The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported last week the state had passed the mark of 1 million registered recreational vessels, leading the nation.
.The top five counties for vessel registration in Florida are Miami-Dade (74,622), Pinellas (53,867), Lee (50,304), Broward (47,741) and Hillsborough (41,495).
In Franklin and Gulf counties, there are 2,524 and 2,817 registered pleasure craft, respectively, as of the end of 2021.
Franklin has a few more canoes than Gulf, 10 compared to six, but Gulf has more small pleasure craft, under 12 feet long, with 261 compared to 141 in Franklin.
More than half of all the registered pleasure craft on the Forgotten Coast are between 16 and 26 feet long, with 1,509 in Franklin and 1,416 in Gulf. Of the smaller craft, between 12 and 16 feet long, Gulf has considerably more registered, 1,025, compared to 666 in Franklin.
As the boats get larger, there tends to be more in Franklin, with 173 between 26 and 40 feet long, compared to 135 in Gulf, and 25 boats between 40 and 65 feet, compared to 13 registered in Gulf.
Franklin has no registered pleasure craft that are larger than that, while Gulf has one between 65 and 110 feet, and five larger than even that.
In terms of commercial vessels, there are considerably more registered in Franklin, 586, than in Gulf, 254.
Most of these boats are between 16 and 26 feet long, with 358 registered in Franklin and 151 in Gulf.
Franklin has nearly three times as many smaller commercial boats, between 12 and 16 feet long, with 129 compared to 46 in Gulf. Among even smaller boats, under 12 feet, there are 23 registered in Franklin, and 18 in Gulf.
Of the other, larger commercial boats, longer than 26 feet, there are 47 in Franklin between 26 and 40 feet, compared to 26 in Gulf; 24 between 40 and 65 feet in Franklin, and 10 in Gulf; and five in Franklin between 65 and 110 feet, and three in Gulf.
“Crossing the million mark statewide just confirms what we always knew – Florida is the top state for boaters. And with more boats on the water, we want to spread the word about boating safety to both residents and visitors enjoying Florida’s year-round boating season,” said Maj. Rob Beaton, FWC’s section leader for boating and waterways. “A safe day while boating is a great day. Nothing can ruin a fun and memorable experience on the water faster than a boating accident.”
Boaters are encouraged to wear life jackets, maintain 360-degree awareness and know the dangers (and penalties) for operating a vessel while impaired.
“Life-changing tragedies happen because individuals choose to operate a boat while impaired. Those tragedies are preventable,” said Beaton. “As law enforcement, it is our job to do all we can to ensure the safety of all boaters.”
If you plan to enjoy Florida’s beautiful waterways, check out MyFWC.com/Boating for boating safety tips. Or search there for the Florida Boat Ramp Finder to help find a great place to launch a boat.