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Old     (spearing)      Join Date: Sep 2005       01-13-2010, 7:58 AM Reply   
So i always see in the "wake magazines" adds for these orange flags for when a wakeboarder falls.

Is this a rule in your state and or county? and how does the law work? Do you like it?

We dont have this in Michigan but I could see the use for it.
Old     (boarditup)      Join Date: Jan 2004       01-13-2010, 8:03 AM Reply   
Jim: Just say no.

It does not work. There is no statistical difference in injury rates with or without the flag. It does, however, have a positive impact on the number of citations given and the amount of revenue collected.

It was a good intention, but it just did not work.
Old     (onthewatermo)      Join Date: Jan 2008       01-13-2010, 8:20 AM Reply   
In Missouri you are supposed to fly it when you have a rider in the water. I think it works to some extent as it is a much more visible signal than a singular bobbing head in the water. Additionally for our purposes, it gives the non-wakeboarders something to do allowing them to share in the groove.
Old     (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       01-13-2010, 8:20 AM Reply   
the best is when you see the boat with a bored girl just sitting there holding the flag up, no matter what the rider/skier is doing
Old                01-13-2010, 8:31 AM Reply   
It is totally useless. I only know one lake in Texas that requires it: Lake Conroe. It is still one of the deadliest lakes in Texas. As a boat driver you should never be too far from your rider. Also, if a boat driver is too dumb to see a person sitting in the water they are probably too dumb to notice a flag on a nearby boat too.

I am sure that is a good revanue generator for Parks&Wildlife (Most Texas boater won't have one on hand), but safety, I doubt it. I got a warning once for my flag being too fadded.
Old     (ottog1979)      Join Date: Apr 2007       01-13-2010, 8:34 AM Reply   
HATE IT. In CA, must have flag up when skier/boarder in the water and not up. Also must have it up when rope is in the water. Stupid rule, doesn't do anything. When the lake isn't busy or when the lake police aren't around, we don't bother. I grew up in Wisconsin where there was no such silly rule (at least back then).

Good pole question, though!

(Message edited by ottog1979 on January 13, 2010)
Old     (detonate69)      Join Date: Apr 2001       01-13-2010, 8:42 AM Reply   
I've boated in California my whole life, specifically on the delta. I find this law when correctly practiced to be very beneficial. The sloughs here are usually narrow and you can't always be 100' away from another boat. If a boat is just sitting there how am I supposed to know if the rope is out or people are floating? I understand you can usually see a person floating but what about a rope or another object? A flag alerting people isn't a bad thing, or much of a nuisance at all.
Old     (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       01-13-2010, 8:48 AM Reply   
I think under certain applications(like the one above) it works well. On big lakes, I don't really see the point. If your that close to another boat under power, you're to stupid to see the flag anyway.
Old     (spearing)      Join Date: Sep 2005       01-13-2010, 8:51 AM Reply   
Karl - i agree :-)
Old     (cjh1669)      Join Date: Apr 2005       01-13-2010, 9:00 AM Reply   
In colorado it's the law, and it works in our smaller lakes. There are times when the boat could be blocking the view of the rider in the water, or the rollers could be doing the same. It also works well when someone gets too close and you shake it at them :-)

I agree it's pretty useless on larger lakes where people aren't as congested
Old     (ryan_shima1)      Join Date: Sep 2002 Location: Layton, Utah       01-13-2010, 9:32 AM Reply   
Here in UT, it's a law but personally I think it's useless because the the flag is in the boat, but the boat is not the hazard you're trying to avoid, it's the object in the water.

As a boat drive, you should always assume that there's someone in the water or other objects (i.e. rope) near another boat, especially when it's just standing still.

And if it's such an important law, why isn't it mandatory in each State? I've lived in different States and Utah is the first state that requires it.
Old     (bmartin)      Join Date: Jan 2007       01-13-2010, 9:36 AM Reply   
Glad we do not have to do it. It seems obvious when a rider is in the water without a flag when you see a boat idling or stopped with a line in the water. Besides it seems there would be so many false negatives (no flag up when rider is in the water) and false positives (flag up without a rider) to make relying on the flag more dangerous than simple observation and caution when approaching other boats.
Old     (onthewatermo)      Join Date: Jan 2008       01-13-2010, 9:53 AM Reply   
At Lake Ozark during the peak season, we'll have 3'-4' swells on the main channel...add to that some pontooner's penchant for towing their two year olds on a tube through it and suddenly an orange flag works quite well as an indicator that they have a downed rider. In a calm cove is it necessary?-no and I've never heard of anyone here getting a ticket for failure to display one (interestingly enough, they are not required for PWCs towing people).
Imagine two kids double tubing and one falls off, the driver takes a second to realize it and the flag goes up while they circle back...another boat could easily be 100' away from them and still potentially hit the downed rider using caution ("I saw the pontoon towing someone and there was a person on the inflatable and I assumed it was the only rider). A dark haired, tan kid wearing a lake colored life jacket bobbing between swells becomes easy to overlook when eying other boat traffic.

(Message edited by onthewatermo on January 13, 2010)
Old     (lfrider92)      Join Date: Sep 2008       01-13-2010, 10:09 AM Reply   
we are required to here in CA, and use it all the time during the summer, but in the winter, we may see 3 boats during the course of the entire day (normally fishing boats) so we dont really worry about it unless anyone is even semi close to us. and the way we drive, 9 out of 10 times, the throttle is already being pulled back to idle and the wheel is being spun around before the spotter has a chance to yell down.
Old     (cjh1669)      Join Date: Apr 2005       01-13-2010, 11:36 AM Reply   
I think another plus of it is that, on a boat where everyone is socializing, you have one person who is paying more attention than the others. Not always the case, but typically the case on our boats.
Old     (njskier)      Join Date: Jul 2005       01-13-2010, 1:37 PM Reply   
In NJ it's the law to display the flag while towing a skier/rider/tuber. Most people have it mounted to the tower somewhere.
I got mine from


It's a good law if everyone knows what the flag really means. Too bad they don' hard enough to keep the other boats at least 100 feet away!

(Message edited by njskier on January 13, 2010)
Old     (njskier)      Join Date: Jul 2005       01-13-2010, 1:42 PM Reply   
Another flag pic

Old     (behindtheboat)      Join Date: Aug 2006       01-13-2010, 1:54 PM Reply   
So am I wrong in what a skier DOWN flag means to me?

^^ that is exactly what I was talking about in my earlier post. I may be wrong, but shouldn't the flag only be flown when the skier is down? Boats driving around with a flag up no matter what the skier is doing seems counter productive. Is it not to alert other boaters that there is someone in the water within the vicinity of the boat with a flag?
Old     (cjh1669)      Join Date: Apr 2005       01-13-2010, 2:03 PM Reply   
We actually got pulled over at Glendo in Wy for having a mounted flag. The ranger said is desensitizes the other boats.
I guess it's opinion. Really in the end I think that lake is too big and empty, on normal days, for them.
My home lake on the other hand is small and can get crowded. The flag is needed there, and needs to be in someones hand, who is paying attention.
Old     (cla10beck)      Join Date: Dec 2007       01-13-2010, 2:07 PM Reply   
There are different laws for different states. I just moved to Philly and after looking at the laws in NJ, you are required to display the flag at all times when a rider/swimmer is in the water (either up or down), or the rope is out.

This is different than the laws in other states where the flag is only raised when the skier is down, or someone is floating in the water.

They also they require a different shaped flag. Not sure why, but its the law
Old     (cjh1669)      Join Date: Apr 2005       01-13-2010, 2:10 PM Reply   
Used to be, that in WY, you didn't need a spotter as long ass you had a mirror, so you could just have a driver and a skier. Not sure when it changed, but it isn't that way now :-)

They are all different, and some lakes have their own rules on it, that may add to the states rules.

In colorado you have to stay 100ft from a boat towing, at Standley it's 200 ft
Old     (benbuchholz)      Join Date: Oct 2009       01-13-2010, 2:13 PM Reply   
This is just me taking a random stab at it, but is it meant to be more of a visual to simply say "hey...we're pulling a skier/wakeboarder/tuber/kneeboarder, so watch for people/objects in the water around us." ..? because there's still a risk even when the rider is up. Of course i'm sure it depends on certain state laws and what not
Old     (cjh1669)      Join Date: Apr 2005       01-13-2010, 2:16 PM Reply   
That's pretty much all it means. It just is a saftey measure that goes one step beyond common sense. I don't think it's a bad thing, and it keep s my 5 year old daughter feeling like she is doing something important :-)
Old     (stephan)      Join Date: Nov 2002       01-13-2010, 2:29 PM Reply   
As mentioned previously, it is mandatory here in CA. I also believe that the observer must be at least 12 years old.

Another thing that would be awesome if everyone did... if you are driving along and see a boat with the skier down flag up, raise your hand to indicate that you see them and aren't planning on running them over. I hate that 5 second period when I don't know if some jackass sees me or is planning on playing bumper boats.
Old     (cjh1669)      Join Date: Apr 2005       01-13-2010, 2:36 PM Reply   
Just checked, CO doesn't have any age rules for observers.

I hate it when i feel a boat is heading for my skier or my boat, I agree wave.
Old     (wakeworld)      Join Date: Jan 1997       01-13-2010, 3:11 PM Reply   
Everybody knows that the purpose of the flag is to let other boaters know that you are a WakeWorld regular!! Now available at

Old     (bmartin)      Join Date: Jan 2007       01-13-2010, 3:24 PM Reply   
^^^^ You never miss a beat David.
Old     (cwfletch)      Join Date: Dec 2009       01-13-2010, 3:25 PM Reply   
It is law here in Nevada as well. Coming from Texas I still see no point on open bodies of water. We still have boats come right at our downed rider while waving the flag in direct line of sight. I have had multiple incidents with boats pulling tubes crossover 100 yards of my bow and one of their 3 children slips off the back. Now I have a child in the water in my line of travel, their boat continues across to my rear starboard side and guess what goes up. I think it is a poor substitute for responsible boating
Old     (clubjoe)      Join Date: Sep 2005       01-13-2010, 4:53 PM Reply   
I have an orange flag and a pink flag in my boat, and it really isn't a bother to use, but I don't use it unless Mr Ranger is nearby or there is boat traffic to consider.

For the boneheads that aren't paying attention, I drive my 3500lb yellow boat straight at them at about 25mph... that seems to work pretty good
Old     (cjh1669)      Join Date: Apr 2005       01-13-2010, 5:04 PM Reply   
our friends have a big pair of pink panites stapled to a stick ont heir tige, it's not so much for the other boats, but says more about how the rider is acting.
Old     (baitkiller)      Join Date: Jan 2010       01-13-2010, 5:43 PM Reply   
Clubjoe is pretty much on point. I have, and fly a (used to be) orange flag but it doesn't do much good. I have douche bags pulling tubes following my child skiers right behind my wake all summer long. So I wind up doing power turns to place my boat between my down rider and the oncoming traffic. It sucks. Last year I earned a long and loud ear beating from the wife for throwing 4oz egg sinkers at two jet skis that looked like they wanted to kill my son. Jumping my wake maybe 30 yards behind an 8yo boarder, yeah that dumb. Anyway it worked! :-) What I cant wait for is a proper wake boat with a gazillion watt system tower speaker set up with one of those PA amps that let you talk through the tower speakers. C'mon Obama can I have money for that?
Old     (jaybee)      Join Date: Aug 2007       01-14-2010, 7:28 AM Reply   
^^^^^^^^^^ It's called the wetsound 420. It works like a charm when you wanna yell at stupid tubers and jet skiers.
Old     (lfrider92)      Join Date: Sep 2008       01-14-2010, 9:14 AM Reply   
our 420 gets the most use out of yelling at power turners
not going to lie though, its an awesome tool while your teaching someone something. its really helpfull

but nothing beats yelling at a power turner
Old     (bobenglish)      Join Date: Mar 2008       01-14-2010, 6:00 PM Reply   
Big Heavy's post is dead on.

We almost had a downed rider get decapitated last Summer by a jet ski cutting across our wake. He never saw the downed rider in the water. But, I doubt a flag in the boat would have helped. We need a flag on the rider!
Old     (sixeye)      Join Date: Apr 2005       01-14-2010, 7:09 PM Reply   
Yes, Big Heavy is spot on!

BTW, I'm in Cali and our lakes get pretty crowded. I'm not out every single weekend but our flag has probably saved a dozen lives over the years when inattentive or somewhat inattentive drivers on other boats were coming very close to running over our person down. Scary as all get out.

On lakes and rivers where a flag is not required, we have been known to put ours up anyway if there is an approaching boat. It's a universally recognized signal to look out and avoid the person down in the water!
Old     (brett564)      Join Date: Jul 2006       01-15-2010, 3:58 AM Reply   
I'm surprised how many people really don't like the flag rules.
Old     (bobert)      Join Date: Jan 2008       01-15-2010, 9:41 AM Reply   
It is law here in Idaho and pretty pointless until you get into the narrow parts at Lucky Peak. When driving I always find myself looking for the flag if the situation warrants.

Really it is to bad there is really no way to stop or re-route the ignorant drivers out there that have no common sense.
Old     (sailing216)      Join Date: Oct 2007       01-15-2010, 10:21 AM Reply   
I was trying to get a flag that you could throw in the water when the rider falls. Granted it would be at least 100ft away but it's something. We don't have to use flags and I've seen the Scuba Flags that have a weight at the bottom and float in the middle---something like that.

We ride good size lakes but it seems dumazzes and jetskis still find us.
Old     (mc_x15)      Join Date: Jul 2008       01-15-2010, 10:42 AM Reply   
In jerz the flag must be up at all time when towing someone. Not just when they are down. Seems to me like this would work better than just when the rider is down. Mainly jsut bc people can see you from far away and avoid u
Old     (wakeboardern1)      Join Date: Aug 2007       01-15-2010, 10:50 PM Reply   
I had finished riding after a day and was just messing around. We were headed to the cliffs across from us and I was being towed by a jetski, out of my bindings. Well I fell, and some cool people in a Mastercraft aimed straight for me while my driver was turning around. They did not see me so i started waving my arms frantically. Luckily they spotted me. But had I fallen out there with my board on and they hadn't seen me, I woulda been screwed. At least without the board i could dive down out of the way. That was scary.

When it comes to boats following riders, I'd like to see stiffer penalties related to that. At the same time though, if they crack down on it, it means the end of being able to chase film effectively. It's a two edged sword...
Old     (wakekat15)      Join Date: Jul 2005       01-16-2010, 6:41 AM Reply   
I personally do not find much value in the flag requirement. In fact, 99% of the riders that I have heard of being run over were in fact run over by the boat pulling them. Jet Skis - different story...I have seen many near misses with them. Normally, an idiot driver in a boat will not follow a rider nearly as close as an idiot on a jet ski. Just like in cars, you have some drivers that just don't follow the laws of common sense, disobey traffic laws & drive recklessly. An orange flag is no more effective with them than a red traffic signal. The safety of the rider depends largely on the rider themselves (to be aware of their surroundings) and the driver pulling them.

Case in point...pulling an advanced rider on the St. John's River - idiot boat driver comes speeding to pass us ON THE RIGHT & rider is about to make his cut out to the right on an 80' line. He would have cut right into their path and/or boat. I whistled at the rider and pointed behind him - he sees the idiot boat driver & waits for said idiot to pass before making his cut out.
Old     (mastercraftboarder)      Join Date: Jul 2009       01-28-2010, 5:42 PM Reply   
From MN over here. No regulation of flags or anything, but we have all the same idiots, that miss me and others with us by 25Yds or once, missed by about 15...
Old    kaligirl            01-29-2010, 7:51 AM Reply   
^^^^"An idiot driver in a boat will not follow a rider nearly as close as an idiot on a jet ski"

On the Delta, a guy on a three seater PWC, passed on the same side as my 11 year old daughter, within 10 feet of her...even though we were using flags, arms, towels, and hand gestures galore to get him to back off. Totally took her out. I dived out of the boat to get her, pulled her in and then hunted the ba***rd down. People are frickin idiots and you're right, Kat, laws apparently don't apply to them.
Old     (baitkiller)      Join Date: Jan 2010       01-29-2010, 1:21 PM Reply   

Next time try 4 oz egg sinkers.

Too bad it's against the law but a paint ball gun seems like the safest alternative to rid yourself of lake lice.

They go away.

My rider is safe.

Nobody is dead

I have vented my wrath.

Win win right?

never mind.... ill go buy another flag.
Old     (wakekat15)      Join Date: Jul 2005       01-29-2010, 3:14 PM Reply   
Dang, Kathleen...THAT is REDONKULOUS! Glad that didn't end as bad for your daughter (or the jet skier) as it could have!
Old     (deltarida)      Join Date: Dec 2009       01-29-2010, 6:15 PM Reply   
Been out on the Delta for 20 years and I agree with David....It does have an impact on the Delta and serves a good purpose. Too many deaths from boating accidents out here as it is. But if you live on the right side of the Delta you will u will only use it on a weekend if you are lucky!
Old     (dohboy)      Join Date: Aug 2007       01-29-2010, 6:35 PM Reply   
I agree with John, paintball guns would be SOOOO COOL!
Old    dperizzolo            01-29-2010, 6:51 PM Reply   
In all honesty, not that big of a deal to have a flag up. I don't think its the end of the world. It is definitely better than nothing.
Old     (jimmy_z)      Join Date: Jun 2009       01-30-2010, 1:07 AM Reply   
All I can say is....WOW????

The majority of posters dont practice BASIC safe boating techniques?????

I know....I know....seatbelts are uncool also.
Old     (wakekat15)      Join Date: Jul 2005       01-30-2010, 7:30 AM Reply   
I would consider myself one of the safest boaters there is, Jim. Everyone has their own opinion, but wearing a seat belt is the law everywhere. Orange Flags are only required in a few states. Perhaps you can find some statistics that show the states with the requirement have fewer boating accidents and/or fewer riders run over by a 3rd party.


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