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Paddleboards should be exempted in bill

Nick Barbera, center, owner of Stony Brook Harbor

Nick Barbera, center, owner of Stony Brook Harbor Kayak and Paddleboard Rentals, instructs Zaib Shaikh, 27, of Selden, left, and Sam LeFleur, 27, of Smithtown, right, in standup paddleboarding in the waters of Stony Brook Harbor on June 21, 2019. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

State Assemb. Fred Thiele of Sag Harbor is sponsoring a bill to require anyone using a “pleasure vessel” less than 21 feet long to wear a life jacket. That would include recreational motorboats, rowboats, canoes, kayaks and even surfboards and stand-up paddleboards.

Stand-up paddleboarding is rapidly gaining popularity, with 3.5 million people trying it in 2018, according to the Outdoor Foundation, a trade organization. Surfboards and paddleboards are flotation devices. Anyone riding those boards should know how to swim.

As an avid surfer and stand-up paddleboarder, I can assert that if users wear a leash tethered to the board, which is standard practice, we always have our flotation device with us.

Life jackets make surfers and stand-up paddleboard riders less safe because they prevent us from diving underwater to avoid waves or another board.

Excess gear on a paddleboard can snag on branches, straps and other impediments, resulting in life-threatening situations.

Before the State Legislature opens its session in January, Thiele should amend or withdraw his bill.

Paddleboarders on Long Island and other parts of New York State won’t accept the bill as it is now written.

Paul D. Glader,



Lack of parking made it difficult to vote

I vote at Sachem High School North in Ronkonkoma. The Sachem school district held a staff conference there on Nov. 5. This action severely limited parking, forcing voters to drive around or wait for someone to leave. I complained last year and again this year. The board of elections said it has no control over the matter. The school district did not respond.

I wonder how many people left in frustration and never voted.

Virginia Brindisi,