They say the early bird gets the worm, but sometimes he also gets arrested.
On Jan. 13 at 8 a.m., the U.S. Coast Guard found a man slumped over the wheel of a stolen, floating tiki hut. The hut was reported stolen by Crusin’ Tikis the night before, and offered little shelter for its captor.
The Miami Herald described the vessel as “basically a bar under a tiki hut on a floating deck” and said it was recovered with visible burns. A can of lighter fluid was found beside a partially melted VHF radio and residue from a coconut that had been lit on fire. Joanna Sleith, one of the owners of Crusin’ Tikis, explained the thief probably built the fires to stay warm, and added: “He started mini fires in cup holders and water jugs. It melted a lot of stuff.”
The man, Tyln Earl Morlang, 26, of Independence, Miss. was found intoxicated and alone. The Coast Guard arrested him on a felony charge of grand theft, as well as misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and giving false identification to a law enforcement officer.
After exclaiming “I’m not going to jail!” and listing heart problems, Morlang was taken to Lower Keys Medical Center. There, he tried to fight officers from his hospital bed and was eventually tased with a stun gun.
When he was removed from the hospital, Morlang struggled on his way to the patrol car and was then placed in the Stock Island county jail without bond.
Apparently, the floating stolen tiki hut is a popular way to “bring-your-own-booze cruise” around the Florida coast, and powered by a 30-horsepower outboard motor. A similar model full of Catholic priests floated up Lake George a few months ago and managed to save the life of an unsuspecting kayaker.
With great power comes great responsibility, and as floating tiki bars continue to catch on, it will be up to their passengers to decide whether to use them for good or evil.