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Update on our Continued Fight Against Boat Speed Limits in NJ!!!!

Old 11-16-2002, 10:02 AM
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Default Update on our Continued Fight Against Boat Speed Limits in NJ!!!!

Safety test for state's boaters discussed at panel meeting

Published in the Asbury Park Press 11/16/02By KIRK MOORE

STAFF WRITERCAMDEN -- The possibility of requiring boat operators in New Jersey to pass a safety test -- regardless of their age or boating experience -- emerged as the main theme at a public hearing before an Assembly task force on boating safety.

"There's no reason why mandatory licensing and education should not be required," said David Patnaude, president of the New Jersey Performance Powerboat Association, at yesterday's hearing. A proposal for 30 to 40 mph speed limits on coastal bays is misguided, because it may actually make it harder to safely maneuver high-performance speedboats, Patnaude told the panel of legislators meeting at Rutgers University here.

Since state boating laws were last changed in 1996, safety education has been required for two classes of boat operators: Anyone riding personal watercraft and operators of motor boats who were born after Dec. 31, 1978.That age limit was a compromise with recreational boaters who have traditionally resisted licensing. Assemblyman Jeffrey W. Moran, R-Ocean - an avid boater himself - said that was a mistake by the Legislature."There are days I go out there (on Barnegat Bay) and I turn around and come back," he said.During debate on the 1996 legislation, Moran said he thought: "We're not talking about a 35-year-old guy with a 25-foot boat. And these are the guys who are running me down."To receive safe boating certification in New Jersey, operators must complete an eight-hour instructional course, including a 50-question examination that requires 70 percent of the questions to be answered correctly, said State Police Trooper Jeff Andrus."It is comprehensive," he said, but "it is critical that all of the course material is covered."State police are continuing an investigation of one private boat safety instruction firm that is suspected of letting its students slide on some of its course material.Mandatory safety certification for boaters of all ages is advocated by Rosemary Decker, whose husband, Thomas, was one of three fishermen killed when a 60-foot motor yacht ran over his 20-foot boat off Beach Haven in October 2000.Decker appeared at yesterday's hearing with Charles Hartley, 79, her husband's friend and sole survivor of the crash. Yacht owner Barry M. Flowers, 63, is serving a six-month jail term after pleading guilty in September."The captain (Flowers) of that boat was making a claim we crossed in front of him," Hartley told the panel. "No. We were there for almost a minute."Assemblyman Robert J. Smith, D-Gloucester, chairman of the task force, asked Hartley to describe contributing factors to the accident."Speed," Hartley replied. "And there was no one at the controls. I was hoping he would make a slight turn to the left, or a slight turn to the right, or pull back on the throttles. But nothing happened. He wasn't there.

"Speed limits, as proposed by the state Boat Regulation Commission, would not have prevented that accident, nor the June 2002 capsizing of a performance boat off Sea Isle City that killed three brothers, said Patnaude, a Dover Township marine dealer and owner of a 37-foot performance boat.If the Legislature or boat commission propose rule changes, "they need to base it on facts," Patnaude said.And one fact to consider is the way performance boats ride at lower speeds, when their bows and long forward decks can rise up out of the water and make it hard for the helmsman to see what is in front of the boat, he warned."At 35 mph, the bow of my vessel has such an aggressive pitch that I would not be able to see over the bow if I wasn't 6 foot 7," Patnaude said.Any speed limit would be difficult for state police to enforce, because fiberglass boat hulls don't easily reflect police radar, Patnaude said, noting his club has experience trying to measure speeds at its own events.

Commission Chairman Roger K. Brown of Brick suggested his group and the Assembly panel meet over the coming months to discuss how they might coordinate their ideas for changing boat laws.Despite the warnings of powerboaters, Moran said he thinks "we've got to talk about speed limits. Unless we get off the dime and do something, it's just going to get worse."Brown has said the commission is now more inclined to consider speed limits only for specific areas of coastal bays and rivers. But William deCamp Jr., president of the environmental group Save Barnegat Bay, urged a baywide 30 mph speed limit.Accident statistics alone 'don't really describe the situation because some people won't go out there."Fear has taken them off the water," deCamp said.
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Old 11-16-2002, 11:04 PM
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great job dave keep up the great work you the man! also thanks all that attended as well
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