Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bans on Boat Gatherings

There has been a lot of recent talk in Maryland about safety when a group of boats gathers together. Unfortunately, it seems that a few bad eggs are causing trouble for those of us who are safe on the water. Legislation has now been passed that restricts the number of boats that can gather without a permit. It appears that most of the complaints (and reasons for the new law) are related to Bumper Bash. People get drunk, get into fights, and trespass on private property. We attended the festivities for the first time last year and had a great time (we did not get into any fights or trespass, we just enjoyed the sun). Also, Bumper Bash is not all about drunken partying. Last year, money was raised through t-shirt sales and donations for Special Olympics. Because of the new laws, Bumper Bash 2012 has officially been canceled. Many people are talking about gathering behind Dobbins Island anyway but we don't plan to attend.

Canal Days has now been drawn into the mix. If more than 100 boats gather in the Chesapeake City basin on June 30, the DNR is vowing to break up the gathering. I'm starting to wonder how far the law is going to reach?

On any given weekend there are hundreds of boats rafted up behind Hart-Miller Island or in Fairlee Creek. We raft up with friends for most of our weekend trips. Rafting up gives us an opportunity to get away from it all. There is no house work. There is no Internet (at least for those of us without Smart phones). It's just the simple joy of relaxing on the water with a group of friends. And, to be honest, the fact that it is free is a big draw. We simply can't afford to pay to visit a marina every weekend. For Independence Day 2011, we met up with friends in Sue Creek. As more and more boats entered the creek we realized it would be best to attach our raft up to the group next to us. We did this for safety and the protection of property. By being hooked together we didn't have to worry about boats slamming together. At last count, there were 32 boats rafted up together. Should we be concerned if that happens this year? Is the idea of anchoring going to be threatened by this new law?

I applaud lawmakers and the DNR for trying to keep everyone safe. I just hope it doesn't affect my enjoyment of summer on the water.

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