Refusing to be Silent

John Adams

Fishing up north for the summer, boat captain John Adams hasn’t been in his home state for months, yet many residents of Palm Beach County have felt his presence.

Passionate and articulate, John is leading a community awareness campaign on a threat to Florida’s shoreline. He’s been featured on television, informational postcards, InTheBite magazine and a Facebook page dedicated to this cause.

The veteran boat captain is speaking out about a development plan at Sailfish Marina because he is convinced it would be dangerous to boaters and would infringe on public access to a shoreline gem. Owners of the marina in Palm Beach Shores want to expand its north dock by replacing 32 smaller boats slips with 12 mega yacht slips.

Intimately familiar with shoreline currents, John and other longtime sport fishermen insist the north dock expansion would create a navigational hazard in the waters between Sailfish Marina and neighboring Buccaneer Marina. They also take umbrage with how the expansion will infringe on public access to the waterfront by turning out smaller boats in favor of yachts. In 2006, Palm Beach County paid Sailfish Marina $15 million in taxpayer money to ensure public access to the north dock and surrounding waters. “People don’t realize this is more than just a rebuilding of Sailfish Marina, this is taking away what we paid for…it is taking away the public’s access.”

John’s criticism of the north dock expansion put him in a precarious position with Sailfish Marina, where he’s worked as a boat captain for the past five years. While other boat captains and fishermen have remained silent, John refuses to be intimidated and alerted neighbors and the media about the pending development. As a result, John’s employer received an email from Sailfish Marina this summer, stating he would be welcome to dock his boat at Sailfish Marina again next season, with a new captain.

Professionally, John is fortunate to have an employer willing to stand by his captain, but personally, the veiled threat carried a sting. John has lifelong connections to Sailfish Marina. His grandmother lived three streets up from the marina and his father kept boats there for years, so John grew up playing on the quiet streets of Palm Beach Shores. He resents that an out-of-state insurance conglomerate that owns Sailfish Marina could change the character of the town he loves. “The community of Palm Beach Shores has no idea what kind of affect this is going have on them, bigger boats, more traffic.”

Many in the boating community appreciate John’s efforts to sound the alarm about Sailfish Marina and his reputation borders on folklore. Here’s how one long time fisherman sums up Captain John Adams. “Some say the Gulfstream flows through his veins. All but one says he is a good guy who loves the sea and the creatures that ply its depths. He is a captain’s Captain and a straight shooter of the highest degree.”

He is also a boat captain who will not be silenced. The Buccaneer Marina has filed a lawsuit and it is challenging a state DEP permit for Sailfish expansions plans.  John’s willingness to stand at the helm of their community awareness campaign and petition drive can only enhance efforts to educate the public about a betrayal of public trust.

F – French fries or tater tots?  – French fries

R – Right brained or left brained? – Right brained

E – Email or carrier pigeon? – Carrier pigeon

S – Sunshine or moonlight?  – Sunshine

H– Homebody or party animal – Homebody