Maryland is Trying to Outlaw Wakeboarding

I woke up this morning to an email from the owner of High Mountain Sports down in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland.  Attached was an email from the Maryland Boating Advisory Committee which advises the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.

Apparently the Maryland Boating Advisory Committee is looking to pass a initiative to have some control over Wakeboarding Vessels in the state of Maryland.   As of earlier this week, the proposal reads:

A person may not operate a vessel that is carrying temporary ballast or employing a mechanical device for the purpose of creating a wake larger than the vessel would create when operated with out the ballast or employed mechanical device at the same speed in similar sea state in an area that is: (1) less than 800 yards in width; or (2) subject to a speed limit, at any time

I have attached another document from August 17 here: BAC Wakeboard Preliminary Thoughts

I just got this information so I really don’t know any details yet.  All I know is that 800 yards is huge!  That is eight full football fields wide.  This would basically ban wakeboarding in all but two areas in Deep Creek Lake (which is only an hour from Pittsburgh and a popular vacation spot for a lot of wakeboarders), not to mention most popular wakeboarding spots throughout the state.

The person trying to pass the bill (if it is a bill) is:

Bob Lunsford

Regulations Coordinator

Boating Services

Maryland Dept Natural Resources

580 Taylor Ave E-4

Annapolis MD 21401

410 260-8321

If you have any information or thoughts about the bill, please leave a comment below.


7 Responses to “Maryland is Trying to Outlaw Wakeboarding”

  1. Jack
    September 29, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    I have been wakeboarding at Deep Creek lake for years, this is bullshit. If they really have an interest in making Deep Creek a safer, better watersport location, they would focus on the safety of those in the water (flag rules, etc), not banning the use of ballast.

    I guess I now need to find more fat friends…

  2. Barry
    October 2, 2010 at 12:03 am #

    I would suggest finding out what is driving this. The email just says “the purposeful creation of large wakes” is “objectionable”. If it is just that a group of people have voiced their displeasure, it could be as easy as getting the watersports community (including manufactures, retailers, and organizations) to voice the other side. There are many arguements against singling out just one type/activity; if wake size is the only issue such, non-wakeboard boats can put out wakes just as large (and larger) due to size/weight.
    It is important to find out who is involved in actually trying to enact such a ban before any kind of vote occurs. It will probably be much harder to repeal than just prevent the change in the first place, or it will end up going the way of the 20′ minimum rope length rule. That rule was enacted with little to no supporting data and gives no exception even if the intended purpose is resolved. Now states are adopting the rule and trying to enforce it and no one bothers to understand the intent or actual risk.

  3. I am a new member to the committee that is tasked with proposing boating regulations. I find the wording of the current proposed regulation hostile to a specific group (wakeboarders) and not addressing the actual issue of destructive / damaging wakes. There have been no studies done by the DNR or Natural Resource Police on this matter to date. I am trying to contact the boat manufacturers and wakeboarders throughout the state to voice their opinions. Please let me know of any wakeboard sites or contacts you have so that I can contact them. They hope to have a regulation in effect next boating season. We need to get the word out ASAP.

  4. pauly
    October 22, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

    from the meeting, SUCH BS, it seems like its the waterskiers who complained, really? i have no problem with them at all.

    15 MS. TROVATO: We were talking today
    16 about some folks who signed the petition because
    17 they’re concerned about the wakeboarders in their
    18 creek and a couple of meetings ago, maybe several
    19 meetings ago, we said we thought we would follow up
    20 and talk some more about wakeboarding and the boats
    21 that have the ballast tanks and pump in lots of
    1 water and if there was anything we wanted to make a
    2 recommendation about. I don’t know where we are
    3 still on that or if we want to do it, I just
    4 thought I’d bring it up since that’s the issue. I
    5 really would hate to see lots of creeks closed down
    6 for waterskiing when what they’re really concerned
    7 about is the giant wakes that the wakeboarders are
    8 throwing up, and I mean I think the wakeboarders
    9 ought to have a place where they can do their thing
    10 too, but I’d hate to see all waterskiers eliminated
    11 from many of these creeks. The best waterskiing is
    12 in those creeks.
    13 MR. BUSH: Well, currently we only have
    14 one case like that, but Bob will make another
    15 comment.
    16 MR. LUNSFORD: I think it’s two cases
    17 this year, Luce and Clements, that seem to be very
    18 similar.
    19 MR. DWYER: I agree with Ramona, I’ve
    20 raised this point before, this is an evolving use
    21 of the water, it didn’t happen 15 years ago, and
    1 then we see the big 55-gallon drums full of water
    2 and the purpose for the boats and at some point we
    3 had this problem in very real terms with Lake
    4 Ogleton that we dealt with a couple of years ago
    5 and at some point doing that, creating the wakes in
    6 a confined space, I think it’s just irresponsible
    7 and that’s —
    8 MR. KLING: I do think you’re going to
    9 need to find some way to address that other than on
    10 a case-by-case basis.
    11 MR. DWYER: Steve, I think we need to do
    12 it on a case by case. We’re not talking about
    13 hundreds of these ballast type boats, we’re
    14 probably talking, like on the Severn River, three
    15 or four of the ballast-type boats. You’re talking
    16 about a $50,000 boat, 18-foot boat, and you can
    17 create the same wake with a little more effort just
    18 speedwise because you’re squatting the boat and
    19 creating this wake. I just hate to see us
    20 legislate or try to pass restrictions when we don’t
    21 really need them. Let’s not create a monster where
    1 we don’t have to yet.
    2 MS. TROVATO: I waterski all the time in
    3 the Severn River and I’m above the narrows and
    4 there are usually at least three wakeboard boats
    5 with the ballast up there almost any weekend and
    6 many weekdays. They make it very difficult for
    7 just regular waterskiers, slalom skiers, trick
    8 skiers and anybody in a small boat, and not that I
    9 don’t want them to have an opportunity somewhere,
    10 it’s just I would rather not do it on a
    11 case-by-case basis. We may come out and say well,
    12 you know, they have every right to be out there as
    13 everybody else, but I’d rather do it in sort of a
    14 broad way, and we may not even come up with a
    15 recommendation, just study the situation, but I’m
    16 concerned for all the other users.
    17 One other thing that’s really
    18 interesting with the wakeboarders is not only are
    19 the boats $60,000 boats, and we saw them when we
    20 were at Deep Creek Lake, they were beautiful, but
    21 they also have the loudest stereo systems I have
    1 ever heard. I mean they have giant Bose speakers
    2 up on the arch up there and boy, can they crank out
    3 some music, whoa, but that’s a whole noise issue,
    4 you know.
    5 MR. DWYER: I think we’re back fighting
    6 the same thing as gun control, not so much the
    7 product as it is the user.
    8 MR. BUSH: Well, I think we can wait
    9 until it gets around to the actual hearing on this
    10 issue and not try to resolve it right now, because
    11 right now is inappropriate and we’re not going to
    12 reach a decision. Even though everything you said
    13 is well taken and everyone has heard it. Any
    14 comments on that? Do you have anything else you’d
    15 like to add?

    Minutes as of Aug 19th

    1 In the little handout that you got on
    2 the last page, there’s a cut and paste of some
    3 things that Steve Kling put together for wakeboard
    4 regulations. Given the number of complaints and
    5 the concern that the department is hearing, not
    6 only me but through NRP staff and the office of the
    7 secretary, we’re likely to have some sort of
    8 wakeboard regulation in place before next boating
    9 season. We’re going to use what Steve drafted as a
    10 starting point and what I need today is not
    11 necessarily an up or down vote but kind of sense of
    12 the committee that we should go ahead and continue
    13 to develop this with the attorney and then present
    14 it to you as kind of a sideline perhaps as early as
    15 the first hearing we’re going to schedule this fall
    16 and then we’ll process it as a regulation without
    17 going through the whole boating season notice of
    18 boaters thing, because it’s a statewide regulation,
    19 we can’t put a buoy out in one area and say we’re
    20 going to change the regulations. We put out a
    21 press release on the DNR website, we sent notices
    1 to any groups that we’re aware of and then just run
    2 the regulation through the normal process like you
    3 would a fishing regulation or one of the other
    4 where you put it in the Maryland Register, get a
    5 45-day public comment period, we have to have a
    6 public hearing on it. Well, but again, today what
    7 I’m looking for is a sense of the committee for
    8 these kinds of restrictions, for wakeboard boats
    9 which when they move into an area tend to dominate
    10 and eliminate if you will other recreational
    11 activities in a waterway, sometimes up to several
    12 hours. And we’ve gotten dozens and dozens of
    13 complaints as these things become more popular. So
    14 John, I don’t know if you want to hold a
    15 discussion, have a vote, have people talk to me at
    16 lunch.
    17 MR. BUSH: We can have a, we can — I
    18 don’t know if you want — do you want to add
    19 anything, Steve, before we get to the —
    20 MR. KLING: Well, I would just say that
    21 we have kicked this around semi-formally and
    1 talking about it informally and I think in my sense
    2 with the wakeboarding is fine, we’re talking about
    3 wakeboarding, not talking about just, I don’t care,
    4 Bob and I kind of — wakeboarding itself is the
    5 problem, the guys that are ballasting the boats
    6 making big wakes, that’s what this language is
    7 intended to address, and, you know, the
    8 wakeboarders say they want to be the same place as
    9 the skiers are, nice flat water, the problem is
    10 that’s often very confining to the watermen and
    11 they’re in there making big wakes and Bob found
    12 there is a whole aftermarket of ladders put on
    13 those and they’re bragging about how much ballast
    14 they can stick on the boat, and that’s fine, just
    15 some places it’s not fine since it may well cause
    16 shoreline erosions at times but it’s also damaging
    17 boats and property along the shore.
    18 MR. LUNSFORD: Yeah, this is cut and
    19 paste what I sent you.
    20 MR. KLING: They suggested a couple of
    21 changes, but just to define some waterways as too
    1 small, too confined to allow creating big wakes and
    2 that’s the purpose of this and, Bob, you might
    3 comment on the —
    4 MR. GAUDETTE: The secretary has a
    5 concern with wakeboats, he recognizes that it’s an
    6 activity that’s growing but also recognizes that
    7 there may be some places that are appropriate for
    8 it and some places that aren’t, and what this reg
    9 does is kind of notifies those places that are not.
    10 We’re getting situations where people are near
    11 wakeboats, they’re getting thrown out of their
    12 boats because their boats are, you know, rocking so
    13 much when they go by because they throw such a big
    14 wake. We don’t get that with waterskiers. We get
    15 that with this type of boat. That rail is designed
    16 to make as large a wake as it can and it’s becoming
    17 an issue with not just — well, it’s becoming an
    18 issue with other boaters as well as people with the
    19 shoreline, it’s really becoming an issue and the
    20 secretary is glad to hear that —
    21 MR. KLING: One other comment, Bob and I
    1 and Amy went out one day on a research tour looking
    2 at the regulation and the requests that we have on
    3 small creeks off the Severn. One guy —
    4 MR. LUNSFORD: I believe it’s one guy.
    5 MR. KLING: Wakeboarding in a small
    6 creek, apparently he goes in and out and it’s too
    7 rough and then he goes to the other and then he
    8 goes back to the first one, and so they’re trying
    9 to hit the fly with the sledgehammer, just shutting
    10 down the creek, when the issue is one guy
    11 wakeboarding. So we went out with a range finder
    12 and surveyed the areas. Part of what we were
    13 discussing was dimensions, how big an area and how
    14 wide an area is.
    15 MR. DWYER: Two quick comments. Are you
    16 responsible for your wake covers a lot of this,
    17 that we’ll be adding extra legislation. I have a
    18 problem with a definition of a confined area as any
    19 cove, bay or creek, I mean eastern bay is a bay,
    20 that’s — I mean —
    21 MR. GAUDETTE: Dimensions on that —
    1 MR. KLING: Dimensions on there and
    2 that’s what?
    3 MR. DWYER: 800 yards.
    4 MR. GAUDETTE: Otherwise it would be a
    5 problem for sure.
    6 MR. DWYER: That’s all.
    7 MR. KLING: That’s what we were out
    8 playing with the laser kind of to get a sense of
    9 what we had said and the activities going on,
    10 here’s what we know, activities going on, what
    11 makes sense and what didn’t, we can tell you what
    12 we looked at and what we saw.
    13 MR. MARPLE: It doesn’t seem to me the
    14 wakeboard’s the problem, it’s the ballast, so why
    15 aren’t we talking about ballast?
    16 MR. KLING: We are, that’s what the
    17 regulation talks about, it doesn’t say you can’t
    18 wakeboard, it says you can’t —
    19 MR. MARPLE: Certain areas, doesn’t say
    20 anything about ballast.
    21 MR. KLING: It does.
    1 MR. DWYER: It does.
    2 MR. KLING: You can’t ballast to make a
    3 wake in those spaces, it doesn’t say you can’t
    4 wakeboard.
    5 MR. MARPLE: What about the ballast that
    6 comes in —
    7 MR. KLING: You can’t add ballast for
    8 the purpose of creating more wake.
    9 MR. BUSH: Speak up louder so everybody
    10 can hear you, including the reporter.
    11 MS. CRAIG: My comment is for adding
    12 regulation, I think you should try enforcement
    13 first because you can add ballast to the boat, that
    14 adds weight and all boats have a limit on — it may
    15 exceed the capacity, so when you add 500 gallons of
    16 water to the boat, that adds weight, which I’m sure
    17 we can find the calculations and find out how much
    18 weight that adds and therefore they can be fined by
    19 having a boat that’s overweight.
    20 MR. GAUDETTE: That’s actually an issue
    21 we’re researching right now, that issue came up as
    1 a capacity issue.
    2 MR. LUNSFORD: She sent it to you.
    3 MR. GAUDETTE: Exactly, that’s what
    4 we’re looking at, because if that’s an issue that
    5 may be something that you have to address as far as
    6 the capacity for that boat, because I know 500
    7 gallons of water weighs an awful lot.
    8 MR. KLING: Are we discussing this now?
    9 MR. BUSH: No, no, a overall discussion
    10 of do we further look into this and ultimately we
    11 want a show of hands, those in favor of pursuing
    12 this. I would like to have a show of hands that
    13 the committee is interested in pursuing this issue
    14 and that’s where we’ll leave it right now and be
    15 getting back to you with more details, we’re not
    16 going to discuss it any further right now; is that
    17 okay with you?
    18 MR. LUNSFORD: That’s what we need, is
    19 just something that tells me to keep working on it.
    20 MR. BUSH: Something that you want to
    21 add? Does everyone agree with that?
    1 COLONEL JOHNSON: Could I just make —
    2 in your deliberations and your considerations, and
    3 I mean you bring out some, an enforcement issue, it
    4 certainly is, but when you come up with your
    5 suggestions, please keep in mind to try to make it
    6 as easy as possible to discern for our officers to
    7 do that enforcement, because, you know, I’ve got a
    8 limited number of people, when I throw them into a
    9 situation out there to address that and if we have
    10 a very clearly defined law that can go right to it
    11 and deal with it and we’ll be done with it and move
    12 on, thank you.
    13 MR. BUSH: Go ahead.
    14 MR. LUNSFORD: Okay, so we’re going to,
    15 we’re going to process that and I’ll get back to
    16 you with wording after I talk to the attorney and
    17 Steve and I hammer on this a little more.

  5. Dave
    July 22, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    Any updates in this issue?

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