How long can you look at the jet skier in the photo without thinking evil thoughts?
If you’re a typical sailor, I’d guess about two seconds. Nothing seems to make a sailor’s blood boil quicker than an approaching jet ski.
Would you think I’m nuts for suggesting that sailors should try to befriend jet skiers and other power boaters? Or even that it’s crucial that we do so?
Tillerman recently posted on Flat Wakes and Blessed Quiet - the prospect of a future without jet skis and powerboats as fuel costs rise.
As much as that may seem like a godsend to most sailors, a future with no powerboats may not be the blissful paradise we imagine.
Sure, a world without powerboats seems like a great idea - no infernal noise, no smelly exhaust fumes, and for once you could keep on some boatspeed as you coax your way home in two knots of breeze. (Why do those idiots always seek us out, power by close, and then smile and wave at us as they knock the wind out of our sails?)
But what happens when they have to sell the Bayliner for lack of liquid assets to keep it in liquid assets?
What happens when there are no longer any lines at the launch ramp?
Will those dudes go out and buy Lasers? Or Lighnings? Or windsurf boards? Or Beneteaus and Catalinas?
Maybe a few will, but most won't, I think, left to their own devices. I think they'll be gone from the waterways, and along with them will go a major constituency with an interest in maintaining access to the water. The city councils and county boards of supervisors, and state legislatures will be quick to notice.
And so will the developers hungry to get their grubby hands on waterfront property - taxable waterfront property, in the eyes of local government.
State and local politicos are under more pressure today than ever before to cut costs and wring money out of their taxbase. State parks are already closing across the country for lack of funds. If a public launch ramp or marina that used to generate revenue no longer does, its days could well be numbered.
So, as sailors, don’t we have a vested interest in keeping those stinkpotters interested in boating? Maybe instead of wishing them ‘good riddance’, now is the time to be doing everything we can to show them the joys of sailing.
Many years ago, when environmentalists were just beginning their struggles to find political support for their causes, help came from a most unlikely group – hunters and fishermen – the dudes who were out to bag the animals ecologists were trying to protect.
But it turned out that most hunters and fishermen were more than willing to observe quotas that would preserve the critters they were after. And they also saw the necessity to protect the habitat that those animals called home. The environmentalists, in turn, needed the political clout that only numbers can muster to take on the timber companies, industrial polluters, and commercial interests with whom they had to do battle. So both animal hunters and animal protectors were able to cooperate to preserve something they both valued.
Frogma has just posted on a major open hearing in New York where the public was invited to present to city planners ideas for how waterway access could best be shared. What stands out in her summary is just how many groups and interests want in - swimmers, recreation groups, boaters of every description, commercial watermen, and all sorts of business people - even people who say, "No water access for anyone until you fix our potholes!"
I think it's a bit naive to think that if the powerboats go away, we sailors will be left to enjoy the water in peace. We'll need all the help we can get to hold onto the access we now have.
This may be the perfect day to ask a jet skier to go sailing.