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National Boater Safety Week: What to do when rough weather hits

National Boater Safety Week
Posted at 4:22 PM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 10:01:01-04

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla.  — The chances for rain could create dangerous conditions for families looking to enjoy the water this weekend.

On Thursday, it was part of the message, that the Lee County Sheriff’s Office was highlighting during National Boater Safety Week.

“Think about what you are doing, learn about what you are doing, learn the waterways, and don't go out in those storms,” said Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.

As Southwest Florida floats into summer, it's those daily storms Marceno warned about.

“If you see a storm in the near, approaching, you can recognize that and get yourself out of harm's way, immediately," said Marceno.

John Gauntt is the owner of Day 5 Charters located on Fort Myers Beach. He said checking weather is the first priority when hitting the water.

“That's the biggest decision we make,” said Gauntt.

Gauntt said keeping an eye on the sky is something his crew does on a daily basis because he knows how dangerous things can get.

“We had been offshore for about four or five hours. Weather looked fine. A thunderstorm pops up and I kid you not, three water spouts pop up all around us within 35 minutes, and it's a 2-hour ride back to the port and we were just hanging on for dear life,” said Gauntt.

It was a moment John Gauntt still holds onto, and a similar lesson that was shared at the Punta Rassa boat ramp where Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) added that 60% of the deaths while boating come from drowning.

The other piece of danger...

“I always say if lightning is showing up, within 10 miles of where we are fishing we gotta go back to the dock,” said Gauntt.

Gauntt said Southwest Florida weather can change quickly and advises anyone who hits the water to not only wear a life vest but also look out for any rough weather ahead.