009, 9:02 PM Reply   
I've been thinking about this since my daughter is 13 now. She's certainly not close to being ready, but it's gotten me to thinking. I'm not so worried about her driving the boat and being responsible. I'm more worried about how she would handle things if someone got hurt. I was thinking about how devastating it would be for her even if she was just taking me for a pull and I got hurt. Obviously, a 100 lb. girl is not going to be able to do much with a 200 lb. unconscious person. I know it's long odds, but that's what spooks me!
Old     (dlwsrider)      Join Date: Apr 2007       11-14-2009, 9:07 PM Reply   
Check your insurance. I'm 18, and though I have been pulling my father since I was 13, and am one of the main drivers on no matter what boat I'm on, I can't take ours out without someone over 19.

Odd age, but it's worth it to be insured.
Old     (rallyart)      Join Date: Nov 2006       11-14-2009, 10:01 PM Reply   
My opinion, and that's all it is, would be that my kids could take the boat out by themselves at 14 for short periods. No siblings or friends.
At 16 they could go out with one or two friends but no tow sports. At 17 I'd be inclined to let them start towing with a limited number of people on board if they'd been responsible. All assuming they'd been driving for ages with me in the boat.
Old     (michridr69)      Join Date: Dec 2008       11-14-2009, 10:18 PM Reply   
i was 14 when all my friends and i started taking the boat out by my self
Old     (mikeski)      Join Date: Aug 2003       11-14-2009, 10:45 PM Reply   
I was pulling my father through the slalom course when I was 14. When I turned 16 he was very happy that I could tow the boat and meet him at the slalom course after school/work. To me it was more of a chore than a treat. We were on the Nautique promo team so our boats were always less than a year old. I would go home at lunch and grab the boat, park in front of my high school. I didn't think anything of it at the time but several ladies asked me if I still water skied at my 10 year high school reunion. Had I known then... nevermind.

A buddy and I also drove his dad's 30' motorhome towing his promo MasterCraft to the regional tournament across a couple states. His dad flew in and out. Again it felt more like a chore back then.

If he and you are comfortable with him taking it out then go for it. Maybe a few dry runs where all you do is watch could help both of you.

My biggest concern would be safety. If you feel he can do the day safely then go for it. Be perfectly clear that you will expect him to pay to repair any damage (even if you really don't). After all, it's just a boat.
Old     (jetskiprosx)      Join Date: Aug 2004       11-15-2009, 7:58 AM Reply   
When I was 14 we didn't have a boat yet, just a jet ski. I would take that out all the time by myself or with friends (age was limit was 12 years back then). When I was 16 I bought my own jet ski and I would take both to the river, camping, out of state, etc...

We sold our jet skis and bought a boat when I was 18 and nothing really changed. I was pretty much free to use it so long as my parents weren't already using it. In the early spring when the parents weren't ready to use the boat yet, I would take it down to school for a few weeks at a time and they never had any issues.

I am now 24, my brother is 19, and he is yet to take the boat out by himself. Just this past summer he was allowed to drive it (with my parents with him). He has never helped out with maintenance, put gas in it, got the boat ready, purchased anything for it, and therefore doesn't get the privilege of using it on his own. Each kid is different, each situation is different, just make sure you can trust him and more importantly his friends!
Old     (travizts)      Join Date: Jul 2008       11-15-2009, 9:25 AM Reply   
Im gonna go by high school years, not age, cause it can differ for different areas and different kids. I was sophmore when my dad bought me a 14 foot miro craft fishing boat. Basically if i took care of it and all went well, i was able to upgrade to his new bassboat my junior year(couldnt pull skiers). So, my junior year I was able to take the bassboat (150hp 19ft). Then by my senior year I was allowed to take the MC205. So I'd had two years of experience towing (closest lake 45min), launching, and everything else, before i got to take out our MC205. Back then with a boat full of high school seniors we got stopped by the cops and fish and game ALL the time, i actually filed a complaint cause it got so out of hand. So I hated that, but my dad loved it, because it ensured we never had booze on the boat. By the way I never got one ticket and still own that MC205 and still lover her as much as I did when we got her in 96! One thing I will add, during my senior year we had a pretty bad injury wakeboarding that required emergency assistance and I couldnt be more proud of how everyone in the boat reacted to the situation.
Old     (kylek306)      Join Date: Feb 2003       11-15-2009, 10:02 AM Reply   
I was 16, but a responsible 16 year old. The mother didn't like it too much, but my dad was fine with it. We put 150 hours a year on our boats though since I was 4 or 5.
Old     (ottog1979)      Join Date: Apr 2007       11-15-2009, 10:20 AM Reply   
This is a great thread and exactly the thoughts that I have been having about my almost 17 year old. He pulls me all the time and has been since 14 or so. We cheated the state requirement of 16 to drive without adult supervision in the boat (nearest adult was me, 70 ft back). But, he's always been a good and responsible driver. At some point, instead of me taking him out with all his friends, he's going to ask if he can just go without me. A little early yet, but in a year or so he'll be ready.

The boat is really my baby and hobby. It will be hard to let it go unsupervised by me and come back with dings & general wear that is just part of boating. Or even worse, the safety that people have mentioned.

But, as hard as it might be, I remember why I'm such a boating fanatic. At 16, 17 & up, my dad was letting me hook up & go alone with my buddies ALL the time. That experience was priceless and has made me the boater that I am today. Its hard to let go of the control and give our kids the responsibility and freedom that comes with growing up into mature adults. But, I find myself thinking about balancing the need for control and supervision with the memories of the opportunity & freedom that my dad gave me at that age. This makes me truly appreciate what he did for me so early.
Old     (kickflip_mj)      Join Date: Apr 2007       11-15-2009, 11:08 AM Reply   
you should just go on a few rides with him and his friends and just let him go.. when i was 16 i could drive a boat better than a car so it was simple for my parents to let me go.
Old     (soundbox)      Join Date: Oct 2007       11-15-2009, 11:53 AM Reply   
2 weeks after I had my drivers license I was off to Shasta for a week with my Dads truck and boat. I had grown up around boats and was always the driver since I was 12. One thing that really helped was going to a old bowling ally parking lot and practicing backing up the trailer all different ways with the instruction of my Dad.
Old    murrayair            11-15-2009, 12:09 PM Reply   
I, too, grew up around boats. As soon as I got my permit my dad took me out every weekend and taught me how to back up the boat. By the time I was 16, I was begging my parents to let me take the boat out by myself. My dad thought I was ready when I turned 17, but my mom made me wait until I was 18.

I was definitely quite capable enough to trailer, launch and operate the boat by myself at 16, since I had been well trained by my parents from a young age, but, looking back, I'm sure that my parents were more concerned about my friends' lack of responsibility than my own. Add to the the legal ramifications of unsupervised teenagers on the water and their decision to make me wait until 18 is understandable. All the same, those two years between 16 and 18 were agonizing for a young kid trying to impress his friends on the water.
Old     (wakeboardertj)      Join Date: May 2005       11-15-2009, 12:29 PM Reply   
I was 17 or 18 when my parents let me take the boat out alone with friends. Got to tow it wherever we wanted and somehow even convinced them to let me take it on a 4 day annual camping trip with 20 of my friends for the last few years.... They had a lot of trust in me though and have never had anything go wrong... except losing an anchor haha. They also had a rule of absolutely no alcohol on the boat until I was 21, which was followed for the most part.

I think it depends on whether the boat is docked or not, If you have to tow it somewhere and go through all the launch duties then you better have them practice that a lot. I know towing my families boat with a huge f350 was not the easiest thing in the world when i first started taking it out, especially maneuvering that beast in small gas stations and the windy roads on the way to our homelake.

Trusting your kid is one thing... trusting their friends is a different story.
Old    murrayair            11-15-2009, 1:00 PM Reply   
That's a very good point. Towing the boat to the lake and driving the boat when it's already docked at the lake are two very different things.

Hey, Taylor, what lake is that in your profile pic? It looks so familiar...

(Message edited by murrayair on November 15, 2009)
Old     (wakeboardertj)      Join Date: May 2005       11-15-2009, 3:07 PM Reply   
That would be Bullards Bar, you make it up there often?
Old     (waketowake)      Join Date: Jul 2007       11-15-2009, 4:19 PM Reply   
I was 14 when my parents let me take it out by myself, but i could only stay in the front of my house which is about a 1 mile stretch. Im sixteen now, and I love my boat(and my parents know it) so they trust me not to do anything stupid. My friends know ill kick them of, or wont let them on again if they do something stupid.
Old    murrayair            11-15-2009, 5:50 PM Reply   
Taylor- I was thinking it was Bullards or Oroville. I get up there once every couple of years, not nearly as much as I would like. It's a beautiful lake.
Old     (ship_of_fools)      Join Date: Sep 2007       11-15-2009, 7:33 PM Reply   
It's great to hear all the different ways people have grown up around boats. I wish we would have discovered boating a long time ago.

This was only our third year with a boat. Which means my son has been around boats as much as I have.

He is responsible and has a lot of common sense. But, he isn't the most observant kid so I don't know how much he has learned by watching me launch and operate the boat.

I will definitely give him more opportunities to drive, transport and pull riders next summer. It has been hard for me to let him do it as I am still learning myself.

I still don't see him going out without me for awhile though. The safety aspect and how the environment changes when he has a boat full of friends just doesn't sit well with me.

Plus, the liability of his friends or others on the lake getting hurt (God forbid) and their parents coming after me doesn't sound good either.
Old     (airagain)      Join Date: Jun 2006       11-15-2009, 7:44 PM Reply   
My son is now 13 and has been around boats since he was born. He has been driving with me in the boat for the last 4 years or so. He actually handles the boat better than 90 percent of the adults I know at the lake, no power turns and perfect docking skills. This summer it became his job to walk over to the dock, drop the lift, get the boat and bring it over to where we keep the houseboat. He also takes the boat back, puts it on the lift and wipes it down when the weekend is over. I would trust him to drive for me but would not feel good about letting him take the boat out alone with his friends etc and all the responsibility that involves.
Old     (linder)      Join Date: Mar 2009       11-15-2009, 10:16 PM Reply   
I took the family ski boat when I was 16, but I was kind of a special case as I had my Captains license by the time I was 19.
Old     (fingerstick)      Join Date: May 2009       11-16-2009, 4:19 AM Reply   
It has alot to do with sense of responsibility;and to be honest my son does not seem to have it at a level I am comfortable with.I see how he treats his personal truck and I would not trust him to take a $40k boat out with his buds.Maybe in a little while,but not now.He is 18 btw.
Old     (loudontn)      Join Date: Feb 2005       11-16-2009, 5:04 AM Reply   
I'm 25 now and have been boating since I was 19. My dad works for TVA and always associated boating with working so I wasn't brought up to enjoy it like I do now. My dad also lost his uncle, a Navy SEAL, in a boating accident when he didn't have his lifejacket on. So, by his logic, if his uncle who was a badass could die in a boating accident then I was even more at risk of it happening. I bought my first boat for about $1,000, much to the disdain of my father. I had to teach myself how to do everything, launching, docking, handling people, etc. Anyways, when I was 21 years old I was on the UT wakeboard team and was taking some people out on the river for some riding. I was pulling one of my best friends at the time. He tried a Batwing, which he'd never done before, and nailed it on his first try, the grab and all. He couldn't believe it, you could tell by his reaction, so he edged out, tried it again, and once again nailed it. He had alot of built up confidence and thought he'd try a raley which he'd never done before. He didn't get the rope down, couldn't pull the board under him and landed way out in the flats on his stomach. I swung the boat around full speed and headed back towards him, all I could see was the bottom of the board floating up. We jumped in the water, pulled him up, and onto the swim platform of our team X7. He had blood pouring from his nose and was not conscious. He had a Jetpilot A-10 on and the only thing keeping him attached to the surface of the water was the board he just happend to stay in on the impact. If not for the board he probably would have sank to the bottom of the lake. I called his dad, who was a doctor, and he met us at the dock and ran him to the hospital.

With the very little experience I had boating it was a scary experience and I couldn't imagine putting a kid in any situation like that where they would have to be responsible as such. Whenever I have kids you better believe they'll be under my observant eye while driving my boat.

Sad fact from the story, he didn't even remember landing the batwing's and we didn't have video. :-(
Old     (jon4pres)      Join Date: May 2004       11-16-2009, 8:53 AM Reply   
My uncle let his son and me take his boat out when we were 16. The only rule was that we had to take his younger sister so that we know if we did anything stupid we would get told on.
Old     (bcrider)      Join Date: Apr 2006       11-16-2009, 8:59 AM Reply   
When we used to keep our boat at the marina at our local lake my dad started letting me take it out with friends when I was 15. Since I was 16 whenever the boat has needed to be pulled for the season or service it was always myself that has done it. My brother who is 3 years older then me wasn't even allowed to take the boat out by himself at the time. I think maturity/ responsibility is a big thing when it comes to being able to let your kids do this.
Old     (bmartin)      Join Date: Jan 2007       11-16-2009, 9:25 AM Reply   
When they can afford the gas!!!

I let my kids take the PWC and our small sailboat out unsupervised at around 15 years old. All had boaters permits and know the scorn they would face if they drove it dangerously, especially around other boats. I still have not turned over the keys to the wakeboard boat though and my oldest is now 18. None of my kids have asked....I think they kind of know what the answer would be. I think any of them can handle the boat technically as they have been driving around me for years but not sure the maturity is 100% there when their friends are involved. I would probably think differently if they were more involved in wakeboarding and more eager to help with the boat maintenance and took a little more ownership in the whole wakeboarding enterprise, but wakeboarding is something they like to do but not a passion for any of them. They do help, but it takes some cajoling.
Old     (tchs22)      Join Date: Sep 2005       11-16-2009, 9:34 AM Reply   
honestly im 22 and took our boat out for first time like 3 weeks still young and hard headed but i realized that i am responsible for everyone on the boat and around me...if your son realizes that and acts responsible then let him go out on his own once and if all goes well then its great...
Old     (liquidmx)      Join Date: Jun 2005       11-16-2009, 9:43 AM Reply   
I think I started taking the parent's boat out on my own when I was about 18. I had been around boats all my life and really wanted to do it since I had gotten my license at 16. I finally made a deal with my dad that if I did EVERYTHING when we went out and proved that I was good at taking care of the boat then he would think about it. For several dozen trips I would hook up the boat, set it up for launch, back it down the ramp and tow people. Finally, once I found a friend with as much experience with boats as myself it was all good.

My parent's biggest worry was making sure the "right" friends went the first few times, limiting it to 3-4 responsible friends. As I got more experienced and better I could take whoever I wanted.
Old     (billhall)      Join Date: Jun 2006       11-16-2009, 9:52 AM Reply   
17 was the magic age and I was taking out the demo boats from our Nautique dealership unsupervised with friends. Brand new 210s, 211s, and 216s, and dads truck. My dad had a lot of trust in me from all the years and even admitted I could drive the boat better than him. Though it was easier for him because the only people I took out were my friends that already owned Nautiques, cobalts and nicer runabouts...and girls of course. Usually the boats came back nicer than they left since they had to go back to showroom condition. Ahhh, those were the days.

Funny story I actually pulled a boat to the DMV on my 16th birthday. Unhitched it to do my road test for my license. Afterwards my dad left in another car and I delivered a brand new 211 to a customer.
Old     (gregg_rossi)      Join Date: Feb 2009       11-16-2009, 2:24 PM Reply   
My dad use to drive me and my friends to the lake when we were freshmen in high school, drop the boat in and my friends and I would spend the day on the water, at the end of the day he would come back and pick us up. We had to do this because we weren't old enough to drive the car.

Also when I was 17 we took my dads truck and boat to shasta from portland and spent 10 days down there on our own. I was always pretty good though, no drinking or anything on the water. I say 16 is old enough for sure.
Old     (rodmcinnis)      Join Date: Sep 2002       11-16-2009, 3:57 PM Reply   
It depends.

The biggest concern with a 16 year old (and even many 18 year olds) is their ability to resist peer pressure.

At 16 I had no problems with my son taking my boat out with a bunch of his friends if I was nearby. Nearby could be on the houseboat while he and his friends went wakeboarding or even cruising around.

I wouldn't dream of letting him take the boat out for the day if I was back home. Here is a scenario: You kid asks permission to take the boat out with Tom and Dick. You know both Tom and Dick and know them to be level headed guys. No problem. But then Dick invites his friend Harry. You don't know Harry. Harry also brings along some girls. And the case of beer.

Your kid goes along with inviting Harry but didn't know about the girls or beer until they show up at the launch ramp. Now he is under incredible pressure and doesn't say NO.

You can decide if your kids is responsible enough to handle the boat, and if he can deal with any breakdowns that might occur, or with any of the minor emergencies that can always happen. Just don't underestimate the influence of shady friends.

Old     (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       11-17-2009, 9:01 AM Reply   
Only you know the maturity of your son, but if he's been going at it since 12, he's probably more responsible than half the other boaters on the water. Scenario above, with proper guidelines and understanding of trust, Harry is leaving the beer in the car, plus if it's in a marina I doubt that occurs. If it is even a possibility you'll randomly show up unannounced, he won't let stuff go down.

That said, summer in-between soph-junior in high school (16 1/2) my parents' boat basically became mine to use. I can easily say I was one of the most responsible boaters on the water, and enough so that friends' parents trusted me even with their boats alone more than their children. It's all maturity and reactions in situations.

Now the night wakesurfing, sunrise sets, girls hanging off the tower upside down chugging, and racing Dad never found out about, and nothing negative happened. It was life, and some great memories.
Old     (kyle_m)      Join Date: Aug 2007       11-17-2009, 9:46 AM Reply   
Ive yet to take my own boat out, without my dad there, the thing is that its his baby as well as mine. We both have a common love for the boat, even though i have not taken it out yet i will say that, its all maturity. My thought is lets take the boat out and only go hit the delta early morning or late evening when all the weekend wally 's are gone. My dad is coming around, seeing that all the other parents trust me more with there boat and let me take it out all the time. Its just maturity and what your goals should be, when i am a parent and i see my son is just serious about riding rather then partying he will learn to take the boat out by himself, so he can progress everyday, the second that trust is gone the boat privilege is pulled. If that all makes sense?
Old     (andrewjet)      Join Date: Jan 2003       11-17-2009, 9:57 AM Reply   
Alone?..age 35!!lol!
Old     (stevo8290)      Join Date: Sep 2008       11-17-2009, 12:16 PM Reply   
well i was allowed to at 17... then again i have to tow it about 30 minutes to the lake. For my dad the big thing was just making sure i had responsible friends to help with all the things that have to do with launching.
Old     (len62)      Join Date: May 2009       11-18-2009, 1:29 PM Reply   
My son is 14 and I let him out on the lake when I am home and in the yard. But I think each kid is different.
Old     (ncboarderboy)      Join Date: Aug 2007       11-23-2009, 9:06 AM Reply   
Im 18 and my dad still wont let me
Old     (timmy)      Join Date: Jul 2001       11-23-2009, 9:55 AM Reply   
I wasn't allowed until I was 18, and I was as responsible as they come. Back then it was a pain in the arse but now I think my dad was a very smart man.
Old     (tro)      Join Date: May 2009       11-23-2009, 7:25 PM Reply   
probably never.
Old     (brett564)      Join Date: Jul 2006       11-24-2009, 3:59 AM Reply   
Cody, interesting story. I'm 32 and that's scary stuff.

Cody brought up a good issue. Its not the issue of driving safe and practicing safe boating techniques, its the issue of what happens when something inevitably goes wrong.

So for me the question is, Does your kid have the training, responsibility, and experience to react under pressure by himself.

Age isn't so much the issue here. Experience is. Has your kid watched you drive for 15 years? Important, but not as big of a deal in my opinion. Has something bad happened where your kid watched you or another spring into action and save someone, whether it be in the boat or not? i.e. driving towards the boat on fire in the middle of the lake, driving up on a serious traffic collision on the highway and helping someone, or swinging around and saving someone who's knocked out in the water? Much bigger.
Old     (you_da_man)      Join Date: Sep 2009       11-24-2009, 7:45 PM Reply   
When I was 16yrs old my dad trusted me to tow our 19ft fish & ski boat 35 miles behind my low rider pickup (showing my age) to the lake with a couple of my buddies (he also trusted my friends). It really depends on the maturity of your child in question.
Old     (bruce_a)      Join Date: Sep 2008       11-26-2009, 11:24 AM Reply   
Each child is different.
I didn't see any mention of what kind of boat and the HP? I started boating on my own with PERMISSION at 12 in my parents 14' aluminum w/ 9.8 Merc, and without PERMISSION at 14 in their I/O Starcraft.
My son is now 15 and has been boating in our 14' Lund 15hp since he was 12, his sister also started at 12. They are both certified Red Cross life guards and I feel can deal with emergencies. The first summer they each had to stay in our bay when I could see them...Each summer after that I allowed them to go a bit further in our chain of lakes. Now they can each take the boat anywhere as long as they keep their hand held radios with them. I have made sure they both are aware of all hazards on the water and they know I am trusting them with a big responsibility and privilege. They are also both competent with our PWC but due to licensing regulations in Ontario, they will not be able to drive it alone until they turn 16. As far as the X2... when they can afford the gas, they can take his friends boarding!
Old     (wakerider111)      Join Date: Jul 2006       11-26-2009, 2:29 PM Reply   
The older boat my dad had he wouldn't let me take it out by myself because he was worried about the problems it had.

later he got a new boat and that one was too new.

EVEN if i could have taken it out on my own, the chances of finding ANOTHER friend whom he trusted to drive the boat when I WANTED TO TAKE A SET... wasn't ever gona happen. so i didn't fight it or ask about it much...

but looking back i wish i would have. i wish i would have put out the idea of letting me and my friends drive with my dad's supervision when we went out and for him to show us the things he wanted us to know and do and let us do them. my dad was and is the kinda guy that most of the time does everything himself (or wishes he could) and just has you watch if anything at all. but i contributed to that by not being insistent and more open. ohhh well

Wish winches were around (and popular) back then... or that i had invented the winch ;)

(Message edited by wakerider111 on November 26, 2009)
Old     (wakeboardertj)      Join Date: May 2005       11-26-2009, 2:37 PM Reply   
Jeremy, good point, I definitely needed a trustworthy 3rd to pull me. Thats all my parents really cared about. I'm an EMT and very responsible so it wasn't that hard of a decision to hand the keys over to the new boat.

The safety aspect is huge, especially after reading that one story in general wake about the rider that crashed and was unconscious and needed to be air flighted out. I don't think very many kids under 18 would act accordingly while having a life in their hands. Seems like a law suit waiting to happen. When I have kids I will make sure they are all CPR certified and pass down my EMT and boating knowledge before they take the boat out. The responsibilities of boating reach far beyond being able to just pull a rider.
Old     (ship_of_fools)      Join Date: Sep 2007       11-27-2009, 8:45 AM Reply   
A lot of great posts here...

In all honestly, I don't think I would ever let my kid take the boat out without me. If it does happen, it is still a long ways away.

It' is odd how different we view driving a boat then a car. One might think the level of responsibility and trust we give them to drive a car would just roll over into the boat.

They can be hurling down the road at 70 mph, talking or texting on the cell phone (which they won't be allowed to do but probably still will), his friends distracting him from the back seat, bad weather, other careless drivers, etc…. And we accept this (maybe out of necessity).

My vehicle is probably worth twice what my boat is (not that money is the issue here) and I am sure there will be times when he will drive it. And I won’t have near the reservation of him driving the boat. But the level of risk is still there. Why is it so much more accepted?

A few thoughts -

The level of concentration and awareness to drive a boat is higher.
The accessibility to help while out on the lake (even with a cell phone)
Chance of drowning
More time behind the wheel driving a car then a boat
More opportunities for accidents (lot more going on in and around the boat)

Anything else?
Old     (bstphen24)      Join Date: Apr 2006       11-27-2009, 10:38 AM Reply   
I was 16 when my dad started letting me take the truck and boat to the lake. I had taken the boat out by myself plenty of times when we were at the lake camping before that, and grew up towing trailers around my grandpa's farm. I also got lots of practice with trailers on the road when I was 15. I pulled my moms goose neck horse trailer, our boat, and flat bed with hay all multiple times.

I think it worked out because I had a friend that had been going to the lake with us for years and who also had grown up driving boats with his family. So I wasn't going to the lake unless he was coming along and my dad knew that I was only going to let him drive if I wasn't. At the same time I loved the freedom that my dad gave me with the boat and would not have jeopardized my dads trust by doing something stupid.

We payed for the gas in the boat, dad payed for the truck most of the time, but we also made sure to wash and wax the truck every opportunity that we got. So I think it worked out in my situation because my dad saw that we weren't abusing the opportunity that he was giving us, and the only think I know that he didn't like about it was that he had to drive my POS to work when we went to the lake.
Old     (Walt)      Join Date: Jan 2003       11-27-2009, 9:45 PM Reply   
I told my son he could start using the boat by himself at the age of 16 if he spent a few hours going over everything with me. He spends a lot of time on the boat every summer so I know he knows what's up and how to be safe. At that time he told me that he didn't want the responsibility yet. This last year he took our boat a few times by himself (@ 17) and did well but I think he's still not really into the responsibility of it.
Old     (57fever)      Join Date: Nov 2009       11-30-2009, 6:37 PM Reply   
I think it depends on your son or daughters maturity. But it also depends on the friends he will have with him or her.
Old     (cbrown)      Join Date: Jan 2004       11-30-2009, 8:08 PM Reply   
I was able to take the boat out on my own at 18. It was something I was interested in from an early age and had been taking the boat off the trailer for many years and when 16 came I gained experience doing the truck. I had some friends that only cared to wakeboard and had grown up around boats so my parents were comfortable and confident in letting me take the boat out.

And working at a dealership working on boats and being around a lot of the common issues that could go wrong did not hurt.
Old     (hco)      Join Date: Jun 2006       11-30-2009, 9:42 PM Reply   
I have been a lake baby my whole life, had my liscense since 12, been driving boats and pwc's long before that, and had been working at a marina since age 15. My parents let me take the boat out by myself at the end of the summer when I was 16. I had already proved that I could launch and take the boat back out by myself, and easily with the help of my core group of friends whom had been boating with me since around age 13-14. I would also just take a look into the insurance policy. I'm sure it also made it easier for my parents to let me use the boat since we live on a lake and it's more of a big river than a lake.


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