Whether you're 12 or 82, in sound or feeble mind, drunk or sober, you can walk into almost any marina and take any boat that strikes your fancy into any navigable waters of the U.S.—even if you haven't a license to run a scooter.
The result of this negligent encouragement of mutual mayhem has been a steadily increasing accident and death rate on the waterways as the number of boat owners and renters rises each year. According to the Coast Guard, there now are about 40 million Americans participating in recreational boating and between 7 and 8 million small-boat owners in the United States.
The boat buyers and even some salesmen are opposed to a Coast Guard proposal to license boat operators, and the owners do not even like the current rule that you must register your boat and paint the number on the bow. All these laws, say the rugged individualists, violate the sovereign right of every American to kill or maim any other American.
We are for stricter laws, a license for every boat operator and an increase in appropriations for the Coast Guard and for other supervisory bodies in the states. Then waterways may become more than slightly safer than the highways.