The Washington Times - August 16, 2008, 04:52PM

During the first week of August Thomas L. Jackman, 27, of Darnestown, Md., was operating a “Personal Watercraft” (better known as PWC, or by brand names like Jet Skis or Skidoos and other names ) on the expansive Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland when he struck another PWC driven by District resident Joshua M. Miller, 30. Miller was injured and taken to a Garrett County hospital. Subsequently, the Natural Resources Police that investigated the accident charged both PWC operators with failure to obtain a certificate of boating safety education. Additionally, Jackman was charged with negligent operation of a vessel and Miller was charged with driving his PWC at greater than six knots within 100 feet of another vessel. The two will have to appear in Garrett County District Court on Oct. 30. These types of accidents are not at all rare. As far as I’m concerned — and I’m joined by a throng of regular boat operators — PWCs bring out the worst in some people. Personally, I can’t stand these floating water motorcycles from hell. Hardly a day goes by when I’m on the water, fishing or crabbing from my 18-and-a-half-foot-long boat, and some nerd riding a PWC insists on flying past me or all around me within close proximity to my vessel. On a tidal Potomac River tributary not long ago, while trot-lining for crabs, a teenager came out onto the water with a PWC. He looked around and saw no one on the wide creek other than me. Guess where he wanted to be? Yes, he rode that accursed machine to within less than 100 feet from my boat. Back and forth he went, throwing watery roostertails high into the morning sky, executing sharp turns, having a fine time, and pushing the resulting wakes onto my craft which apparently terrified the crabs I was after. They let go of the baits and the catching of the tasty crustaceans did not resume until after I waved at the kid and eventually was able to tell him that if he didn’t immediately depart I’d be calling the Natural Resources Police. Recently, at the Marshall Hall boat launch in a Charles County portion of the wide Potomac, several adults riding PWCs insisted on operating their motorized pains in the neck directly adjacent to the ramp as regular boaters attempted to launch their craft. After much shouting and thinly veiled threats from fishermen, the two PWC nerds took off for other parts of the river. Ask any angler who operates a boat what he or she thinks of PWCs and I’ll bet that the answer won’t be kind and supportive. I receive a steady string of e-mail warnings about PWCs interfering with fishermen at Virginia’s lakes Anna, Gaston and Smith Mountain. To be sure, the people who safely run their PWCs are being painted with an accusing broad brush, but there is definitely a problem with PWCs that appears to be way out of proportion when compared with regular boats. Meanwhile, in Maryland (and most other states) you should know that anyone under 16 can’t operate a PWC; life preservers always must be worn; a boater safety certificate must be carried aboard if born after July 1, 1972; you can’t jump or cross the wake of another vessel within 100 feet of such vessel, and you can’t operate the PWC between sunset and sunrise.