December 30, 2020
On Sunday the 27th of December, Florida Sportsman Boating Editor and host of Best Boat and Project Dreamboat - George LaBonte experienced an act of kindness that will restore your faith in humanity while he was enjoying a morning on the marsh, air boating with friends. Following an extended ride between Lake Garcia and Keenansville Lake on Sunday morning, George and his friends experienced some engine trouble about 2 miles from the boat ramp in the east side perimeter canal approaching the ramp at Lake Garcia which left them dead in the water.
On a busy Sunday morning, somebody would surely ride by before too long and help in some way. Early that morning a bass tournament had launched out of the ramp where their trip had begun and as the 1:00 pm tournament lines out time approached there was a high likelihood of somebody passing their disabled boat that could tow them the last leg to the ramp.
"After a couple of different boaters passed us by declining the chance to step in and help, stating that they were in the tournament and only had an hour left to fish and make the weigh-in we became discouraged in our predicament and maybe even lost a little faith in humanity" to coincide with a growing sense of negativity spawned by the hardships we all have faced in 2020 and the age of Covid-19.
Along came the third boat in a row who also happened to be a tournament participant and, "Before we could even ask him if he felt like doing a good deed today, Mike Akers of Vero Beach already had a pair of dock lines tied together." He asked if we needed assistance to which we replied, "Well yes, are you in the tournament?" His reply was that he had four bass to weigh and was on his way to his final stop to complete his five fish total and that he had scouted an afternoon spot out on Christmas day. He had located a prime spot to round out his limit and was nearly limited out to finish the day but stated that some things were more important than a fishing contest.
Akers wasted no time offering a tow line and slowly pulled the air boat to the ramp while each of the competitors in the tournament raced past and got the disabled boat safely to the launch spot. "At the moment we reached the ramp, we immediately offered to reimburse Mike for the entry fee for the tournament to which he replied, "Nonsense, I won't take it- Merry Christmas"
Heading into 2021 and with the thought that we are experiencing unprecedented times in human history regarding political beliefs and that the division between people with opposing views has never been greater- in the new year approaching, it brings some comfort to us knowing that people are still fundamentally good at heart. Even though we may have a need to fulfill our own personal wants or goals each day, people in the boating and fishing community are still rooted in the basic belief that we are all in this crazy ride together and will drop everything to aid a fellow outdoorsman in need.
As we towed out and prepared the airboat for the ride back to Stuart- I took a moment to thank Mike Akers once again and see how he fared at the weigh-in. It appeared that he had missed out on the time limit to weigh his catch and despite the outcome he still offered his well wishes once again and asked if there was anything he could do to help once again. I replied that we were in good shape and exchanged contact info with him in hopes that I could return the kindness someday. It was at that moment I realized that regardless of how disappointed with humanity the news media and social platforms might try to sway our outlooks at times, people are still fundamentally good at heart and given the opportunity will come through in a pinch when we need them most. Thanks Mike Akers and Happy New Year, I owe you one.