An incident which occurred early last week in the channel leading into the Marco River had mariners around the island speculating and discussing what may have happened early in those dawn hours on Tuesday, February 9, around 6:30 a.m. Motor Yacht Shmily would remain there until Thursday of last week, when she finally was towed away.
The 66-ton, 85-foot vessel was built by Azimut Yacht Builders from Viareggio, Italy, and was delivered in 2001. The yacht was powered by twin Caterpillar 1825 hp engines, providing a top speed of about 29 knots, with a cruising speed of 25 knots and a range of approximately 430 nautical miles. Her specs show she draws 6’7”.
A number of local professional captains with a great deal of local knowledge dismissed some of the social media speculation faulting the captain. They referred to their own knowledge regarding the continued issues with shifting sandbars within the area where the vessel went aground.
Doug Howard, a local captain on a 100-foot vessel which has Marco Island as its home port, cited the issues surrounding the need for better maintenance concerning the channel in question. “The last several years have seen a major shifting of the navigable channels in this area. There is a definite need in regard to dredging of that channel,” commented Howard.
Another local captain of an 85-foot yacht, which has its home port here on Marco Island, also spoke to the need for better maintenance of the channels leading into Marco. “Captain Howard is correct when he speaks to the shifting nature of the channels around Marco, as well as other locations here and elsewhere around Florida. The presence of more and more visitors without what we refer to as “local knowledge” just expands the problem,” said Captain Vaughn Peters.
When we questioned the two captains, they explained that just simply moving what we refer to as the “channel markers” is just not that easy to do. That would require a republication of all of the hard copy navigation maps and the changes to all the computerized aides to navigation electronic devices. “That is not the answer, it’s just a band-aid,” said Captain Peters. He and Howard did, however, compliment the Coast Guard for placing out a temporary green buoy to identify a narrowing of the channel in question.
“Florida is a boating community. Both small and large vessels are affected by these types of issues. The same way we need to keep our roadways which cars ride on maintained on a regular basis, we need to do the same with navigable waterways around all of our state. This is especially important as more and more people are utilizing these waters to enjoy themselves and their families,” said Captain Howard.
Fellow Captain Vaughn Peters went on to explain that it also dealt with the safety of those relying upon that information regarding safe passage for their vessels. “I don’t think we have to explain how the lack of accurate information impacts the safety of our passengers and crews,” said Captain Peters.
The vessel Shmily was removed late on Thursday, but the issues regarding the condition of the channel remains, as do the matters concerning safety and navigability of the channel in question. Photos show that Shmily was, indeed, within the channel, and initial estimates show the vessel itself may indeed be a total loss.
At least two calls were made into the office of the Collier County Coastal Zone Manager’s office, but were not retuned to the Coastal Breeze News as we continue to bring the public more information regarding the county and state’s plans to deal with these and other issues concerning safety of the waters in Florida.