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Old 08-04-2009, 04:07 PM   #1
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Default Safety Thread

I'm not sure Opposers Thread is a good title. From the beginning of this debate, I've followed most of the arguments, media reports, and tried to get as much information as possible. I certainly don't want anyone locked out of this thread, but Don may have a better idea

Ironic as it is, the MP did not think speed was an issue per se. It can be an issue as in Too Fast For Conditions, but that's a term used relative to other factors. In the vast majority of accidents on inland waterways, alcohol is a major factor, especially involving fatal accidents. If you have followed accident on Winnipesaukee for the last thirty years, you'll find that for such an active lake, it's pretty darn safe. Other parts of the country don't have such a record.

Similar to what happens in Washington DC, I feel this law was rushed. It does have some good aspects to it, the mandated speed limit itself not being one of them. It's incomplete, and a truly unfunded mandate. We can read a variety of stories on these forums, talking about Captain Bonehead. A rather ambiguous term that can define the truly arrogant, ignorant, or just selfish boater. Someone that should either be forced to reform his/her ways, or be driven away.

Anyone thats followed this debate knows it started well before last year. The infamous Littlefield accident certainly seems to have spurred on the movement to its present state. Briefly, it's the story of a man that got into his boat at the town dock (forgetting to untie it before leaving according to reports), and was apparently drinking before hand. His boat was doing under 30 mph at night in the Bay, and he came up from behind another boat (in his Baja I believe), and killed a man. Someone can dig up the link, I don't have it here currently.

At any rate, he did what he did and was convicted of a crime. This spurred on a movement that sought to rid the lake of performance boats in general. I'd like to be rid of people like him myself, for what that's worth. Last year we had another case, involving an outspoken founder of an organization that fought against the speed limits. She was the skipper of a cruiser that ran into an island on a foggy night, and death resulted for a passenger. She's going on trial in October I believe it was. Another accident, another death. Neither involved high speed, and just to make the story sound worse, the pro speed limit crowd termed her boat a GF boat. It was not. But what the heck, call it what you want.

In many of these threads, the real problems on the water were not being addressed by the pro crowd, and were actually ignored by most. Failing to address any of the relevant facts, and having no data nor anything substantial to back them up, they rely on Perceptions and fear. It's much harder to debate one's fear than it is to address or counteract facts. So in reality, here we are, one year later, and they require their own thread to address their fears and perceptions.

Fear is a good thing to have, in balance. It keeps us cautious, keeps us in control. I try not to have fear of the unknown, but I do fear today's band of unskilled tubers, PWC's, and generally reckless or drunk boaters. If one thing scares me, it's night boaters without lights on

How to address these issues? I'd first start with the MP themselves. I'd like to think they read these threads, but I don't know if they do or not. They obviously have no extra funding for their new laws, the so-called safety groups didn't have time for any of that, they were out politicking. So perhaps a new funding advocate could be formed.

If anyone can add to the suggestions put forth this year, great. If anyone can factually cite erroneous information, I'd appreciate it being posted. If people want to list their boats owned ( I wish they would), please do so. Please no name-calling, no shouting, just ideas and postings of facts. I'd like this thread to be more above-board than I know the other will be. Yes, this is a competiotion for best behavior.



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Old 08-05-2009, 06:34 AM   #2
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Default 150 feet

From the comments that I have read on this forum, there is a huge problem with people not adhering to the 150' law. I think that is by far the biggest SAFETY issue on the lake.
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:08 AM   #3
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Yup. Amazingly, 150' is The Law, has been for quite some time.
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:12 AM   #4
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VTSteve - Thanks for starting this thread.

I agree the 150' rule seems to be the predominant issue out on the water. I have observed that when someone ignores the 150' rule they are also speeding because the are supposed to be at headway speed per 150' rule. That speed may be frightning to people just as much as the closeness of the boat violating the 150' rule.

The 150' rule needs to be reinforced to all boaters. Maybe posting it at public docks, launch areas and other public locations where boaters go will get more people to know about it and maybe obey it. How about some PSA's on the radio and TV. The 150' bouys by public docks was a good idea but more needs to be done to educate the boating public. Maybe increasing the fine .... that will get everyone's attention.

As for the SL I feel the issue is related to the nightime boating. There have been 2 deaths that have occurred at night in 2 separate types of accidents with criminal charges. But from the public, not rumor here, information sources it does not seem that speed was a significant factor. One of the accidents (Littlefield) had the boats speed above the current nightime 25 MPH. Since only one incident has been through the court system and the other will be heard this Fall I feel there should not be comparisons between them until all the facts are known and the trial this fall has ended. I feel that a speed limit at night may be the way to go but what is reasonable and safe?

Overall I do not see speeding during the daytime as an issue but where daytime speeding occurs might be.

Should there be areas of the lake that have speed limits and areas like the Broads that have none or a higher limit than anywhere else? That could be one answer. A study of areas on the lake by the MP using data from tickets and warnings issued might show where the problem areas lie. We as boaters have many observations that if the MP looked here and weeded through the obvious extreme opinions in both directions they might be able to have more knowledge of what areas to increase their enforcement in as well as recommend better safety controls like speed limits or not and no wake zones etc.

Taking the current reduced boating due to the economy out of the picture the number of boaters overall is increasing with time. That in itself will necessitate increased enforcement for the safety of all. There may be a need for new laws and rules but we must be involved from all sides to find a reasonable and common ground so that new laws/rules are made that work and are not lopsided to one side or the other. Laws should not be changed or implimented just to restrict boaters for someones agenda but for the safety of everyone who use any body of water in NH not just Winni.

Just my opinion and observations.
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Last edited by Just Sold; 08-05-2009 at 08:17 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old 08-05-2009, 10:39 AM   #5
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Default Great Title

VTSteve,

My opinion is this is the best title for a thread where those of us looking to address safety issues on the lake through the enforcement of existing "permanent" laws and through improved boater education.

"Opposition Thread" sounds too negative and does not really convey what we are all about. The only thing I am opposed to is people with connections and monetary means getting laws passed that restrict the actions of others with little or no real improvement to safe boating on the lake.

Last Saturday, August 1st, was a very busy day on the lake. The weather was finally great and many folks got to get out on the water for a great day of boating. I was lucky enough to be out there for 5 hours. I did not see one boat exceeding the 45 MPH speed limit, most were traveling 25 to 30 MPH. However, I saw many, many unsafe maneuvers due to the violation of two rules. The first was the Stand-On/Give-Way Vessel rule and the second was the 150 foot rule. If these rules were understood and if the NHMP had more boats on patrol enforcing these rules, rules that have been on the books for years, the unsafe operations that I saw on August 1st would be significantly reduced, making the lake a safer place to be.

We can talk about this on this thread for months. However, I believe we need to do much more. We need to get organized because the people that are imposing new limits are better organized than those of us that are interested in making real improvements to boating safety.

I also believe that we can find a way to allow unlimited speed in portions of the lake, such as the Broads, even if there was a speed limit in other more congested areas. However, that is only one man's opinion. The real focus has to be on boating safety.

Great thread!

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Old 08-05-2009, 11:33 AM   #6
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I think it needs to be mentioned here that the 150 foot rule violations are not exclusive to Lake Winni, and are very very common on all of the NH bodies of water. The guy I ride with and I have a little joke going. When we see the violators, we just say to each other "Hey, THAT'S not 150 feet!". It happens constantly.
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Old 08-05-2009, 11:47 AM   #7
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In Vermont, it's 200' . I'm luck if I can maintain 100' or even a little less on weekends. My guess is that 75% of boaters couldn't guess what 150' is if they were given a laser rangefinder. Happens on the golf course all the time, and the lake is even harder to guesstimate. I just try to steer away from traffic or go around it best I can to avoid potential problems. Sometimes the tracks on my GPS look like I'm running away from a gang of angry bees

I don't know what the safe distance really is, but I do know many boaters seem to have a different opinion. I prefer to be really far away from oncoming boats, tubers, and especially immovable objects. After 45 years of boating, the only time I would call a close call is at night, when another boat was sitting in the middle of the lake, NO LIGHTS. Amazingly, they did this on purpose. I was already on a focused lookout, because I knew a boat was way up ahead, then I lost track of their lights. Amazingly, they were amazed at my amazement.
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Old 08-05-2009, 12:42 PM   #8
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Question Ever Heard, "Stop...Stop...Stop..."?

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Last Saturday...I did not see one boat exceeding the 45 MPH speed limit, most were traveling 25 to 30 MPH..."
You shoulda been here at my dock yesterday—Tuesday. A neighbor-kid was screaming "Stop...Stop...Stop..." to the cigar-chomping driver of a Cobalt going at top speed. (I'd estimate the speed to be above 60-MPH). The kid was on a tube!

I figured out what was wrong when he went by a second time, this time wearing a bright yellow PFD.

They've left for the day, today, but I expect to see the same violation tomorrow.
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Old 08-05-2009, 03:29 PM   #9
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I have radar on my boat and my 1st range ring is set to 356 feet. So, give or take, anyone within the ring is within 150 feet. It is amazing when I'm cruising (headway speed) how many boats pass well inside the ring. At least most of them wave . Last weekend, closet guy was less than 50 feet running around 30 mph. I bet if most of them were asked how far off they were, they'd all say 150 feet.

I don't know if its the weather or what, but this year 150 foot rule violations seem pretty high. IMHO that and general seamanship (education) is where the focus needs to be. And don't get me started about kids hanging over bow rails.

And the most serious issue of all - BWI

http://wtopnews.com/?nid=598&sid=1733361

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/mar...,7677237.story
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Old 08-30-2009, 01:36 AM   #10
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Post Suggested reading for a Rainy Weekend or Three...

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Originally Posted by VtSteve View Post
"...The infamous Littlefield accident certainly seems to have spurred on the movement to its present state...His boat was doing under 30 mph at night in the Bay, and he came up from behind another boat (in his Baja I believe), and killed a man. Someone can dig up the link, I don't have it here currently.
At 16+ pages at Google, it's not exactly "a link". It's an encyclopedia!

Be forewarned, however: That "under 30-MPH" figure originated from a source we literally cannot believe.
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Old 08-30-2009, 08:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chipj29 View Post
From the comments that I have read on this forum, there is a huge problem with people not adhering to the 150' law. I think that is by far the biggest SAFETY issue on the lake.
I'm still not convinced the 150' law does anything for any net impact on safety. The root cause of all of this is still boater education and what appears to be an overall lack of experienced boaters on the lake. Secondarily there is also a lack of courtesy, but I think the two have a relation, if you actually have to exert some effort to obtain a boating certificate, you will have greater respect for other who have done the same and that (should) lead to more courtesy as well.

My concern with the 150' rule is that it often causes myself, or other boaters, to take what is an illogical course through areas of mild congestion. There is no danger to passing within 75' (or less) of another vessel in most conditions. However, in order to maintain 150' separation we have to take an oddball course at times, making erratic changes in our direction. Or, slow to headway speed, which when I see a boat suddenly go from planing speed to headway speed, my first thought is that there is something in the water, they have lost a person or object overboard, or some other concern. Of course you could claim that a 100' separation IS a safety concern, but I disagree.

The fact is, NO amount of laws enacted in the name of safety will ever account for the fact that boating certificates are still passed out like candy to people who are clueless and/or inconsiderate. The penalties for the rarely cited infraction still seem to carry no significant consequences. Forget about points on your drivers license, penalties should be loss of operator privileges for a time period (3-7 days likely).
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Old 08-31-2009, 08:33 PM   #12
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More important than the 150 foot rule or speed is common sense. That is what seems to be lacking today. And the offenders? Most of them are operators of smaller boats, 25 feet or less that just do not have a clue.
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:18 PM   #13
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Originally posted by Acres Per Second:
Quote:
Be forewarned, however: That "under 30-MPH" figure originated from a source we literally cannot believe.
You mean NH Marine Patrol Lieutenant Dunleavy during court testimony? THE STATEMENT BELOW is from the NH Attorney General argument before the NH Supreme Court in documents released after the NH Supreme Court decision rejecting Littlefield's appeal.
Quote:
"We have previously detailed that the collision between the thirty-six foot Littlefield Baja performance boat and the twenty-foot Hartman Wellcraft motorboat occurred on a dark, clear, moonless night, with light boat traffic, smooth water, and good visibility. The Baja was traveling at a speed of approximately twenty-eight miles per hour at the time of the collision. Lieutenant Dunleavy provided expert accident reconstruction testimony that at that speed — some thirty feet per second — it would have taken only one to one and one-half seconds for the length of the defendant’s boat to ride over the smaller boat."

Last edited by Airwaves; 08-31-2009 at 10:24 PM. Reason: Clarifying the quote was from the AGs office.
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Old 09-01-2009, 05:19 AM   #14
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Cool Y'might Have to Ask Around...

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"...You mean NH Marine Patrol Lieutenant Dunleavy during court testimony...?"
The ORIGINATING source of the speed was not Marine Patrol Lieutenant Dunleavy!
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Old 09-01-2009, 11:34 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acres per Second View Post
The ORIGINATING source of the speed was not Marine Patrol Lieutenant Dunleavy!
Enlighten us then please! Obviously your source is more accurate!?
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Old 09-01-2009, 12:20 PM   #16
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As I understand it, during the investigation the MP asked Littlefield how fast he was going, Littlefield didn't know but knew about how many RPMs his engine was showing. The MP (according to Dunleavey who was asked about this on a shakedown cruise of the Mt Washington by someone on this board who then posted about it IIRC) then used Littlefield's boat with the same weight load on it as one factor in determining the speed.

Dunleavey also had to recreate the crash and examine at the damage to make his determination of speed as well.

So as was stated by the AG to the NH Supreme Court. It was Dunleavey's expert analysis of the crash that determined the speed. They didn't just "take his word for it".

Good enough for you?

Last edited by Airwaves; 09-01-2009 at 12:22 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 09-01-2009, 12:53 PM   #17
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Thank you VTSteve for the starting of this thread. It is so easy to get lost in the details of the many threads and over respond to simple posts.

Here is a partial quote from the first post:
"If anyone can add to the suggestions put forth this year, great. If anyone can factually cite erroneous information, I'd appreciate it being posted. If people want to list their boats owned ( I wish they would), please do so. Please no name-calling, no shouting, just ideas and postings of facts. I'd like this thread to be more above-board than I know the other will be. Yes, this is a competiotion for best behavior." VTSteve

Nice post Airwaves - Setting the facts straight!

I read APS quote and first thought he was off base and blowing a cork. After reading your initial post for this thread I saw you are asking for all to validate facts then APS seemed OK. However, the shouting bold print did break another of your requests.....

There is a fine line between using things properly and having a disaster. Fire is great to keep the house warm but a simple accident can burn the house down. (inattention, faulty equipment, bad fuel, etc...) The bigger the equipment the faster the problem so more attention is required to insure safety to all for a long time.

The Littlefield case is a DWI issue complete with the conviction of a criminal. Speed was not an issue based on our current temporary law (say it enough times and maybe it will be allowed to run it's intended course). A small boat (18 foot bow rider) could have climbed over the back of the wellcraft just as easily as the monster Baja with the same tragic results. Laws would not have changed the outcome.

Education is the only suitable approach to awareness. I have a personal opinion that many laws on the books are totally useless. They are enforced in a very subjective manor giving excessive power or opportunities for authoritative corruption. I find it interesting that some forum members are really upset when someone pases within 150 ft safely because it breaks a "law". In this case it is our own mental framework that decides if a finger solute or polite wave of acknowledgement of a safe pass is offered.

Education - Awareness - Courtesy - and the golden rule of "do unto others as you would have done unto you" may be a step towards a less restrictive recreational area.


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Old 09-01-2009, 07:04 PM   #18
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Excellent followup. Hopefully mine won't take toooooooo long to be posted up

Littlefield was not convicted of BUI, since he fled the scene like a coward. I was aware of how the speed was estimated, and had little doubt it was a very close approximation. Some people have tremors if an accident occurs at a slow speed (most of them do).

But the point is, how do you get Littlefields off the lake? First, you have to have an MP that has the time to patrol at night, since the vast majority of drunken debacles occur after daylight. Second, boaters have to help them out.

I've read most posts for the last few years concerning this issue. There are many, many good suggestions, but mostly, good intentions. Most people aren't reckless, but are reactionary. Sometimes I am myself, and intentionally so. Why? It elicits a response, and usually an uncontrolled one from those that I intended the response to be reckless. Some of them try the same. (usually they just complain to Don)

But back to being positive. It's been a pretty quiet summer all over. This month is forecast to be pretty darn good weather-wise Time to spread some cheer amongst the local merchants, who could use your business. Remember, safety is a team sport.
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Old 09-02-2009, 03:25 PM   #19
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Good catch - Littlefield was not convicted under the BUI. I have a hard time allowing the SOB any technical slack since there were many witnesses to his condition before he left the dock. It was my lack of research and attention that let me state a fact that is technically incorrect.

I don't know you or any of the other forum particpants personnally but have truely enjoyed getting off the sidelines and into the forum through these threads you started. It is fun. Great job to all and hope to see some of you in the near future somewhere on the great winnipesaukee!
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Old 09-02-2009, 05:05 PM   #20
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I've enjoyed your contributions NR, it's been a plus that you joined in.
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