Wow! I sure don’t want to hit that! Sometimes sharks are not the most dangerous things in the water.

Dangerous floating piling picked up by a Kendall resident and a member of our flotilla, Mark Chiappone

Dangerous floating piling picked up by a Kendall resident and a member of our flotilla, Mark Chiappone

How would you like to be boating on a beautiful Saturday afternoon on Biscayne Bay with your family and suddenly smash into this floating piling?

During the Labor Day weekend, Mark Chiappone, US Coast Guard Auxiliary member from Flotilla 67, and a resident of Kendall, FL, helped to make boaters’ lives a little safer.

Bobbing three feet above the surface, a 15-foot piling was dangerously adrift south of Rickenbacker Causeway near Key Biscayne, an area in the middle of the Intracoastal Waterway heavily transited by boats from several marinas. The piling, barely visible during the day, would be almost invisible at dusk or night.

While on a routine patrol, the Auxiliary vessel Guardian 1, crewed by Mark and Auxiliary member Julian Corrales, was notified by a charter boat captain of the hazard to navigation.

Realizing the danger it posed to fellow boaters, Mark and Julian secured the piling to Guardian 1 and towed it to safety at Crandon Marina where they were met by representatives of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreation who then disposed of the structure.

Mark and Julian are active boating members of Flotilla 67 who volunteer to patrol the local waters on the weekends, helping boaters in distress and even occasionally saving lives. Mark is a research scientist at the Oceanographic Center at Nova Southeastern University. Julian is a social studies teacher at Glades Middle School. Both are avid boaters.

Auxiliarists are fellow boaters who volunteer their time on the water to help save lives and assist boaters in distress. They teach boating safety classes and conduct vessel safety checks. In turn, they become better boaters as they are trained in Coast Guard operations and procedures. Auxiliarists do not give tickets, fine the boater, or otherwise enforce the law.

Flotilla 67 is very active in helping boaters in Biscayne Bay and offshore as well as in participating in search and rescue operations.

All boaters are welcome to visit Flotilla 67’s annual open house Saturday, October 15, at Matheson Hammock Marina from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Hortensia Sampedro is the Flotilla Vice Commander, and can be reached at VFC@flotilla67.org


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