Around 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon, a boat partially submerged in Lake Talquin was spotted. It was then the Leon County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission began a full-scale effort to find the boat’s occupants.
Searchers say about six hours later the boaters were found safe at their home. Officials say the boaters got caught on a sandbar and swam to shore. One key mistake, they didn't tell anyone.
Lt. Smith says conditions were dangerous for the divers who encountered alligators.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officer Charles Higman says it’s against the law to not make a call after a boat accident.
Higman says Sunday's search cost several thousands of dollars. The boat's owner was issued a citation for not transferring the boat title, which is why it took investigators so long to locate the owner.
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Tips for safe boating
- Be weather wise: Sudden wind shifts, lightning flashes and choppy water all can mean a storm is brewing. Bring a portable radio to check weather reports.
- Bring extra gear you may need: A flashlight, extra batteries, matches, a map of where you are, flares, sun tan lotion, first aid kit, extra sunglasses. Put those that need to be protected in a watertight pouch or a container that floats.
- Tell someone where you're going, who is with you, and how long you'll be away. Then check your boat, equipment, boat balance, engine and fuel supply before leaving.
- Stay dry and warm: Wear several layers of light clothing; bring rainproof covering. Never wear hip waders in a small boat.
- Keep fishing & hunting gear clean and well packed. A loose fishhook can cause a lot of pain and ruin a great outing. Bring an extra length of line to secure boat or equipment.
- Take a safe boating course. As an extra benefit, you may earn lower boat insurance costs.
Boats and alcohol don't mix
- Over 1,000 people die in boating accidents every year, about half those deaths involve alcohol.
- It is a tragic fact and not a joke, but 50 percent of drunk men who drown have their fly unzipped.
- Four hours of exposure to powerboat noise, vibration, sun, glare, wind and motion produces a kind of "boater's hypnosis". This slows reactions almost as much as being legally drunk.
- Adding alcohol to this sun exposure intensifies the effects, and sometimes just a couple of beers are too many.
- When you're "tipsy", you are much more likely to fall overboard.
- A drunk person whose head is immersed can be confused and swim down to death instead of up to safety.
Source: http://www.boatwashington.org/boatingtips.htm (United Safe Boating Institute Web site)