In an old article entitled “Paddle vs. Power, So What Are We to Do?” I focused on the fear of being run-over or overturned by a motor boat’s wake. My charter captain friends have informed me that in this journal post I should focus on what one of the things that irritate them. Sometimes kayaker’s in Florida lack common sense when paddling in the Gulf, Bay, and inlet waters. And this is what irritates these motorboat charter captains.
I am an ACA kayak instructor. In the past eight years I have instructed, guided, and paddled many of the waters around Florida. I know what my physical limitations are, and I understand how to observe the environment for possible dangers. I also donot let my pride or ego put me or my friends into a dangerous situation.
The problem is that many people who kayak are not aware of what could happen to them in the water. The lack of boating safety is the fault of rental companies, kayak shops that do not encourage education, and some kayakers who refuse to take classes on the rules of boat navigation. Then when problems do occur on the water, some struggling paddlers want the first motorboat charter captain that they see to come to their rescue and tow them back to shore.
The charter captains in Florida are trained professionals who deserve respect for their knowledge and the services that they provide to their paying customers. To expect that a captain, who’s income is dependent on fishing, would choose to loose money by angering their patrons by towing a tired kayaker on a beautiful sunny day when the fish are biting is crazy. Many of them are willing to call the Coast Guard or if the struggling kayaker is in Tampa Bay a call to Eckerd College’s Search and Rescue Team (EC-SAR), (727) 864-8288 will work. It is rude for a kayaker to yell, swear, and make obscene hand jesters towards one of these captains when they offer to make a call and not to tow them back to shore.
The best solution for common sense is for kayakers to get education, understand what their physical limitations are, and be appreciative to working charter captains who are willing to make a call. The waters in Florida are a beautiful escape from the craziness of our day-to-day jobs. So let us all respect each other’s needs on the water for some of us are working and being on the water is our sole means of income.
For local Coast Guard phone numbers to use when on the water please log on to www.uscgboating.org or www.eckerd.edu/waterfront/ecsar to get in help from Eckerd College’s Search and Rescue Team. I also sugest checking the USCG website for local notices of marine activities and navagational changes. www.navcen.uscg.gov/lnm/default.htm