Lake resident complains about speed boats

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — What do a sunset and a speed boat have in common?

Both come in shades of orange.

It seems that orange is a memorable color.

During a Naples Board of Selectmen meeting on Aug. 22, a resident who lives on Long Lake complained about the increased presence of faster and louder speed boats, particularly this summer.

“On Long Lake, there are a number of big boats that are going excessively fast and operating later in the evening,” said Pete Coogan, who owns property on the east side of the lake.

Coogan made a reference to the fatalities from a two-boat collision that occurred in the evening hours on Long Lake in August 2007. He was concerned that the conditions were right for such a tragedy to happen again.

“Is there anything the town can do,” he asked.

He was told that the lakes in Maine are owned by the state and that the individual towns do not have jurisdiction over speed limits in open water.

Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak said that if the Town of Naples had a noise ordinance that would give the town some control over loud boat engines. But, a noise ordinance is not a logical solution for a “town our size,” he said.

The best way to see if something can be done about excessive speed and noise on Long Lake is to contact the State of Maine Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, which governs boating, and express concerns, Paraschak said.

The board can approach the state, but that doesn’t mean there will be a resolution, he said.

“I cannot be the only person complaining,” Coogan said.

Resident Jim Grattelo, who also lives on Long Lake, said “They are chasing the boats out of Lake Winnipesaukee.”

A few years ago, a speed limit law was passed for marine traffic on Lake Winnipesaukee. The speed limit is 45 miles per hour; and the speed limit is reduced to 25 miles per hour one half-hour after sunset and one half-hour before sunrise, according to a website on New Hampshire boating laws.

Chairman Bob Caron II said that the harbormaster hired by the town during the summer months “doesn’t have enforcement” powers. He agreed to mention the issue to Rep. Christine Powers to see if she could use her networking to help out.

“It’ll only get worse,” Coogan said.

When Coogan spoke before the board during public participation, he mentioned that one speed boat in particular was orange.

Naples Harbormaster Bill Callahan said he has observed the orange speed boat on Long Lake.

“He goes out almost every night to watch the sunset,” he said.

“It is just a loud boat. He is not going close to other boats. He is not endangering other people,” Callahan said.

The boat owner cuts the engine and takes in the sunset in silence, he said.

“The orange boat — he is doing nothing wrong other than the boat is noisy. He is not circling other boats, or going up and down the lake wide open,” he said.

Callahan said there are other speed boats with noisy engines but the orange one is probably easier for people to recognize and remember.

“For the most part, most operators are going good speeds,” he said.

The sound of some of the engines is “very disruptive,” he said.

“It is so loud. You cannot hear yourself think. We wouldn’t be able to have a conversation if one drove by,” he said.

“It is just the nature of the boat — they are loud and made for speed. A speed boat like that is not really a lake boat. It is better for the ocean. That is my opinion,” Callahan said.

“There are more of them now than there used to be,” he said, adding he has heard people comment that speed limits on New Hampshire lakes have caused boaters to seek Maine waters.

“There are more fast boats around in the last three or four years. Rumor has it that is because there was speed limit put on Lake Winnipesaukee five years ago,” he said. “Maine does not have a speed limit on lakes.”

It is “hard to prove” that more boating activity is connected to reduced speed limits in New Hampshire, he said.

“I can totally understand why people would complain about it (the noise.) I am on the east side of the lake myself,” Callahan said. “Long Lake is so narrow with hills on either side. Any noise stays in there.”

“The good thing is that they go by so fast you only hear it for 30 seconds,” he said.

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