From the Publisher
Distribution exploded last month. Our stand in the lobby at Bass Pro holds 1,100 papers and it has to now be refilled half way through the month. I’m seeing license plates from all over the country, restaurants parking lots are full, and it’s hard for visitors to find a seasonal rental that’s not booked. SW Florida Regional Airport even announced parking was at max capacity already. It’s looking to be the start of a busy season.
I had the opportunity to be a guest speaker for the Cape Coral Power Squadron last month. They hold general meetings quarterly and asked if I would come say hi, but they also asked me to avoid talking about Covid, politics, water quality issues, or Hurricane Ian. This opened up a door to a fun evening, so I decided to talk to the club about what it was like growing up in the Keys. Dad worked for the state Marine Patrol, he was assigned to the Keys by President Carter’s efforts to get drug smuggling in South Florida under control. From my dad making the largest cocaine bust in US history (at the time) to me being kidnapped by smugglers, I was able to entertain the Power Squadron with something they didn’t expect.
Anyone who lived in the Keys in the 70’s has tales about drug smuggling. US Customs often used the incinerators on Card Sound Road to burn seized loads of marijuana. They didn’t need the whole load for evidence, they only needed a sample from each bail, so the bails were burned. A guy I knew in high school unexpectedly showed up with a new “Smokey & the Bandit” Trans-Am one day. He worked at the incinerator plant, and apparently during a “drug burn” Customs loaded the last of the bails and left the property, but the fire had not yet been lit. This guy & his buddy both had new Trans Ams a week later, and I hear they’ve both been in prison since.
70’s and early 80’s were a memorable time to be living in the Keys.
My dad made the cut in the first episode of the “Cocaine Cowboys” TV documentary series. It’s currently on Amazon Prime, fast-forward to scene time 30.35. Watch for the cop talking about an RV with 30+ green duffle bags containing over 2,000 pounds of 95% pure cocaine.
The club was not expecting my stories but it was a fun talk, the whole room had a great evening, and it was an honor to be invited.
The Cape Coral Power Squadron has nearly 500 members and it’s the largest club of its kind in the US. After I talked I sat in on their general meeting and was impressed when they described classes they host to their new members. Classes are open to the public and most are held in seasonal months. Their staple class is known Nationwide, “America’s Boating Course,” which gives you the basics you need to get out on the water safely, and it meets most states boating education requirements. The course also includes an introduction to use of local nautical charts.
Other classes they host include cruising & planning, engine maintenance, marine electrical systems, marine communication systems, electronic navigation, radar for boaters, and there’s even a sailing class. The weather class caught my eye, it’s a detailed study of the causes of weather, various types of storms and clouds, plus weather predictions. It’s a 6-week class and I have no doubt upon graduation you’d be as good as anyone predicting weather on TV. See page 32.
Tis the season, and my highest gift recommendation for both guys and gals would be a fishing charter. Even if someone doesn’t fish, they would still enjoy a day on the water between seeing wildlife, having lunch at a water-access restaurant, and even a walk on a beach. Watching dolphins jump in your wake and seeing SW Florida from the water is a treat.
Our office maintains the only map to water-access restaurants in this part of the state. It’s been a challenge to manage through post-hurricane damages but almost every restaurant we track is up & running, along with a few new ones that look pretty unique and inviting. High Tide Social House at Tarpon Point is on the top of that list. This unique new establishment has gotten a lot of attention. A few years ago we had around 40 water-access restaurants on the map, today there’s 54. These are restaurants you can access by boat in Lee County. The map is on page 9, plus there’s an 8.5X11 version on our website you can print.
I’m planning to host fishing seminars. I haven’t locked in a location yet but for those interested, plan on it being in Cape Coral in March on a Saturday morning. Seasoned residents like to brush up on fishing skills plus they always learn something new, and the newer residents would be excited to get familiar with local technique. The last series was in a parking lot in St. James City before Covid threw us all off balance. This time I’ll find an indoor facility plus throw in bottled waters and snacks. Expect local guides with local knowledge as opposed to celebrities talking about sponsors.
This month I have the pleasure of being a guest speaker for the Cape Coral Cruise Club. They actually own a private island in the middle of the Caloosahatchee in N. Ft. Myers along with a parking area with their own shuttle service.
I know what you’re thinking, “That Jim guy sure has a tough life….”
Publisher, Nautical Mile
Publisher, Destination Pine Island
Author, "Don't Tell Me I Can't Do It"