Mass. Kayakers - Legislatiion Alert!

To all P-Net members who frequent Massachusetts waters, be advised that at least two bills aimed at “promoting kayak safety” currently appear on the Mass. House docket for the new legislative session. They are HD 2977 sponsored by Rep. Shirley Jones on “Kayaks and safety devices”, and HD 3264 sponsored by Rep. William Straus on “Kayak Safety”.

As the text of these two bills is currently unavailable on the web site so I’m suggesting that anyone interested contact these Reps and make your concerns known.

The Mass. Legislature is well known for passing foolish laws in the dark of night with little or no public debate!

Do you have more specifics
on what is being proposed by each of these pieces of legislature?

Coast Guard rec’s?
Since this could indicate something that is spreading… if the people who wrote those bills went to the Coast Guard for recommendations the bills may be OK. We have gotten looked over more than once by a Coast Guard boat, never stopping but they slow down and do a visual check, when we are in Maine in the summer. We travel with all the basics safety stuff when on the ocean plus maybe a little more than some, and have never had a problem.

We did witness the Coast Guard tell a boater to get out of the water once, and they were right. She was in a kayak with virtually no reflective material, with only a headlamp, in a major ferry docking area. Lucky she didn’t get run over.

Granted all the gear costs money. But it beats the alternative if something goes wrong.


Probably some version of this…

Specifics haven’t been posted
to the Legislature’s web site yet so no details are readily available. I have contacted the offices of both primary sponsors and requested the text of the proposed bills. I will certainly post here if I find anything in the text that I believe to be detrimental to our pastime and sport.

probably nothing more than -
- prohibiting access to ANY water - - that would sure promote kayak safety !!! - for you non-MA folks, this state has rather incredible water rights laws - things like a homeowner owns to the LOW water line, so you can be arrested for stepping ashore to stretch your legs - or if you’re not a town resident, stay off that town’s water, or have your parked car towed -

sorry - just venting -

You are probably correct

– Last Updated: Jan-11-05 9:53 PM EST –

that the Gomes bill represents a refiling of the bill mentioned here that DID NOT PASS in the last session.

The text of last year's bill, in its entirety reads:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

Chapter 90B of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 5B the following section:—
Section 5C. Any person aboard a Kayak shall wear at all times a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device of Type 1, 11, or 111. Kayaks shall also be equipped with a compass and a whistle."

Please note some of the flaws in this bill - it doesn't distinguish between kayaks on the ocean or running white water, etc. etc. - I'm sure all of the white water 'yakers on the western MA rivers need a compass to know where they are going, as well as all the flat water paddlers on our urban and suburban streams and rivers in the eastern part of the state.

The water rights here could be worse…

– Last Updated: Jan-11-05 9:49 PM EST –

some states allow individuals to own sections of rivers - such that travel on the river can be prohibited. I seem to recall NY is an example I believe - aren't sections of the Salmon off limits? - I dunno - NYackers please enlighten me.

Here, as long as it is "navigable" you can use the waterway.

more knee jerk eh?
More knee-jerk to those young novice women that took off in rec boats in rough weather in a fog eh? Nice.


Sure looks like it!
The bill proposed by the parents of the two girls and sponsored by Rep. Gomes went nowhere last year so it appears they are going to give it another try.

My sentiments exactly!

So if I come up there …
to race the North River this summer I have to buy a compass?

Maybe that little toy one on my thermometer key chain that I wear x-country skiing will suffice!

I moved out of Taxachusetts 30 years ago and became the outlaw of both my family and the inlaws.

Seems odd that I have been happy ever since, and all they do is complain.



Check your spelling… I believe it is !@#$%&!@#$%&


i’m sure you’re right
- i just get a bit frustrated looking at some beautiful launch site, particularly on cape cod, and seeing all those warning signs about having to be a resident, or - -

fortunately, there are some state owned sites, and some kayak dealers who allow you to park and launch from their properties -

if that’s true about NY, that could drive one to drink !!

knee jerk is right -
total denial is more like it re-the parents - that was certainly a tragic “accident” ??, but the question still remains as to whether it wasn’t a planned accident

Maine, NY etc
We are from NY and vacation in Maine.

Annnd … not sure what is meant by a “planned accident” in an above post. Given the tragic results of those two admittedly very, very foolish young women going out on Cape Cod underprepared it doesn’t have the kindest ring.

As to laws in other states - in Maine the property owner also owns to the low water line. But they are extremely used to paddlers and local boaters, at least in the midcost region and up. Between that and the Maine Island Trail it’s not hard to honor courtesy and still be able to take a break. In NY it is the opposite - no one can own beyond the high water mark. So that makes things a little easier even with the much lower tidal range.

I haven’t encountered any place we couldn’t paddle in NY, at least as long as we are in the water. If there is a place where anyone can own entirely across a water body, it should only be a spot that goes dry a significant portion of the year. And a lot of those places are under the control of something like a river regulating district or a dam owner rather than a private owner.


The Circle Game

– Last Updated: Jan-12-05 10:53 AM EST –

We start out wanting freedom. We love it. Others come. It gets crowded. Many take big risks. This causes consequences for others, family friends society. Rescuers lose their lives, insurance costs go up. Regulations, restrictions, laws, requirements, credentials, licenses, insurance, etc. No freedom no fun we go elsewhere.

Just the way it always is.

Hey, maybe we should tell people kayaking sucks, expensive, allot of equipment upkeep, clothing, heavy, get injured, not as safe as led to believe, get injured, etc. Smaller crowd of paddlers, drops below the radar, remains a marginalized sport. Cool, spread the negative word. Keep the excitement to ourselves.

The real winner seems to be those among us who can find some way to enjoy ourselves and share that with others as these things occur and in spite of them.

Planned accident?
Or did you mean something more along the lines of “Accidental suicide”.

BTW, the legislative reaction to that incident is pretty hypocritical, IMO, considering the two paddlers who died were breaking the existing law by not wearing PFD’s at a time of year when they were required to. So, what good is another law going to do?


planned accident
no, Celia, it doesn’t have a kind ring, but the reports that i read stated that the two young women went into the fog bank despite warnings and pleadings from friends, and that the boats were found tied together - there was strong local speculation that it was a planned event, and i do emphasise speculation, as it could never be confirmed, but there were too many oddities to the whole tragedy