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US Coast Guard: Boaters can't outrun a storm

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Posted at 3:38 PM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 15:38:14-04

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla.  — Millions of people come to Southwest Florida every year to enjoy a day at the beach or on the boat.

The United States Coast Guard knows firsthand how extreme weather conditions can become dangerous for boaters during hurricane season.

“We take our 45-foot boat out for any type of hurricane response if need be," said Petty Officer Diego Gonzales at the Fort Myers Beach station.

Gonzales said he and his crew are trained to go into these storms and use very specific equipment.

"Around his waist, he has a heavy weather belt.”

Gonzales explained why one boat, in particular, was meant to go up against a monster.

“We have d-rings that he’s attached to. He can make a whole 360 around the boat just by clicking along the way.”

Inside the boat, there are switches that can make this boat flip over.

“This boat specific has a rollover switch which kills the engines. Once the rollover is complete, we can restart the boat and as long as the engineers can bring the engines back up we should be able to get out of any situation.”

That’s something that would be a boater's worst nightmare, but Gonzales said it’s necessary training needed for this area.

“Here we deal with a lot of sailboats and other vessels. A lot of people think they can outrun the storm but that’s usually not going to happen.”

The boat and crew are equipped to handle the nastiest of storms, but they’re also a vital part of recovery after a storm hits.

Gonzales spent two months in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 hurricane that devastated the island.

He said there were times when something as small as a shipment of water for the community could make the crew emotional.

"Working constant days where you would have two to four hours of sleep, everyone was working so hard with one goal."


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