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Silly Law -- my letter

Wayne Smith

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Sent the following to both sponsors of the bill, and to the governor:

Dear Representative Hill,

I am writing to you in response to House Bill number 2126, and to voice my opposition to it.

I am a non-resident who visits your state regularly to canoe and kayak, and I am also the president of the Connecticut Sea Kayakers, more commonly known as ConnYak.

The bill in question would require that kayakers fly a stern flag on their boats for purposes of visibility. While I would agree visibility can be a concern, the solution proposed places the kayaker in far more danger than low visibility does. There are other less intrusive and safer ways to be visible in a kayak, such as bright colored PFD's, reflective materials, and good seamanship skills.

As an example, many intermediate (and above) level kayakers can roll their boats when they capsize, and continue paddling without incident. With the added drag of a flag on the stern, this essential safety maneuver becomes much more difficult, and if the mast breaks, it can create an impalement or an entrapment hazard.

Also, modifying the deck of the boat to mount the flag holder will likely compromise both the structural integrity and watertightness of the deck, and potentially void the manufacturer's warranty on the boat. And I have no idea how a flag could be mounted on a traditional skin-on-frame kayak without creating an extreme leakage hazard. Further, the hydrodynamic drag on the mast could also rip the deck open in a capsize situation, thus making the kayak unseaworthy.

Any of these scenarios can potentially leave the state open to civil prosecution for negligently creating a hazard that did not exist before, should someone be injured or killed as a result of complying with this proposed law. And I believe people will die as a result of this bill if it is made law.

As a regular visitor to your state, I can assure you that if this misguided, but well intentioned, bill is made law, I will no longer visit Massachusetts for purposes of kayaking. Other states will welcome my tourist dollars.

Please reconsider this matter, and withdraw this bill.


Wayne Smith

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Nicely put.

However, the reply I received from Rep. Hill (posted in the other thread) indicates that it's a dead issue and we're all a bit late for the funeral. Still, adding to the opposition tally can't hurt.

Keep us posted so that when the registration issue in CT rears it's ugly head again, we can support CONNYAK in kind. Since they've lost on anti-terrorism and safety justifications, it should be interesting to see what they try next.

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