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Mother Nature gives boaters a lesson

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies and onlookers watch an overturned craft in the Gulf of Mexico early Memorial Day, May 28, near the Sandbar Restaurant, Anna Maria. This boat and others anchored near shore, broke their anchors, resulting in damages. No one was harmed. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Several folks received a surprise from Mother Nature and the arrival of winds and high surf from Tropical Storm Beryl around 7 a.m. Memorial Day, May 28, when the boats they had anchored just offshore of the Sandbar Restaurant, Anna Maria, apparently broke loose of their anchors. A small craft advisory was in effect at the time.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report on the incidents said a personal watercraft and an 18-foot-long boat, both owned by the same person, broke from their anchors early that morning. The owner and several onlookers were able to retrieve and remove the vessels from the area.

Another vessel, estimated to be around 22-feet long, also was overcome by the high seas and was swamped near the shore of the Sandbar.

Sea-Tow Inc. of Sarasota, a company that specializes in towing sinking or damaged boats to safety, was called and towed the vessel to the Kingfish Boat Ramp in Holmes Beach.

U.S. Coast Guard personnel, the MCSO Marine Unit and MCSO Anna Maria-substation deputies assisted with recovery of some of the beached and swamped vessels.

Deputies remained in the area for about three hours, concerned for the safety of missing owners and possible passengers of another boat at the scene that had been swamped and overturned. Deputies were worried the people had tried to swim away from the craft.

The owner of the boat eventually returned to the area and removed the vessel.

Operators of Sea-Tow said Memorial Day is one of their busiest days of the year, despite the small craft advisory.

In addition to the boats towed from the Sandbar area, the company towed a 30-foot sailboat from Longboat Pass to safety. They also towed two other boats that had been swamped off Anna Maria Island.

“Some people just don’t pay any attention to a small-craft advisory, or even bother to check the marine forecast before going out in the Gulf of Mexico,” a Sea-Tow representative said.

Manatee County marine rescue personnel at Coquina Beach also were busy helping people Memorial Day in riptide currents and high surf. An estimated 20 swimmers had to be helped from the waters, according to a lifeguard at the beach.

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