I go in & out of John's Pass most weekends, and saw the boat laying on its side
on Saturday. Very sad.
There's a few things I've learned from the local reports, however.
1). The couple was relying on charts to identify the bouys. That doesn't
here. They move the markers in the pass somewhat regularly, as the shoaling
changes where the sandbars are, and in fact, they just moved the bouys more
south about a month ago, partially as a response to reports we had made to the
bridge tender about touching bottom while still in the marked channel (we draw
5 feet with the board up). The current channel is way south now of where chart
shows the bouys.
2). They came in at night. Bad move. During the day, they would have had a
much better chance of seeing the bouys. Or, if they had been paying attention,
they would have seen larger boats going in & out, and seen where they were
entering & exiting the pass. The would have also had a chance to see the
breakers ahead, and known to stand off and reconsider the entrance.
3). They could have called the bridge tender to reconfirm the right approach.
They folks who run the bridges are very nice, and would be more than happy to
help someone understand where the channel is. I'm even somewhat surprised they
didn't get a call on the radio warning them away. The tender has called me
more than once after they moved the markers to advise me of the change, and
even recommended that I stay 200 yards south of the green mark just to be sure.
As for the keel bolts, I agree they shouldn't have failed during a soft
It's also bothersome that they didn't have insurance. I know they were broke,
but boaters have a responsibility to make sure that there are funds for salvage
in the case of a total loss. They can crowdfund all they want, but someone's
going to be coming after them for the salvage costs.
As an experienced sailor (20+ years in Chicago on Lake Michigan), I found (and
am still finding) that I have lots to learn sailing down here in West Florida,
while sailing here is much less hazardous from a weather perspective, the
shallows, tides & currents make this part of Florida treacherous from a
Not trying to pile on the couple for their loss, in fact I feel badly for them.
Just thinking about the lessons that can be learned, Bruce Whitmore
1994 C&C 37/40+ "Astralis"Madiera Beach, FL
(847) 404-5092 (mobile)
Thanks everyone for supporting this list with your contributions. Each and
every one is greatly appreciated. If you want to support the list - use PayPal
to send contribution -- https://www.paypal.me/stumurray