2013-07-03 / Letters to the Editor

Paddleboards at beach put swimmers at risk

I am writing to strongly object to paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, dinghies and other hard watercraft being allowed at any time within the protected areas at Mackerel Cove Town Beach.

All of the above objects must be classified as boats or watercraft, and they are entirely incompatible with swimmers who are without protection against the hard objects. In addition, the soft sands of the beach are not suitable for launching such hard, heavy objects on a repeated basis since this will further erode the sandy beach.

Furthermore, allowing such usage will increase the already growing problem of powerboats and sailboats anchored beyond the buoys, which may begin to launch their own watercraft from the beach.

Finally, it will intensify the usage at the western end of the beach with more cars looking for parking and launching sites, more noise from commerce, and more foot traffic across the soon-to-beremerged dunes. It will degrade the beach environment for humans who enjoy the calm and quiet of the only public sandy beach on the island officially reserved for swimmers and beachgoers who enjoy fishing, walking, bird watching, sitting, reading and playing games.

As I read the reports of the discussion at the council’s last meeting, there was little or no consideration given to how the proposed paddleboard rentals at Mackerel Cove will conflict with swimming and other passive uses of the beach. On more than one occasion, paddleboarders and kayakers came directly into my path as I was swimming parallel to the shoreline. This scared and endangered me.

The lifeguards, when they noticed, were useless. Those people could not control their paddleboards. I saw two people standing and sitting on one board unable to direct it in the choppy surf. I saw youngsters in kayaks who had yet to learn how to paddle the craft at all. The parent in a kayak behind was useless. Is this the reckless and unsafe environment for swimmers we want to create in the cove?

I swim at Mackerel Cove a lot in the spring, summer and fall. There is no other place on the island to swim safely without boats and watercraft bearing down on you. By contrast, there are numerous places to launch watercraft on the island. By entertaining this private, profit-driven proposal, the council is threatening our precious beach for other citizens.

I urge the council to vote to prohibit watercraft use at all times at Mackerel Cove Town Beach, and specifically reject the current proposal from Jamestown Outfitters to rent paddleboards.

Christine Ariel
Steamboat Street

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