Boating with Ignorance Onboard

Published on February 11th, 2018

The adventure of sailing, combined with danger and broken dreams, is just the kind of narrative the mainstream media carries in our ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ landscape of viewer interest.

In case you missed the latest story, Tanner Broadwell and Nikki Walsh dreamed the same dream: Give up the rat race, go live on a sailboat, see the Caribbean, maybe the world.

They sold everything they owned in Colorado. Last year they bought a Columbia 28 in Alabama and headed for Tarpon Springs, Florida. They lived at the marina for months, getting their boat ready for their journey. They said their goodbyes on Tuesday (Feb. 6) and set sail for Key West.

The next day, the dream died off Madeira Beach in John’s Pass just north of St Pete Beach.

Their boat sank Wednesday night while sailing into this fishing village-turned-tourist stop. Their former home sits capsized, within sight of the bars and restaurants. Their belongings floated off to who knows where.

Before they abandoned ship, Walsh grabbed their social security cards, some cash, his ID and her phone — and Remy, their 2-year-old Pug.

They have no jobs, no savings and nowhere to go.

“How do I have everything,” Walsh said, “and end up in a s—– hotel with nothing?”

It happens out of ignorance. Local resident Paul Warren reports how this inlet is definitely a tricky passage.

“The twin bridges over the pass are designated by USCG as open on demand due to the swift currents, as opposed to most local bridges operating on a 15- or 20-minute regular opening schedule.

“The shoals at the Gulf-side entrance to the channel are regularly subject to shifting. The channel markers are well positioned and repositioned fairly regularly, as needed. The channel has a southwest/northeast orientation, with a slight dog-leg twist.

“These folks were approaching from the North. Local sailors know to approach the channel entrance from well out in the Gulf when coming in from the North. No cutting the corner of this channel/shoal, even for mid-sized powerboats.

“Numerous mistakes made here: 1) Inexperienced wannabe “sailors” attempting to navigate unfamiliar waters; 2) Failure to properly read their chart/chart-plotter; 3) Approaching an unfamiliar inlet at night (the shoreline is filled with lots of ‘background’ lights from condos, shopping centers, restaurants).

“Ironically, if they had chosen to cruise down the (nearby and protected) Intra-Coastal Waterway from Clearwater to Madeira Beach, they would have had plenty of safe anchorage opportunities. Another poor choice by these inexperienced sailors.”

To read about their dream turned nightmare… click here.

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