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Boating: To cruise or not to cruise?

February 15, 2012
By boatguy Ed , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The tragic sinking of the Costa Concordia is a tragedy of epic proportion. I'm sure you've heard that statement made a dozen times by the media and I didn't want to be left off of that list of the profoundly frivolous. I'll try not to overstate or espouse anymore inane observations in the column.

During a roundtable discussion about the incident, the "Dead End Canal Yacht Club" members expressed strong feelings about the Captain and the operation of the vessel. Everyone criticized the supposed cowardly action of abandoning the sinking vessel while most of the passengers were still aboard.

"What a blackguard," said English Dan, "doing a fly-by to 'salute' a retired Commodore and crashing the ship is unforgivable!"

"You'll never get me on one of those top heavy floating hotels," said Boston Bob. "I do my cruising on my own boat."

"I thought you were going to say 'in my own cab'," said Cap'n Crunch and he laughed so hard at his cruel joke that his old nose started to run. Boston Bob had recently downsized his sailboat and took a job driving airport car service to help one of his kids.

"Take it easy Crunchy, they don't have nose-wiping service here," I said. "I'll bet Francesco Shettino is a cousin of yours."

Our waitress joined in. "I think his nickname is Guido because I saw several people getting on the Key's Express wearing t-shirts that said, 'Donta let Guido driva da boat'!"

She immediately doubled her tip as we all laughed hard. "Cleveland Jack is on a Super Bowl Cruise with a bunch of retired firefighters," said English Dan. "A good lot to be with if they get into a similar situation, I'd think. Used to getting out of tight places and all that!"

"I don't think it's anything to laugh about," said 'Run-aground Ralph.' "There are people still missing and presumed dead! Besides, that captain may have saved a lot more lives by running his ship onto the rocks."

"Ralph, you sure have a backward way of thinking," said Boston Bob. "He puts the hole in her hull and then saves her by running her up on the rocks again, not!"

"New video of the bridge looks lie a bloomin' Chinese fire drill. A crewman had to beg the captain to sound the general alarm after passengers started to get into lifeboats 'spontaneously.' They were heading for shallower water and the ship was mostly still upright. That was the time to abandon ship in those modern day lifeboats!"

"Let the investigative board rule on his actions," said the 'Reverend', "I'm not sure why the Prosecutor is involved already but, after the Amanda Knox case turned out, I'm suspicious of Italian 'justice'.

At the time of this discussion, the reports from Italian investigators site 17 passengers dead and 15 missing. I apologize for the levity of our discussion but even in the worst tragedies some humor can be found.

"The newest revelation by the investigators has a 25-year-old dancer distracting the captain. The leaked the fact that her clothing, makeup and a bikini were found in the Captain's cabin by divers," said our waitress.

"Why did the passengers have to go back to their compartments to get their life jackets? What sense does that make? The jackets should have been on the life boat deck," said Crunchy.

"Yeah, why didn't they have a boat drill before they left the dock? American cruise line boats all do," said Ralph.

"There are only a handful of cruise ships that fly the American flag mostly because of minimum wage, labor laws and U.S. Coast Guard regulations. The others operate out of our major ports and snub our laws. I always say -you pays your money and you take your chances," I said.

"On our trip home I suggest we do a boat drill," said the 'Reverend,' our designated driver.

"No way! My life jackets are still in their wrappers," said 'Cincy Bob'. "I don't want them all torn up. Do it on your own boat, Rev!"

"Still in their wrappers? Bob, one day you may be taken up on charges for improper emergency procedures." We were pub-crawling on Bob's pontoon boat.

Our dilemma was: If Reverend didn't get his 'abandon boat drill' he might not drive the boat back to the "Dead End Canal" so we convinced 'Cincy Bob' to do the drill or we'd all share a cab and leave him there. When was the last time you put on your 'May West'?

Boatguy Ed is a retired bottom paint maker, Visit the "Dead End Canal Yacht Club's" Facebook page and like us a lot or go to their website. See ya' on the water!



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