I feel quite prophetic when I look back at what I wrote for the Publisher's page in Club Marine Magazine Volume 15 Number 4, only 12 months ago. On that occasion I wrote of a true incident that occurred to me involving the larrikin behaviour of a boat user that put at risk the lives of not only myself and my family, but also his own, as well as those on board his own boat.
But despite this situation involving a runabout, the major concern at the time and since, has been the massive number of complaints being received by authorities about the negligent use of PWCs. For those who did not get to read Volume 15 Number 4, these are the final paragraphs I wrote:
"But at the end of the day what it all boils down to is everybody's right to enjoy boating or any other activity for that matter without the illegal intrusion of other people. But it would appear that there is a small group of individuals who consider it their right to be able to inflict concern and alarm upon others without fear of reprisal.
Let's just hope that common sense can prevail, because the only solution in some areas will be the total banning of all powered craft and that is definitely not what we want. A bit of consideration is all that's required".
Well it would appear that common sense has not prevailed. So now under the increasing weight of public opinion, all the waterways of Sydney Harbour are now banned to all PWC activity. The ramifications of this action are wide and many, too many to go into here. The flow on affect that this decision could have on the marine industry in metropolitan Sydney could well see the demise of retail outlets, and a drop in the resale value of PWCs. But as they say, if you don't regulate yourselves, then be prepared to have regulation thrust upon you.
I feel terribly sorry for the thousands of law abiding PWC owners who now cannot enjoy their chosen past time on the waters they originally purchased their craft for. But the story does not end here. Already there are locations on the harbour where water skiing is banned. Do not be so naive as to think that what has happened to PWCs could not also happen to you. The ultimate outcome could be an overall 10 knot speed limit for the whole of the harbour.
Now wouldn't that be fun! And just because you live in another state, don't think it won't happen to you either. Already there are PWC banned areas in most states. The Sydney Harbour scenario is not necessarily an isolated situation. It could be coming to a water-way near you sooner than you think!
A bit of thought and, as I said last year, consideration is all it takes. I ask you all to think before you act. Take down the registration number of the next idiot you see breaking the law and report them to the relevant authorities in your area. Tell your fellow boat/PWC users that you are not prepared to allow them to risk the future of the sport you love.
We can still make a difference if we act now. Don't ever say you haven't been warned! Also in this issue we review a magnificent Ferretti 480, sail the first J105 to come to Australia, there is the final instalment of our Murray River feature, we look at a new breed of tinnies manufactured in Darwin, and much more.
Enjoy the magazine and remember that your safety is our top priority.