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Long Island Waterways Filled With Untrained New Boaters, Creating Safety Hazards For Everyone

BAY SHORE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Waterways around Long Island are now filled with new boaters and personal water craft users who are not necessarily trained, causing a safety hazard.

With a decade of experience on a jet ski, John Michael says lately, he's sharing the waters with a crop of unsafe operations.

"There are a lot of people, they're just speeding through the channels and not obeying rules," he told CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff. "I get scared. You can easily tell who's been doing it for a while and who's out there who just got it and they're racing around."

Quarantine-weary Long Islanders are taking to the water in droves. Marinas are filled to the brim, marine stores are sold out of small crafts and jet skis, and while the bays offer plenty of social distancing, the trend poses a different hazard: accidents.

On Sunday, ferry operators rescued six on a capsized boat and say they're often dodging inexperienced newcomers.

"You can have pea soup thick fog and then you'll get these people going out in their recreational boats. It's like, are you kidding me? You're putting not only my life at risk, but everybody else's," said Dave Anderson, with Fire Island Ferries.

In the first half of this year, there's already been a 20% uptick in fatal boat accidents nationwide.

RELATED STORY: 2 Men Dead After Jet Skis Collide In Water Off Bronx

Two jet skiers died in the Bronx. Another man was killed off Lindenhurst and yet another off Jones Beach.

The sale of personal water crafts are up nationally 75%, but that doesn't mean buyers get any kind of safety training.

"This summer is worse than it's ever, ever been, and the majority of accidents are due to inexperience and alcohol, unfortunately," said Angie Carpenter, town of Islip supervisor.

A new law in New York state requires every boater and jet ski operator to take a Coast Guard sanctioned training course, but it's not fully phased in until 2025.

"You can go on letgo, you can go on Craigslist, you can go anywhere and buy a boat, go to a dealership, buy a boat and walk away that same day with zero experience," Babylon Councilman Terrance McSweeney said.

"Flooding, what happens if somebody falls overboard, what do I do, what happens if my boat starts taking on water," Babylon Village Mayor Ralph Scordino said.

The weather could also change abruptly.

Officials urge anyone buying or renting a water craft to take the safety course, even if it's not yet required.

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