A WCIND grant worth $215,000 paid for the new 32-foot Yellowfin Offshore boat.
It might seem premature to replace a boat built in 2007 with a brand new one, but Longboat Key Deputy Police Chief Frank Rubino insists his department needed it.
“The other one was one of the oldest boats in the fleet for all the surrounding areas,” Rubino said. “Although 2007 doesn’t sound old, you’ve got to remember, they use these boats seven days a week.”
“And, they’re putting more hours on a boat in a month than most boaters put on in a year.”
The Longboat Key Police Department’s Marine Enforcement Unit had its old 30-foot boat refurbished in 2017 to help it last a few more years.
Rubino said it took the town about three years to have the $215,000 saved up in a grant from West Coast Inland Navigation to purchase the 32-foot Yellowfin Offshore boat. Along with the WCIND grant money, the Sarasota boat dealer took the department’s old boat in trade.
“The other boat was a good boat, but this one will be able to handle the seas much better than the other one,” Rubino said.
The police department will also continue to use its 23-foot Boston Whaler, according to Rubino.
Rubino, marine patrol officer Ed Kolodzieski and marine patrol officer Joshua Connors were among the town personnel who were on hand Thursday morning outside Town Hall for the public to see the boat.
Kolodzieski and Connors have already given the boat a test run. Their favorite features?
“This question is, ‘what’s going to potentially save a life?’” Kolodzieski said. “And, it’s one of those types of things that it’s not a wow factor, it’s a could save somebody life from hypothermia. That is something that makes a difference.”
Connors said the boat handles more smoothly than the old one in rougher seas. He said it will help officers from fatiguing as quickly because they go on 12-hour shifts.
“The state-of-the-art advanced electronics that we’re equipped with can help make our job easier,” Connors said.
The new boat has a Forward Looking Infra Red camera for officers on the boat.
“That gives us the ability at nighttime to see the 90-degree person in the 69-degree water,” Kolodzieski said of the new technology used in a potential water rescue.
The boat has two Garmin displays on board:
- One shows the radar and water depth
- The other gives the operator a full view of the infrared camera
With the summertime approaching, the new boat features an air conditioner and heating system in the center console.
“It’s definitely going to help us because the majority of the time, we’re at slow speed [or] idle speed, where a breeze isn’t going to help us cool down,” Connors said.
Kolodzieski mentioned how marine officers’ required equipment can get hot while patrolling about 22 miles of shoreline on both sides of the island.
“For the people who are out on Jewish Key and they jump out in the water and cool off, we can’t do that with thousands of dollars of electronics, and then we’re also frequently patrolling, wearing ballistic body armor,” Kolodzieski said. “Imagine yourself wrapped in body armor on a 95-degree day with 95% humidity and no breeze.”
The new A/C system should help officers to prevent dehydration and from getting overheated.
“As far as the air conditioner, I’ve never heard, until this boat, of an air conditioner in the center console,” Rubino said.
The new boat also has two Mercury 350 horsepower engines. Connors said it has a top speed of about 60 mph.
“Tell the bad guys it only goes 30 mph,” Town Manager Tom Harmer joked.
Harmer acknowledged the boat felt “roomier” compared to the old boat.
“When people know that law enforcement is out on the water, they tend to be a little bit more careful and visibility will make the biggest difference,” Kolodzieski said. “This is a very visible boat, and it’s a boat that appears to have the kind of capabilities that people would say, ‘these guys are ready to handle us out there,’ so it makes a great deterrent.”