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The Dangers of Teak Surfing Behind a Boat

It's A Deadly Sport

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In recent years a new fad has emerged in boat towed sports that provides loads of fun for the participants, however, it is also proving to be deadly. It's called "teak surfing" or "drag surfing." Growing in popularity, teak surfing is performed by hanging on the swim platform (often made of teak wood) at the back of a boat while the boat is moving forward in slow motion. Often the swimmers will let go of the teak and body surf on the boat's wake. The participants can at times even surf back to the boat and grab the swim platform.

Watch the Boat Propeller

    An obvious danger to this sport is the participant's proximity to the boat propeller, which raises concern in itself. But the silent danger comes in as this is the area of the boat that is filled with potentially deadly carbon monoxide, which is tasteless and odorless, and more and more people are dying as a result on inhaling the fumes. And to add to the problem, teak surfing participants rarely wear life preservers because they can be uncomfortable and even inhibit one's ability to surf a wake. Add all of those elements together and you can see how easily someone could drown.

CO Poisoning

    According to the Naval Safety Center, "The symptoms of CO poisoning may include severe headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, fainting, and death. Low levels can cause shortness of breath, mild nausea, and a mild headache. Low levels are more dangerous in the boating environment because they can lead to drowning. Carbon-monoxide poisoning may not be suspected immediately because the symptoms are similar to those of people with the flu, food poisoning, or other illnesses. If you suspect CO poisoning, immediately get the victim to fresh air and seek medical care."

    "Many victims who survive have permanent brain damage. Anyone in the water without a PFD who is rendered unconscious will drown immediately." states the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection web site. View a graphic rendering of someone teak surfing.

Although the sport of teak surfing is not illegal, officials are trying to alert boaters that it is very dangerous. The United States Coast Guard advises boaters not to teak surf. Please help spread this safety message and discourage teak surfing.

Should Teak Surfing Be Illegal? Join the discussion.

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