Oh, captain, my drunk captain

Gasparilla makes my timbers shiver, but not for the reason you'd think.

click to enlarge Before you say, "a couple of drinks are no big deal" take a look at the size of that boat and the number of people on it — you don't want that captain drinking, do ya? - By Christopher Hollis for Wdwic Pictures [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Christopher Hollis for Wdwic Pictures [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Before you say, "a couple of drinks are no big deal" take a look at the size of that boat and the number of people on it — you don't want that captain drinking, do ya?

There are two types of people in this world: people who love Gasparilla Day and me. I hate crowds; in college, I worked at Walt Disney World and learned how to throw an elbow softly to get through a crowd, but that shit'll get you knocked out at Gasparilla. I'm also not a huge fan of drunks. Gasparilla is the drinky-crowdy capital of Florida, so guess where I don't go?

There's more to it than that, though — if you want to go get drunk and catch beads and smell the sweet beer vomit smell that embraces Channelside for days on end after the invasion, have at it. Seriously; I know I sound judge-y, but I'm not judging you.

I am, however, judging the drunk boat captains. Why? Because my husband is a Sea Tow boat captain and those guys see more than their fair share of what can happens when you boat drunk.

See, in Florida, it's not illegal to drink while you're behind the helm, and — shocker — some people are better than others at the whole "drinking-without-getting-drunk" thing, especially when you add in the sun, which feels more intense on the water and tends to make you act drunker, quicker. 

Add to that the crowds of Gasparilla, but on the water and you have a recipe for a — pardon the reference — perfect storm. As in, I'm amazed people don't die every damn year during the invasion.

Which is why I was pleased to see a press release about Anchor Rides, an at-your-service boat captain company. It's a rent-a-captain type of deal — and kinda brilliant: you get a boat captain and you get to drink without worrying about killing someone. 

CEO and founder of Anchor Rides Zach Hatraf says he started the service because his best friend was killed in a drunk boating accident 10 years ago.

"If there'd been a service like this back then you wouldn't be talking to me. But," he adds, "I like building a legacy for him."

Pepin Distributing, Gasparilla's booze sponsor, wants people to drink but not drunk boat and, to that end, has partnered with Anchor to offer $50 off the first 50 bookings (there are more than 50 captains available, Hatraf says.)

Contact Cathy Salustri here.

About The Author

Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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