FRANKLIN COUNTY — Chad Englert rode his boat appropriately named Die Trying up to Lake Wimico on Tuesday to try to ride out Hurricane Michael.
Englert, a commercial fisherman, said it was lack of insurance on his vessel that forced him to make a bet against Mother Nature. It was a terrifying few hours Wednesday, but ones he'd lived to tell about.
"It worked out for the best," Englert said Thursday morning as he waited for John Gorrie Memorial Bridge in Franklin County to open, his only route back home. "That's basically the motto of this business. You're going to die trying to make it."
Englert was joined by three other anglers who also tied their boats to trees in the surrounding backwater. Don Lamb of the vessel Hustler said he'd expected the hurricane to make landfall as a Category 2 storm. His stomach turned when he saw Wednesday morning's weather report.
"I wasn't too scared until I saw it'd become a Cat. 4," Lamb said. "We're used to being in storms and getting caught offshore. You don't like it, but you deal with it. You don't want to lose your boat because it's your livelihood."
Englert, Lamb, Bruce Bohlin and Bobby Smith said all of their boats made it through the storm unscathed.
"We're commercial fishermen," Lamb said. "If we lose our boats, we lose our businesses. We thought me might as well take the chance and ride it out. We'd do it again."