Friday, September 16, 2011

More on the Proposed Anchoring Restrictions

Originally Posted: April 27, 2:38 pm | (permalink) | (0 comments)

Last night’s meeting of the Board of Port Wardens regarding the issue of establishing a no-anchoring zone in part of Back Creek really was an example of good government in action. Acting Harbormaster Flip Walters wasn’t required to seek community input on this decision and doing so meant extra work and time for him, but he -- and the entire Board -- chose to do that because he genuinely wanted to make the wisest decision possible.

The proposal by Desiree Dell, the general manager of Mears Marina, cited the reasons I had sort of anticipated yesterday – frustration with boats that anchored too close, sometimes for an extended period, blocking the ability of some slipholders to get in or out, and occasionally anchored boats that dragged into those docked boats, causing damage. Passionate testimony came from Capt. Jennifer Kaye, skipper of the Woodwind for fifteen years, for whom I have particular sympathy – the boat she docks daily is, by its classic design, far less maneuverable than a modern boat of similar size, and she is constrained by a tight charter schedule that can’t delay while she contacts the harbormaster for assistance relocating an improperly anchored boat that is trapping her into her slip. I didn't, however, hear anything last night that indicated that conditions in the cove proposed for restriction were different than anywhere else on Back Creek, just exacerbated by the tighter quarters and the greater length of the boats.

And therein lies the problem – the beginning of what Capt. Dave Skolnick, a local boat-owner who spoke in opposition to the proposed ban, called the first step down the “slippery slope” that could end with no anchoring anywhere in Annapolis, precisely *because* the same logic that would lead to a ban to benefit these slipholders applies everywhere. But just because I don’t agree with your proposed solution, doesn’t mean I don’t agree that your problem is real.

Annapolis can’t call itself “America’s Sailing Capital” without, well, being welcoming to all boaters, travelers visiting the city by boat as well as those who own marina slips here. Balancing the sometimes-contradictory needs of all is going to be a challenging task, and after extended discussion and testimony the Board of Port Wardens deferred a decision pending additional investigation and thought. Stricter enforcement of existing rules would be a logical first step that could be implemented immediately while the harder questions are addressed, and if more resources are necessary in order to do that enforcement, I have a lot of confidence that the harbormaster would use them wisely.

For the record, I spoke at the meeting against an outright ban, in favor of some alternative kind of compromise solution that would include restriction such as moorings or a designated anchorage; my testimony ran along the lines of my blog post yesterday. Chatting with the harbormaster afterwards, I quipped, “Not to be disrespectful, but, uh, that’s quite a problem you have there. I’ll be interested to see how you solve it.” He gave me a wry smile. “I’ll be interested to see how I solve it, too.”

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