This blog launches our website and our booth, #1413, at the International Sportsmen's Exposition in Portland, OR, USA launches our non-profit. WillBoat is an advocacy non-profit, formed to advocate for motor-boaters, and intervene in the political processes involving the use of motor-driven watercraft on the waters of the State of Oregon (and close-in pacific Ocean waters, where limits on activities are also being imposed).
The sad fact is that few of the restrictions imposed or proposed to be imposed actually conserve anything, not the water or air quality, not the fish, not the riparian habitat. The regulations are being imposed because of a mistaken mindset which says that Mother Earth can't take the x-number of boats plying her waters, and the Greens (for want of a better word for these mistaken folks) play fast and loose with science by claiming that the pre-human (or pre-industrial) era was the optimum condition for all waters, so let's get back to it. "Getting back to it" means, at the least, imposing limits on type of motors (electric vs. gas) or it means no motors at all on waters (Waldo Lake, and many higher lakes in the Cascades), or it means operating motor boats at idle speeds only because it is feared that the wakes from the motors create shore-side damages or harass paddle-driven boaters. Of course, "getting back to it" means ignoring the salient fact that there are now over 6 billion humans on the planet, and those humans have invented motors for their boats, without which, vital transportation on our water-world would not exist at more than a minimalist level.
Most of these fears are groundless, and the ones that have a tiny grain of reality in them are very overblown when cited. This website will get farther into specific examples of the "sky is falling" mentality of the Greens as time goes on, right here on these blogs.
Groundless fears or not, these mistaken ideas are frequently cited as reasons to introduce more limits on boating. Let me tell you why the limits are not necessary.
Physics. You can take a lake which never had anything more than a fallen tree or two in it's water, and put 100 boats into it, and you have done exactly nothing to the lake. If those 100 boats are motor-boats, and they motor about, making small wakes, you might put a few wavelets a little higher up the shore than during the pre-human condition, but the wavelets go up, and then down, and chances are, the wind made waves that big and bigger on that lake anyway. Pollution? Maybe, if poorly-maintained engines are propelling the boats, some light oil products and a hint of unburned gasoline might make it into the water. Oils rise in water, so it comes to the surface and evaporates. There isn't enough of it to choke wildlife. A few boats do not equal the Exxon Valdez, much as the Greens might like to make that bad comparison. Motor boats don't hurt the water, period.
Laws. Boats and boating are highly regulated. I was a Marine Deputy Sheriff with Multnomah County, Oregon for almost 8 years. I've been a motor-boater for 45 years, and I sailed, paddled and rowed for 10 years before that, so I know boating law. The law is extensive, and regulates everything from boat-hull paint to engine propulsion to expelling waste into the water from boats. It's all highly regulated, and regulated by agencies (State and Federal) which know boating and boaters. For the most part, the existing regulations do a perfectly adequate job of controlling bad boating behavior, and more regulation is not required, but it comes at us anyway, courtesy of the Greens. If boat wakes are a nuisance, there's already a law for that, and Marine Deputies ready to enforce that law. Just give them a call, don't pass new regulations making wakes "more illegal".
Technology. This really goes in the "Physics" section above, but I separate it for emphasis. New boat-motors are out now which make virtually little pollution of any kind. I own several of these engines myself. The "hi-pressure oil injection" technology makes 2-stroke engines which pollute less than older 4-stroke engines, and the new 4-stroke engines are so non-polluting that the vehicular versions of them are called "Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles" in California, the most pollution-conscious state. New electric motors are being built, with improved Nickel-Metal-Hydride battery technology (the Torqueedo engine series) which will propel a boat electrically, and weigh no more than a gasoline outboard, complete with their battery! The new engine technologies are on the market, and laws based solely on poorly-maintained older technology are absurd, and probably not legally enforceable, anyway. It's been done for cars, so why not phase in the new motors with incentives? Most of the pollution-driven complaints are invalid with the new motor technologies.
So, ideas like the Willamette River Strategic Recreational Use Plan are not only not required, one has to assume that such draconian proposals (the City Plan will be challenged on these pages shortly) have a more sinister purpose, to drive motor-boats off the water. The Waldo Lake restrictions, especially the float-plane restriction drawn up to exclude one man from the lake because he dared fight the new rules, are another example of regulatory over-reach. Waldo lake has opened some eyes, though, and the regulations will now have to be defended in the light of day, where they might not survive as they are.
Willboat now brings an organized approach to fighting environmental over-reach to the business of boating regulation (yes, it's a business!). WillBoat is not going out to "tilt at windmills" as we will probably be accused of doing. We're there to support proper and effective boating law. As a Marine Deputy, I put a man in jail for several years for using his boat as a weapon of intimidation (trying to scare fishermen out of "his" fishing hole). There's no place on the water (or anywhere else) for those who, when presented with reasonable regulations, can't follow them. We support marine law enforcement, because supporting it means better, safer boating for everyone. You'll get that message as you read these blogs. You'll be a safer boater when you read these blogs.
Welcome to WillBoat!