Boat captain rescues 2 swimmers from strong current off Keewaydin Island
Standing and swimming in the Gulf isn’t all fun and games. There is a new warning from a boat captain about rough island waters after she saved two tourists from getting sucked in by the tide just in time.
We learned why sandbars are causing concerns near Keewaydin Island in Collier County Wednesday.
Boat captain Kristina Voigt, the owner of SunDazed Boat Tours, spoke to us specifically about a sandbar on the southernmost part of the island right by an inlet of the Gulf. She said there are rescues there are all the time, mostly of tourists who think of the Gulf as safe and calm. She told us everyone who chooses to swim there is putting themselves at risk.
Voigt spends most of her time on a boat.
“I went through a couple different jobs, and then, I finally realized that this is like my happy place,” Voigt said.
Most days are happy out on the water, taking people on boat tours here to Keewaydin Island.
But Voigt told us at the southern tip, the deep water and strong currents can be a dangerous combination for swimmers.
“I’ve seen it happen many times,” Voigt said. “I’ve seen people that have, you know, got swept away, and I’ve seen others go to get them to help.”
This past Monday, it was Voigt’s turn to be the savior. She witnessed two swimmers get swept away in the water.
“The current moving very quickly down the beach, and everybody on shore was screaming for somebody to help, and there was only two boats there,” Voigt explained.
So Voigt took her boat out to rescue the two swimmers and successfully pulled them both out of the water.
Firefighter Mike Moore, a battalion chief with City of Naples Fire-Rescue, said there are simple steps anyone can take to avoid this scary situation.
“Staying away from passes so that you don’t get stuck in areas that are going to be stronger currents,” Moore said. “Stick to the recreational beaches and areas like that that are marked out for recreational swimming.”
Voigt told us people should stick to the Gulf side for swimming or go out on the water with a professional boat captain.
If you do find yourself stuck in a strong current, don’t try to swim back to the beach. Swim horizontally to the shoreline until the current weakens, and always shout for help.
“It’s really scary, really scary,” Voigt said. “I would hate to see one day somebody drown.”