On October 22, 2018, the Oregon State Marine Board met in Coos Bay, Oregon, and held a work session to discuss boat wakes and the proposed statewide rules for Wake Sport Operations (OAR 250-010-0026) and Definitions (OAR 250-010-0010) which defined wake sport terms and established operational distance prohibitions.  The Board heard invited testimony and from the public and staff in an effort to better understand concerns from industry, recreational boaters and homeowners pertaining to safety and impacts from wave-generating boating activities. 

As floating home owners and marina operators (and many of us are boat operators as well), most of the stakeholders with floating property have first-hand experience with damage from wakes – by both boat operators following the current wake rules as well as those operators violating them.

The current wake rules were written for boats whose design objective was not similar to the design goals of wake sport boats being manufactured today.  Today’s wake boats are designed to carve deep wakes into the water in order to enhance the fun that the wake boarders, tubers and skiers experience.  Unfortunately, they also can produce damage-inducing wakes to floating homes, docks and boats even when the operators are following the current wake rules near floating homes and marinas.

Floating property owners felt that the proposed new rules around wake sports were simply a short-term bandaid and did not adequately address concerns from homeowners, marina owners and boat owners that the new rules would protect their property.

The Board listened and then held their quarterly Board meeting on October 23, where they decided to take no immediate action on the proposed statewide rules for Wake Sport Operations (OAR 250-010-0026) and Definitions (OAR 250-010-0010).

Instead, the Board directed staff to convene a collaborative rules advisory committee to evaluate wakes and wave energy in relation to the proximity of other boats, property and the shoreline. The Board also opened rulemaking for the Willamette River in the Newberg Pool area and instructed staff to use the compromised plan developed jointly by homeowners and industry as a starting point. Concurrently, the Board asked staff to expand their outreach and collaborative advisory committees to address issues specific to the Portland Metro area and Multnomah Channel in order to balance safety for all waterway users. 

Stay tuned to find out how you can provide input to the committee for their research, study and protection of your floating property.