Date: 20 May 2014. Boat Bums.
Life on the water is wonderful and it can be inexpensive,
but all too often a bum will buy a boat. Buying a boat doesn't make you a
boater any more than sleeping in a garage makes you a car. Anyway, the bum
will buy a boat and then take her to a port, anchor unsafely, then abandon
the boat when life gets a bit tough. Wimps -- and bums -- ought not to be
For instance, back in March the following boat arrived in
Photo taken 11 March 2014. Fathoms Bar is directly astern
At first I admired the couple. I suppose when someone
makes the same choices as I do, I'm inclined to think well of them. They
had a small tender (like me) with a trolling motor (like me) and were
living on a small power boat (like me) so... well, I was prepared to like
Until I watched the circus for a day or two. It became
apparent that they didn't know how to properly anchor the boat. I ended up
nicknaming the boat Drags-A-Lot as it moved with every tide change.
Why you may ask.
The anchor rode (a line) is going almost straight down from
There isn't enough scope out, and the boat is regularly moving about the
What finally sealed my opinion happened while I was watching the boat
drag around the anchorage. About dusk the couple boarded their tender
and went to the docks at Fathoms -- a local watering hole. Frankly, if
your boat is dragging, stay on the doggone thing and do not leave her.
Period. No exceptions.
Another week passed and indeed she was still dragging. She
managed to go over one of the oyster beds without snagging, crossed the
channel and ended up on a dock between two shrimp boats. There she
remained for another couple or three weeks. Finally she was
re-anchored and I no longer saw anyone aboard.
Fast forward to 30 April when I looked up and noticed that
the boat was listing dangerously and appeared almost ready to sink.
This was at 1800 (6 p.m.) and it looked like her aft quarter was only
about 6" or so above the water. Indeed, within a half hour she'd
overturned and sunk.
And, now the owners are missing. Not drowned -- no,
just gone. They've left the boat in the middle of the harbor, upside
down and awash. And nearly invisible. It's a mess.
A few days after the boat sank a local fellow named Nelson
went out and added a couple of round red Taylor fenders so the hazard shows up (black bottom paint made
her difficult to see) but still, it's a mess -- and giving good boaters
everywhere a black mark.
Bums are bums, be they dirt dwellers or not. And boat bums
irritate all true boaters.
Fortunately these two might be easier to track down as
local scuttlebutt says the authorities have a lead on ownership. And the
owners will be forced to get rid of the problem. Thank goodness.
In the meantime, it's a hazard and warrants a careful
look-see when you come into the Carrabelle River (south branch) to anchor.
Addendum: 24 May 2014. Honestly, I
debated publishing this piece. I feel strongly that there are plenty
enough laws regarding boats and boaters. What we lack is enforcement
of those rules and regulations. So, before you get up in arms
saying "we need more laws to prevent boat bums" try asking for the
enforcement of what's already on the books.
Law Enforcement Officers can do a
lot more than Homeland Security and drug interdiction. They used to.
I remember when if you got in trouble on the waters, a call to the
Coast Guard brought rescue. The Coasties delivered fuel, pulled you
off groundings, pumped your boat, etc. They were the Good Guys.
The men and women LEO's still are
good folks and they don't take the job unless they have an abiding
desire to help. Maybe some input from those on the waterfront that
enforce the rules is a step in the right direction.
Personally my "take" on the whole Boat Bums fiasco:
Enforce the rules that
exist. Period. Nothing more, nor anything less.
What do you do when a boat bum appears?
And, have you ever had to deal with an abandoned boat?
*Newspaper article by
Lois Swoboda published 28 May 2014 in
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