Dangerous Waters

A recent nighttime tragedy took place on the North Jetty of the Government Cut Channel. It’s an area just outside the Port of Miami.

When I read the news, it brought back vivid memories of just how dangerous that area can be when your visibility is hampered by darkness, the glare of the beachside hotels… or both.

My name is Kevin Dougherty, and I was a Marine Patrol Sergeant for the Sheriff’s Department in Dade County, Florida.  I was operating my 28’ Bertram patrol boat near the Government Cut, just offshore of the “South Beach” resort area. The dazzling glare of the hotel lights bounced off my boat’s windshield, making visibility nearly impossible.

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Clearly Visible Obstacles

Boating on an overcast night. Even near-perfect darkness is no match for Nite Track

My Bertram was not equipped with a flybridge. If it had been that would have given me better night-time vision. But I had to rely on the next best thing… sliding open the side window and looking forward sort of like a locomotive engineer.

I could see the flashing channel markers for the Government Cut Channel. I thought I was clear of the rip-rap North jetty and could make a starboard turn into the channel…

But something told me to check one last time.

I opened my side window, and looked forward of my boat. That vantage gave me a clearer view. I could see that I was heading directly for that North Jetty.  I wasn’t far enough to the east to clear the end of it, and I was only about 100 yards from the rocks.

Because I poked my head out the side window, I had time to make a hard turn to port and avoid any “danger-close” proximity to the jetty, but I had learned a valuable lesson about local knowledge, operating at night under less than optimal visibility, and the importance of one last check!

Nowadays, I don’t have to hang my head out the side window. With Nite Track on board, it eliminates all the uncertainty and guesswork about the nighttime operation of a boat.

Keep your passengers safer, protect your investment, and spend more of your leisure time on the water.

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