FWC officers in Tampa prepare for Gasparilla boat parade with refresher training on BUI enforcement
The Jose Gasparilla pirate ship, carrying members of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, arrives at the Tampa Convention Center during the 103nd Gasparilla Invasion and Parade of the Pirates on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in Tampa. This year's event was postponed and then canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The group now says the next one won't be held until January 2022. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

Kelly HayesJanuary 29, 20223min
boat parade
If ye be steerin' the boat, put down the rum and Coke

While real pirates may no longer pose a threat to Tampa Bay, officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are ready to protect the waters Saturday in preparation for the Gasparilla boat invasion.

On Friday, FWC officers prepped for the weekend’s water-based festivities with a BUI (boating under the influence) refresher course. This Saturday, the officers along with other partner agencies will be monitoring the waters of Tampa Bay — not looking out for Black beard, but for impaired captains.

Pirate regalia is encouraged in the celebrations, but don’t imitate a pirate’s thirst if ye be steerin’ the boat. Boating under the influence can lead to arrest — not only is it illegal but it is dangerous to you, your passengers and other boaters.

“Public safety is our highest priority and officers will be on the lookout for boaters that are operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” Capt. Evan Laskowski, FWC Southwest Region Division of Law Enforcement, said in a statement. “We have zero tolerance for boating under the influence, so designate a sober operator. We want everyone to have a great time at the event but make sure to do so safely.”

For vessel operators, boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have fatal consequences and is never worth the risk. The FWC urges boaters to designate a sober operator before leaving the boat ramp.

And, the FWC has some additional tips to steer clear of danger if ye be taken on the sea Saturday:

— Life jackets save lives. Find a comfortable life jacket and WEAR IT.

— Check your safety equipment. This is very important to do before getting on the water. Know where your safety equipment is located before an emergency arises.

— Be aware of your surroundings. The water will be extremely congested during this event. Pay attention and maintain a 360-degree awareness while operating a boat.

— Pay attention to the weather. The weather and sea conditions can change rapidly. Check the weather before heading out in the morning to ensure that you are not operating in hazardous conditions based on your vessel size and your location.

To report people who are operating boats dangerously, call 888-404-FWCC or text [email protected].

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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