I read the Letter of the Day on March 5 concerning safety on the Hillsborough River (“Address safety issues on river before tragedy”).
I have been a rower on the Hillsborough River for many years and wonder what Alvin Felman is talking about when he calls canoes and kayaks “additional types of watercraft.” I know that in downtown Tampa crew teams practice on the river, and they are talking about ferries, but in the part of the river that I canoe on, canoes and kayaks are the majority vessels, not “additional watercraft.”
The people I’ve met canoeing and kayaking are courteous and operate their canoes and kayaks safely. Even beginning canoeists are courteous, and as with automobiles, experienced canoeists know to give them a little more room to maneuver.
The part of the Hillsborough River that I canoe often has only narrow passages to get through, and people are very courteous in taking turns getting through these areas. The last thing we need are water police clogging up and complicating recreational canoeing and kayaking on the river.
Sometimes, people with training tend to overestimate the need of that training. I don’t need training to walk and chew gum at the same time, and we certainly don’t need Coast Guard traffic regulations on the part of the Hillsborough River that I canoe. Nobody is traveling fast enough to cause any damage if they did bump into one another.
Felman should probably try canoeing the upper Hillsborough River rather than in downtown Tampa. The scenery is better anyway.