Friday, August 22, 2008

So much to write about today!

Well, here we go!

Question: Whose responsibility is it to inform new boaters of boating rules in the city where they live?

In this story in today's Daily News, the saga of Harbormaster vs. Marinas continues. People didn't have permits on their boats, they got tickets.

As boating season begins to ebb, the city's harbormaster is issuing dozens of tickets to boaters who failed to purchase a waterways permit this summer, to the frustration of local boaters and marina operators alike.

Harbormaster Ralph Steele says he's been out on the water since the close of Yankee Homecoming, issuing tickets to any boat docked or moored in the city that doesn't have a blue 2008 permit sticker on its stern. He's handed out between 40 to 50 tickets so far, he said, adding there are plenty more boats he plans to visit in the coming days.

"We're planning on visiting the boats that don't have them, and they will be getting tickets," Steele said. "They're violations of city ordinances."

Kinda makes it sound like it's only a Newburyport thing, huh?

Not to mention the lede, which makes it sound like the frustration for boaters and marina owners is that the boaters didn't get a permit.

Anyone with half a brain knows that if you put a boat in the water, somewhere you owe money to the city administrating those waters. And if you're putting the boat in the water at a marina, the marina should tell you what is your responsibility vis a vis city permits.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that they should not be issuing slips until the boat owner has the proper permit(s).

Many boaters have been taken aback by the citations, however, especially boaters new to the Merrimack River. Newburyport Marinas Dockmaster Jay Larcome says between the company's five marinas, at least a dozen boats have received citations in the past week or so. Since most of those boaters are unfamiliar with the ordinance, he said charging them $100 without warning isn't a great way to welcome them to the city.

"They're mostly new people who aren't aware of (the ordinance)," Larcome said. "In my opinion, they should have been warnings instead of tickets. In the past it's always been (Steele) has put warnings on the boat, because there's lots of new people."

Windward Yacht Yard owner and manager Butch Frangipane said he's equally frustrated with Steele's policy of ticketing first, asking questions later.

"My biggest complaint, and I've brought this to the commissioner, is that we feel they should issue a warning and give people a week or two weeks to comply. Then if they don't comply, go ahead and issue a ticket," Frangipane said.

Well, that works with driving without a license, so I guess they have a point.

The two marinas cited in this piece are both owned by the same entity, so of course the two people are going to say the same thing.

Frangipane explained one of his customers was issued a slip just two weeks ago and received a $100 citation a week later. When Frangipane called the Harbormaster on the customer's behalf, Steele informed Frangipane he should have warned his customer. While most of the time he does warn boaters, Frangipane doesn't feel he should be charged with collecting money for the city...

How about obeying the rules of the city in which you are operating a business, Butch? Just a thought...

Ah, I'm wasting my time. Butch told me when I ran into him at the Post Office that he doesn't read blogs (whatever they are). He's a fiesty dude.


bubba said...

Most of the court time in Mass is taken up by people driving without a registration or license - I'd say warnings are few and far between...

These people have had all summer to get permits - I guarantee it will be the same people again next summer who try to game the system.

Gillian Swart said...

Yeah, that was me being a wise guy about the driving without a license.

It's kind of hard not to notice that most other people have a sticker prominently displayed on their boat, and you don't.

X said...

frankly, you shouldn't need a permit to use the water...

Gillian Swart said...

Well, that's another story altogether, X. It's sad but true.

Maybe there should be a toll on the new bike trail, now that you mention it! Same thing, right?

I never understood fishing licenses, either. Seems like it costs a lot to have a little fun, doesn't it?

bubba said...

I agree - let's get rid of gun and building permits while we're at it....

HarpHarp said...

The license is not to use the water; it's to use our moorings.

I was told that there is a huge waiting list for moorings. My reaction is that we, therefore, are not charging enough. We should raise the price until the waiting list is zero.

Anonymous said...

cost of moorings = (harbormaster's yearly budget) / (# of moorings)

I am guessing that if determined this way the cost of a mooring would be astronomical compared to what is being paid now.

If so, the folks down at the harbor should quietly pay the small number of $100 fines and be grateful that they are the beneficiaries of such a generous subsidy from the rest the non boat owners in this town.

Gillian Swart said...

HarpHarp, I think there is a waterways fee because this isn't a mooring fee ... maybe?

Anonymous, I don't think the Harbormaster's Office is subsidized by public $. I think it's one of those enterprise depts. that are supposedly self-supporting.

The dept. has lost a lot of money through letting the marinas slide on paying (lump) mooring fees, and now this.

Read this

X said...

a fishing license is the most unjust tax there is, charging someone for their god given right to feed themselves and their family is absurd.

a permit to use the water ranks right up there on the list as well...