Just keep babbling, Paul James Baldwin ("Community Commentary -- "It's
time to get the Disney-style boaters out of the water," Dec. 16). I have
piloted a Duffy around our environs many times in 2001, and the only
problems have arisen when nonelectric boats have not used common sense,
let alone the rules of the aquatic road.
Allow me to enumerate three instances for you:
1. Cruising west toward the turning basin, 15 feet of clearance
between my starboard and the docked boats, a sailboat from Orange Coast
College's sailing docks with an adult male and two children aboard
overtook me to starboard and midway announced that he was going to tack
to port and I should give way.
2. Again, cruising in the channel past the Coast Guard dock heading
for the Balboa Island Bridge, a young shore boat operator from Bahia
Corinthian Yacht Club cut in front of me from my port side. Reverse in a
Duffy is governed and one cannot stop on a dime; evasive action was
necessary and no recognition of the situation was apparent from the shore
3. And finally, rounding the marker pole at the tip of Bayshores, I
was almost broadsided by an inflatable cutting the corner from my
starboard. My running lights were on, his -- if he had any -- were not.
Many Duffys are skippered by those who pay attention and are
nautically knowledgeable. I'll bet if you fire that flare gun, it will be
a Duffy who will respond to ascertain the emergency you are experiencing.
Baldwin must have gotten up on the wrong side of bed when he tried to
link uneducated boaters with Duffy boat operators and further recommended
that all boat operators be licensed. The two are separate issues, and I
will only comment on the first -- his attack on Duffy boat drivers. I do
not own nor have ever owned a Duffy boat. I do not know any owner or
employees of either of the Duffy boat rental companies or the
manufacturers of Duffy boats. I do know that Duffy boats are quiet,
nonpolluting and normally can't go faster than the 5 mph speed limit in
As Baldwin knows, the Orange County Sheriff's Department has a
responsibility to oversee boat operators in Newport Harbor. Many boaters
have marine radios and can be in immediate contact with the deputies who
are out in the harbor 24 hours a day if an operator appears to be
operating his or her boat illegally, irresponsibly or under the influence
Irresponsible boat operators come from all types of boaters.
Whether an operator knows that the front of the boat is called the
"bow" or that "port" means left is not the issue. The marine laws have a
lot to do with common courtesy, as well as specific actions that must be
taken in specific situations. I have seen stupidity, ignorance and
rudeness from every type of boat and operator, licensed or not.
It is my understanding that Duffy boat rental companies require
operators to read rules and sign off on each one before leaving the dock.
Baldwin is wrong to single out Duffy boat rentals, unlicensed boat
operators or any other single person or group of boaters for bad or