The Real Florida
By Barb Hansen
The Florida tourist high season is January through April. So, I suppose that makes the spring, summer and fall months our “low” season.
Well, I love the low season.
“Real Florida,” as our state tourism officials call it, really comes alive in those months and that’s when we locals take the time to enjoy our state, too.
Here at Southwest Florida Yachts the pace of work and life in general is a tad more relaxed. Vic and I can finally push our desk chairs back and plan a cruise for ourselves instead of just arranging charters and yacht classes for others.
Cruising is as good as it gets. Just as the automotive traffic softens on I-75, so does marine traffic soften on the Gulf ICW behind our famous outer islands like Captiva, Sanibel, Useppa, Cayo Costa, and Gasparilla.
Bridge tender language still goes pretty much by the book but this mate hears a friendliness in their voices that I don’t detect during the wait-your-turn season. At the little dock at Cabbage Key there is always a slip for a boat and a table for two.
Dockmasters actually sound happy when we radio them and ask for a slip. At this time of the year we can find an empty lounge chair to lounge by the pool at 'Tween Waters Inn.
Everybody’s metabolism slows down a notch in the summer. We walk a bit slower, talk a bit slower, watch the clouds build and look forward to that afternoon storm and the cool air that follows. Then we watch the sun go down. The breezes off the water blow cool even in the warmest months and the Margaritas are always cold. No worries, mon.
Florida’s wildlife has its own high season and it seems to kick in just about the time so many tourists go home.
Tarpon -- bow to the king -- migrate along the Gulf beaches toward Boca Grande Pass in huge numbers May through July. So do Florida’s tarpon anglers. Snook find their way along the mangrove roots from the upper rivers and bays back to the Gulf passes. Local flats anglers stay right with them. Florida’s low season mornings are picture perfect for jumping tarpon and plugging for snook.
Migratory birds that have wintered in Mexico and Central America fly across the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico and make landfall here, hungrily biting all the new berries , buds, seeds and insects they can get their beaks on. Florida birders (you can recognize them by their expensive binoculars) hover around mulberry, fig and sea grape trees and yell out to their comrades-in-optics. “Hey, here’s a female Rose Breasted Grosbeak with red juice all down her chest.” The yelling starts in late April and continues well into the summer. Come September and October, we see the birds again as they rest up and feed up for that long flight back to their wintering grounds. And, with those first cold fronts of the fall, south Florida welcomes back its own migrating snowbirds such as loons and white pelicans from Canada.
I like showing off our lovely part of Florida to visitors during the low season and I’ve always thought it way too sad that so many fail to come here at a time of the year when Florida really shines.
I don’t know what the tourism officials are saying but it seems to me that each year more northern visitors are choosing to come to Southwest Florida in spring and summer.
Lower rates are inviting, I’m sure, but I’m happy for them because they will get to experience the Florida that we year-round Floridians enjoy.
Adventures in Boating
When Amy and I enrolled in a 6-day boat-handling course with Southwest Florida Yachts we had great excitement for what we were about to undertake. At the same time we had a certain level of fear at how we would control a 20,000-pound, 32-foot Grand Banks trawler named “Patience”. We have operated boats only 20 feet in length for about 15 years so this was 12 feet longer plus a bow pulpit…….WOW.
We spent the first night on board stowing our gear and getting acquainted with our new home for the next week. It was like being in a floating Winnebago. There was space for everything but not that much.
The next 3 days were spent learning how to handle our new floating home and we practiced docking and backing into the slip. We got the hang of putting this 12-foot wide boat into a 16 foot slip. Under the watchful eye of our instructor, Captain Greg, who taught us that we could handle the task with confidence. He only had the helm for the first 30 minutes the first day to demonstrate. The rest was our doing. The wind blew in every direction the whole time we were there and we docked into cross winds, tail winds and head winds. And did I mention that this boat was single engine with no bow thruster? I never imagined that the wind would have such an effect on a boat this size. During these first few days we also did about 20 miles of inland cruising on the Intra Coastal Waterway at a blinding speed of 5 knots. We had only 90 horses under the deck. May I say we had some good races with some sailboats? We did win all the races.
While on the Intra Coastal Waterway we learned about navigating the day boards and other marks. Too bad red right returning did not work here. We also shot some range marks up a channel. What a simple system but it worked extremely well.
The next part of the course was planning a 3-day cruise. We charted the courses and provisioned our boat. We planned for one night at anchor and the other night at a marina on Sanibel Island. It took us about 6 hours to go about 35 miles. While Amy was at the helm, I was navigated and looked for the next mark and she did the same for me. We became a good team and I think that is so important on a long trip. Amy had the pleasure of piloting the boat through the 50 yard wide “miserable mile” with 20-knot winds and current and there was no room for error.
Along the way we encountered marine wild life. So we did see some dolphins, small rays, egrets, and an osprey eating his catch in a tree. There was also lots of visible damage from the hurricanes from last October. We were very near Punta Gorda where they had the most damage.
The last night was spent at a marina where we had the good fortune of having a nice shower. The head on the boat was about 3 x 3 so the onboard facilities were very tight. We also ate at the marina’s seafood restaurant, so we didn’t have to cook onboard that night.
On our way back to our home marina we ventured out into the Gulf of Mexico and sailed around the other side of the island. We practiced more navigation to a sea buoy and shot some compass fixes and charted our position. The onboard GPS was a good backup reference. We even hit a top speed of 7.6 knots with a good tail wind and current.
Once back at the dock we prepared the boat for the next student and took our test. We are now Florida certified but we certainly have a lot more to learn.
We also had some maintenance issues while out at sea and that tested our troubleshooting skills. During our daily checks we noticed our water separator filled with water and that had to be cleared. In addition our number 2 battery decided to not want to take a charge. This was not a problem really because we had a good number 1 battery and also the generator battery. Oh yes, our generator overheated and shut itself down while at the anchorage. Nick taught us well and we overcame these small maintenance obstacles. We assessed the situation and our safety was never at issue. This is a real testament to the Grand Banks and it burned only 18 gallons of fuel during the whole week.
This hands-on training with Southwest Florida Yachts was the best experience and it put a lot of things into perspective. I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting to step up to a larger boat or to just sharpen his or her skills. It was also a great vacation even though we had to do some homework until 11 o’clock some nights. We worked on our tans and caught a few fish.
To our friends at the Storm King Power Squadron who have taught us some of the fundamentals of seamanship and maintenance we show our appreciation. I guess Amy and I will be ready for the piloting course next.
P.S. You can expect us again next year in April for the offshore training, except next time [we] would like to try a bigger boat. [We] hope Capt. Greg is up to the challenge. We enjoyed his experience and his “patience.”
Editor’s Note: Thanks Amy and Bill, and congratulations on successfully completing P101 and P101 power boating courses!
Captain Christopher Day grew up in England, where his love for the sea was born. Chris is an ASA (American Sailing Association) Sailing Instructor as well as a Charter Captain and an Instructor of our Trawler Training Classes. He has Skippered boats from 30 to 120 feet in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. Chris also enjoys gardening and art; however, it is his first love, boating, that he feels offers a personal challenge that puts one in touch with Nature. www.swfyachts.com/webpages/captains.htm
The Family Vacation
By Barb Hansen
Summer’s here and many parents are contemplating whether to send the future of our country to manners school for three months or allow them to join the rest of the family on vacation.
Recalling some episodes when I was a teen-in-tow on family vacations, let me just say to you parents, presidentially, I feel your pain.
I’m not a child psychologist. Nor would I attempt to play one on TV. But I have three professional recommendations to make.
What, exactly, is a “real” family vacation?
I think I know what it’s not. It’s not every one in the family going somewhere together but remaining ear-phoned and wired to his or her various electronic devices so they can shut out distractions; i.e. brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, mothers and dads.
I also think I know what it is.
I know about a family vacation that is really different. It is for all ages. It guarantees quality family time. It’s an expedition, an adventure, summer camp, summer school and even manners school all rolled into one. Plus, it’s real in a way that Disneyworld and Busch Gardens could never be.
The perfect family vacation? A cruise. Wait. I’m not talking about a cruise on a big impersonal ship with a thousand cabins. I mean a cruise on a private yacht with just two or three cabins.
Instead of crossing an expanse of ocean to dock at foreign shopping districts, imagine your family cruising the sheltered Gulf Intracoastal Waterway past Southwest Florida’s gulf barrier islands and wild mangrove sanctuaries where herons, egrets, pelicans and ospreys roost.
Leave the earphones, cell phones and laptops at home. This is an expedition into the wild. This is not the family vacations that I recall with my brother, sister and me fighting for the best seat in the family station wagon. On the bridgedeck, there is no such thing as a bad seat.
You’ll see dolphins surf your wake, take note of a magnificent frigatebird soaring overhead, and see a giant ray in the clear water below, half-buried in the sand, thinking you don’t see him. Then, when the ray knows his hiding place is exposed, he’ll blow out of there in a puff of sand. Disney could fake that, but you’d know it was not the real thing, and your heart wouldn’t take the same kind of leap.
Drop the dinghy in the water one morning and paddle to a pristine Gulf beach. You may find the paddle marks where a loggerhead struggled up beyond the high tide mark to lay her eggs.
On the beach, maybe you’ll find a coquina shell with a tiny, smoothly-rounded hole in it. This is the hole made by a snail or a whelk with a tongue-like part called a radula. The predator drilled that hole and ate the animal inside. Keep it as a reminder that the natural world is not always kind, but is endlessly fascinating.
Toward the end of the day you’ll anchor up in a remote cove and organize a family fishing tournament on the stern. Maybe somebody will volunteer to take the dinghy to shore and gather up some clams and the family chef and his/her assistant will make a one-pot fish stew satisfying to all. As dark gathers, the family will gather on the fly-bridge and watch a sliver of a moon appear over the mangroves and stars emerge against a black sky. Out here, on a clear night, without the glare of city lights, you can see 5,000 stars. But look at one. Now, imagine; you could be looking at the light of a star that no longer exists. You’re seeing light that took a million years to reach you.
The best lessons are learned like that, not from a textbook.
Be sure to schedule some family events like a beachside picnic, a dinghy race, a diving contest off the transom. Memories are made of this, memories as compelling as anything except for perhaps ghost stories around a campfire at Girl Scout camp. Oh, what the heck, tell some ghost stories, too.
Here’s another bonus: in September, if a teacher should assign the dreaded what-I-did-on-my-vacation essay, the student will have something to write about.
For safety’s sake there are some serious dos and don’ts on a cruising yacht and the captain insists they be followed. You might say the atmosphere is lighthearted, but disciplined. When you think about it, you could say the rules for a successful cruise are probably the same as the rules for the successful life.
A family vacation that teaches that lesson might be the best vacation of all.
JULY, AUGUST- Great Cruising
Mark your calendar, pack your sea bag and set off on a sail or power cruising adventure during some of the most beautiful weather months of the year.
When people ask us what is our favorite time of year, we quickly reply – “Summer!”
We love summer in Southwest Florida!
We want to share these scenes of summer in Southwest Florida. We hope to see you soon!
YACHT SALES AND BROKERAGE
Florida Yacht Sales is focused on matching boat buyers from around the
world with trawlers, motor-yachts and sailing vessels 30-feet or longer.
It is a member and abides by the code of ethics of the Yacht Brokers
Association of America and the Florida Yacht Brokers Association. SFY is
also a participating member of Yachtworld.com, the online, universal yacht
FEATURED BOAT OF THE MONTH:
32 – Price
|Krogen 42’||1986||$245,000||Single Diesel w/BT|
|Grand Banks 42’ Classic||1980||$189,000||Twin Ford Lehman Dsls|
|Krogen 36’ Manatee||1989||$159,000||Single Volvo Diesel w/BT|
|Grand Banks 32’ Sedan||1979||$77,500||Single Ford Lehman Dsl|
FOR COMPLETE SPECS AND
PHOTOS ON ANY OF THESE YACHTS GO TO
http://www.swfyachtsales.com OR CALL US AT 800-262-7939 OR 239-656-1339.
WE NEED LISTINGS, TOO!
If you have a boat to sell, let the professionals at Southwest Florida Yachts assist you!
We can help you sell your boat or find the boat of your dreams. ...Top of Page
SAVINGS FOR THE COOL MONTHS!!
SAIL OR CRUISE INTO WINTER AND SAVE!
Announcing . . . 10% OFF ALL CHARTERS!
10% off all charters of 3-days or longer beginning November 1, 2005!
Charter a sail or power yacht for a long weekend or a week-long cruise and take 10% off the regular charter rate from November 1-December 15, 2005!
Reserve your dates soon! The winter months, especially holidays, fill up quickly. Book the boat of your dreams today!
SFY to be Featured in Two Major Publications this Summer!
Southwest Florida Yachts and the Florida Sailing & Cruising School will be featured in the July issue of POWER AND MOTORYACHT and in the August issue of CRUISING WORLD.
Bill Pike, Senior Editor for POWER AND MOTORYACHT Magazine learned the art of cruising slowly aboard Patience, our Grand Banks 32 trawler. He shares his experience in the upcoming July issue. www.powerandmotoryacht.com
CRUISING WORLD’S writer Angus Phillips set sail aboard our Catalina 34 for a cruise through the beautiful Southwest Florida. Watch for Angus’ sea stories in the August Charter issue of the magazine. www.thesailingcompany.com
We hope you have a chance to pick up a copy of these magazines or go online and subscribe to these great publications!
Southwest Florida International Airport To Open July 20, 2005!
Southwest Airlines Announces New Service to Fort Myers!
Southwest Florida has hit the “big time” with a new, bigger and better airport! The new terminal at Southwest Florida International Airport will open on Wednesday, July 20, replacing the existing 22-year-old facility and providing more than twice the space. The $438 million project includes the new 798,000-square-foot terminal, a new taxiway and related roadways and is one of the first built-from-the-ground-up airport terminals in the U.S. to incorporate post-Sept. 11 security mandates into its design.
Flight operations will move to the new facility overnight. The final arriving flight on the evening of Tuesday, July 19, will deliver the passengers to the existing old terminal. The following morning, passengers leaving on early-morning departing flights will be the first to use the new terminal.
The two-story terminal will be accessed by a dual roadway system that will allow departing passengers to be dropped at the upper-level curb and arriving passengers to be met on the lower level, where baggage claim facilities are located. The upper level will include ticket counters, security-clearance areas, aircraft gates, restaurants and shops.
Along with the new building will come new and improved airline transportation services.
One of the first airlines to announce new service to Fort Myers is Southwest Airlines. Southwest will begin serving our area later this year. This airline company joins a long list of major airlines that serve Southwest Florida including American, Continental, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Song, USA 3000, US Airways and more!
It’s now easier than ever to get to Southwest Florida! Check your local airport guide for the airline that will serve you best and join us soon! For more information go to: www.flylcpa.com
Check out our websites!
For complete charter, school, and yacht
sales information, try our websites:
You will find complete charter and class rates, specs on all the boats, copies of many newspaper and magazine articles about our company, the latest news, boats for sale, and special offers!
For more information on charters, classes, charter yacht ownership, or brokerage yachts for sale, please call us at 1-800-262-7939 or 239-656-1339. E-mail: SWFYachts@aol.com
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