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Old 07-05-2005, 07:39 AM
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Exclamation Merrimack River - 'No wake zone' extended at river's mouth

Lawrence Eagle Tribune - Monday, July 4th

'No wake zone' extended at river's mouth

By James J. Allen
Staff Writer

Boaters who launch from up river into the Merrimack know the feeling: As they approach the end of the 5-mile-per-hour "No Wake Zone" at the icebreaker just beyond downtown Newburyport, the throttle inches forward.

As boats blast through the more open water, an obstacle course of anchored fishermen, kayaks and drifting boats bob dangerously as larger boats leave them literally in their wake.

In an effort to make that area of the river more safe, harbormasters in Salisbury and Newburyport plan to create a new no-wake zone near the mouth of the Merrimack in the coming weeks. The zone, which requires boats to limit speeds to 5 miles per hour, will be between buoy 8, near Ben Butler's Toothpick, and buoy 11, near Badgers Rocks, a well-known patch of rocks on the Salisbury side.The new zone came about after the harbormasters in Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury met recently and decided for safety sake that the buoys should go in.The idea is to slow boaters as they motor by what's traditionally been a popular fishing spot where many anglers anchor and cast or just drift with the current."There have been some cases (this year) where people got swamped," said Ray Pike, Salisbury's harbormaster. "But a 16-footer doesn't belong out there either, so there's some responsibility on the boat owner."It's the smaller boats that pay the price. Three Haverhill men were rescued in the mouth last week after their 16-foot boat capsized in just 2- to 3-foot swells, waves a large boat can easily produce.Most boaters are aware speed in the river is dangerous to other boaters, can damage docked and moored watercraft and can mean pricey fines for offenders who get caught. But not everyone goes slowly."No-wake zones take you more time and I know people get frustrated, but they're important to the safety of the boats moored," said Andy Spellman, a Plum Islander who owns a 30-foot power boat and was bringing a friend's 18-footer into the water at Cashman Park Thursday.As it stands, the river has one no-wake zone that extends, with a few breaks in between, from the icebreaker in Newburyport up to about MacKenzies Marina in Amesbury. The so-called "back river," on the Salisbury side of Ram, Carr and Eagle islands, does not have a no-wake zone. Harbormasters regularly warn boaters of the dangers of going too fast through that stretch because of substantial rocks in the river, and there are areas less than 2 feet deep at low tide.Several boat owners say they don't mind the long no-wake zones. Sometimes they're necessary."Some of the guys with the bigger boats come through way too close and way too fast," said Mike Pickles of Pelham, N.H., who owns a 171/2-foot boat that he has been launching in Newburyport for two years. "If people would be more respectful it would be nice. It stinks that it has to come to this (putting in a no-wake zone).""I think they're required," said Ron Maglione of Peabody, who owns a 19-footer that he's been bringing here the past three years. "Some people are fools with their boats.""It's not that long a ride, and it saves other boats," said Tom Baker, a boater from Marlboro. "It's crazy how fast some boaters go."
Gary Balestrieri, co-owner of Plum Island Kayak, said the tours his company leads three times a day have sometimes had their boats rocked by the wakes of those going too fast.

No one's ever tipped over, to Balestrieri's knowledge, "but we've had some close calls," he said.

"I'd say 90 percent of the boats are watching out for us, and 10 percent of the less-experienced boaters really whip by," he said.

But just because the no-wake zones are marked doesn't mean boaters always adhere to them.

Jackson Bailey, harbormaster for Amesbury, says he stops speeders in their boats on almost a daily basis. Fines can range from $50 on up depending on the severity of the infraction and past offenses.

Daily News correspondent Alexander Christopher contributed to this report.

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Old 07-05-2005, 08:46 AM
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Roostahfish Roostahfish is offline
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While they're at it, why don't they start writing tickets to all the jamokes who fish the flats at night and don't use their lights.....I'm thinking they could generate plenty of $$ based on all the offenders I witnissed on Saturday night......
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Old 07-05-2005, 08:56 AM
FireFly FireFly is offline
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Sounds like a great idea. But they should first start by enforcing the no wake zone near the ice breaker!!!!!

2 trips out this weekend yielded boats hitting full throttle and tossing me about because they decided to ignore the no wake zone and throttle up at the ice breaker rather than waiting until they reached the buoy which is some 1000 feet down river!!!!

Complete idiots!

As far as the lights (or lack thereof) in Joppa- I fish the flats exclusively at night and have seen too many offenses!!

Some guys (including me) will turn our lights off when visibility is good and there are no boats around. When a boat approaches we turn our lights on. Keep in mind we are drifting and not running with our lights off.

It's the idiots who run at full speed across the flats with no lights on which scares me the most followed by the drifters and guys up on anchor who refuse to ever turn their lights on! I've approached too many boats (while I was underway) and could not believe I almost ran them over because they had no lights on.
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Old 07-05-2005, 09:32 AM
Pauper Piscator Pauper Piscator is offline
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Boo hooo...

I am hearing a lot of crying from the ricekty tin boat crowd here. (Hey I used to be one till I grew up and smartened up)

Hell yeah you are going to get tossed around on the Mac on the weekend. Wha duh. Can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen or don't anchor 10' from the main channel and complain. Plenty of good places for small boats all over that river well out of the way of the battle wagons.

I for one am ****ed. This will add at least another 15 minutes to the trip outside from NBPT. (That is half an hour+++ of fishing time for a Dad of 2 under 2 who is on a very short leash as it is.) 5 mph.... Zzzzzzzzzz. Just so the 4 fat guys (no shirts) in the 14' POS don't spill their beer while tormenting schoolie after schoolie before putt-putting back and being an ass on the Salibury ramp with two 28" and one 27.25" stripers .

The run between the toothpick and the Icebreaker is usually a flat calm 2-4 minute blast with minimal boats and a HUGE lateral cross section. I like this spot to give guests a last minute thrill (and blow the gunk out of my cylinders) before the day is done. West wind makes you feel like you are traveling at 100 mph. But I digress...

I would have preferred if this could have been done more slectively. Like weekends only or between the hours of 8-12 ? Or Perhaps in July and Aug?
Isn't there a happy medium?

Not too pleased. Esp sinc I have endured my fair share of bouncing with few complaints. Never a mis-hap by showing the big boys a little respect and using common sense. (10++ years on that river in an 18' starcraft) What next? No entering or exiting the mouth except at slack tide when there is no rip?

I hope this issue generates some comments. As an experienced and safety conscious boater with limited time and a reasonably fast boat (hey if I wanted to go 5 mph I would get a sailboat), I feel very put upon by less experienced and LESS safety conscious boaters endangering ME and mine by taking on something beyond their capabilities to try and catch a 20" fish.

On a positive note. I fished every day this weekend and I was reasonably impressed with the level of courtesy demonstrated by the boaters. Nice work guys and thanks!
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Old 07-05-2005, 09:51 AM
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DaleH DaleH is offline
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FWIW my C-Map charting program shows them at 0.35 nautical miles apart "at last known/cataloged position" that is !
"Life is too short to own an ugly boat ... !"
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Old 07-05-2005, 10:09 AM
Pauper Piscator Pauper Piscator is offline
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at 5 mph...

.35 KM = @.43 M.

5/60 = .43/x

x= 5.16 minutes.

Hey math is math but, I am not buying it. 5 mins from the Icebreaker to the toothpick at 5 mph? Longest 5 mins ever...must be some wierd time-warp thing caused by an over-eagerness to get fishing.

Going back to the article for a moment...

"No one's ever tipped over, to Balestrieri's knowledge, "but we've had some close calls," he said."

Jeez a tourist in an unfamiliar kayak ALMOST tips over. Shocker. Shut down the river!
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Old 07-05-2005, 10:16 AM
Pauper Piscator Pauper Piscator is offline
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Am I wrong in believing breaker to badgers is the deal or Just toothpick to badgers?

If so I will callm the heck down.

Kayaks are tippy. I have two...they go to the beach to surf, not the Merrimack to fish.
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Old 07-05-2005, 02:11 PM
gf2020 gf2020 is offline
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Originally Posted by Pauper Piscator
Am I wrong in believing breaker to badgers is the deal or Just toothpick to badgers?

If so I will calm the heck down.
Read the article, it says Toothpick to Badgers. What's the point if you ask me. Icebreaker to Badgers would be worth getting upset about!
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Old 07-05-2005, 05:09 PM
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Redliner Redliner is offline
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I can understand toothpick to badgers, that makes sense anyways, but the ice breaker to badgers, no way.

I did however see a guy on the 4th heading out at full steam from the ice breaker and go right of the 13 can. I told my wife "he's gonna ground" and sure enough he did right on the sandbar looking at captains lady. A vessel following him at full tilt almost did the same!! The funny thing is, its a rookie move, and I did it once myself!

I do however enjoy that last full burn from the toothpick to the can before the icebreaker, good for an old motor,

And on the 4th I saw 10' basker right in the mouth of the river, quite a "shark sighting", B
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Old 07-06-2005, 07:54 AM
G-20 G-20 is offline
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I guess i will plead guilty?????? ..... since i moved up to massachusetts from newport 10 years ago my buddies have been taking me out fishing on there boats to the mouth and every time once they hit the ice breaker they opened up.... now that i have my own boat i do the same... no where on the internet, charts and even calling the coast guard does it say that the no wake zone extends to the bouy 1000 feet away... but if it does i will follow the rules and extend the no wake zone to the bouy. my question now is who is going to come and pick my pieces out of the water when i get run over from the boats behind me opening up when i don't...

to those who go out on that river to fish the mouth in a 14 foot john boat are asking to get swamped IMO the mouth is so narrow when you have 60 foot party boats, sail boats, and hundreds of other boaters going through there.

if someone can point me to the regulations please do so and while your at it can you call the harbor patrols and cite those who are anchored in the channel ??? cd
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Old 07-06-2005, 09:43 AM
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This blows!

Another case of we are having problems enforcing the existing laws, so lets make more.

First - get the anchored morons out of the primary channels

Second - you out there in a small boat - you are taking your life in your hands. It is a F#$ major river going into a ocean and has lots of large boats using it. Get the right equipement or go someplace else (I asked the GC what they would recommend for min boat to handle the mouth of the Mack and they said 22' will get you in and out 90% of the time). Passing rules to protect people that are to stupid to realize they should not be there , burns my A$$. The thought I am liable for swamping them, in their negligence burns it more

Third - The no wake bouy was around the red bouy just down river of the ice breaker last yr, they moved it furter down this yr, but no 1000 yd. That would suck.

Fourth - you out there at night w/ no lights, bump your insurance, I cannot see you. I don't care if you are drifting Joppa, why turn off your lights? That is just........

Fifth - this a big inconveince to the guys who use the river several times a week (me). the commercial guys must be ballistic. yea the guys in the 17 ft tin they interview for the paper is all for it for the once a weekend he gets out there, no big deal to him. What do you think the time and cost is of coming off and going back on plane is over the course of a season??

Look this is about safety, not passing more restrictions. Enforce the ones that exist! I would wagger the majority of all accidents in the lower river are negligence and poor equipement - not the lack of more restrictions.

Well this rant would make me feel better, but, my fishing time just went down and cost just went up.
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Old 07-06-2005, 10:04 AM
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BluesCruiser BluesCruiser is offline
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Thumbs up me me me

It's too bad we can't all enjoy this great water way large and small .

sounds like your saying if your not in a large barge stay out . is ten more minutes gunna kill ya. this water way is for all to enjoy . if there are fish we will come , just the way it is.

Pungo Pungo
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Old 07-06-2005, 12:59 PM
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Penalize many for the benefit of a few in the wrong

Pungo - not saying that at all. Saying if we enforced the existing rules we would not need to put in more. I have nothing against small craft - just telling you what the Coast Guard said about the Mack.

I grew up fishing out of an 18 ft canoe, mostly in Lake Champlain (along with the fly in the Adirondacks) - that is a big lake with lots of hazards (small craft advisories blow up in 1-2hrs on a good southerly). We were not anchoring near (in) busy channels, we where not flipant with the conditions, oblivous to the practical limitations of the craft we were in. It's just common sense - not new rules that we need. (along with enforcement).

BTW - was up there this weekend and again enjoyed the simple pleasure of Perch, Bass and Pike from that same 30 yr old canoe wiht my 6 yr old. (now that is memories).

That no wake zone is for the busy weekends. That they cannot, will not, don't want to enforce the existing rules. It rubs me wrong that on the off peak times (at 5:00 a.m. on a Tuesday) I have to power down or risk an infraction. And that is most of my fishing.
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Old 07-06-2005, 06:53 PM
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The no wake zone won't have an effect on me but I can imagine if you're a commercial guy, read pro fisherman, it will bite. The reason I'm posting now is to ask why aren't the lights on the cans at night? Damn near run into them on drifts. Knowing where I was and keeping ashrp eye out is what saved me but they were still a surpise at times.
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Old 07-06-2005, 07:10 PM
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The commercial guys and other full throttle people oughta slow down....and the weekend warriors and the unknowing should NOT be anchored in the middle of the river.

Last time I are responsible for the wake that your boat throws.
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