CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — It’s Boater Skip Day in Clay County, a cherished annual tradition that gives boaters an excuse to play hooky for a day out on the water.
It drew hundreds of boaters — in fact, all boat ramps closed just after 10:30 a.m.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office sent out this alert on Twitter:
The sheriff’s office also warned on Facebook that their deputies would be out on patrol as well.
Clay County Sheriff’s deputies said they were expecting between 200-300 boats out on the St. Johns River.
Boater Skip day pulled in visitors both old and new.
“What number is this for you?” Action News Jax’s Jessica Barreto asked George Hudson Jr. “Three,” e said.
“I’m pretty excited. First time out,” said Gage Alvarado.
“This is my fourth boater skip day for the sheriff’s office,” said Deputy Bill Maher with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit.
While some are there on the job, most are there for fun.
“Boater Skip Day is a great day to come out and party,” Henderson Jr. said.
“See all the people. Relax. Get away from the world.”
“It’s the wind in my hair for me,” Alvarado said with a chuckle. “I mean, I got the flow going,” he added, as he fluffed the hair underneath his baseball cap.
But regardless of their reason for being on the water, everyone has to follow the same rules.
Deputies will be checking for things like life jackets, whistles, and fire extinguishers.
“Use your safety equipment,” Maher said. “Use your cutoff switches on your boats if necessary.”
“[We have] plenty of lifejackets,” Alvarado pointed out.
“I just bought a fire extinguisher because my buddy was out-of-date,” Henderson Jr added.
“Stay hydrated,” Alvarado also recommended. “It’s gonna be a hot day today.”
Except, what you hydrate with matters.
The sheriff’s office is warning boaters against boating under the influence, especially after five people were killed when two boats collided in the Savannah area over the weekend.
The AP reported that a survivor was charged with boating under the influence.
“Just be safe,” Maher asks of everyone out there.
In order to ensure safety, different agencies are out in force.
“We’ve got a lot of our neighboring partnerships with Duval County, Nassau County, St. Johns County, Florida Wildlife Commission,” Maher explained.
“We’re out there to make sure they’re having a good day but being safe,” he emphasized.
Deputies told Barreto that they would be out on the St. Jons River until every boat clears out, which would be until 7 p.m. Friday night or later.
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