Although Florida’s boating season lasts practically all year, the traditional start of boating season is marked by National Safe Boating Week in or about the end of May each year. Despite not officially starting yet, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel have reported an increase in calls dealing with incidents out in the water.
Over the weekend in South Florida alone, there were several water related incidents including the drowning of two men due to rip currents.
On Saturday morning, three fishermen were rescued when their boat sank near Key Biscayne. The men managed to call 9-1-1 from a cell phone they had packed in a plastic jar and which floated to them as they were clinging to a beer cooler. None of the victims were wearing life jackets when they were rescued from the water. The rescue took place Saturday morning with the assistance of a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and a diver who stayed with the group until a Miami-Dade Police boat arrived.
Another incident over the weekend involved a yacht known as Sonia III. While on a yacht cruise with family and friends a boater fell off the bench at the stern of the yacht and suffered a neck injury. The captain called for help over the marine channel and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Fireboat 73 responded to the call. The injured boater was taken to Port Miami and then transported to a local hospital for further medical attention.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 2015 Boating Accident Statistical Report, there were 737 reportable boating accidents in Florida in the year 2015. Of the reported incidents involving fatal accidents, 72 percent of the operators had no formal boater education. FWC encourages all boaters to enroll in boating education courses in advance of boating season.