Now the boat launch ramp at Moose Landing marina can only be accessed by those who have purchased a season pass. Jane Vaughan / Lakes Region Weekly

NAPLES — Only those with season passes are allowed to use the boat launch ramp at Moose Landing Marina after risky behavior and concerns about safety led to the decision to do away with daily passes.

“We’re not closing this place off to the public,” owner and general manager Jason Allen said. “We’re just limiting it to people that buy season passes. We’re not letting just the person that drives up from a random area to park for the day.”

Boaters had previously been allowed to pay a daily fee of $25 and launch their boats at the ramp. With the new change, which went into effect July 6, only those with $300 seasonal passes will be allowed to use the ramp.

We were starting to run into the problem of congestion at the ramp and becoming really concerned,” said Marketing Director Tracy Coughlin. “It’s not a huge ramp. There’s only so much you can do at once.”

We’ve been dealing with a ton of activity and traffic in the marina on any given weekend,” she continued, and “this past Fourth of July was busier than we have ever seen the marina.”

From 2016 to 2018, she said, there was a 30% increase in the number of day passes that were sold.

Coughlin said some behaviors boaters exhibited on the Fourth of July, which included drinking and speeding, “helped to move our decision forward a little quicker than we had already decided.”

A sign in front of the marina advertises no public use. Jane Vaughan / Lakes Region Weekly

In a recent letter to the Naples Selectboard Allen wrote, “The amount of intoxicated boaters that came off the lake this week has been scary. We are no longer willing to take the risk as a business to have these irresponsible boaters with us.”

The marina has been unable to estimate the number of boaters who will use the ramp on a day-to-day basis. And Coughlin says that given Maine’s rainy spring, boaters come out in droves on sunny days.

Now, with a set number of seasonal passes given out — Coughlin estimates it will be around 40 — the marina will know the maximum number of people who will be able to use the boat launch on any given day.

“We don’t want to give out more passes than we can safely manage,” she said.

She is clear that the fees have not been increased or changed; a seasonal pass has always been $300. Now, boaters just don’t have the option of paying the $25 daily fee.

Coughlin said the marina wants people to be able to access the water, but “this just is not a safe situation. We were afraid someone was going to get hit. It just was very, very dangerous.”

Last year, 6,500 boats — that were not rentals or owned by customers — were allowed to use the ramp at Moose Landing.

Now that boaters without season passes will be unable to use the landing, Town Manager John Hawley said the only other options in town are Kent’s Landing or Sebago State Park.

He said there has been an increase in traffic at Kent’s Landing since Moose Landing Marina stopped offering daily passes. The only issue, he explained, is parking.

“We don’t have the adequate parking availability. There’s only maybe a dozen spots that can be used for vehicles with a trailer,” he said.

This year, Hawley said, the town has heard more complaints about inappropriate behavior out on the water.

This summer we have drawn what would appear to be more tourists to the region. We’re hearing from marinas that their boat sales and rentals are up. There are more people in concentrated places,” he said. 

“The crowd’s changed,” Allen agreed.

Hawley wondered if education might help inform visiting boaters about Maine’s laws, since “a lot of these people rent these boats and really have no knowledge of what the Maine boat regulations are.”

We could “put up some signage that covers the most basic rules so that when people launch the boat they at least have been exposed to them,” he said. 

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