Mainers -- Bill to require WEARING pfd's

Greg Nolan

Mainers -- a proposed bill to require WEARING pfd's at all times on the water.

The Maine legislature is at it again. On January 21, 2009, a bill (HP 143, LD 164 was referred to the Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and has not yet been reported out.

The official summary of the bill: "This bill makes it mandatory, with certain exceptions, that everyone in a watercraft wear a personal
flotation device." "Everyone" means operator and passengers; "watercraft" includes canoes.

The only exclusions are for campers in a certified summer camp learning to canoe under the direction of a camp counselor, log rafts carrying not more than 2 people, boats taking people to and from moored boats, and commercial boats that have the required pfd's for their passengers.

At present, wearing pfd's is required for all watercraft only on a couple of stretches of the Penobscot and Kennebec Rivers, and additionally while canoing on part of the Saco River between January 1 and June 1.

Now I always have pfd's in my canoe, and I often wear one when appropriate (white water, windy conditions, power boats around, etc.). But I am a good swimmer, comfortable in, around, and even under the water, and frequently do not care to be encumbered by a pfd, as when paddling through the calm, windless waters of a bog or quiet dam empoundment on on a warm summer day.

The penalty for non-compliance -- ". . .a civil violation for which a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $500 may be adjudged."

Do we really need this?