Sunday, March 18, 2012

What Can You Do with A Sunken Sailboat?

Marathon, Florida
24 42.40 081 N 05.68 W

I met a boater at the library today who had a story to tell.  He lived on his 24 foot sailboat anchored on the Florida Bay side of the island.  One night recently, his boat sank underneath him.   He said it was a night when the wind was blowing at 30 knots, and he hit a rock and holed the hull.

Now, the FWC officer found him.  He gave him an appearance ticket and said that he had 30 days to remove his boat or go to jail.   When I met the boater, he was asking for advice on what to do.  He doesn't have any money but he doesn't want to go to jail.  He did have a job until the boat sank, but now he doesn't have clean clothes or a clean body and lost his job.  I suggested that he broadcast his appeal on the VHF cruisers net.  Maybe someone could offer help.

He said that the boat is sunk in water only 4 feet deep and only 50 feet from shore.  The best approach would seem to be to drag it out of the water and onto a flatbed trailer, and then take it to the dump.  That needs either a friend with the right equipment or some money.

You can draw all kinds of lessons from this man's story.  He could be a sympathetic person, struggling to maintain self-sufficiency.  He could also be an example of a person whose resources are too marginal to be out there on a boat.  When a contingency happens, he has too few resources to take care of himself or his boat.  It seems certain that his boat would wind up derelict or abandoned some day, and that would cause environmental damage, and substantial cost to the government.

We are about to leave Boot Key Harbor next week, so this is a bad time to start something.   Still, I'm moved by the plight of the disadvantaged boaters in the area.   We boaters are a community, some rich, some poor, most in the middle, but we have a tradition of friendliness and mutual aid.   A major activity here every year is the charitable work that raises money for cancer research, under the banner Relay For Life. People in the harbor, including Libby and I,  are energetic in that charitable work.  Why couldn't we do similar stuff for a charity that would assist local boaters?  Maybe next time we come to Marathon I'll look into that.

p.s. I had interesting comments regarding my mention of Occupy Wall Street  (OWS) a few days ago.  Actually, I paid little attention to OWS in last year's news.  I mentioned OWS in the blog post in the sense of a vicious dog that one could worry on a troublesome neighbor.  Whatever else OWS are, they could fill that role.

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