A sure sign that the summer solstice is almost upon us is that boaters and jet skiers are beginning to show up on the Merrimack River.
The city of Haverhill gambled thousands in federal, state and local money in hopes that a new dock system would lure boaters from out of town to the downtown for dining and shopping.
Although the city doesn’t have any hard numbers, officials said the $418,000 dock system that was installed behind The Tap Restaurant last year showed encouraging signs when people from other communities piloted their boats up the Merrimack River to spend time in Haverhill.
Mayor James Fiorentini plans to spend another $11,000 on additional docks behind The Tap, expanding the number of spaces where boats as well as a growing number of jet skis can dock.
In Methuen, police must monitor boaters and jet skiers as there is a limited stretch of waterway available to both types of water craft.
Police officers in Methuen will be conducting random patrols this summer on the Merrimack River using the department’s boat and two jet skis.
The patrols will run from Thursday through Sunday at varying times during the day and evening, said Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon.
“We’ll be out each weekend, with the longest patrols on Saturday and Sunday,” Solomon said.
Issues with boaters are really at a minimum, but the jet skiers can create problems, he said.
“People don’t know how to use the jet skis and they get too close to boats or start racing,” Solomon said.
Some jet skiers are inexperienced using the machines and cannot swim, which creates problems even if they are wearing a flotation vest.
Solomon pointed to an instance last summer where a woman rolled over her jet ski. She didn’t know how to right the machine and she couldn’t swim.