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Paddle Power

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Making the crossing between Florida and the Bahamas is not much of an accomplishment any more, especially in the summer. That's when the wind blows pretty steadily out of the south, a situation that fails to rile the Gulf Stream even a little bit. So during this time of year all manner of craft large and small—sometimes very small—make the roughly 50-mile trip without so much as a spilled Kalik. Of course, for a powerboat, it's especially easy. For a sailboat, not so much. But how about for a human-powered boat? A paddleboat?

That's what Bill Boes set out in, leaving  Alice Town on Bimini and heading for pretty much anywhere in Florida between Miami and Stuart. His boat? The 12-foot paddleboat, shown here.

Now that's crazy. But just as crazy is the guy doing the pedaling. Boes is 61 years old! And he only has one kidney! And he's an asthmatic! That's called stacking the deck against yourself.


At stake was a Guinness World Record for oldest person to cross the Florida Straits by paddleboat. (Yes there is a record for that.) As indicated by the writing on the boat's bow (ignore the missing "B" and the erroneous destination), Boes's record attempt began on August 13, pretty much at the crack of dawn. It ended late that same day—alas unsuccessfully, when he was, according to a press release, "hit on the head" by a large thunderstorm about 10 miles short of Pompano Beach (thanks to that northern set) and had to be rescued. But you have to give the guy credit for moxie.

It wasn't all for the record. Boes was also making the attempt to raise awareness of human-powered vehicles and money for the House of Hope, which provides goods and services to the needy residents of Martin County, Florida.