VIEW FROM THE MARINA: A 9/11 Salute to Boating's Heroes
View from the Marina
A 9/11 SALUTE TO BOATING’S HEROES
By Barb Hansen
September 1, 2005
On September 11, Vic and I will join America's freedom-loving people and salute the heroes of 9/11 -- the World Trade Center innocents, the firemen, policemen and EMT's, and the airline passengers who rushed the terrorist and lost their lives to prevent the plane from flying into the White House.
In fact, we'll salute a few of my own heroes, all year long stars who make a boater's life worth living.
Coast Guard officers and all of the men and women who enforce the laws. Thank you.
Dockmasters who always seem to find a place for us to stay, and energetic, enthusiastic young men and women who take our lines and help us tie up at the marina.
Bridge tenders on the Gulf ICW who manage to keep traffic flowing with rush hour vehicles hoping to get over the bridges and rush hour vessels hoping to get under them.
Boat and engine repair specialists who could probably make a lot more money fixing cars or building houses, but prefer working on boats.
All the good people who volunteer for the Coast Guard Auxiliary safety patrols and inspections.
Sales pros at the local boat store who know what they sell and what's best for your boat.
Professional ship and tanker captains who bring us all the food and supplies we take for granted every day.
All the people, young and not so young, who spend a day every year cleaning our beaches of society's castaways – bits of Styrofoam, tires, disposable cigarette lighters, cigarette butts, and assorted other marks of "civilization."
These are the people who make it possible for us to go boating. We have places to go and when we need help, somebody is always willing to help.
We'll salute all the waterfront restaurants and watering holes and the people who work there, our brothers and sisters in the workaday world of boating. Especially we'll be thinking of the fun times we've had at Barnacle Phil's, accessible only by boat on North Captiva Island, Marker 52 just south of Captiva Pass on the Gulf ICW.
Before 9/11, the walls and ceiling of Barnacle Phil's were covered entirely by George Washingtons. Customers have been autographing and stapling these bills to the walls since the popular bistro opened in 1984. A few weeks after 9/11, the walls became bare. The owners, with help from local firemen, took all the bills down. The firemen pulled staples for five hours. Job done, they counted out piles of dollar bills totaling $9,750. Oh, what the heck, let's make it $10,000 even, the firemen said, and threw in cash from their own billfolds. Customers wrote a few checks, too. They sent the money to New York for the families of the fire, police and EMT personnel who died trying to save people in the World Trade Center.
Here's the rest of the story. Primed by generous contributions from the billfolds of the Captiva Island firemen, the walls of Barnacle Phil's were soon redecorated once more by new dollar bills from customers.
Boaters and the people who serve them make me proud to be a citizen. When the call for help goes out, boaters respond. That's a good thing, because we in the Florida boating community have now been asked to respond to a special call for help from our government leaders.
Coast Guard spokesmen recently acknowledged that terrorists may try to bring in vessels laden with explosives or even a radioactive device. I understand the Coast Guard is already checking ship cargoes before they enter the major harbors. But what about the thousands of smaller vessels that use the waterways? The Coast Guard can't check them all.
That’s why we support the Coast Guard’s recently announced program called Operation On Guard, which asks Florida’s boater’s to monitor and report suspicious behavior. Monitor and report, but don’t try to take action on your own.
Operation On Guard has been compared to the World War II program asking civilians to watch the coastline for German U-boats. This is a call for good citizenship, not heroism, an opportunity for us to repay the land and the water we love so much.