Volume 16, Issue 30 - July 24 - July 30, 2008

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And the Marine Cops Beat Goes On … Sadly

Howard Shenton, a late friend of Bay Weekly, told us details of his macabre duties for the Maryland Natural Resources Police: dragging for bodies lost in Chesapeake Bay boating accidents.

If you’re going to meet your end out on Chesapeake Bay, remember this: Dozens of people may be out trying to find you, to unravel your sad fate, as happened in four deaths in recent days on the Bay and its tributaries.

Rescue boats could be involved; perhaps helicopters, too. A mess for everybody, not just grieving families.

Also remember this: If you go out in your boat, get loaded and do something foolish, people will hear about it. Besides endangering yourself and your passengers, you could get in a heap of embarrassing trouble.

Take the guy named Harp, of Pasadena. He was charged with drunken boating on Stoney Creek, and his 29-foot powerboat was seized by marine police because of evidence that he’d been ramming into things.

Or the guy named Labrador who, marine police said, abandoned his 24-foot sailboat in the Severn tied to a marine buoy. It sank. What a stupid thing to do, if true, considering that abandoned vessels pollute with fuel and junk and become navigation hazards.

Then there was the fellow on the South River who, preparing to rip around on a jet ski, began by placing a seven-year-old on the vessel. The kid hit the throttle, the guy went flying and so did the machine — ramming into a dock with the child at the helm.

All of these cases from the Maryland Natural Resources Police blotter in just a few weeks time. What a series of tragedies, near-misses and downright craziness.

As dedicated boaters ourselves (Albin 28), we don’t enjoy dock preachers lecturing on this and that.

But given what we have seen in recent days, we can’t help but pass along just three simple tips — so we don’t either have to read your obit or talk about what a moron you are.

• Don’t boat while drunk or even half-lit. It’s a deep and dangerous place out there with loads of things to run into. Most of the marine police arrests had to do with boating under the influence of alcohol. Please drink dockside — and don’t drive home from the bar.

• If it’s rough and your boat is small, don’t go out. Two Virginia men put their canoe in the Potomac River on July 13; on July 14, searchers took their bodies out.

• Stay in your boat unless you can swim. That would have saved the life of the 35-year-old Baltimore man who decided on July 13 to jump in for a swim while returning from Kent Narrows. They found him July 15.

We could talk about life jackets, too. The aforementioned bodies had none when found.

Water demands respect; fail to give the element its due and it can kill you.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.