Black Friday Weekend - 20% OffShop Now

That's So Florida: A Fishing Boat Captain Gets Drunk and High and Holds His Charter Passengers Hostage at Gun Point

Source — A day of fishing on the Gulf turned to terror on Sunday when a Sarasota charter captain, allegedly under the influence of alcohol and drugs, became angry, threatened to shoot his passengers and then shot a handgun into the water from the vessel’s flying bridge, all about 60 miles offshore, police reports show.

Bradenton’s Carlo Lopeparo paid $2,000 for the 12-hour fishing trip Sunday for his friends and family, but the trip turned sour about seven hours later after the group had caught their limit of red snapper. …

According to reports, sometime after 1:45 p.m., Lopeparo sent Rialmo Jr. to get him a beer from the captain’s pail on the second deck. But Bailey, the captain, told the boy to put the beer back. Rialmo Jr. apparently believed Bailey was joking and took the beer anyway, the report said.

Bailey followed the boy down the ladder and grabbed him by a chain necklace he was wearing, breaking it.

Lopeparo, 35, the boy’s uncle, was upset about the alleged assault and began “yelling and screaming” at the captain [who] insisted that it was his vessel and “he can do what he wants.” …

On the way back, the passengers later told police, they said they heard six or seven gunshots, as Bailey shot his handgun from the upper deck.

From 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., the captain continued to drink rum and take drugs, according to the report, pretending to go to shore, but just circling. Passengers used a compass on a cellphone to confirm they were not moving toward shore, but were in fact going in circles.

Every time they tried to speak to the captain, Bailey was more and more inebriated, Giuffre Sr. told police. …

“He clearly has the gun within arms reach of him,” Giuffre Jr. said. “It was the most helpless situation that I could imagine to be in. Everyone was just helpless — a real-life hostage situation.”

I don’t want to just take the Lazy Writer’s way out and say “What did you expect? This is Florida.” Though that is part of it. You don’t pay a Florida man to take you into the open ocean, into international waters and outside the legal jurisdiction of law enforcement in America’s Dong without knowing you are putting your life in his hands.

But this goes way beyond that. And I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Carlo Lopeparo and his family for one simple reason. Why do you go fishing in the first place? To catch a bunch of red snapper? I can leave my desk right now, drive to Stop & Shop and be back with all the red snapper the Lopeparos could ask for in 15 minutes. No, you go fishing for the story. And they got much, much more than their 2,000 bucks worth.

Name me one great story that involves a seafaring vessel that’s worth telling where the captain doesn’t lose his mind. It’s part of our nature to want to hear about people on a boat, cut off from the world, in total the control of a an obsessed madman. Odysseus in “The Odyssey.” Ahab in “Moby Dick.” Bligh in “Mutiny on the Bounty.” Queeg in “The Caine Mutiny.” Quint in “Jaws.” Gene Hackman in “Crimson Tide.” Sean Connery in “Hunt for Red October.” The Somali pirate in “Captain Phillips.” Michael Scott in “The Booze Cruise” episode. You know why the story of Noah sucks as a narrative? Because it’s a 40-day adventure where the captain is a nice guy and nothing happens. He loads the animals. He feeds the animals. The water recedes. He unloads the animals. The end. That is, if you can get to the end without swallowing your tongue with boredom.

So Carlo and his family were put in stark raving terror by a drunk and probably coked up madman. Cut off from rescue. Put in danger. Fearing for their lives. Plotting a hostile takeover. I don’t recommend it, necessarily. But honestly, in the long run, would you rather have that tale to tell your grandkids or a load of dead fish to put in the freezer? And they got both. As far as I’m concerned, they got a steal. Best Florida fishing expedition ever.