Avoid Boating Accidents this Gasparilla Weekend

boating accidentBe alert and avoid a boating accident this weekend during the Gasparilla Pirate Festival. On Saturday, Tampa Bay-area residents join in an unusual celebration, one that marks the beginning of a new year as well as a reminder of times long ago. The Gasparilla Pirate Festival was named in honor of the pirate Jose “Gasparilla” Gaspar, who is said to have terrorized Florida’s west coast during the late 18th century and early 19th century. Tomorrow, the city of Tampa is “invaded” by Gasparilla and his men when the motley crew arrives in downtown Tampa on a 165-foot pirate ship, the Jose Gasparilla. The mayor of Tampa relinquishes the key to the city to the pirate captain and a victory parade gets underway through the city’s streets.

The event is a lot of fun, but it can also be very dangerous if you don’t take steps to protect yourself while on a boat. Here are a few tips:

  • Have a designated driver. According to Florida law, by operating any vessel on Florida waters you have consented to be tested for the presence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances, if requested to do so by a peace officer. Refusal to submit to testing is punishable by a civil penalty of $500 and is a crime if you were fined for a previous refusal.
  • Have enough personal flotation devices for everyone on board.
  • Watch your speed and post a lookout for other boats.
  • Don’t overload your boat and have all of the necessary safety equipment (fire extinguisher, etc.) in working order.
  • File a float plan with friends or family and have a working VHF radio on board.
  • Give your passengers a safety talk so they know what to do in case of an emergency.

About 40 law enforcement vessels will be on the water, including boats from the Coast Guard, Tampa Police Department, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Hillsborough County and Pinellas County sheriff’s offices.

Enjoy yourself during Gasparilla, but watch out for those who party too hard and then try to drive a boat. It could result in its own personal invasion — invasion of doctors, lawyers, medical bills, insurance companies, etc.


If you or a loved one are injured in a boating accident, click here to contact the attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes, P.A. Our Tampa Bay personal injury law firm has been caring for clients since 1955. Let our experience and dedication to the community work for you. Insurance companies have attorneys looking out for them, so should you! Email us or call us today at 727-796-8282 for a free case consultation.

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