To the editor:
Last weekend my wife and I watched in horror as a large fleet of stand-up paddlers and kayakers were encircled by a herd of rental wave-runners (wet-bikes) right in the middle of the bay, and witnessed by many others as well. They made it out of the buoy triangle safely, but with no assistance from the person “managing” the renters from his reclined position on his patrol wet bike. Everyone on this island with a boat has, no doubt, noticed that this year, the rental “triangle” has taken up all of Wading Thoroughfare and completely blocks the high throttle part of the thoroughfare, forcing all traffic to pass through the never ending flow of renters, if they want to run outside of the no wake zone.
This section of the bay is one-half of the water that water skiers, intertubers and wake boarders have been left with as usable bay since the inception of the no wake zones. Water sportsman can be seen daily treacherously trying to navigate this triangle of ballistic out of control maritime neophytes at their peril.
Here are the facts. This is one of the most densely trafficked sections of bay on the island. The wave runners are manned by unlicensed, first time boaters doing maybe 45 miles per hour or so on a boat that loses steering the second you take your fingers off of the throttle. And what is the first thing that an inexperienced rider will do when they are about to hit something…take their hand off the throttle. An accident will happen eventually and with the increasing density of kayaks and paddle boards using this thoroughfare, the likely hood of an accident being fatal is increasing by the season.
So who will be liable when this happens? The rider and rental company for sure, but I think it likely that the kid “managing” them on the water will be in some real legal peril as well. I personally think the real target for the lawyers will be the Jersey State Marine Police who licensed the rental company to run a path that chokes off one of the most heavily trafficked thoroughfares on the island. Brigantine politicians should probably be wary as well for letting this all go on under their noses for so long.
While I am all for sharing the bay, the rental company having the entire thoroughfare footprint to share with the entire rest of the island’s population is ponderous. It is time to take back the bay and move these rentals out to an unpopulated back bay where they belong. Safe boating should be a priority for all of us and after spending 50 years on these bays I would love to see them safe again as soon as possible.