Something’s going on and I don’t like it. Unfortunately I’m part of the problem. However I’m going to do my best to do something about it. Not to many years ago boaters waved to one another. It did not matter if the boater was a fisherman, sailor, ski boat, house boat, pontoon boat, cruiser, or other type of boat. That’s the way it was. It was a way to say “Hey, we are both using this waterway and we can share it.” There is a bridge in Winneconne that allows fisherman to fish from the bridge that is also a road, a unique thing in Wisconsin. After dining at a waterfront restaurant we decided to walk across the bridge and back to show our young kids the fish that the fishermen caught. With three young kids and no fishing poles in hand, people were very nice to us. They showed us their bounty with pride. I was thinking I had misjudged fisherman. On foot with the kids this was a friendly group……until another person with a fishing pole in hand came strolling along the walk way. Remember the movie ‘Forrest Gump” when Forrest was getting on the school bus and all the kids would slide to the isle and say “This seat’s taken!” Well, those kids in that move were nicer then the fishermen on that bridge. Their personalities changed instantly. Today fishermen anchor in small narrow paths of navigational waters, or cross 90 degrees to the general traffic flow in a channel and shout that they have the right away because they are trolling. By the way, they don’t if they are not commercial. So far it sounds like it’s my goal to bash fishermen. Well, its not. This general lack of courtesy and tolerance is not unique to fishermen. Take the local public boat ramp. Although boat ramps have always been a great spot to see mistakes something else is happening. Today boat ramps are an excellent area to observe a general ‘this seat is taken’ attitude. Other observations include the boater in the pontoon boat that just loves to tie up in the middle of a 50’ wall. Why not pick one side or the other? The sailboat that is under power and shouting to a small fishing boat that the sailboat has the right of way. Guess what? A sailboat that is being propelled with a motor is a motor boat and has no more right away then any other boat. The go fast boat on the river that narrowly miss kids in a small Jon boat. The house boat that takes its half of the river out of the middle or runs its generator at anchor upwind of kids playing in the water. I could go on and on. There are many more. Last weekend I got the fist shaken at me. I was on the Wolf River in a wake zone. I passed another boater and startled them. We were both going in the same direction. As I passed them I could see the expression on their face, they were startled. The driver shook his fist at me. Did they do anything wrong? In my opinion, yes, they did several things wrong. First, they were going about 8 knots in a runabout boat. What’s wrong with that? Well, the only way to pass them is to do it on plane. If they were putting along I could have come off plane, something I often do when passing smaller boats on a river, and given them a slow pass. To pass them I would need to be going over 8 knots. With my boat, going 10+ knots makes a wake bigger then when I am planing. The second thing they did wrong was they were in the center of the river. This mean to pass them I must pass them between their boat and shore. That area could have been larger if they were on the normal right side of the river. Did I do anything wrong? Yes, and I’m upset with myself for it. I should have done the ‘two short beeps’ that although is required by law is rarely ever done in my area. In this situation I am mad at myself that I did not beep. Since I startled them I wish I had come off plane but looking back I would not have known that I was about to startle them. Also, I kept going. Maybe I should have went back to talk to them. Maybe it would have been good to say “Hey, I see I startled you. I should have beeped. I’m sorry. Are you OK? Have a good day.” Or it may have made the situation worse. I’m not sure. Somewhere out there is a guy that owns a runabout that is mad at a boat with the name “Holiday Too” on the stern. After this I spent a fair amount of time observing other boaters behavior. I spent time waving, smiling, and enjoying the ride. A lot of waves were not returned. I’m rededicating myself to make sure I don’t give a “This seat is taken” attitude even if it’s being given to me. So if you see a boat with the people onboard giving you a wave, wave back or don’t wave back, it’s your choice. Either way I’m going to wave at you because we are both using this waterway and we can share it.