Water-skiers Are Losers In Draft Magothy Plan

Panel Targets Conflicts Between Users Of River

November 10, 1991

There are just too many people. I had hoped for a selective plague, but it doesn't appear to be in the cards.

Now, with that as a backdrop, it is time to talk about the draft Magothy River Comprehensive Vessel Management Plan, which isn't too bad unless you are a water-skier.

It is the third vessel management plan issued by the Boating Administration; the Severn and South River plans preceded it.

The draft plan contains some pretty interesting information along with the proposals. For example, did you know that in 1990 the number of registered and documented boats using Maryland's waters was 185,693?

Since 1970, the number of registered vessels has increased by 158 percent, from 68,714 to 177,396, and the documented vessels increased by 71 percent, from 4,840 to 8,297.

Of the 185,693 registered and documented vessels, 21,027 -- or 11 percent -- were home-ported in Anne Arundel County, making it the most populated boating area in Maryland.

To the Boating Administration, the greatest challenge is resolving the conflicts between the user groups, especially between the waterfront property owners and high-performance power boaters, water-skiers and personal watercraft riders.

In both the Severn and South Riverplans, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) established Rowing Areas, Controlled Ski Areas and Designated Beach/Swim Areas. In the Magothy Plan, the Boating Administration -- a division of the DNR -- pretty much left things as they were, with only a couple of exceptions.

They tightened up in most of the creeks where a speed limit was for weekend and holidays to a speed limit at all times.

The big change is the recommendation to impose a six-knot speed limit at the mouth of the river, or the "entrance channel," as they call it, at all times.

Over a year ago, I recommended to one of the Boating Administration representatives that they should lower power boat speeds to six knots and force sailboats to enter and exit the river under poweron weekends only. My only problem is trying to get into the Magothy on weekends when a "blow-boater" is trying to show off by tacking a time or two in the narrow entrance channel. Meanwhile, a zoomie-go-fast zips by, a big sport-fish is pushing a big wake and two kamikaze jet-skiers are trying to jump my wake.

Slowing down the power boaters only relieves half the problem and gives the "blow-boaters" the impression they sit at the right hand of. . . . Oh well, maybe they do. Anyway, this action should only be on weekends and holidays; the restof the time, it is not a problem.

Another proposed change is the "minimum wake at all times" classification for the Sillery Bay/Dobbins Island area. This classification means you crawl by so that the yachters who are parked behind Dobbins Island aren't disturbed.

Give me a break!

The folks who really got it in the ear were the water-skiers. During a workshop on the Magothy plan last May, one of the recommendations was a Controlled Ski Area for a slalom course in Cornfield Creek.

A Controlled Ski Area is an area where only certified ski boats are permitted. Most people don't realize that a certified ski boat is quiet and throws very little wake.

The Boating Administration points out that the Cornfield Creek location is not suitable, probably too close to Gibson Island, and there are Ski Areas in both the Severn and South Rivers. Also, there are only 20 certified ski boats in all of Maryland.

The Boating Administration conducted a public meeting on the Magothy plan last Wednesday. The skiers came organized and loaded for bear. What would have normally been a ho- hum meeting turned into a standing-room-only "we want a ski area" bash with over 60 people signed up to speak in favor of water-skiing.

Based on the interest at the meeting, the Boating Administra

tion will probably take another look at the Magothy and see if it can find a suitable location for a Controlled Ski Area. Meanwhile, I still will be dodging blow-boats at the mouth of the river. Somehow, it doesn't seemfair.

Bob Spore is a Coast Guard-licensed charter boat captain from Pasadena. His Outdoors column appears every Friday and Sunday in the Anne Arundel County Sun.

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