Matt Olechnowicz tied his boat to a friend’s boat Sunday to join the happening party — complete with blaring Reggaeton and flowing drinks.
What he didn’t expect to hear: the blaring sirens from a Key Biscayne police boat and a warning through the loudspeaker from Officer Gordon Spitler: “You can only have five boats tied together, not six. One has to leave. If you don’t, it’s a $150 fine.
His boat, the Serrucho Express, was the last to tie on. He had to move. So he did.
“I get it,” he said after moving his boat about 30 feet away, water still dripping from his blue swimsuit. “It’s not worth arguing.”
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The Miami-Dade County law, enacted in May, is meant to make it easier for water cops to weave between boats in an emergency. Boaters like to tether their craft to get that party atmosphere, spiced with a crowd of people, loud music, booze.
“It was like a conga line on the water,” Spitler said. “You couldn’t get through.”
Spitler said the new law has helped this Labor Day weekend look a lot different from last year. And while there was a heavy contingent of law enforcement boats — as there will be Monday — there were no serious incidents on Sunday.
Despite the rules, there was still plenty of partying on Biscayne Bay, although stormy weather may have kept some boaters home.
At Nixon Beach, some people stood in the shallow water holding drinks and dancing as if they were at a South Beach club.
“We’re safe,” Carla Alvarado, holding up a beer, screamed at police officers floating by.
“As long as you have a captain,” Spitler said.
Women in barely-there bikinis caught some rays on boats and men enjoyed cigars while they chatted. Some on boats fired up grills, sending the smell of charcoal into the air.
The tethering issue is just one of several ways police officers worked together to make boating safer.
The crackdown comes after a deadly few years on local waters, including a three-boat crash on July 4, 2014, that killed four people and injured seven.
During holiday weekends, law enforcement agencies also join forces to crack down on drunken boaters.
Arrest numbers were not available on Sunday.
The main message from law enforcement, said Fish and Wildlife spokesman Bobby Dube: “Be safe out there.”