The National Boat Safety Week started May 17. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)
To the editor:
I am writing in response to your editorial from last week, entitled “When out on the water, expect the unexpected.”
As you note, the 2014 boating season has gotten off to a bad start. There have been two boating accidents, in which one boat operator is confirmed to have died and the other is still missing and presumed dead.
As New York State’s longest-serving boating instructor, with over 50 years’ experience, I can say it is most important that anyone who plans to operate a boat on the water take a boating course. Your editorial makes the point that if you don’t respect the water, the water will not respect you. On Sept. 23, 2013, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law that any youngster who plans to operate a boat alone on New York State waters, born on or after May 1, 1996, between the ages of 10 and 17, must take a boating course, and anyone age 14 and older who plans to operate a jet ski must also take a boating course.
These classes are offered by both the Peconic Bay Power Squadron and Flotilla 18-8 United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.
In closing, as a member of both of these organizations, I have been involved in boating education with both of them. To find out when and where these courses are given, look for their announcement in the Riverhead News-Review.
Leonard Llewellyn, Mattituck
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | State lawmakers have approved a boat safety bill of their own.
A state boating safety bill awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature would supercede the Suffolk County legislation set to take effect in the fall.
First District State Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who supported the measure, said he anticipates the governor’s approval.
“When you have counties involved already on a very high profile matter that’s got peoples’ attention, I’d expect the governor to sign it,” the senator said. “You don’t throw a person the keys to a car without lessons. Educating people on boating safety makes good sense.
The bill says that six months after its approval all boat operators younger than 18 must take boating safety classes and obtain a safety certificate.
Within a year anyone over 18 who is not a registered boat owner must secure a safety certificate before operating a vessell. After two years all boaters must be certified. Penalties for first offenders would range from $100 to $250.
The Suffolk County bill requires resident boaters to attend safety classes and pass a test before obtaining a required boating safety certificate. Non-county residents would not need a certificate before taking to the water.
Mr. LaValle said it is not clear if the courses offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary in anticipation of the county law taking effect would satisfy the state requirement.