Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Jacksonville, Fl
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I was raised and learned to drive in L.A., and spent thirty years as a field service engineer where 70,000 miles a year 'behind the windshield' wasn't unusual. I've lived in several places in Southern California, Las Vegas, Dallas, D.C., and finally down in Miami. I've been in all 50 states. Without any doubt in my mind, Miami (and to a lesser extent, the rest of Florida) has the worst drivers I have encountered. They're exceedingly aggressive, discourteous, and generally just poor drivers. Speed limits and red lights are considered to be suggestions, not laws.
Sadly, it is this same bunch who drive the boats in Miami, and particularly in Biscayne Bay. I'm sure that a large part of this is due to the 'International' culture. (Take a ride in a cab anywhere south of the US border to find out what I mean!)
Yes, sailboats and other boats get 'waked'. It's part of boating. But what is usually just an irritating nuisance can be dangerous if someone is cooking dinner while at anchor, or just generally moving around in the presence of immobile objects like winches, masts, table corners, etc.
One of my favorite writers mentions something in one of her books. She says that the way to get along with strangers is good manners. I have to agree. Unfortunately, most people in Miami seemingly are not brought up with good manners. This is particularly true of the 'neuvo rich, but even the 'old money' types down there seem to have the attitude that their money allows them to do whatever they want. Sadly, this is more or less true. When you can pay $3 to $10 million in green cash for a boat that burns 140 gallons of fuel an hour, getting slapped with a $250 fine doesn't even qualify as pocket change. As a consequence, they'll run their 55' Vikings or Bertrams through an anchorage without caring. They plow through 'no wake zones' at eight knots because that's as slow as their boats will go with both engines in gear at an idle. They never give a thought to slipping the boat in and out of gear or switching to 'low idle', which most of the modern computer-controlled engines can do.
I guess my point is that the only real way of getting people to do the right thing is to show them how it feels to be on the receiving end of the smelly stick. I did what I could when I was at Coco Plum, taking other professional captains out for a day sail and letting them see how it felt to be on the wrong end of a wake in a sailboat--and bear in mind this is a 56' foot, 26 ton vessel. Most of them looked like a cartoon character with an exclamation point over their heads.
Most learned the lesson. A few didn't. Oh, well. I tried.
I learned from them, too, finding out how far I needed to stay away from a boat that was actively fishing. Having never been 'big game fishing', I didn't realize how far a big sailfish or marlin might be from the stern of the fishing boat until I went out on a tournament just to watch.
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