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Amsterdam cracks down on noisy party boats and illegal canal tours

DutchAmsterdam.nl — Noisy party boats and illegal tour operators cruising the canals of Amsterdam will soon be a thing of past when the city’s Centrum borough puts into effect a tightened set of regulations governing its waterways.

Nuisance caused by amplified music was already prohibited, but until now employees of Waternet had to use special equipment to measure the precise amount of decibels produced by on-board stereo installations.

The noise from party boats normally is not quite as loud as that produced during the annual Queen’s Day celebrations.

Under the new rules, Waternet — the water management company for Amsterdam and surroundings — can theoretically ticket a boat owner for any amount of noise produced.

However, Alderperson Caroline Gehrels, whoses portfolio includes Infrastructure and Water, emphasizes that the tightened rules are specifically meant to combat nuisance.

“Two men cruising the canals on a Sunday afternoon while listening to ‘Langs de Lijn‘ [a sports talk show] don’t have to fear getting ticketed,” a spokesperson tells local daily Het Parool. “It is mainly about those party boats that carry loudspeakers a nightclub would envy.”

We’re quite sure Reinier Sijpkens — here shown in a duet of sorts with the bellringer of the Old Church — will still be allowed to entertain locals and tourists alike.

As it turns out many of those boats belong to owners who provide canal tours without being licensed to do so. They advertise for clients using eBay-owned Dutch advertising website Marktplaats, and tell their customers that when questioned by enforcement officers they should insist the ride was provided free of charge.

Professional tour boat operators and residents of houseboats say many owners of such party boats do not observe standard sailing rules, often creating dangerous situations — usually exacerbated by the of beer, wine and strong liquor. It is not unusual to see boat passengers lean or hang over the side of a boat in order to pee in the water.

Houseboat owners, as well as others who live along the canals, have also long complained about noisy sound installations and rowdy boat passengers.

Causing noise nuisance on the canals was already prohibited, but in some cases existing rules proved difficult to enforce. The expanded set of regulations should make a difference.

It’s not just rowdy British louts…

The Local Executive has already agreed to the new rules, which are expected to be approved by the city council at the end of this month — just in time for the type of weather that tends to encourage lots of boats owners to take to the canals.

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This post was last updated: Mar. 20, 2013