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Safety urged for warm-weather boaters still on the water

Experience is what Arlen Gastineau said saved him when his boat capsized in the Gulf of Mexico and left him in the water for more than 18 hours. The 69-year-old fisherman has logged hundreds of hours on the sea, but he admitted he may have missed a few things.

Gastineau is one of the many Floridian boaters who have never taken a boating education course. They rely on their time-tested expertise to navigate state waters safely.

Yet statistics show these boaters make up the bulk of recreational boating fatalities and accident victims in Florida. Nearly 90 percent of boaters involved in accidents between 2004 and 2009 have never taken a safety course in Florida.

"I suspect it's an attitude similar to people who don't wear helmets on their motorcycles," Gastineau said.

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