The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wanted the news media to get a first hand look at what happens when boaters disobey the rules.
The boat ride took off from the Pike Island Locks and Dam.
The Consol Energy tow boat did a neat U-turn and pulled into the lock channel, pulling up behind a set of 15 barges, and connecting up to them, to push them down the river.
Nearby was the Wheeling Police boat, playing the part of the careless pleasure boater, darting around the edges of the barges.
"They can zip in and out, but the thing is, if they can't see you from the pilot house, you're invisible," explained Carol E. Davis of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "And in a crash, big always wins."
Lockmaster Jim Kirchner said small pleasure craft are often zipping around tow boats and barges.
"Sadly, they are doing this constantly," Kirchner confirmed.
"There's a huge blind spot out there," added Captain Brian Loring. "And if they can't see me, I can't see them. They'll zip up ahead of the tows, run down alongside the tows and then behind the boat. It's just an issue."
The captain said it can take three-quarters of a mile to stop a set of loaded barges.
He said summer is the most stressful time for him, because it's when pleasure boaters are out on the water, behaving unsafely.
In his words, "We can't breathe a sigh of relief until after Labor Day."