homepage logo

Cardboard boat regatta cancelled

By Staff | Apr 5, 2018

After 24 years of the Rotary of Cape Coral putting on its annual cardboard boat regatta, this year’s race has been torpedoed due to high bacteria levels in Bimini Basin.

City Manager John Szerlag instructed staff to take water quality samples.

Those tests showed the Bimini Basin, which is not a designated swimming area or beach, was not suitable for water contact.

The results, which were taken at different locations in the basin and on two separate days, said the levels of Entercocci bacteria were well above acceptable levels.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Enterococci normally inhabit the bowel. They are found in the intestine of nearly all animals, from cockroaches to humans. Enterococci are readily recovered outdoors from vegetation and surface water, probably because of contamination by animal excrement or untreated sewage.”

A March 30 reading had the level at 1,987 colonies per 100 ml. of water. A second reading on Monday showed levels at 301, still well above the 71 colonies considered acceptable without closing the a beach to swimming.

Elmer Tabor, a Rotarian, was contacted about the situation and was advised the regatta should either be cancelled or moved.

Tabor decided to cancel the event and open a booth at Bike Night next weekend to display the boats.

“It’s unfortunate that we will miss a year, but for health and safety reasons we don’t want to take the chance. We know this an issue the city will get straightened out and we’ll be back next year,” Tabor said.

The Rotary Club had included, for the first time, classes on how to design and build a cardboard boat this year.

The regatta started in 1994, with the Rotarians taking it over in 2005.

Tim Hauck, event chairman, said he’s disappointed, especially since local groups have been working on these boats for months.

“We don’t want to take the chance of having anyone in the water if it’s a health issue. We made the hard decision to cancel,” Hauck said. “We know there have been a lot of people who have spent months building these boats. It’s unfortunate they won’t be able to show them off.”

Hauck said he would like to find a place to store the 15 boats – some of which are good sized -?until next year.

He welcomes suggestions

Szerlag said in his memo that he believes there is a correlation between the high fecal bacteria and the boats which moor in the basin, and that he has asked staff to suggest ways to reduce bacteria counts in Bimini Basin.

The city is already working on an ordinance to regulate mooring, with an available option being to prohibit overnight mooring, Szerlag said in the memo.