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Volume 15, Issue 29 ~ July 19 - July 25, 2007


Police Beat: Boaters In Hot Water

Sometimes, we marvel at people’s capacity to have fun around and on Chesapeake Bay. Other times we just shake our heads.

“Too Much Fun” was a song performed by guitarist and one-time Baysider Bill Kirchen.

From what Maryland Natural Resources Police have been telling us, boaters have been having way too much fun — so much that they’re threatening not only their lives but also the rest of us.

Take the case earlier this month of the 40-year-old fellow from Harness Creek who, amid his arrest for apparently being drunk on the South River, jumped into the water to escape police. After splashing about beneath docks, boats and lifts, the fellow was plucked out by police and charged with a long list of offenses.

But there’s more to this story about the perilous combination of liquor and Chesapeake Bay. Four nights later on Spa Creek in Annapolis, police stopped another boat for running without lights. It was the driver who’d been drinking and was now in hot water. Still, his passenger leapt into the water and began swimming away.

You guessed it: It was our same fellow from Harness Creek, who rejected offers of life preservers at several points before he ended up in … guess where.

“He’s very, very lucky to be alive,” said Natural Resources Police Sgt. Ken Turner, noting that arrests for drunken boating are on the rise because of police vigilance.

Then there’s this week’s story about the skipper who steered his 17-foot boat — and two passengers — into the Francis Scott Key Memorial Buoy. He, too, failed his sobriety test.

Both boaters are in bad company. Last year, 169 boaters were arrested for operating boats while under the influence or impaired.

Turner advises keeping a sober skipper, which doesn’t seem like a bad idea to us.

Nobody likes the jarring intrusion of police boarding your vessel and ruining your party. But we like the idea even less of crazies with their heads full of rum roaring up busy creeks in muscle boats and jet skis.

(Personal watercraft, by the way, accounted for 50 of 2006’s 163 reportable boating accidents. All 50 led to injuries, but none to deaths, though eight other boating accidents did last year.)

And if you do get pinched, we have a morsel of advice: Stay dry.

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