Power To The People


This headline hasn’t run yet, but inevitably it will if anti-Personal Watercraft (PWC) advocates have their way. It’s tragic: a surfer will pay the ultimate price because oblivious, self-serving surfers and pencil pushers can’t see the big picture.

For many, the Surfrider Foundation stands for the preservation of ocean use for everybody. But for unfounded reasons, they, along with many others, chose to discriminate against PWC proponents, like me, based on emotional propaganda, not scientific facts or accurate pollution data. If they could show proof that we separate baby seals from their mothers, for example, or kill fish with PWC exhaust, then they would have a case. But they don’t take off their blinders to see that massive swells alone can separate pups from their mothers in the local rookeries, or that MTBE-laden car emissions streaming down gutters is the primary source of ocean pollution.

Their argument is based not on fact but aesthetics. However, MTBEs-gasoline additives that mask tailpipe emissions-improve only the aesthetic of car exhaust, not their polluting properties. Plus, the 10 days we’re out at Maverick’s each year is insignificant to the millions of gallons of sewage that get blown into the ocean every day; our impact out at Maverick’s is infinitesimal. PWC fuel, exhaust and oil are broken down to the molecular level and vanish within a few hours after we leave the water, since the greatest osmosis happens when the waves are big, the only time PWC’s are put into the water.

The whole case against us clearly lacks perspective. They need only look at Santa Barbara where surfers constantly deal with oil on their beaches, wetsuits and boards to see that they’re not on track. Surfrider should go after the local principalities, the counties, the cities and the state. That’s the only way they’re going to make a pro-active, positive change in the environment, not by simply taking water tests, telling us the water’s bad and not doing anything about it. With that mentality, people don’t get the real story and end up believing the so-called “experts.” The communities need to be properly educated about run-off as opposed to blaming all the environmental faults on one group. But these people working to eliminate PWC’s get gratification in imposing their beliefs and influence on people, no matter how unfounded.

Recent scoping meetings have been organized to get input from both sides concerning PWC’s at Half Moon Bay, part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. But they end up being gatherings of people who are clueless to what we do or the environment we live in. If anything, we should be judged by our peers. But even then, any facts of environmental damage caused by PWC’s have yet to present themselves. Mark “Doc” Renneker is one of the most vocal. He’ll never tow-in because he’s too stubborn and probably doesn’t have the ability to do it. But his argument against PWC’s is based on nothing but aesthetics: they’re noisy and they’re smelly. At a recent symposium with harbormaster Dan Temko and people from Save Our Shores, Doc said “It’s nothing personal, but you’re completely destroying our environment.” If they look at the proof, however, they’d see that PWC’s are the most scrutinized, environmentally conscious watercraft ever made because of strict regulations.