What Speed Is Safe for Your Boat?

By Matt Claiborne

Every skipper of every vessel must be concerned about their speed. But it only makes sense that the faster your vessel goes, the more careful you should be.

In an idle zone, your throttle should never go above in gear but idle. This is basically as slow as the boat can go while in gear.

Slightly faster is no-wake speed. This allows you to push the boat with more forward speed so long as there is no wake produced.

A minimum wake zone allows you a little more leeway. You can proceed faster than no-wake speeds. That’s a big help to go-fast boats because a no wake speed is usually quite slow.

According to the US Code of Federal Regulations: "Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.

(cont'd): "In determining a safe speed the following factors shall be among those taken into account: (a) By all vessels: (i) The state of visibility; (ii) The traffic density including concentration of fishing vessels or any other vessels;

(iii) The maneuverability of the vessel with special reference to stopping distance and turning ability in the prevailing conditions; (iv) At night, the presence of background light such as from shore lights or from back scatter of her own lights;  (v) The state of wind, sea, and current, and the proximity of navigational hazards; (vi) The draft in relation to the available depth of water."