The president loves his “beautiful boaters,” his well-off, pleasure-craft-owning supporters who, since early May, have held nautical parades in his honor. Throughout the summer, Trump has cited his popularity among small boat owners as proof that he is actually ahead in the presidential race. “Are we polling the boaters yet?” he reportedly asked during one June campaign meeting, fixated on a show of support that affirms his popularity among his most ardent backers: wealthy, suburban weekenders who already own several flags with his name on them.
Encouraged by the president’s zeal, boaters have been taking to the nation’s waterways and no-wake zones throughout the summer as a show of pride in their candidate and other related political interests. But some of his supporters have done so with a little too much speed. To date, at least seven boats have capsized or sunk due to the intensity of the wakes at the maritime rallies, as detailed below:
August 17 in Portland, Oregon: One boat sunk.
On the Willamette River just north of the Burnside Bridge in Portland, a small motorboat that was not involved with the August 17 boater parade capsized due to the many rocking wakes.
Seth Ruden, who was navigating a sailboat during the parade, told BuzzFeed News that there were dozens of boats “coming at us at a very high speed” in a no-wake zone, which turned the river into a “torrential storm-like atmosphere.” Kristina Malamon, an organizer of the event, claimed that there were over 100 boats “filled with patriots and Trump flags” in attendance, and that the boat in question sank because there were too many people onboard.
September 5 in Lake Travis, Texas: Five boats sunk.
On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, boats of “all shapes and sizes” were invited to don “as many Trump flags” as possible for a parade on Lake Travis outside of Austin. Emergency calls began coming in “almost immediately” after the noon start time, according to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. “We had an exceptional number of boats on the lake today,” the sheriff’s office spokesperson Kristen Dark said. “When they all started moving at the same time, it generated significant waves.”
“We train for water rescues regularly, but this is the first multi-vessel, multi-incident water rescue that we’ve responded to not precipitated by a collision,” said Braden Frame, president of the Lake Travis Fire Fighters Association, on a day with only 10 to 15 mph winds.
As of Monday morning, three of the five boats have been towed out of the lake. And as Newsweek notes, a widely circulated picture of a boat with a Trump flag sitting at the bottom of Lake Travis was doctored.
September 6 in River Falls, Wisconsin: One boat capsized.
Labor Day is traditionally a big boating weekend, and it certainly was for Trump’s “beautiful boaters.” On Sunday, a nautical Trump parade in Wisconsin resulted in a docked boat capsizing, according to WCCO in Minneapolis. “The waves were probably four to five footers pounding my boat into the dock,” Keith Smith, an observer whose neighbor’s boat was capsized, told WCCO. “Boaters all know they’re responsible for their waves, but nobody cared. They just kept going and going and hooting and hollering. Luckily I didn’t slip and go off the side of the dock.”