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Old 04-11-2021, 09:52 AM   #1
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Default Headway Speed- "No Wake" Definition

Reminder-

In 2019, the NH Legislature changed NH's Headway Speed definition. The change simply removed the language allowing speeds up to 6 mph.
Headway Speed, also known as "No Wake" is currently defined by RSA 270-D:1 VI as "the slowest speed that a boat can be operated and maintain steerage way".

Aside from certain times of the year, only the Weirs Channel has enough current to warrant using varying amounts of throttle to maintain safe steerage. What does this mean? When fighting a current, sometimes more throttle is required to overcome a head-on current. While this may create whitewash as your boat displaces the current, the wake behind you should be minimized by the current. When travelling with the current, throttle will likely be necessary in order for you to control your vessel rather than the current controlling you.

While travelling in a "No Wake" zone where little or no current exists (Governor's Island, Alton Bay, Bear Island, etc.), the overall majority of boats only need to be in forward gear with their throttle set at the lowest position to have safe steerage.

Finally, many straight inboard boats require the operator to shift in and out of forward gear in order to slow down in "No Wake" areas. Steerage can still be maintained as long as there is water flow at the rudder.

Thanks for your attention to this change.

Safe Boating!!

Tim Dunleavy
NHMP Captain
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Old 04-11-2021, 11:16 AM   #2
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Thank you!

" the overall majority of boats only need to be in forward gear with their throttle set at the lowest position to have safe steerage."

I think that helps a lot of people who might not understand.
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Old 04-11-2021, 01:11 PM   #3
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I generally find this to be a challenging situation based on the boat AND the operator.

Some hulls will travel at virtually no speed at all and be steerable, mostly modest size outboard powered boats.

Then you have our current most popular hulls, the 25' plus stern-drive powered bowriders, and depending on weight and hull design and other factors, they can be a handful to control at idle speed.

Jet boats/jet skis are their own challenge and some are horrific to steer at low speeds and they have no neutral making it almost impossible to actually stop and wait/drift,,,

And having never piloted a sail boat, I am often very impressed at the control some of their captains seem to have, but I still give them as much space as possible as it looks like a challenge to keep them under full control at wake speed.

I guess my point is that its very easy to write a paper rule and expect/demand compliance, but in my experience setting expectations for boat control in a no wake zone and then enforcing it is a challenging matter. You will see legitimate abusers, legitimate under-experienced operators that are building their experience, you have all kinds of challenges with the boats themselves. I think we need such standards and we need expectations and enforcement, but the reality is no wake will look very different in a lot of instances that wont be form of abuse, and in some cases, you will have significant abuse and wont see it at all.

Boating is in some ways more akin to flying aircraft than operating a car. The spectrum of control of boats is different and variable, by comparison to automobiles where paper operational rules are much more easy to set expectations for and to enforce.
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Old 04-11-2021, 03:07 PM   #4
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Default Agreed

XCR-700- I completely agree with your assessment. Certainly different boats will require different speeds. Jet pumps absolutely need thrust to have steerage.

Thanks-

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Old 04-11-2021, 03:21 PM   #5
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XCR-700- I completely agree with your assessment. Certainly different boats will require different speeds. Jet pumps absolutely need thrust to have steerage.

Thanks-

Tim
BTW, Many Thanks for all you folks do, I see MP staff all over the lake and it brings comfort to know we are always close to land and we often see MP on the look out for problems. Though I have been fortunate enough to have never had a major safety event on Winnipesaukee, I have a great sense of comfort knowing that with a life jacket or other flotation device, you can get to land easily, and with a call of the radio NH MP are always close by. For a low risk day boater, these two factors have made Winnipesaukee always feel like a safe place to enjoy boating. Nothing is risk free, but we do have it pretty good on Winnipesaukee.
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Old 04-11-2021, 03:45 PM   #6
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I think that the laws/rules on the lake, for the most part, make it better and safer for all of us. There have been may things enacted such as some of the newer no wake areas and other laws that I feel are overbearing and unnecessary.

Having had property on the Weirs Channel it has become obvious over many years that Lake Winnipesaukee's no wake speed and the no wake speed in many other areas of the country are interpreted and enforced differently. I have seen many boats from other states go through the Channel at speeds that I am sure they thought would be acceptable but on the lake they are not. The "no wake" speed they are used to in their "home" boating area is quite different than what is expected on the lake.

Yesterday, while boating in Florida at about 20 MPH, there was a boat parallel to me, going in the same direction, about 50 feet away passing at a slightly greater speed. If you are used to the 150 foot rule it is slightly discomforting when a boat is that close. The surprise was when another boat in the 30 foot range heading in the same direction going about 40 MPH passed between us. When this happens, and it happens too often, I want to ask the other boater if they give any thought to the spray and their wake when they do something like that. I don't think they have any idea or even give that a thought.

So, it makes one appreciate the rules on Winnipesaukee. I think we are all better off because of them. (Well, most of them)
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Old 04-11-2021, 08:01 PM   #7
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I think that the laws/rules on the lake, for the most part, make it better and safer for all of us. There have been may things enacted such as some of the newer no wake areas and other laws that I feel are overbearing and unnecessary.

Having had property on the Weirs Channel it has become obvious over many years that Lake Winnipesaukee's no wake speed and the no wake speed in many other areas of the country are interpreted and enforced differently. I have seen many boats from other states go through the Channel at speeds that I am sure they thought would be acceptable but on the lake they are not. The "no wake" speed they are used to in their "home" boating area is quite different than what is expected on the lake.

Yesterday, while boating in Florida at about 20 MPH, there was a boat parallel to me, going in the same direction, about 50 feet away passing at a slightly greater speed. If you are used to the 150 foot rule it is slightly discomforting when a boat is that close. The surprise was when another boat in the 30 foot range heading in the same direction going about 40 MPH passed between us. When this happens, and it happens too often, I want to ask the other boater if they give any thought to the spray and their wake when they do something like that. I don't think they have any idea or even give that a thought.

So, it makes one appreciate the rules on Winnipesaukee. I think we are all better off because of them. (Well, most of them)
Well stated!

I think we all enjoy a good blast across the water but it should not come at the cost of others sense of safety or actual safety.

There is plenty of water out there to enjoy, no need to crowd anyone else and blow by another boat close enough to cause an intimidate impact.
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Old 04-12-2021, 06:54 AM   #8
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Default Thanks for the clarification.

I think changing the signage in the Weirs Channel to Headway Speed will be a big step in avoiding the confusion of headway speed because of current in the spring and fall runoff.
Thank you for the clarification of minimum steerage. Although I have been told to slow down, a deep vee boat does not maintain a straight path at 6 mph and less. The boat would wander left and right. Officers thought I may be imbibed.
What I learn is like the inboard operators to shift into gear when I need to correct the boat. The law specifically states that 6 mph is just an arbitrary number.
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Old 04-12-2021, 07:28 AM   #9
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One of the problems travelling through the Weirs Channel is that different boats with different engine configurations and different shaped hulls will all handle differently.

Your intentions could be good when you need to go 4 MPH to maintain steering and control but it gets difficult when the boat in front of you has a comfortable no wake speed of 2 MPH.

Many people never look behind them to see the problems they may be causing for others. (That is true in cars too )
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Old 04-12-2021, 09:11 AM   #10
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One of the problems travelling through the Weirs Channel is that different boats with different engine configurations and different shaped hulls will all handle differently.

Your intentions could be good when you need to go 4 MPH to maintain steering and control but it gets difficult when the boat in front of you has a comfortable no wake speed of 2 MPH.

Many people never look behind them to see the problems they may be causing for others. (That is true in cars too )
Another well stated challenge for all boaters.

I dont know about the masses, but for me I am on contestant 360 degree lookout, and by the end of a day of boating l am worn out!

I get the impression there are a lot of captains who only see straight ahead and the rest of the world is someone else problem,,, Certainly not all, but too many.
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Old 04-12-2021, 10:57 AM   #11
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....
Thank you for the clarification of minimum steerage. Although I have been told to slow down, a deep vee boat does not maintain a straight path at 6 mph and less. The boat would wander left and right. Officers thought I may be imbibed.....
My own boat does that when the throttle lever is barely in gear. A quick search just now tells me this is called "low speed wander." From this reference: https://www.boatingmag.com/how-to/co...-speed-wander/

"Roy Ellis, senior project manager of product development for Monterey Boats, said itís the result of water rushing aft along the sides of the boat and then collapsing into the hole behind it.

This creates swirling vortices of water that exert suction on each side of the transom, pulling the boat back to the right and then left, Ellis said. Prop torque only exacerbates the problem.

Inboard boats typically donít suffer from low-speed wander because their rudders have enough surface area to overcome the tendency to veer off course.

Sterndrives and outboards donít really have much of a rudder, relying more on directional prop thrust. At low speeds, prop thrust is not as effective as a rudder for maintaining a straight course. And thatís why sterndrives and outboards are more prone to low-speed wander."

Drives with two opposite-rotating props minimize or eliminate the effects of prop torque. I learned long ago that I could keep a mostly straight course at headway speed by anticipating the swings with small countering swings of the steering wheel.
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Old 04-12-2021, 02:13 PM   #12
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My own boat does that when the throttle lever is barely in gear. A quick search just now tells me this is called "low speed wander." From this reference: https://www.boatingmag.com/how-to/co...-speed-wander/

"Roy Ellis, senior project manager of product development for Monterey Boats, said itís the result of water rushing aft along the sides of the boat and then collapsing into the hole behind it.

This creates swirling vortices of water that exert suction on each side of the transom, pulling the boat back to the right and then left, Ellis said. Prop torque only exacerbates the problem.

Inboard boats typically donít suffer from low-speed wander because their rudders have enough surface area to overcome the tendency to veer off course.

Sterndrives and outboards donít really have much of a rudder, relying more on directional prop thrust. At low speeds, prop thrust is not as effective as a rudder for maintaining a straight course. And thatís why sterndrives and outboards are more prone to low-speed wander."

Drives with two opposite-rotating props minimize or eliminate the effects of prop torque. I learned long ago that I could keep a mostly straight course at headway speed by anticipating the swings with small countering swings of the steering wheel.
Mr. Ellis statement may be the text book explanation, but personally I think there is more to it.

First, I have never had a significant problem with low-speed wander in any of my outboard powered boats. Not saying it doesnt happen, it just was not significant.

And with sterndrive boats, I have had less of a problem in boats with a full sharp V bottom. Hulls that "soften" at the keel and flatten at the stern seem to be worst offenders. My Carlson 23' was terrible to the point where I was going to add a fin to the bottom/rear to see if it helped. Sold it before I could try that out.

I also wonder if its worse with big ear 3 blade props vs smaller blade 5 blade props???

One thing for sure is when you have a boat badly afflicted with low-speed wander, its a royal pain to drive in the no wake zones.
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Old 04-12-2021, 06:03 PM   #13
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Default Keeping on course

When I was about 12, I learned a lesson in boat handling from Captain Brian Avery on the Mount Washington. My buddy and I had decided to go for a ride--open invitation from the crew. We were in the wheelhouse coming out of Alton Bay when Captain Avery said, you guys take the wheel for a minute, I'm going for coffee. He went down the stairs and we heard the door slam. Neither of us thought to look down the stairs to see where he really was. So, we took the wheel and tried to make a straight course up the bay, paying close attention to the chart and the rudder angle indicator. We turned a little left, then a little right and repeated. We just couldn't get the rudder angle to settle on zero. The door slammed again, and the Captain appeared and took the wheel. We went to look at our wake and sure enough, we had made a series of 'S' curves up the bay. Then Captain Avery explained that it is almost impossible to get the rudder to settle on zero degrees. You settle close and after awhile, you make your next course correction and then bring the rudder back. "It's a boat." There's always going to be a little drift from wind, wavers, slack in the rudder chains. "Work with it, not against it."
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Old 04-13-2021, 07:22 AM   #14
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While I appreciate very much the Marine Patrol reminder, it seems like enforcement of this law is based on the whimsical nature of an individual boat and the wind and current of the day, something that is impossible for an individual patrol officer, on the spot, to know. That reduces the law mostly to an officer's opinion of "I know excessive wake when I see it". It also creates a difficult defence for a boater. How can I prove that the current was such, and the wind was that, and enumerate all the characteristics of my boat that "required" me to travel at the speed I was to maintain steerage?

Further, are you going to take up court time and legal costs to fight what might be an unreasonable but essentially trivial ticket?

I also suspect that enforcement may be limited to egregious situations as to not make the law a nuisance to boaters, similar to the leeway most officers extend for speeding in cars.

I know this has been discussed and opinions are all over the place. Just my opinion.
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Old 04-13-2021, 07:56 AM   #15
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It's funny that when MP started stopping a lot of boats for making a wake, their boats were suddenly able to go through the zone without a wake.
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Old 04-13-2021, 08:43 AM   #16
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While I appreciate very much the Marine Patrol reminder, it seems like enforcement of this law is based on the whimsical nature of an individual boat and the wind and current of the day, something that is impossible for an individual patrol officer, on the spot, to know. That reduces the law mostly to an officer's opinion of "I know excessive wake when I see it". It also creates a difficult defence for a boater. How can I prove that the current was such, and the wind was that, and enumerate all the characteristics of my boat that "required" me to travel at the speed I was to maintain steerage?

Further, are you going to take up court time and legal costs to fight what might be an unreasonable but essentially trivial ticket?

I also suspect that enforcement may be limited to egregious situations as to not make the law a nuisance to boaters, similar to the leeway most officers extend for speeding in cars.

I know this has been discussed and opinions are all over the place. Just my opinion.
It's a tough situation because of the possibility of current, and they really have no choice but to leave it subjective.

I routinely pass under the Hampton River draw bridge and unless it's slack tide, there's always a stiff current there. The water often swirls violently and the navigable channel under the bridge is narrow. By law, I'm not allowed to make a wake under the bridge, in practice, you'd have to be insane or inexperienced to attempt to pass under that bridge slowly. My boat displaces over 32,000 lbs, is 50'LOA, and it gets pushed around like a bath toy under that bridge, unless I power through "purposefully" (I make sure the boat is lined up with the channel and the rudders are straight before entering, then throttle up aggressively so that I'm accelerating smartly as I pass under the bridge). One of my marina neighbors sideswiped the bridge last year with a 45,000 lb boat trying to go through gently at 5 knots. I came close to doing that once in 2019 and won't make that mistake again.
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Old 04-13-2021, 09:17 AM   #17
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It's a tough situation because of the possibility of current, and they really have no choice but to leave it subjective.

I routinely pass under the Hampton River draw bridge and unless it's slack tide, there's always a stiff current there. The water often swirls violently and the navigable channel under the bridge is narrow. By law, I'm not allowed to make a wake under the bridge, in practice, you'd have to be insane or inexperienced to attempt to pass under that bridge slowly. My boat displaces over 32,000 lbs, is 50'LOA, and it gets pushed around like a bath toy under that bridge, unless I power through "purposefully" (I make sure the boat is lined up with the channel and the rudders are straight before entering, then throttle up aggressively so that I'm accelerating smartly as I pass under the bridge). One of my marina neighbors sideswiped the bridge last year with a 45,000 lb boat trying to go through gently at 5 knots. I came close to doing that once in 2019 and won't make that mistake again.
Years ago I would often ride my motorcycle up Route 127 to Gloucester, MA and sit by the side of the Annisquam River bridge. In a couple of hours sitting there you could see many people back off the throttle when their boat started to move around in the current. A lot of them ended bouncing off the wall as they went through. Sometimes you can learn a lot, just by watching.
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Old 04-13-2021, 10:23 AM   #18
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While I appreciate very much the Marine Patrol reminder, it seems like enforcement of this law is based on the whimsical nature of an individual boat and the wind and current of the day, something that is impossible for an individual patrol officer, on the spot, to know. That reduces the law mostly to an officer's opinion of "I know excessive wake when I see it". It also creates a difficult defence for a boater. How can I prove that the current was such, and the wind was that, and enumerate all the characteristics of my boat that "required" me to travel at the speed I was to maintain steerage?

Further, are you going to take up court time and legal costs to fight what might be an unreasonable but essentially trivial ticket?

I also suspect that enforcement may be limited to egregious situations as to not make the law a nuisance to boaters, similar to the leeway most officers extend for speeding in cars.

I know this has been discussed and opinions are all over the place. Just my opinion.
I think I have to respectfully disagree.

I have seen what I believe to be countless abusers of no-wake zones and its not too hard to tell who is working to keep their boat under control and who is just looking to blow through the zone and hammer the throttle at the first chance.

And I feel that I must also state that I dont see it as a trivial matter. When other boats are around, pushing their speed up to as much as they can get away with creates a tense situation and potential danger to others.

Its hard enough in some areas to navigate no wake zones, but having others cranking up their speed for no reason makes it that much harder.

Others will disagree, but this is my observation and experience.
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Old 04-13-2021, 10:30 AM   #19
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The real issue here is there should be an exception to the Weirs Channel.....

Some boats can go thru there at 2MPH, while others need 3-4MPH minimum to safely maintain steerage. Throw in a spring current and a wind coupled with inexperienced rental boats and it turns into a clusterF real quickly.

IMHO, a 5 mph speed limit in the channel could alleviate all of the backup and aggravation. Just set up one of those speed limit signs with a radar attached!

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Old 04-13-2021, 10:40 AM   #20
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Default Wild ride

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Years ago I would often ride my motorcycle up Route 127 to Gloucester, MA and sit by the side of the Annisquam River bridge. In a couple of hours sitting there you could see many people back off the throttle when their boat started to move around in the current. A lot of them ended bouncing off the wall as they went through. Sometimes you can learn a lot, just by watching.

Yup! Been through. It can get a little hairy. If you're not on the throttle, you're heading for the wall. And you're correct, it can be fun to watch!
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Old 04-13-2021, 11:11 AM   #21
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Default The real issue

I enjoy reading these debates regarding headway speed. The scofflaws, either by their entitlement or ignorance, is what necessities all the attention and debate. A while back there was much discussion about whether or not one could go 6 MPH regardless of the wake generated. Perhaps if people spent less time looking for loopholes and instead adhered to the intent of the laws, rules, and regulations, we would not need to spend time debating, clarifying, and revising.

I doubt that will happen, though, and instead will be reading about the issue for years to come.
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Old 04-13-2021, 11:22 AM   #22
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Yup! Been through. It can get a little hairy. If you're not on the throttle, you're heading for the wall. And you're correct, it can be fun to watch!
A bit of extra space between boats in situations like pictured goes a long way!
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Old 04-13-2021, 08:11 PM   #23
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A related issue arising from over idle-speed headway in no wake areas is the effect of waves on the shore, dwellings and people. One collateral reason for the no-wake rule is to reduce erosion on the shoreline, for splash-through on docks, boat movement in slips, waves that knock people (particularly little ones) over. At the entrance to Minge Cove, boaters often approach at a very high rate of speed and then throttle down at the last possible moment, or several yards past the No-Wake marker, or substitute "slow" for "no wake". This results in excessive wave action against the adjacent properties, and the problems noted above. Courtesy, consideration for others and the adjacent shoreline, support the wisdom and enforcement of the no-wake rules, including the approach.
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Old 04-14-2021, 07:04 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by XCR-700 View Post
A bit of extra space between boats in situations like pictured goes a long way!
They are not really that close together, the long lens used for that photo compresses the image. Makes a for a great photo though.
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Old 04-14-2021, 07:40 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Woodsy View Post
The real issue here is there should be an exception to the Weirs Channel.....

Some boats can go thru there at 2MPH, while others need 3-4MPH minimum to safely maintain steerage. Throw in a spring current and a wind coupled with inexperienced rental boats and it turns into a clusterF real quickly.

IMHO, a 5 mph speed limit in the channel could alleviate all of the backup and aggravation. Just set up one of those speed limit signs with a radar attached!

Woodsy
Agreed, but the objective part is precisely what was removed from the old law; seems crazy. "6 MPH or blah blah, steerage, blah blah", was a great law since no boat produces a damaging wake at 6 MPH and these days GPS is so ubiquitous, there's no excuse for not knowing one's speed. I used to set my speed at exactly 6 MPH GPS in long NWZs and never had an issue with Marine Patrol. Guessing that won't work on Winnipesaukee now.
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Old 04-14-2021, 08:09 AM   #26
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Years ago I would often ride my motorcycle up Route 127 to Gloucester, MA and sit by the side of the Annisquam River bridge. In a couple of hours sitting there you could see many people back off the throttle when their boat started to move around in the current. A lot of them ended bouncing off the wall as they went through. Sometimes you can learn a lot, just by watching.
I pass under that bridge often and IMO, the current and eddies there are not as dangerous as the Hampton bridge, but I may have never experienced it at its worst. There's an railroad bridge .6 miles north of there that's more dangerous, in general, because it has a sharp turn on one side, so you enter it blindly if headed south. I have had to back up and turn in a swirling current there and it was really sketchy. That said, the trip down the Annisquam River and Blynman canal is pretty cool and I highly recommend it. It's busy like the Weirs Channel, but it's 4 miles long, a little wider in most places, and people anchor on the sides. There are also lots of lovely homes on the banks.
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Old 04-14-2021, 09:40 AM   #27
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no boat produces a damaging wake at 6 MPH
I hope the Captain will correct me if I'm wrong--It is only when you are producing a wake that judgement comes in. If you are not producing a wake, you are not going to get a ticket
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Old 04-14-2021, 12:55 PM   #28
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I hope the Captain will correct me if I'm wrong--It is only when you are producing a wake that judgement comes in. If you are not producing a wake, you are not going to get a ticket
If a boat is moving, it's producing a wake.
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Old 04-14-2021, 01:04 PM   #29
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If a boat is moving, it's producing a wake.
If you are going through the Weirs Channel at 5 knots and the current is 5 knots in the same direction you will produce a wake?
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Old 04-14-2021, 03:11 PM   #30
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If anyone ever wonders why MP or Shores stop responding to threads like this.... just read the comments that follow.

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Old 04-14-2021, 06:46 PM   #31
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If you are going through the Weirs Channel at 5 knots and the current is 5 knots in the same direction you will produce a wake?
I'll re-phrase that, if a boat is making steerage, it will create a wake.
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Old 04-14-2021, 08:55 PM   #32
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There's a lot of focus here on the Weirs Channel, but the law has to be applicable to many many places.
I used to have a larger boat with big props. The problem in the Weirs Channel wasn't steerage until I overtook a smaller boat going only two knots. Then I had no place to go and if I came out of gear, I totally lost steerage. Solution? When your bow anchor gets within a meter or two of the guy's stern pole, lean on the horn, and keep coming. Self solving.
There is a law/rule that prohibits small craft from unreasonably asserting right of way to impede the safe passage of a larger, less maneuverable vessel. Same should apply to going too slow in a congested channel; Weirs, Sally's Gut, GI Bridge, Piscataqua River, etc.
Solution?
In the old days (1950's) there was a sign at each end of the channel that said Travel time from here to there should not be less than 3(?) minutes. Less traffic of course, but it seemed to work.
New solution for all those that have a GPS? Speed between 3 & 5 kts, move right and allow larger boats to pass. It's really only a problem under the bridge and approaching WOW. After that it is wide enough for passing if you're set on 1.5 kts. Many of our lakes have lake wide mph limits, seems to work. Trying to use one headway speed definition for everywhere leads to discussions like this one.

In the end, I trust MP to make appropriate judgements and enforcement decisions. They're better at it than we are at arguing about it.
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