Here in South Florida and most particularly Miami-Dade County which is 65% Hispanic local knowledge in recreational boating is very different. For those of you now preparing your boats after the northern winter, anything north of Lake Okeechobee is "northern" to us here!! Perhaps your cruising will bring you to Miami and the Keys - some surprises await.
You may see recreational boats travelling at speed and though they will have the proper Florida registration letters on their bow flying large Cuban flags. No it is not a terrorist raid by some followers of the Castro brothers it is most likely the locals celebrating their National Origin instead of their current Nation of Residence. There are other Hispanic nationals here but so far they do not seem to be flying their national flags on their American vessels. Please note it is not done with an evil intent just Hispanic exuberance and of course lack of knowledge of flag courtesy. Also do not expect them to have any knowledge of the Nautical Rules of the Road most do not even understand what is being talked about if you tell them - we long time residents no longer bother!! To try and educate the Hispanic populace in boating knowledge and safe operation the USCG Auxiliary teach their courses in Spanish at certain locations as well as English. To date these courses are not being taught in Creole for our Haitian residents but perhaps that will come one day as well.
Recently two incidents occurred one of which was observed by NAUTICAL LOG during a day at the beach. A large family, at least three generations, was enjoying Mothers Day at the beach and they had a Personal Watercraft (PWC) which they were operating inside a line of the old white NO BOATS line of Uniform State Waterway Marking System buoys long eliminated supposedly. A PWC is a boat so leaving from the beach giving various family members rides all this close to swimmers in the water is illegal operation.
NAUTICAL LOG walked down the beach to check out the PWC and saw that in addition to correctly displaying State numbering it had a 2014 USCG Auxiliary Vessel Safety Check sticker. Shortly afterward the Police arrived as apparently someone had reported the illegal operation of the PWC. The result was after much discussion two were selected to remove the PWC from the beach and take it wherever, tickets were issued and one gentlemen was removed by the Police Officer.
The other incident is sadly tragic and resulted from a local DJ putting a high powered, four (4) 350 hp engines, boat up on the sandbar. Various people came to his assistance and amazingly gathered at the stern pushing while this operator had the throttles at full power ahead - watching a video taken of this incident illustrates stunning Of course one of these Good Samaritans got caught up in the spinning propellers which resulted in his death. Lawsuits have been filed the DJ is devastated and cooperated fully with the authorities however the lawsuit will not bring back the young man killed.
The boating accidents are not unique to our area but perhaps the language barriers which exist here, Miami-Dade County is largely Spanish speaking the population is quite exuberant this coupled with lack of boating knowledge makes them more likely to happen and communication difficult particularly in times of stress
So now with the Memorial Day weekend coming up local wariness is very important for recreational boating both visitors and locals as well as local nautical knowledge.