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Old 12-05-2002, 10:16 AM
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Boating speed limit debated
By KIRK MOORE
STAFF WRITER
TOMS RIVER -- Proponents of a 30 mph speed limit on coastal bays and rivers who met last night for a strategy session had an impromptu discussion with powerboat owners who prefer mandatory licensing instead of speed limits.

The state Boat Regulation Commission appears to be backing away from an earlier proposal for bay speed limits, but a concerted campaign of letter-writing and attendance at commission meetings could reverse that again, said William deCamp, president of the environmental group Save Barnegat Bay.

"The whole idea of a speed limit as a solution to the chaos out on the bay" may not be a complete answer to boaters' safety and traffic complaints, deCamp told a crowd of about 60 who gathered at the Toms River Yacht Club.

But, deCamp added, "we need something that takes us toward a solution, that has the virtue of simplicity."

Safety -- and "the feeling of safety when you're out there on the water" -- is the main argument for limiting maximum boat speed to 30 mph, deCamp said. That speed still allows for effective waterskiing, and timely speed for fishermen to transit the bay to inlets and the open ocean, he said.

There are environmental arguments, too, for decreasing boat speed, such as reducing noise and disturbance of nesting birds on bay islands, deCamp said.

"A speed limit might not solve all those problems, but it would take a bite out of them," he added.

Among those listening was David Patnaude, president of the New Jersey Performance Powerboat Club, whose appeals to the Boat Regulation Commission at a November meeting brought a retreat on the speed limit proposal.

After offering the group some answers to technical questions, Patnaude and a small group of club members who came to the meeting explained why they think mandatory licensing and safety education for all boaters is the answer.

"We agree with you folks that going out there on the bay on a Saturday or a Sunday is nuts," Patnaude told the group, which included many sailors and members of area yacht clubs. "There are so many people out there who don't want to voluntarily learn how to handle a boat, and learn the rules of the road."

Patnaude said his club, which counts some 300 members, promotes safe operations and coordinates its organized race and meet events with State Police. He acknowledged the performance boat community has an image problem because of some owners who are inconsiderate of other boaters and violate noise regulations.

"Unfortunately, we as a group get painted as a bunch of hooligans, Hell's Angels on the water, because of that. We're trying to change that," Patnaude said.

Powerboat and yacht enthusiasts could co-exist on the water by better communication and coordination around each other's organized races and events, he suggested.

Mandatory safety education is now required for boaters born in 1979 or later, and anyone operating a personal watercraft. DeCamp said it could take years to amend those requirements to establish a boating license system, while the Boat Regulation Commission could adopt a speed limit within months under the state administrative code.

"If the Boat Regulation Commission gets religion, we could have a speed limit in place by next summer," he told the group.

Along with writing to Commission Chairman Roger K. Brown of Brick, deCamp urged supporters to attend the commission's Jan. 8 meeting at State Police headquarters in Ewing.

Proponents said boat speeds can be checked by radar, much as State Police do for cars on land. But powerboat club members said their experiences using radar to time races shows it is difficult to get an accurate reading except at close range.

Even some of those receptive to a speed limit had reservations.

Trish Murphy, vice commodore of the Toms River Yacht Club, said her club has not endorsed the proposal, but agreed to provide a meeting place for last night's discussions.

Some sailors said what's really needed is better enforcement of slow speed/no wake rules in congested river waters. Others wondered aloud if a 30 mph speed limit might prompt ignorant boaters to crank up to that speed in every situation.

But John Sly, a sailor from Lacey, said he'd support a speed limit.

"We'd probably agree that 50 mph on the bay is too much on a Saturday. Maybe not on a Tuesday," he said. "But we need to take that first step."

Kirk Moore: (732) 557-5728

SAVE BARNEGAT BAY: www.savebarnegatbay.org
NEW JERSEY PERFORMANCE POWERBOAT CLUB: www.njppc.com
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Old 12-05-2002, 10:42 AM
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Just a thought?!!
My boat isn't on plane at 30MPH. So that puts me making one heck of a wake for all the "blow boaters" and a playground for the "water flies" (jet skis) at 40 I start to clean-up.
So a mandatory "speed" could actually cause more of a problem than it will solve.
Enforcing the NO WAKE zones would make more effective control.
I can't count the times I've been in a no wake zone and had a "bass boat" or jet ski fly by me, thinking that they don't make much wake.
My .02 worth.
I'm interested because as soon as the laws start in one area the others have to get on the band wagon.
We're regulated to death now.
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Old 12-05-2002, 11:04 AM
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That arguement has been made many times and its a valid one. The problem with that thought is that it leads you to the discussion .... is 45mph fast enough?

We don't want to talk about speed limits at all. We want to move the conversation to manditory liscensing and education.

There is no safety issues at stake here, this is simply a bunch of blowboaters who are in charge of the commission wanting more space to run thier races and to keep powerboaters away from thier blow boats.

The bay is very busy, but little to no real accidents. It's not like we had a rash of accidents. In fact, the commission never even asked for the data that may support the need of a speed limit.

Sick minds never know.
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Old 12-05-2002, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by OPIE272
Just a thought?!!
My boat isn't on plane at 30MPH. So that puts me making one heck of a wake for all the "blow boaters" and a playground for the "water flies" (jet skis) at 40 I start to clean-up.
So a mandatory "speed" could actually cause more of a problem than it will solve.
Remember under law you are responsible for your wake. So if your boat doesn't plane at 30 and you're throwing a huge wake under the law you are responsible for any damaged caused by that wake. So in essence you're really not forced to slow to 30, you're forced to no wake speeds.

We go through this all the time in Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers here in NJ. Fishermen will anchor or drift the narrow channels. You'll get a ticket if you blow by on plane. You'll also get a ticket if you slow down and throw a huge wake. Not once have I seen the police clear the channel. Fishing sucked this past year, one of the few years it wasn't a problem.
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Old 12-06-2002, 02:44 AM
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Originally posted by dockrocker
sharkey,

I've followed your attempts to get some support over on boatered.com - you're much more patient than I. I left that board because the opinionated asses that run the show over there. Keep fighting the good fight!
Thanks!!! It was mostly those who are already stuck with Manatee zones and Slow Speed No Wake Zones that were speaking out their asses not knowing if their laws were being enforced in the 1st place....
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