VIRGINIA — I stopped by the Department of Motor Vehicles this week to pick up some new stickers for my boat and of course they don’t match the color (see my previous column on snowmobile sticker).
They’re red. The boat is white and blue. If anything I’ll look a tad patriotic for the next couple of years – so there’s that. And I can’t complain about the price – under $40 is a small price to pay.
The guy behind me asked if I’d like a copy of the Minnesota Boating Guide and I figured, sure, why not. I’m always up for some light reading. Then he handed me the thing and I realized I might need a couple bathroom breaks to get through it all – it weighs 38 pounds. Not really, but it is a whopping 72 pages long.
I have to ask: Why do we need a 72-page boating guide and how much does this thing cost to produce? And who in the history of mankind has ever read through it? Do we really need that many rules and regulations when it comes to boating?
It’s almost comical that the same week Gov. Mark Dayton veto’s the tax and spending bills for the 2018 – effectively killing a lot of outdoors projects in the process, including several important ones by state snowmobile association MnUSA – I get handed a 72-page waste of tax dollars. No offense to my friends working in the trenches at the Department of Natural Resources, but it blows my mind that the agency needs to use so many words to get to simple points. The same could be said about the hunting guide or any number of “free” publications the DNR produces yearly. And there are a lot.
But there can’t be as many as long and tedious to plow through as the boating guide which I immediately opened to the last page (because I like to see what final thoughts are necessary to fill something like this) and found a list of 23 more free publications related to boat and water safety that can be yours simply by contacting the DNR. Can you imagine? They had 72 pages to fill and still found 23 more pages worth of stuff that couldn’t make the cut including dual language boating safety tip brochures in Hmong, Cambodian, Laotian, Spanish and Vietnamese.
The second to the last page of the booklet features a operator float plan so boaters can fill out a detailed description of their boat, a names and addresses of all the people on the boat, a trip plan and emergency contacts. I’m not making fun of such a plan – I saw that movie with Marky Mark and the guy from ER where the fishing boat gets caught in a hurricane – but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a place to turn one of these in to anyone, ever.
Then there are the rules for boating – the many, many, many rules. Did you know that under state law, toilets on board watercraft must be no-discharge service devices? Waste must be retained on board for proper disposal after returning to shore.
Do you know what that means? If you pee in a bucket and dump it overboard, you’re a lawbreaker. But my question is, is it illegal to urinate over the side of the boat? What about a child who jumps into the water from a boat and urinates in their shorts?
And who broke down the following visibility rules and how are they enforced? Apparently white lights must be visible for two miles on a dark, clear night. Who’s measuring that and how are they doing it? I know, I know, some of these rules have to do with Lake Superior or situations the average boater isn’t in and are necessary to make everything uniform.
I get it. But why do we need two pages dedicated to the rules for license certificates and numbering for the side of the boat – some so obvious a child could figure it out like: “The license number must be displayed on your boat as it appears on your license card.”
Minnesota: The land of 10,000 lakes and 20,000 pages of rules and regulations.