Boater Education for Maine Paddlers?

-- Last Updated: Nov-16-08 1:38 PM EST --

Legislation is now being crafted to require all Maine boaters including paddlers of canoes and kayaks to pass a boater education course. (Maine currently has no boater education requirements -- and this apparently would be a first-in-the-nation requirement for paddlers).

As an outfitter, guide, and paddler, I am strongly opposed to this idea. Those who operate motorized boats are potentially a threat to others and to the environment -- and I can see the rationale for requiring boating education for them). I see mandatory boater education for paddlers unworkable, unenforceable, and detrimental to paddling -- and will be writing to my state legislature to say as much. Increased boating safety needs to come about through education,not through regulation.

Any insights (or insults ;-) I should keep in mind as I communicate my thoughts about this issue to our hard-working state legislators?

Having been involved in organizing two very successful outcries against registration in CT, I can tell you a couple of things.

First, be polite, no matter who you’re talking or writing to. Politicians have huge egos, and if you’re rude or confrontational, you have no voice. BE calm, rational, and respectful. And tell them why the bill would hurt your business.

Second, rally the troops. Get a letter writing campaign going - use the internet to inform clubs, other outfitters, etc. Anyone who will write in.

And most importantly, find out if there will be a public hearing about the bill in the legislature. If there is, overwhelm it with people wanting to testify. Paddlers took over public hearings here in 2002 and 2003, and made the legislators work through lunch (Everyone who shows has a right to speak in CT, and the politicos have to stay until everyone has spoken). We made such an impression that we got media coverage, AND the issue has not been raised again.

Good luck!

Give us a e-mail address of
one of your bureacratic idiots, so I can tell him how I put our two five year old twin grandchildren in our little 9 foot Keowees, and they paddled away after a two minute instruction on how to hold and use the paddle.

If there is some way for idiot law makers that don’t have a clue to jump into something that they don’t know anything about, they will find a way.



This would stay on the first page longer
if placed on the Discussion Forum.

Be sure of this…

– Last Updated: Nov-16-08 3:41 PM EST –

If there is not a government agency/entity already in place; there will be one created to govern/regulate Maine boaters. It will cost lots of $$$$$

A new book of rules/regulations will be created.
It will be constantly changed/revised/renewed.
It will cost $$$$$.

Boats will probably have to be registered.
That will cost boaters $$$$$

You'll have to put all those crappy looking letters, numbers & stickers on your boat.
Somebody will have to produce those crappy stickers; that will cost $$$$$

Rules are for fools. The fools ignore the rules.
People with common sense & intelligence do not need books full of rules to act in a responsible manner.Because there are so many fools; somebody will have to be hired to make sure that the fools follow the rules.

Those "regulators" will cost lots of $$$$$.
The "regulators" will need uniforms, guns, pfds, boats, trailers, vehicles, gas, oil, training, rescue equipment, salaries, insurance, retirement plans, etc.

Directors/assitant directors, secretaries, and other bureaucrats will need to be hired to be in charge of those regulators, and take care of the mounds of paperwork. More $$$$$

Lots of regulation signs(which the fools will ignore) will get posted: those signs will cost $$$$$

Fines will be levied; more $$$$$

Follow the money trail.......


Yes. Can a four year old pass the course
My grandkids have been in the boat since they were born and paddling their own solo boats since they were four.

I can see the rationale behind boater education but to paint with such a broad brush is the easy way out.

Yes, I feel this is unmotorized watercraft registration coming and a money grab. The casino was voted down and the soda excise tax too.

Seems a backlash effect from some recent boater fatalities. Yes paddlers do dumb things. But some of them you can tell and tell and they contine to do dumb things, like cut in front of commercial boats.

It’s back?
I thought the legislature killed LD 2067 last spring. Their trying again? I know Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has the course but am surprised they were going to try again for manadatory. 6 hour course.

Proper Operation & Safety (Boating Handling-Equipment-Trailering) = 3 Hours

Laws = 30 Minutes

Emergencies & Survival (cold water) = 40 Minutes

Self Help First Aid = 20 Minutes

Environment/Ethics = 1 1/2 Hours

Kind of riduculous really considering all the boats that come across the bridge in the summertime. Last stat I saw was a count of 160K boats through the toll booths each summer.

Yes, it’s back
I was at the MASKGI meeting last week – which is where it was discussed. Apparently the bill is being written by Maine Rep. Thomas Watson of Bath. Rep. Watson wasn’t at the meeting of course. Instead, they sent a contract lobbyist who is working for the motorized boating industry – and working with Watson. Maybe not the best way to make friends among a group of paddlers.

Yeah, Walton was the original sponsor. So is MASKGI for or against?

No official position yet
MASKGI has no official position yet, though I don’t recall any positive or supportive comments from MASKGI members present at the meeting.

The guy that killed two people
and is now comfortably housed at taxpayer expense would not have listened to any education course.

…You have that right Bob…
The native peoples did ok without the money trail. I guess that’s one of the reasons why Custer had a career.

Tourism Numbers?
I think that this has come up before so it is probably not new, but I believe that the potential detriment to summer tourists has come up in this one. Is this like they have proposed before, that kayakers and canoeists from out of state could be pulled over as well? Or am I mixing that up with another state?

Tom Bergh of Maine Island Kayak and/or MITA folks have developed some numbers around paddling tourists and the impact on the economy - may be worth checking with them.

It’s just an annoyance for us - so if we want to fully get these guys out of our hair we’d probably have to take the NYS boating safety course to wave in their faces since I doubt the likely enforcers know diddly about BCU or ACA certs. But if I decided to do so I could knock that off, and I figure on maintaining or beefing up my basic First Responder stuff anyway. But that’s nothing compared to the potential impact on outfitters. I hope that you can kill this one (again).

Us whitewater and river people will just
sneak around them. When I have visited Maine the last two summers, I have seen ZERO enforcement where I have paddled. The same goes for other states I have visited. It is very easy to evade enforcement, considering that those responsible for enforcement have many other things to do.

this isn’t about boater safety

– Last Updated: Nov-17-08 10:09 AM EST –

it's about money---the state of Maine is going broke--I expect that there will be fees required of all people who have to take the test(and I bet the fee will be more than the state has for fork over to administer the test)--remember the bill a couple of years ago to force people to register canoes and kayaks, even ones without motors? same idea---have you seen a draft of the bill yet Ray? or can you get me a legislative number? I would like to look it up.--the idea of having to pass a test before a person can row a dingy or paddle a canoe strikes me as absurd.

And BTW Jackl--the bill doesn't come from the state bureaucracy which will be reduced 20% by July 2009--it comes from the legislature, which in Maine is composed almost entirely of retirees, school teachers and unemployed twenty somethings, the only people who have the time and alternate income to attend the sessions(legislative salaries are about 24,000 for the two year term) and usually are busybodies with a bunch of half-baked ideas----my sense is that bureaucrats are against this as it would result in more work for less pay.

Don’t just email and call…
Don’t just rely on petitions and phone calls. Make an appointment to meet face-to-face with your own legislator (or better, his staff member responsible for being an expert on those issues) to explain your position and show you aren’t a crackpot. It goes a long way to establish a rapport with them, especially when dealing with this type of specialized legislation without broad interest across the population. Have as much data as possible in hand for that meeting. If you get on it early enough, and show you are reasonable enough, you could become the person he goes to for advice on how to modify this bill or future bills of interest to paddlers. You could even plan to meet with him on a regular basis to discuss such issues.

THe invasive plant folks at the Dept. of Conservation are the ones who (historically) have counted the number of boats coming into the State.

Sorry to be boatist…
I figure you weren’t really offended, but the river stuff hadn’t occurred to me. Actually, I suppose they could wait at takeouts… good luck cornering someone running the Kennebec in spring.

Are you sure

– Last Updated: Nov-17-08 2:48 PM EST –

this includes paddlecraft?---the original version of 2067 which I just read only concerned motorboats and personal watercraft(defined as motorized craft under 14 feet)---it was ammended in June 2008 to just cover motor boats which include PWCs---I didn't see any language for kayaks, canoes or rowboats---when was it added and by who?

here is the link

– Last Updated: Nov-17-08 5:44 PM EST –

though its dated May 2008/

I dont see paddlecraft. However sometimes I have trouble finding things in drawers so maybe I missed something?

Here is another link to status

but the link may be old..

Still searching..there could be a new bill with a new number..though there is nothing on the Maine Legislature page