What's a PWC?


Old 03-28-04, 11:48 AM
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What's a PWC?

One of my favorite things to do is SCUBA dive. I have been doing it for over 25 years. A lot of my dives are at night because lobsters come out in the dark. It isn't easy to find another diver who is willing to go at night, so I often go alone. In fact, I am so used to diving alone that I rarely even look for a dive-buddy anymore. You may think I'm foolish, but aside from being a solo diver for about 20 years now, I used to be a research diver at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and I also worked as an ocean lifeguard for 6 years. I have learned to be self-reliant and careful.

I have always been a beach diver, because boats were expensive and somewhat of a hassle. I recently found a new dive spot that is a bit farther offshore, however. The long swim out has apparently provided too much time for me to reassess what I am doing. (Plus there were a couple of Great White Sharks that spent last summer hanging out off San Onofre beach, and I am not too far away) So I have been thinking about a boat or something that I can drag my carcass out of the water onto, if needed.

My first thought was to get a PWC, commonly called a wave runner. The problem is that they don't have running lights for night use, and are not legal at night even if they were retofitted with lights. I don't understand why this rule exists. It seems like someone got carried away with themselves, like my homeowners association often does. An inflatable boat, which can be just as small, is not considered a PWC and CAN be used at night - to my understanding. Am I right on this?

Now comes another type of water craft called a Rhino Rider. It is sort of a mix between a wave runner and an inflatable boat. Can this be fitted with running lights and used at night? What's the definition of a PWC? These rules don't make sense.

Last edited by stanky1; 03-28-04 at 09:45 PM.
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Old 03-28-04, 12:33 PM
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Hello: stanky1

PWC (Personal Water Craft) eas used in the title of the forum to avoid mentioning each type of personal water craft. In that manner the title covers all small water crafts in the catergory.

Hope the explaination above answers the question asked in the title of your subject.

To get the info you need rearding the noght useage of a PWC, the web address to the CA. GOV site is within the forum note in this forum.

From memory address should be:
(copy & repaste into broswer)

Regards, Good Luck & Safe Boating.
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Old 03-28-04, 09:43 PM
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Thanks for the link. It confirmed that PWC's cannot be operated at night. California's definition of a PWC is a vessel under 13 ft in length that you sit ON, rather than IN. Therefore, an inflatable boat (even one under 13 ft) is not a PWC, and can be operated at night.

Can someone explain the rationale behind this law? It assumes that PWC operators are incapable of exercising the same due caution expected of any small boat operator under conditions of limited visibility. I fail to see how my ability to operate a vessel at night is influenced by whether I sit on it or in it.
Old 03-29-04, 01:32 AM
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My guess is that such a small craft will be unable to support the necessary running lights to operate safely at night. Never try to understand the reasons behind any government rule or regulation. You will only get old and lose your hair before your time. The only thing I've noticed is that a lot of the regulations are a patchwork of things designed to prevent more accidents and were the knee jerk reaction to previous accidents. Those in charge tend to think that more & more regulations make for fewer & fewer accidents. What they seem to forget is that the majority of accidents are caused by ignorance, negelect, carelessness, lazyness, ect. All the previous accident causes mostly result from an attitude problem. More rules won't change the way people afflicted with such an attitude operate because if they aren't afraid of what the sea can do to them why should they be afraid of any government official? After all, the accident will always happen to "the other guy."

Last edited by jughead; 03-29-04 at 05:16 AM.
Old 03-30-04, 05:41 AM
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Hi: stanky

Buddy of my mentioned one reason why a PWC may not be allowed to operate at night. With or without lights.

Sounded logical too.

They go too fast. Can attain higher speeds and are far to difficult for boaters to keep track of there location. Thus the danger to those on a PWC becomes extremely higher.

May be the low profile a PWC produces against the waters surface too. The lights would reflect off the surface and become un noticeable at long distances to boaters.

The bigger the boat the higher it sits. This looking down becomes distracting. A PWC sits low thus looking upwards is distracting too.

Do to the speed capabilities of a PWC, a boarter sees it there on the horizon and next minute in emanate danger of a collision.

Thus the dangers to either or both is eliminated if the more likely to be injured or killed is not present at night. Makes sense 2me.
Old 03-31-04, 11:50 PM
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Yes, a PWC can go fast, but it can also go slow. The operator needs to exercise judgment.

Anyway, I figured my whining about this law wasn't going to change anything, so today I bought an 9' Avon 280 Rigid Inflatable Boat with a 10 hp 4-stroke outboard. I really don't think it is any safer than a PWC for night use, but at least its legal.

I was towing it home on the freeway, and after about 15 miles, the boat decided to lead the way. That's right, it came unhitched and passed me at about 65 mph. I kid you not. It held a straight course for awhile, but eventually came to rest on a concrete barrier. The trailer is toast, but suprisingly the hull and motor are largely intact.

The boat was second-hand, and I had my doubts about the trailer as I hitched it up and drove off. Next time I will listen to that little voice that says something isn't right. Guess my judgment was a little off today.
Old 04-01-04, 10:11 AM
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Did you forget the safety chains????????????? You know if you work at night with this. Your 360o stern light will be on at anchor Id still get a small strobe and turn it on at anchor at night also. ED
Old 04-01-04, 12:40 PM
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Well, the trailer came with only one rusty chain. It was rather flimsy looking, but in retrospect it probably would have done some good to have hooked it up. I didn't have the right hardware to do the job however (the former owner apparently never used the chain), and so it was one of those times when you make a mental note that you are going to fix this when you get home.

Thanks for the tip about the strobe. Do you have any tips about patching a fiberglass hull?

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