To The Daily Sun,
If there are already laws for boating, ranging from age limits, to lights and horns, to alcohol consumption, all designed with safety in mind, why has excessive speed been ignored this long? Over the last 10 years we have seen an increase in boating accidents and deaths on New Hampshire lakes involving high performance ocean-going boats made for one thing, speed! The excessive size and speed of these crafts has made animals, birds, and other boaters limit their use of the lakes to only certain areas, and has helped to destroy the natural shoreline and setting that wildlife depend on, while increasing water pollution.
The great outdoors here in New Hampshire provides us with four seasons of fun, beauty and enjoyment, but what we all need to remember is that this great outdoors is also home to our furry, feathery and finned little friends. If it is legal in New Hampshire to kill a coyote if it poses a threat to your safe enjoyment of the outdoors, then why have we overlooked the fact that high performance speed boats pose a threat to other boaters and wildlife enjoying the same outdoors? People in canoes, kayaks and sail boats present little if any threat to other boaters, as well as causing a minimal amount of disruption to the animals, birds and fish that consider "The Lakes Region" their home. When one group of people bullies other people and creatures into limiting their use and enjoyment of the public water ways, major changes need to occur.
The New Hampshire Marine Patrol is struggling as it is to keep up with increased numbers of boaters, all wanting to use limited spaces at the same time. The accidents that they have been responding to in recent years, many resulting in death, were unheard of prior to allowing ocean going speed boats to cruise inland waters. When a boat is big enough, powerful enough and potentially deadly enough to completely run over a 20-foot boat out for an evening cruise, and kill one of its passengers, or run straight into an island at 50 miles per hour in the middle of the night, killing one of its occupants, that boat does not belong in a confined area such as a lake, but rather on the ocean.
We have many laws in place already to prevent further destruction or erosion of the shorelines surrounding our lakes, but these laws only apply to septic systems, piers and decks, and the distance a boat needs to be from any shoreline before making headway speed. A rocket shaped boat, weighing more than 15,000 pounds, with a 1,400 horse-power engine, can throw a wake large enough to swamp smaller crafts, and travel uninterrupted for more than a mile before hitting shoreline. When this shoreline erodes and washes into the lake, it brings contaminates such as chemicals and animal feces with it, causing E. coli and other bacteria to enter the water. For the thousands of families that spend at least half of each year on the hundreds of islands that dot New Hampshire's lakes, the lake outside is the only water supply to their homes, using only a hose and shallow well pump.
The animals, birds, and other wildlife that have had their homes disrupted cannot speak for themselves about a problem that we, the caretakers of this Earth, have let happen. It is up to us to open our eyes and see what is happening to the wildlife around us, the dangers that boating now presents, and the impact that we have on the natural shorelines everywhere. It is impossible for the operator of a boat racing at 65 miles per hour, on a lake that is only 26 miles long, as Winnipesaukee is, to fully appreciate the impact on wildlife, danger to other boaters, and destruction to natural shorelines he has caused in the less than thirty minutes it takes to run the length of the lake. We need to implement and enforce a permanent speed limit on New Hampshire lakes, and dispatch the high performance racing boats back to the ocean where there are more uninterrupted open areas that lakes do not provide.
Cameron L. Gamble