PORTSMOUTH — Two boats sank. At least two boat operators were cited for “boating under the influence. ” Two other revelers were taken away for emergency medical treatment, including one with a leg injury from a moving propeller.
And law enforcement handed out more than a dozen citations for boating violations on Saturday during an annual party on the water that has become known as “Aquapalooza. ”
Harbormaster Bruce Celico said this year’s event was the largest yet, drawing more than 1, 000 boats and Jet Skis.
“It is definitely an event that continues to grow, and the possibility of something seriously going wrong continues to grow as well. All things considered, everything went smoothly. ”
Based on experience in past years, law enforcement was away in force to try to keep the event in the waters off Prudence Island more or less under control.
Michael Healey, a spokesman for the Rhode Island Department associated with Environmental Management, described the event this way:
“A bunch of people showing up in the particular middle of Narragansett Bay and drinking all day in the hot sun, and Rhode Island taxpayers paying tens of thousands of dollars in law enforcement costs to prevent tragedies resulting from this behavior.
“Who benefits? Only the Aquapalooza boaters, ” he said.
Healey said the boats “finally started dispersing [around] 6: 30-7 p. m…. A very long day for Portsmouth PD and all law enforcement agencies that responded. DEM is very grateful for their professionalism.
“There’s no question that by being there today, they saved lives. ”
The event, first organized by Warwick-based boat dealer Derek Leigh more than a decade ago, draws hundreds of yachts, rafts, Jet Skis and other vessels to the coast associated with Prudence Island.
Photos: Aquapalooza 2020 in Potter Cove
Because it’s an informal event, the details of which spread primarily via a private Facebook group, law enforcement officials never quite know what to expect, Portsmouth Police Capt. John Cahoon told the Newport Daily News earlier.
“We always have a safety concern, ” Cahoon said. “It’s always a large gathering, and we never know how big it’s going in order to be. We prepare for it as much as we can. ”
Celico, who is also a Portsmouth patrolman, said one of the boats that sank was on its way and never quite made it. He said the particular other was overloaded, at anchor, when it sank. He said everyone was taken to safety.