Election was not a mandate to repeal boating speed limits

The concept of allowing boaters to decide for themselves how fast is “reasonable and prudent” is the only thing that can work on the ocean.Enforcing a set speed limit on the open seas is impossible. The best that can be done there is to have a law that can be applied after the fact to decide whether an accident was the result of a crime.But Lake Winnipesaukee is not the ocean. Speed limits are enforceable here, they are working, and people have been obeying them. Allowing “thunder boaters” to decide for themselves how fast is “reasonable and prudent” is not necessary here.We can do much better than that, and we have been doing much better than that for three years. And with all the real issues our Legislature has to worry about right now, is this something it should be mucking around with anyway?Two years of a 45 mph speed limit law, after a one-year Marine Patrol “informal test,” have proven those very few, very aggressive cowboys who caused so much mayhem respect a black-and-white speed limit.Only 20-something speeding tickets had to be issued over this period, proving what most people expected: How much more civil and “recreational” boating on Winnipesaukee was for all once again, and how people obey laws that are clear and unambiguous.Why even think about changing that?The problem on Winnipesaukee has never been the responsible boater behind the helm of a fast boat.It has been the irresponsible cowboy who always wants to see what he can get away with.Last summer, boating traffic on Winnipesaukee was as balanced and civil as we have seen for more than 20 years. All of us got to enjoy our boats and enjoy the lake.And offshore boats were still out there, going 45 mph, which any boater knows is pretty darn fast on the water.No longer was the majority of family boaters being ruled by the aggressive boating of such a small minority.The election of Republicans to Concord in such a landslide was not a mandate to repeal such a functional law that even Republican voters favor so overwhelmingly. We elected Republicans to return fiscal responsibility to New Hampshire, not to return “thunder boating” to Winnipesaukee.Cowboys behind the wheels of thunder boats are not the “Republican” standard. That standard is embodied in the father who wants to get behind the wheel of his runabout to take his family for an ice cream or his kids tubing.Now, he can do that again. Please don’t go back to the mayhem that so many hundreds of people described – the mayhem that the current law virtually eliminated.Besides, there are important matters facing New Hampshire right now, and unleashing the thunder boaters to terrorize us once again is not one of them. That is not what we voted for.Ed Chase is a resident of Meredith and a lifelong fisherman and sailor on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Categories: Opinion