Tags: Boys | Lost | Sea | Gulf-Stream

Tragedy Strikes Boys Lost at Sea

By Wednesday, 19 August 2015 09:37 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Tragically, whatever hope remained of finding two 14-year-old boys missing off the Florida coast is now gone.

The Coast Guard called off its massive search after a full week, as have private volunteers searching wide swaths of ocean off the southeast United States out to the Bahamas.

While hearts the world over ache for the boys and their families, now, more than ever, questions need to be asked about the parents’ judgment.

After fueling their 19-foot open boat, they left Jupiter Inlet in Florida, according to the Coast Guard, heading toward the Gulf Stream. Search officials and news reports stated that they might have been heading to the Bahamas. While parts of the Bahamas are not far from Florida, the issue isn’t distance, but rather actually making it there in a small boat, especially when summer storms are so prevalent.

Just as Mark Wahlberg’s mother warned in "The Perfect Storm," “The Grand Banks are no joke in October,” so too, the Gulf Stream is no joke in July. Especially for two 14-year-olds, no matter how experienced.

Different parts of the country have different norms, and that what might seem crazy to some is a natural part of life to others. Youngsters going on extended hiking trips in the Idaho wilderness might seem foolhardy to a suburban East Coaster, just as a sixth-grader walking to school in Manhattan might be perceived as incredibly dangerous to a rural family. In places such as Jupiter, Fla., many children swim before they can walk, as being in and around the water is “in the blood.” Fine.

After years of teaching children about tides, winds, currents, weather patterns, small boat handling and, above all, safety, it is natural to give them some freedom on the water. In fact, they would undoubtedly be more responsible than some idiotic adult boaters. But that only goes so far.

Nothing can replace experience. The Gulf Stream is so strong that its power allows lemons and palm trees to grow in England, and crops to be cultivated in northern Norway. Nineteen-foot boats, at best, should never be more than a few miles offshore.

Taking a trip through the Gulf Stream (and possibly to the Bahamas), directly toward a towering line of thunderstorms while, reports say, the “fleet” was racing home to avoid, proves that they were not ready. This tragedy possibly could have been avoided.

Did their boat have a permanently mounted GPS that could not be switched off? If so, the parents could have tracked every foot they traveled, with an immutable edict: you go past the inlet, you’re beached. No discussion, no compromise. By definition, the boys would have been forced to abide by the rules.

Were their cellphones being tracked by the parents, with an alarm blaring if the boat exceeded the agreed-upon boundaries? Was an emergency position indicating radio beacon onboard?

Did they file a float plan detailing their trip agenda?

The overturned boat was discovered 67 miles out to sea by a search plane (and nearly 200 miles north of Jupiter), a tragedy possibly avoided with some precautions. Tragic.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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Tragically, whatever hope remained of finding two 14- year-old boys missing off the Florida coast is now gone.
Boys, Lost, Sea, Gulf-Stream
Wednesday, 19 August 2015 09:37 AM
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