it's 6 am, im on the beach (fort lauderdale).
wind out of the ssw 8-12 knots
2-3 foot swells after the surfzone.
possible rain and thunderstorms predicted.
i decide not to go out.
Group of 14 yakfishers decide its fine.
As i watch them gear up on boats from scupper pros to an incredibly wide hobie mirage pro angler, i overhear one fisherman (sorry, just cant call him a paddler)say "can i borrow a PFD?", to which another replies "you can use mine, i don't wear it".
I ask and find out that this was the first time out together for many in the group.
By the time the last boat got off the beach (sun is now up) i could no longer see the first boat even with binoculars.
must say i was surprised everyone got through the surf without incident, and i made a note to be on the beach when they expected to return 4 hours later.
i'm back at the beach 3 1/2 hours later, parking.
i see wide boat guy dragging it back to his car. he looked spent.
I ask, "how'ld you make out?"
"Not so good dude. Really rough out there,5-6 footers. lost my plug and took on water. Then I flipped and lost a lot of gear."
I find out later that after multiple capsizes and a loosing battle trying to bail out his boat, that he decided to head back and did so alone. Within sight of the beach he capsized one final time and was unable to complete a self rescue. A woman who had been paddling earlier noticed his peril and jumped in her boat to go out and help.
A resort jet ski rental guy saw her actions and responded as well. Fisherman and barge get towed to the beach.
As i watch, i see, with binoculars, 11 boats on the way in. I watch as a 35' sportfisher goes right through the middle of the very loosely formed group.
Wind is now from WSW and bringing dark storm clouds with it.
some time later i see the last two boats racing to beat the storm.
lost sight of them for over an hour due to the storm conditions.
in the end all fisherman safe and telling fish stories....
luck, guardian angel,or a hidden skill set, not sure.
maybe i overthink things and get scared too easily...
post getting way to long but i need to know....is it me?