Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Proposal Would Put Limits on Huguenot Park Jet Skis

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Proposal Would Put Limits on Huguenot Park Jet Skis

Article excerpt

Careless jet skiers are threatening the precarious balance of

swimmers, surfers, anglers and windsurfers at Huguenot Park.

They launch into the surf anywhere on the beach, sometimes

cutting through swimmers. Surfers complain they swarm into their

turf, leaving noxious fumes and choppy water in their wake.

Anglers are known to whip sinkers at the most brazen, who run

through their lines.

What sometimes seems like a waterborne, 65-mph free-for-all

could be coming to an end.

Prompted by safety concerns, city officials are considering

speed restrictions to slow down jet skis and other motorized

boats in areas favored by swimmers and windsurfers, and to keep

them out of the surfers' way altogether.

If the City Council agrees, boaters and people riding personal

watercraft would have to travel at idle speed through Fort

George Inlet and the first 300 feet of ocean surf. Motorized

craft would be prohibited from the north jetties to the flats,

in the first 500 feet of surf.

If approved, the idle-speed zones would be posted with

permanent signs or buoys. Park officials hope to have them in

place by Memorial Day.

The speed restrictions will apply to small boats that can get

through the shallow water, but controlling jet skis is the real

point.

"It's like anything else, you've got that few percent who are

ruining it for everybody," said Bob Falk, manager of the 450-acre

park. "When you've got 8,000 people on this beach, people have

got to use common sense."

Even avid jet skiers admit some of their kind leave common

sense behind.

"I've seen them come so close to swimmers," said Sid Mickler,

who sells personal watercraft in Jacksonville Beach and

frequents the park himself.

"There's kids out there at low tide as far out as 150 feet. …

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