Speeding boaters get issued a warning

September 08, 1992|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Michael Parker took his powerboat out for one last spin over the Labor Day weekend and went home with a police warning for speeding near the mouth of the Severn River.

He told Officer Quincy R. Shockley of the Department of Natural Resources Police that he didn't know there was a speed limit. "When did they start that?" he said.

When the officer pointed to the buoy markers bobbing in the water, Mr. Parker complained that they weren't visible when heading into Annapolis from the Chesapeake Bay. "They don't put those things over there," he said.

The Pasadena man was one of many speeders Officer Shockley warned in just two hours of patrolling waterways from Annapolis' City Dock up the Severn River on Saturday afternoon.

It was part of a joint crackdown on drunken drivers and speeders by state police and their DNR colleagues. Administrators were pulled from desk jobs and sent on the street and water to beef up patrols.

Col. Franklin I. Wood, superintendent of the DNR police, and Col. Larry W. Tolliver, state police superintendent, teamed up and divided shifts, each spending half in a patrol car or on a boat.

With dark clouds looming over the waterways, holiday boaters were scurrying to beat the impending storm. While the Severn River was surprisingly quiet, boats packed the area between City Dock and the Severn River Bridge.

Unfortunately for the boaters, that also was a speed zone -- six knots being the limit on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The main part of the Severn River has a 35-knot limit.

While drunken boaters were the object of the intensified police effort, Officer Shockley said impaired drivers aren't as easy to spot on water as they are on land.

"You can't tell until you get right up beside the boat," he said. "You have to look for speeders and other erratic behavior."

Most people who were stopped were surprised about the limits. "I didn't know," said an Arnold man who was taking his wife and two children to St. Michaels. "I thought I was out of [the speed zone] back there."

Since Officer Shockley was not using a radar gun, he did not give out any speed violations. The boaters all got warnings, a map of the speed zones and had to go through a safety check, showing that they had enough personal flotation devices on board and that their fire extinguisher worked.

One man got a $30 ticket for failing to register his boat. "Nobody else to pick on, huh?" the man said.

When Officer Shockley first started his shift, he was able to nab four speeders in a matter of minutes. One boat roared right by him, leaving a wake that rocked the police boat.

Another boat, off in the distance, prompted a 10-minute high-speed ride across the mouth of the Severn River. "We have one out there, if we can catch him," Officer Shockley said.

Annapolis police on their own boat patrol got there first, however. "Hang around the mouth, you'll get plenty," the Annapolis officer said. Sure enough, a 32-foot speedboat drove by, clearly exceeding the limit. Officer Shockley stopped the boat, issued his warning and reminded the driver of the holiday rules. "The Severn River is tough," the boater from Bethesda said.

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