Back a few years ago when I was a brand-new Floridian I decided to go on a deep-sea fishing trip with a good friend. We headed out to the Atlantic Ocean from Port Canaveral and it was fabulous… for about an hour.
Just my luck, we went out on a day when the ocean was unexpectedly choppy and I got sick… and I mean sick! Hello vertigo! I didn’t even get to fish. 😨 🐟
It must have been unusually bad that day because even some of the tough-as-nails, macho-man fishermen were getting sick. I noticed one guy would stop and puke in a bucket periodically and then return to fishing. Now that is a tough guy. Meanwhile, I was sprawled out on a bench thinking it might be more pleasant to have someone shoot me in the head with a harpoon.
Anyway, prior to that unpleasant occurrence, I noticed our sizable fishing boat was passing by several small boats. I would call these lake boats as they seemed suitable to use on a small to medium-sized lake, probably not Lake Michigan.
These small boats were being tossed around the ocean like shrimp getting tossed into a boiling pot. Seemed kinda crazy to me. One good swell and the boat would capsize, I thought.
Later that day, when I got home and was feeling MUCH better, I watched several stories on the news about small boats that had to be rescued out at sea that day. As I was a newbie Floridian I failed to realize that this kind of thing happens here all the time.
Now I’m kinda on the fence about this because I feel like we already have plenty of laws in place for all kinds of things (like this one about leaving your fridge in your yard) but isn’t there some way to convince people to think:
Small boat. Gigantic ocean. Bad combo.
Maybe this is a result of getting too much encouraging information. I saw scads of articles online about navigating small boats out on the open ocean, some by quite reputable publications. They seemed to put a positive spin on things, which might lead anyone to think it would be safe.
Then there is the movie Cast Away where Tom Hanks escapes a small island by fashioning a make-shift boat from his meager island supplies. Perhaps this movie has given people false hope that if he can make it across the ocean in that, they will surely be fine in their small boat. (Remember too that Chuck uses up all the rope making stuff, so if you get marooned on that island you’re toast.)
On the other hand, perhaps having proper training and precautions in place makes all the difference. Here’s a story of a man and his brother who crossed the Atlantic Ocean, from Tampa to Germany, in a small 21-foot boat: https://www.wired.com/2009/07/flats-boat/
Not everyone does so well though. Here are some stories of recent rescues:
- According to this article, a Fort Lauderdale Coast Guard crew exists whose sole task is to rescue small boats. I suppose one could argue that it keeps them gainfully employed: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article228932214.html
- Lucky enough, those people survived. This story is much more tragic: https://www.local10.com/news/local/miami/miami-fire-rescue-personnel-search-for-2-swimmers-in-biscayne-bay?__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar
- Here’s an interesting story of a man in a kayak! Now that’s really brave: https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/region-pinellas/new-technology-helps-pinellas-officials-rescue-capsized-kayaker-off-indian-rocks-beach-coast
- Lastly, there’s the story of one fed up fish getting even with the fishermen: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-reg-palm-sinking-boat-rescue-20180203-story.html. I don’t mean to make light of anyone’s tragedy, but ya gotta admit that’s kinda funny. Thankfully they all survived.