Town Beach Boat Launch

On Wednesday, June 25th, I experienced a troubling event while launching and retrieving my sailboat at the town beach. The boat launch is clearly posted “Boat access is strictly for launching watercraft. No dogs or pets. No sunbathing, picnicking, swimming, No fires.”

When I launched my sailboat around 4:30pm there was a family (mother and three children) with beach chairs set out approximately 10 feet from the sign at the base of the boat launch. All were in the water on paddle boards. Before launching my boat my wife had to remove a child’s pair of flip flops from the launch area. Upon returning to shore about 6pm the mother and children were now on shore adjacent to the ramp.

After carefully removing my boat from the water, I approached the mother and explained my concerns about sitting inside the posted area. I explained to her that as an emergency room nurse, I have witnessed the outcome of unnecessary accidents involving children. Sadly Shelburne has experienced several tragic deaths of children.

This mother would hear none of my concerns, objecting strongly saying, “We have been here all afternoon and have been in and out of the water and everything is fine.”

This was said in front of the children. After realizing my efforts were fruitless I moved my vehicle and boat to the upper parking area where I spoke with the beach supervisor, Peggy. I told Peggy of my concerns and she informed me that she and the lifeguard also spoke with this mother earlier with a similar outcome.

When backing a boat on a trailer down our town’s boat launch it almost impossible to be certain that no distracted child will run out behind your trailer. When possible I always try to use a spotter but for many this is not possible when alone. There should be no greater concern than for safety, especially that of all children. Accidents are called accidents as they are unintentional. However, it is behavior executed prior to an accident which contributes to its possibility and cause; and these are the actions we seek to eliminate.

As an RN, I am a mandated reporter of children exposed to potential dangers. I took action that I hope will prevent an unnecessary injury and or death. I spoke with the Department of Children and Families regarding this incident. I also spoke with Shelburne Chief of Police, the towns’ Recreational supervisor, and the Chief of Shelburne Rescue. All expressed strong concerns in support of my complaint. Unfortunately, all had heard or experienced similar problems in the past.
Our town beach and boat launch are enjoyed by many. People who are not compliant with town requests for safety manifest a disrespect of others as well as selfish and self-centered behavior. Protecting the safety of our children and our resources is a responsibility that belong to all of us. I sincerely hope that everyone will help to keep us safe and obey our town’s rules and regulations.

Rick Pollack – Shelburne