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Better Management Needed for Post-Firework Boat Exodus?

Northport Police Chief Ric Bruckenthal recounts how a boat was pulled over for speeding, suggests wake limit expansion.

Northport Police Chief Ric Bruckenthal recounted an incident in which a boat was pulled over for speeding in Northport Harbor on July 4 and said the yearly post-fireworks mass exodus needs to be better managed.

"The minute those fireworks end it is like the rats leaving a sinking ship. We terminated a voyage that night that could have been a very similar outcome to what happened to our West," Bruckenthal said at at the July 17 Village Board of Trustees meeting. "We had four adults and four kids on the wrong type of boat going way too fast."

Boating safety, particularly during the 4th of July when the urge to bend or break the rules seems to be strongest, has been at the forefront of discussion among officials since . Bruckenthal suggested that a no wake zone be created for the entire harbor and bay next July 4 to better control reckless operation.

Donald McKay, director of parks and recreation for the town of Huntington, was also at the meeting and said that Councilman Mark Cuthbertson is working on a public meeting planned for sometime in August to discuss boating safety among boaters, law enforcement, the Coast Guard, and others. The meeting was prompted in part by concerns over the upcoming Labor Day fireworks show for the .

"They're trying to bring everyone together to have everyone on the same page to coordinate the efforts," said McKay.

What do you think should be done to prevent boating accidents on the 4th of July or during fireworks displays? Tell us in the comments.

Christopher Frey July 22, 2012 at 01:41 PM
After reading all the above comments I just wanted to add my 2 cents... I have been a sailboat captain for 37 years and am a certified sailing instructor and Boy Scout Merit Badge counselor for sailing - I was out on July 4th in the anchorage area just south of Ashroken to watch the fireworks. My boat is registered, insured and has all USCG required safety equipment. While at anchor I was impressed with the highly visible presence of the Northport PD and Huntington Habormasters. They were all over the place checking in on hundreds of boats. The fact that they were even able to see one boat speeding is a credit to them. I agree with Cathy -- no more laws -- but Walter has a point about the no wake -- I waited until the people "in a rush" left and then slowly proceeded across the bay (5kt) back to Northport. Taking wake beam side on a sailboat makes for a rocky ride. If you made both bays, Huntington and Northport no wake, 5 mph on "special event" nights that would greatly help out. Most of the offenders are people with small unregistered, uninsured, uninspected boats -- boat safety classes and licensing/permits would have no effect on these people. I also agree with Cathy that 99.9% of boaters take it seriously... boats are a major investment and all the Northport captains I know are well qualified skippers.
Npt Boater July 26, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I understand the Npt Police gave the speeding boat operator a break. We were all shocked that no ticket was issued
Walter Kaprielian July 26, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Beyond belief! Who does he "know" in local government? His actions contributed to the death of three children and gets a slap on the wrist? There should be outrage in your community and a civil suit from their parents.
Old Northporter August 19, 2012 at 11:39 PM
The 5mph speed limit imposed for the Lloyd Harbor MusicFest on Sept 1 is a step in the right direction. If this works, it should be put into effect July 4th as well.
Waterman September 13, 2012 at 01:14 PM
The right answer no one wants to hear.... NO FIREWORKS ON THE WATER! Many years ago, there were fireworks in Northport Bay which could be seen from everywhere. They were cancelled after several incidents occurred both on the water and on land. One involved a house fire in Asharoken that could not be fought because fire equipment could not reach the scene as traffic was at a stand still. Another involved a police officer directing traffic on Main St being struck by a car and no rescue equipment could reach him for the same reason. As to the water, several incidents occurred due to speed, wake, and stupididy, or the only day of the year some boaters went out "at night". And the incidents went unreported as most local Marine Law enforcement agencies were in their infancy, and direct radio communication with them was rare. Many boats then, had no radio, or the operator did not know how to use them. What a shame.

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