All vessels should be operated at a speed that allows time and distance to take necessary action to avoid a collision. Obviously, different conditions and levels of expertise will warrant different speeds. Certain areas of Alabama enforce local speed limits.
Check with your local boating authority before heading out on the water to determine speed limits (if any) in your area.
To determine a 'safe speed' for your boat, take into account the following factors:
- The visibility conditions (fog, mist, rain, darkness)
- The wind, water conditions and currents
- Traffic density, type of vessels in the area and their proximity
- Vessel responsiveness (larger, more powerful boats require a larger turning radius and have a higher top-end speed which requires more time and distance to stop)
- The proximity of any navigational hazards
Lastly, your wake can cause damage to property and other vessels. Always take into account the effects your wake might create when adjusting your speed.