2015-04-16 / Opinion

Mooring Bill's Unanswered Questions

To the Editor;

Every politician I've ever met has agreed that Rhode Island government should have less bureaucracy. I have been boating most of my life, and have been a boat owner for the last 28 years. I am a licensed Captain on the water, a Coast Guard veteran of 25 years, and an instructor for the Rhode Island boating safety course. House Bill 5847 is an "Act Relating to Waters and Navigation-Harbors and Harbor Lines." This bill would force me and many other Rhode Island boat owners to sell our boats. One of the provisions in this bill states "No mooring shall be awarded to any one person for a period exceeding 3 years." I am a blue collar worker and cannot afford marina fees of thousands of dollars annually. So instead, I can afford to row out to my boat where it sits in Narragansett on a mooring.

Boat owners already pay a fee to the town where the mooring is located. Another problem is that the fee is currently based on the length of your boat, not the size or weight of the mooring it's tied to.

The cost of purchasing a mooring is substantial, and you must purchase it from a licensed mooring provider, so you own the mooring, pay to have it placed, pay to have it inspected, pay to have it maintained. But you rent the ocean next to it from the respective town nearby. So in three years when I get thrown off my mooring, do I sell my mooring to the next person on the "list"? (run by the state of course, can you say politics?)

On any given day on the water in Narragansett, during the boating season, I see the U.S. Coast Guard, Narragansett Police boat, DEM boat, South Kingstown Marine Safety boat, and the Narragansett Harbor Master boat. And by the way, the State Police also has boats. All of these entities have the power to issue tickets, and most have arrest powers. Does Rhode Island really need another division of government on the water, the "State Marine Safety Patrol"? Will we need a state boating training school to educate the officers on law enforcement on the water?

Another question: Why is it that only boaters with moorings are footing the bill for this new state division of government? I didn't see any fees coming from the thousands of boaters who can afford marinas or those people who can afford a private dock.

Now the politicians want to take control away from the towns, throw us off our mooring after three years, and add yet another fee (tax) to those of us who can't afford a dock or marina to keep our boat at in the first place. According to the bill the fees can be as much as $350 a year on top of the current fees. So much for "The Ocean State," how about "The Drive People Away State"? Please help me!

Steven S. Ferioli


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