If you’re thinking Bed & Breakfast, think again. I’m talking Beer & Boating. Anchored in a quiet cove with a cold beer watching the young girls in bikinis on the neighboring boat; it doesn’t get any better than this. This scenario has spawned a TV Reality Show filmed at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where local police go from boat to boat looking for intoxicated boaters. Local city officials claim it gives the city a bad name. The chamber of commerce probably thinks otherwise.
Each year Sea Ray hosts a national raft-up party called Aquapalooza. The signature event in 2010 was held at Lake Travis, Texas and featured Brad Paisley. Unofficial estimates put the number of people at 50,000. The 2011 event, featuring Sawyer Brown, was held at Lake Martin, Alabama, but only attracted 25,000 people.
I’ve been to the local events at Lake Boca and Beer Can Island. Everyone was pretty well behaved. At the Lake Travis event there were 19 arrests for public intoxication and that’s out of 50,000 people. There was one ticket written for a fishing violation. What was he thinking? So what gives with Palm Beach County? Starting May 18, booze is off limits on Peanut Island. Registered campers are exempt. This same logic is used at Oleta River State Park in North Miami Beach. John Lloyd Park in Dania also prohibits alcohol. But, they sell beer at the snack bar. It’s your guess if we have a monopoly issue or the American Temperance Society is still alive.
Several years ago I attended a picnic at John Lloyd with the Power Squadron. It was my first time at the park. We arrived by boat and there were no signs, where we beached the boat, warning us of the alcohol prohibition. I had just finished a cold brewski at our picnic table when Barney Fife shows up and wants to know whose beer bottle was on the table. The others in the group apparently knew about the rule and all swore that the bottle was not theirs. Barney went crazy and threatened us with an illegal search of our ice chests. After I accused him of harassment he left. But, not before ordering us to take down the Power Squadron Banner that was hanging from two palm trees. I also pointed out the balloons tied to a tree at the next picnic table. Barney wasted no time to ruin another party.
The few times I visited Peanut Island I drank a few beers without incident. The Sun Sentinel reported on any weekend there are a dozen vessels from county, state, and municipal police agencies checking that boaters are not operating under the influence. Marine officers check for drunken boaters when they see a vessel operating in an erratic manner. This should keep them busy. Because, when I’m on the water I see dozens of boats operating erratically and they’re sober. Just like Oleta State Park, the Peanut Island campers can drink all they want. I’m guessing that the number of camping permits will increase. Also you can still drink on your boat anchored a few feet off the island and then stagger around the island.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the Manatee Mounties will be preoccupied chasing drunks around Peanut Island.By Bob E. Sherman