Sea Isle's solicitor says the city does not have an ordinance barring people from sleeping overnight on their boats.

By Donald Wittkowski

Michael Coffman’s Fourth of July was interrupted by two noisy, young couples who spent the holiday weekend partying on a boat moored at a private slip across the lagoon from his Sea Isle City house.

One particularly infuriating moment occurred when a young man was showering on the boat deck and his towel dropped, exposing his nude body to Coffman’s family, Coffman said.

“My 2-year-old granddaughter was around,” he explained.

Coffman said his wife called out to the man to have him cover up, but he replied with an obscene remark.

Now, Coffman is urging Sea Isle’s City Council to crack down on such crude behavior by barring people from staying overnight on their boats.

City Solicitor Paul Baldini told Coffman at Tuesday’s Council meeting that Sea Isle has a law banning people from sleeping in their cars, but does not have one preventing anyone from spending the night on a boat.

Coffman argued that the sleeping ban should be expanded to include boats. Baldini, however, recommended that Council should wait until after the busy summer boating season before considering the possibility of such an ordinance.

Baldini wants Council to discuss the matter first with the city’s Police Department, Community Services Department and Mayor Leonard Desiderio’s administration. Baldini also extended an invitation to Coffman to participate in the talks.

“We should get everyone involved in the discussions,” he said.

Baldini suggested that such a measure might be considered as part of an “overall plan” for Sea Isle to target disorderly conduct.

Coffman, who lives on the bayfront at 45th Place, is adamant that people should not be allowed to use their boats for sleepovers.

He said the young couples who spent the Fourth of July weekend on the boat near his home partied the entire holiday.

“We could hear them all night long,” he said.

The nude man taking a shower was the final straw for Coffman, but he also saw the couples dumping things in the lagoon, he said. He fears it could have been garbage, urine or feces.

Baldini assured Coffman that there are laws already on the books against public nudity and dumping garbage or other waste in the lagoons and bays.

Coffman told City Council that he called police to complain about the rowdy boaters. But when the police officer arrived, he explained that his “hands were tied” because there are no laws preventing people from sleeping overnight on boats, Coffman said.

In an interview after the Council meeting, Coffman said he’s had no other run-ins with boaters since the Fourth of July. For that reason alone, he said he is willing to follow Baldini’s suggestion to wait until the boating season is over to begin discussing an ordinance.

“I haven’t had another incident. If I did, I would say let’s move forward faster,” Coffman said. “It may not happen again this season, but it could happen next season.”