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Contact: June Iljana
(916) 651-5692
e-mail: pubinfo.dbw.ca.gov

December 31, 2004

Teak Surfing Outlawed in California

Sacramento – Effective Jan. 1, 2005, California a new law will prohibit the dangerous practice of operating a vessel’s motor or generator while a person is teak surfing, platform dragging, or bodysurfing behind the vessel. “Teak surfing” or “platform dragging,” is a nationwide fad that involves pulling a person through the boat’s wake while the person holds on to the back of the boat.

"Teak surfers are exposed to carbon monoxide from the boat’s engine, which can cause them to lose consciousness in seconds," said DBW Director Raynor Tsuneyoshi. “Teak surfers don’t wear lifejackets because they say it interferes with body surfing, so when they faint from the carbon monoxide they will drown. If they don’t drown, they can still die because the carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in the blood."

The Anthony Farr and Stacey Beckett Boating Safety Act of 2004, (AB 2222), authored by Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood) and signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger in September, imposes a fine of up to $100 on anyone who operates a vessel’s engine or generator while a person is holding on to the swim platform, swim ladder, or swim step on a boat. The law provides exceptions for briefly assisting with the docking or departure, exiting or entering the vessel, or engaging in law enforcement or emergency rescue activity.

Carbon monoxide (co) is a colorless, odorless gas in motor or generator exhaust. Nationwide, there were 493 boating-related carbon monoxide deaths and non-fatal poisonings between 1990 and 2003. Thirty-four of the poisonings occurred in California. DBW recommends that boaters avoid swimming or wading alongside or behind a boat while the engine or generator is running.

The symptoms of CO poisoning may include severe headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea, fainting and death. The symptoms can be similar to the effects of intoxication or too much sun, though, and most victims will not recognize the danger before it is too late. If CO poisoning is suspected, get the victim fresh air immediately and seek medical care.

An additional provision of AB 2222 that will not take effect until May 1, 2005, requires the placement of carbon monoxide warning stickers on new and used boats that are sold.

For a pamphlet on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and a warning decal, visit www.dbw.ca.gov, call (888) 326-2822, or write to Department of Boating and Waterways, 2000 Evergreen Street, Suite 100, Sacramento, CA 95815.

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Note: A graphic representation of teak surfing is available at http://www.dbw.ca.gov/PressRoom/.