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Flagler County Speed Zone Proposal

Old 06-19-2005, 09:56 PM
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Exclamation Flagler County Speed Zone Proposal

Fast Boats Making Big Waves in Flagler

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Last update: June 15, 2005

Bob Fabian loves to fish and boat, and he thinks Flagler County's stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway should be policed better.

Several months ago he was out on the water when a cigarette boat zoomed by, kicking up a 4-foot wake that swamped his boat. He recalls cursing at the errant boater, who seemed oblivious to the miscue.

He has watched speeding boats stir waves big enough to tip over kayaks. Whenever he fishes, he encounters at least one boater jetting too fast.

"It's just like the highway with cars -- there's inconsiderate people," said Fabian, 63, a retired New Jersey state trooper.

As the county's population has grown, so has the number of boaters, including reckless ones. Flagler County Sheriff Don Fleming now wants to look at imposing speed limits in the county's portion of the Intracoastal Waterway to increase public safety.

Flagler would join neighboring Volusia and St. Johns counties in posting speed limits in the channel, as opposed to the more nebulous "no wake" and "minimal wake" zones.

"If you have a speed limit, it gives you a little more punch," Fleming said.

These restrictions would better protect smaller boats on the water, riverfront homeowners and wildlife, Fleming added.

Fleming aims to form a committee made up of city leaders, anglers, boaters, homeowners and law-enforcement agents. The committee would hash over the best ways to curb boating speeds and reckless behavior, he said.

One goal is to form clear-cut rules that everyone can understand, Fleming said, arguing that state law is vague when it comes to boating.

For instance, the law forbids reckless operation, but it gives no examples, he said. So are reckless boaters speeding, or are they zigzagging, or are they passing an oncoming boat too closely?

Fleming said he also wants to step up enforcement. His department has two boats that patrol the waterway, but without a local speeding law, his deputies must defer to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers he said.

He would like to help the commission go after speeders, he said, noting that the state agency has two boats covering a four-county area.

In Volusia County, the cities of Port Orange, Ponce Inlet and New Smyrna Beach recently formed a joint marine patrol. The 20-officer unit debuted on Memorial Day weekend, with its initial focus to nab speeders.

Volusia has imposed 25- to 30-mph speed limits in areas where manatees are thought to swim.

"Our main purpose for being out there is to promote safe boating," Port Orange police Cmdr. Bill Schulz said.

Fleming said he knew it was time for Flagler County to impose speed limits when he saw four cigarette boats zip by in a cluster.

A couple weeks ago, a boating club raced from Daytona Beach to St. Augustine, he said. These groups know they can go full throttle through most of Flagler.

Large speedboats can create swells that roll into coves and marinas, buffeting boaters who are trying to launch their vessels, Councilman Jon Netts said. These big waves also can damage property.

"I think we've reached a point where we have to do something," Netts said. "Some people don't realize what they're doing, and some don't care."

But Netts, a boating aficionado, cautioned against making the rules too strict. For instance, making Flagler County one big no-wake zone -- which would force some boats to chug at 5 mph -- would take all the fun out of boating.

Bruce Douglas, fleet captain for Palm Coast Yacht Club, said keeping boats to 30 mph would be reasonable.

Speed limits shouldn't be made extreme to please riverfront homeowners who complain about boats sloshing water in their yards, Douglas said. He likened it to people living near a freeway whining about traffic noise.

Tim Matthews, a wildlife commission agent, said a universal speed limit isn't fair because a bigger boat will produce a bigger wake at a slower speed.

Forming a committee to study these problems is a sound idea, Matthews said. "I think there's a lot that could be done out here if everybody puts their heads together."

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Old 06-19-2005, 10:38 PM
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Default Re: Flagler County Speed Zone Proposal

[QUOTE=WaterAccess]Fast Boats Making Big Waves in Flagler

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Several months ago he was out on the water when a cigarette boat zoomed by, kicking up a 4-foot wake that swamped his boat.

I can't recall the last time I saw "zooming" Cigarette produce a 4 foot wake. If you want a 4 foot wake try 20 or 25 mph
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