By Natalie Strom
People flock to Marco en masse every year for its pristine beaches, beautiful ocean scenery and endless amenities. Nothing is more exhilarating than getting out on the open water and feeling the ocean’s warm mist. Marco’s newest craze offers just that but in the form a thrill ride. Unlike any other watercraft experience offered on the island, Outer Limits Hovercraft Tours offers customers an exhilarating adventure over the water and sand flats of the Ten Thousand Islands and surrounding areas.
Ron Michaels, owner of Outer Limits, is a licensed U.S. Coastguard Captain with more than 45 years on experience on the water. He has been working in watersports for much of his life and continued to so when he came to Marco in 1986. “I grew up in a Coast Guard family,” explains Michaels. “We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale in 1969. At 10 years of age living on a waterway that led directly to the ocean, my love of boating began. I felt very privileged to experience operating boats and boating safety at such an early age. As an adult, relocating to Marco Island was a must to escape the extremely busy waterways of the east coast.”
Michaels has sailed and instructed others on Hobie cats and windsurfers. He has extensive experience running waverunner tours, kayak excursions and boating adventures throughout the mazes of the Ten Thousand Islands. He also has spent many years as a captain on different parasail boats.
These experiences eventually brought him all over the world. “My exposure to parasailing over the years led to working as a parasail training captain for a parasail boat manufacturer. I traveled around the globe to places like South Korea, Portugal, Bermuda and the Bahamas to name a few. However, my passion for the nature of this somewhat remote coastal region always draws me back. My knowledge of the area is extensive from the freshwater of the Everglades to the coastal Mangrove Forest of The Ten Thousand Islands.”
Having mastered just about every aqua activity, Michaels turned to something new for his latest business adventure: the hovercraft. “It was simply an idea to bring an attraction that hasn’t been offered in our area. A local boat dealer had a link to Neoteric Hovercraft. We contacted them, went on a demo ride and decided that was our niche.”
Hovercrafts fall into two categories, Michaels explains. The light-weight sport craft is what Outer Limits uses for its thrill rides. Large-scale hovercrafts facilitate movement of military troops and equipment and can also be used as public transportation vessels.
Outer Limits offers guests of four to five people a 45-minute thrill ride. “The pilot will review safety procedures and simple rider participation then typically take off from land directly into the waterway. The maneuverability of these high-tech, light weight hovercrafts allows the captain to fly inches over the surface of either water or land. Riders are always impressed with the smooth transition as the craft hovers from water over the sand and back over the water again.”
Riders quickly feel the flight-like feeling of seamless sideways turns as they slide across the surface. For the daredevils, Michaels and his team provide 360-degree spins and other moves that provide a sensational rush of adrenaline. Speeds typically range from 15 to 25 miles per hour.
“Not all rides have to be thrill rides,” he adds. “We can cater to those that simply want to experience the flight-like ride. This area is recognized for its variety of beautiful shells to be collected. Low tides are the best (for shelling) and with our craft’s ability to hover we can provide unrivaled access.”
For the environmentalist, Michaels states that there is no impact on marine life as the craft hovers nine inches above the surface of the water or land. The rides also offer an array of wildlife to be viewed.
“We offer a very specialized craft that is the only of its kind in this area. We encourage inquiries and are able to design private trips. Not many can say they have taken a flight on a Hovercraft and we hope to change that. Let us take you to the Outer Limits!”
Reservations are required. To learn more about Outer Limits and the many locations it operates from — Naples, Marco, Goodland, Port of the Islands — visit Outerlimitshovercrafttours.com or call 239-207-7887
By Natalie Strom
One by one, Buzzard Princess contestants took the stage at the annual Mullet Festival at Stan’s Idle Hour in Goodland, hoping to win the coveted crown by dancing to the “Buzzard Lope.” The competition was fierce yet friendly as they “flapped their wings up and down, took a step back, turned round and round.” It was so friendly, in fact, that three of the contestants made a pact before the dance began — whoever won would donate the brand new bicycle prize to a lo-cal, sick young girl.
Sydney Pope and Ava Crossan are both daughters of Marco Island Firefighters. Every year, their fathers, along with other off-duty Marco firefighters of Local 287, set up a stand and grill up hot dogs and bratwursts during the Mullet Festival. This year, the 30th anniversary of the festival, took place over the weekend of Jan. 25.
“Close to 20 years ago, the guys put (the stand) together with Stan, and it just kind of stuck,” explains Dan Stoller of the MIFRD. “Every year, we raise money from the sales for someone local and in need.”
This year, Victoria Law, an eight-year-old diagnosed with Leukemia, was chosen by Local 287. “(The Laws) are a local family and Victoria has grown up in the area. We heard about what was going on and contacted her parents and asked if we could donate the money to her. They said they would be very grateful.”
Sydney, her friend Kate Drasba and Ava knew about Victoria through the MIFRD. The young, healthy and kind-hearted girls danced as hard as they could, but not for themselves. In the end, Sydney won, and the bike was given to Victoria.
Victoria’s family was also given $2,000 raised by Local 287 that day. “With the help of Stan’s, we raised $1,500, and on the final day, Frank LaCava, owner of the Marco Island Brewery, came over and donated $500.”
Every year, the money raised during the Mullet Festival goes to a different local cause. This year’s recipient received more than just money. Congratulations to Victoria on her new bicycle, and congratulations to the three young ladies who already understand the importance of philanthropy.
By Noelle H. Lowery
The Marco Island City Council voted 6-0 to allow Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department Chief Michael Murphy to hire three new firefighter-EMTs — one person per shift — at its Feb. 3 meeting. Vice Chairman Larry Sacher was absent.
This was the second time in six months that City Council voted on the question of new personnel for the MIFRD. During the city’s budget negotiations, the Budget Sub-committee approved the hiring of three additional fire fighter-EMTs. In September, though, City Council voted 4-3 to scrub the three new personnel from the budget. The original funding, however, remained in the budget.
During the recent meeting, Murphy told councilors the additional personnel boiled down to two words — response time. He said: “It is an expectation that when someone on this island calls 911 that they have us answer them…They shouldn’t have to wait nine minutes or more for a response.”
To be sure, growth on Marco Island and in the surrounding areas has increased the number of calls for MIFRD, as well as Marco’s reliance on mutual aid from other fire departments throughout Collier County. In 2013, MIFRD responded to 3,202 fire rescue and medical incidents — a 10.5 percent increase over 2012, a 16.5 percent increase over 2011 and a nearly 60 percent increase since Marco Island became a city 15 years ago.
Moreover, these incidents did not happen one at a time. Last year, there were 650 times MIFRD had two or more overlapping calls. In 2012, there were 543 overlapping incidents on Marco Island requiring off-island assistance, and in some of these cases, island residents waited as long as 29 minutes for help.
Chief Murphy described for councilors one day last December when five calls came into MIFRD in 51 minutes. When the call came in for a fire alarm at a multi-story condominium, he and the on-duty battalion chief were the only ones available from MIFRD to respond. Engine 90 from Isle of Capri responded nine minutes later, followed by two secondary units from East Naples Fire-Rescue District more than 20 minutes later.
“I truly believe this is a response time issue,” Murphy explained to City Council. “(The new personnel) will greatly enhance our response time…Someone will be there to protect (residents), to help them…This truly is a need of the fire-rescue service…We are facing a critical issue.”
According to Murphy, the three additional personnel will help with response time by allowing MIFRD to staff its quick-response vehicle to answer medical calls on the island. The QRV is set for delivery in March. Additionally, with the QRV in operation, maintenance and repair costs of the department’s tower truck will decrease because it will have to make less runs. Currently, if a medical call comes in on or off island, the tower truck will respond. Adding the QRV to the mix, allows the tower truck to remain at the station while the QRV makes the medical call.
Still, Murphy’s victory did not come without questions, and the main question was about funding the positions. Despite maintaining the $168,161 budgeted for the positions in 2014, recent recalculations of the city’s pension contributions showed the actual cost of the positions would now be close to $225,000. There were also questions about whether the new personnel and the QRV will require the hiring of additional supervision. Councilors also wondered how the additional personnel would impact the proposed renovation of Station 51.
This increase gave some councilors pause. “We’ve increased our ambulance coverage with the county during season,” said Council Chairman Ken Honecker. “At $225,000 annually, I don’t know…I think this is something we should be doing in the budget cycle.”
“We owe this to the citizens,” noted Councilor Larry Honig. “We really need this shift…Let’s hope we can pay for it in the coming years.”
Councilor Joe Batte tried to assuage these concerns by reminding his fellow councilors of their primary responsibility as City Council — the safety and security of the community. “It is not balanced budgets,” Batte told councilors. “(We) pay the fire chief a lot of money, and he has a lot of expertise. I hear him saying we need to step up, gang. We need to do this, and pick up the slack here. We need to make sure that when they call our people are served.”
Still, Batte admitted: “It is a tough nut, but we can’t save money when it comes to the safety and protection of our people…I cannot look the other way when my chief tells me that we can’t serve our people…I hear what you are saying. We need to cut and save in other areas, but when it comes to the safety of our people, we can’t cut there.”
Community members showed their support as well. “The chief has been pretty frugal,” said local businessman Bill McMullen. “We are having the busiest season we have ever had…There are more people in the way, more people needing assistance and causing the problems. I do believe the time is now… I recommend that you step up and approve that.”
Monte Lazarus, who thanks the MIFRD every chance he has for saving his life in recent years, spoke on behalf of the Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation. “Please listen to Joe Batte,” he implored. “Your obligation is to provide for the safety and welfare of the people in this community. I don’t know what a human life is worth, but I think it is well within our capabilities in this community to protect and defend our citizens. Please take care of the citizens of this community.”
In the end, even the two councilors — Amadeo Petricca and Bob Brown — who have been most hesitant on this issue were showing signs of change. “I don’t think money is the issue. We can find it in other areas of the budget,” said Petricca; but he added, “I have been against hiring three individuals from the start, and I haven’t necessarily changed my mind about it.”
“We have to be budget conscious,” agreed Brown. “Batte said it the best. We are under an obligation to take care of everyone who lives on Marco Island and everyone who comes to visit. I want to be the guy who gets things moving.”
While this was his first official City Council Meeting, new City Manager Roger Hernstadt was on point, and he assured councilors that the funds will be found in the current budget. His sentiments were echoed by the city’s Finance Manager Guillermo Polanco.
With a sigh of relief, Murphy told City Council and the audience: “We are not trying to make more than we really need. One person makes a dramatic difference in our organization.”
By Noelle H. Lowery
Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department Chief Michael Murphy could not have asked for a more perfect day. The sun shone. The bay was calm. Boaters were few, and an anxious crowd gathered under the vestibule at the Marco Island Yacht Club for a very special occasion — the christening and dedication of the new Fire-Rescue Boat 50.
“Thank you for coming to what is a very important tradition in the fire service, the ‘wetting down’ of a new fire-rescue boat. It is a solemn service, but it begins a new era in the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department,” Murphy said to the crowd, which included members of the City Council, new City Manager Roger Herhstadt, Marco Island Police Chief Don Hunter, Collier County Administrator Len Golden Price, representatives from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 95, members of the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Foudnation, Emily Roantree from boat manufacturer MetalCraft Marine, Jari Kuivanto of jet propulsion manufacturer Alamarin-Jet Oy, and members of the MIFRD and MIPD.
The ceremony also included public tours of the vessel and a capabilities demonstration. At full speed — 44 mph — the boat stopped on a dime and with little wake or spray. Its two Alamain-Jet 228 water jet propulsion drives allowed it to make a perfect circle without major maneuvers, and the vessel’s two water cannons shot water nearly over the Jolley Bridge, proving its fire fighting prowess.
A long-time coming
The ceremony signified the culmination of MIFRD’s more than three-year journey to secure the new $398,000, state-of-the-art and customized fire-rescue boat boat. For more than a decade, MIFD shared two modified recreational boats with the police department — a Donzi and a Pathfinder. These boats pushed hard to monitor Marco Island’s 100 miles of canals, bring aid to its 6,000 registered boaters, and assist the closest U.S. Coast Guard post in Fort Myers — a minimum 45-minute ride away. They are busy answering between 50-100 emergency water-based calls annually.
The new vessel arrived at Station 50 on Elkcam Circle with great fanfare Jan. 15, after being delayed because of winter storms in the Mid-West and New England. It now calls Walker’s Hideaway Marina home. MIFRD officials and fire fighters have spent the last two weeks conducting training exercises and putting the boat through its paces. In fact, MIFRD used the new boat to respond to a boating accident on Keewaydin Island just shortly after arriving.
Specifically, the 34.3-foot boat’s key features include:
• an aluminum body with a 10-foot beam and diesel engine that will allow it to pulling close to a burning boat with less risk;
• a 1600-gallon-per minute water pump and specialized foam system to fight fiberglass and hydrocarbon fires;
• a FLIR (forward-looking infrared) system for search and rescue calls that sense body heat in the water for up to a mile;
• jet drives that allow the boat to enter extremely shallow water and remain steady during patient transport;
• a float-on medical platform that allows the vessel operator to back up right beneath a victim on a backboard for safer entry into the boat; and
• two fully-equipped medical treatment areas with the medical equipment.
After the welcome by City Council Chairman Ken Honecker, Murphy welcomed MetalCraft’s Roantree to the podium for a quick rundown of the boat’s bells, whistles and capabilities. Based in Cape Vincent, NY, MetalCraft Marine furnishes boats for U.S. government agencies, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies and fire-rescue departments all over the country.
He also applauded MetalCraft for their commitment to the project and to quality. “A representative from MetalCraft has been here with us since the boat was delivered,” Murphy noted. “(MetalCraft) is a partner through the long-term.”
Honoring the fallen
The ceremony continued with the raising of the colors, the Pledge of Allegiance and the blessing of the boat by MIFRD Chaplan Ray Munyon. Murphy also told the story about the January 2007 boat fire in the Marco River that inspired the MIFRD to lobby City Council for the new boat. “We lost a life to fire in the Marco River,” he recounted.
Then, MIFRD Captain Tom Bogan stepped to the podium to unveil the vessel’s name — the J.W. Adams. Bogan spoke of his good friend, Jerry Adams, who served the Marco Island community for 23 years with the department. Adams lost his battle with cancer in February 2012, while still an active member of the MIFRD. Bogan also noted the significance of the length of the boat. At 34.3 feet long, the boat memorializes the 343 fire fighters who were killed during the 9/11 attacks.
With Adams’ gear resting on the back of the boat, two bagpipers from the East Naples Fire-Rescue Department played a tribute. Fire extinguishers in hand, member of the City Council, City Manager Hernstadt and MIFRD officials sprayed the boat down with water to complete the “Wet Down.”
“This boat is a replicate of Jerry,” Bogan said with a smile on his face. “It is kind of ugly but works very, very hard…We miss him terribly…Jerry meant a lot to me, and it is the greatest honor for this boat to be named for him.”
By Natalie Strom
Southwest Florida has seen of a number of beach strandings by short-finned pilot whales during the months of December 2013 and January 2014. From Lee County to the Everglades, an estimated 55 pilot whales perished due to these events. A somewhat rare event, beach strandings by marine mammals take place all over the world for reasons which are usually unknown. Yet, these pilot whales make for an interesting case as so many have landed on our shores as of late.
Pilot whales are the second largest member of the dolphin group, just behind orca whales. They average a length of about 12 feet and are incredibly social creatures. They stick together in pods of anywhere from 20 to 90 and can be found in deep waters of tropical and temperate climates, according to the American Cetacean Society. It has been observed that a possible reason for mass strandings is due to the highly social nature of the creatures.
According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), pilot whales are actually the most common species to mass strand and cases have been recorded in the United States as far back as the early pioneering days.
Florida certainly isn’t alone in seeing these mass strandings — especially as of late. On Jan. 6, the Associated Press reported a pod of 39 pilot whales that died after stranding themselves on a beach in New Zealand. Twelve of the pilot whales in New Zealand were found to have already been deceased and the rest were euthanized.
Scientists monitor and collect information through necropsies and other samplings of the dead animals to determine possible causes for the strandings. Currently, Florida’s pilot whales are being examined.
The sad saga of their strandings began in early December when 51 pilot whales were spotted on or near a remote beach in Everglades National Park. After a number of days, 22 perished, and it seemed the rest of the pod made it back out to sea. Some of the whales were necropsied, but, “It takes weeks, and months sometimes, before we can get back all of the analysis. Those whales were in poor body condition so we may not be able to get too much out of them,” warned Blair Mase, NOAA’s SE marine mammal stranding network coordinator, during a media conference call on Jan. 23, 2014.
January’s strandings began on Sunday the 19th when 23 pilot whales were spotted in the shallow waters of Gordon Pass in Naples. A few seemed stuck, but successfully made it back to sea. The following day, Monday the 20th, the same 23 pilot whales were seen about two miles off Marco’s beaches.
According to NOAA, 14 pilot whales were found either stranded or swimming freely near Lover’s Key State Park the same day. Crews responded and in the end, eight of the whales died, four of which were euthanized. “The eight whales from Lover’s Key were necropsied,” reported Allison Garrett, communications specialist for the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Office. The other six remained unaccounted for after an aerial search.
On Thursday, Jan. 23, a mass stranding on Kice Island was reported by a boater. Just south of Marco, Kice is a popular spot for shelling and camping. That day, 25 pilot whales died — 16 females and nine males.
Overall, “There were a total of 37 whales observed between Kice Island and Lover’s Key (Ft. Myers). Of those, 33 died or were humanely euthanized,” explained Garrett. While all eight of the whales on Lover’s Key had been necropsied, only six of those at Kice Island were. “The remaining dead whales (all from Kice Island) were in a more advanced state of decomposition; therefore, they were sampled, but not completely necropsied,” she added.
Mase confirmed during the telephone conference that it was believed that all of the whales spotted along the coast during those five days were of the same pod. “If they did not strand in this location they would have stranded somewhere else,” she stated, explaining that many were underweight, malnourished and non-responsive upon arrival. Many were already dead and others seemed to float listlessly. “They had been out of their home range for quite a while.”
Pilot whales do, in fact, call the Gulf of Mexico their home, but as Garrett explained, “They typically reside off the continental shelf in very deep waters.”
The mystery always seems to remain as to why these whales strand themselves. “Historically, (strandings) sort of come in spurts where we will get a continual spurt of strandings. It is unusual though. It’s something that we’re looking at. Why we had a stranding occur in December and now here another one in January. I would say it’s unusual, and it’s something we’re looking into and monitoring any future trends as well,” added Mase.
Ketten concurred. “There is no good general answer. (Every) stranding may have a different cause. A great many involve human interactions, such as entanglement or pollutants, ship strikes, etc, but equally, they may be caused by disease, particularly viruses or some natural toxin, or aging, amongst many other causes. When you have large numbers of animals simultaneously, the more likely cause is something rapid and easily spread, like a morbillivirus.”
“Marine mammals typically strand because they are sick or injured. Mass strandings, such as those of the pilot whales, may occur because of their cohesive social structure. When one or two whales become sick, the rest of the group may follow those sick individuals to shore and become disoriented and debilitated themselves,” stated Garrett.
Over the years, many have questioned naval sonar testing as a cause to mass strandings, but according to Garrett, “NOAA has heard from the Navy that there was no activity in the area in the week prior to the stranding.”
The Navy has been conducting sonar testing throughout our world’s oceans since the 1970s. Recent studies, however, have been linked to certain stranding cases, one of which the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) released regarding beaked whales. According to Peter Tyack, senior scientist on the report, “(The study) suggests that beaked whales are particularly sensitive to sound…But the observations on the naval range suggest that while sonar can disrupt the behavior of the whales, appropriate monitoring and management can reduce the risk of stranding.”
This research was supported by the United States Office of Naval Research, the U.S. Strategic Environmental Research and Development, the Environmental Readiness Division of the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Submarine Warfare Division (Undersea Surveillance), NOAA and the Joint Industry Program on Sound and Marine Life of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers.
Recently, the Navy has released its “Environmental Impact Statement for Exercises Planned from 2014-2018.” The study, which can be found at http://hstteis.com, states that sonar testing may cause unintentional harm to 2.8 million marine mammals throughout the next five years.
To be sure, “We do have cases from New England, to the Gulf, to South Africa, to Europe, to New Zealand — essentially in every habitat that pilot whales — of mass strandings of this species,” stated Ketten, clarifying that, “No single clear, common, constant cause has been identified.”
In our last issue, the history of the original vessel, the Star (of the Everglades), operated by the Lopez family from Lopez River and Chokoloskee was covered, including its use in hosting several U.S. Presidents, its being part of the classic local film “Wind Across the Everglades,” and its key role in opening up sports fishing for tourists in the Ten Thousand Islands. That boat was retired and replaced by a new vessel, a beautiful yacht with a colorful history. After finishing its service in charter fishing, the new boat was owned and lived on by a number of local residents, who retain great memories of this fabulous yacht which, like the previous one, was aptly named the Star.
In the early 1960s, the original Star left Everglades City for the last time and later returned as the new Star, a vessel still two decks high but now 65 feet long with a beam of 22 feet, a double-planked wood hull, 70 net tons and with a shallow draft drawing only three feet of water. It was ideal for taking sportsmen to the Broad, Lostman’s and Shark rivers. The new vessel had three private staterooms, with two beds, two showers and a full bathtub, a teak-paneled main salon with a fireplace and a bar — perfect for three couples. This Star, unlike the previous one, was air conditioned, had television, a cocktail lounge, a card room and a sundeck for wives who did not care to fish. The brochure of the time said: “In addition to the prized tarpon, commonly ranging up to 100 pounds of fighting dynamite, there are a great variety of other fish to be found; most commonly being the snook and redfish.” Dinner served on board was either fresh fish, stone crabs or steaks and lobster, and also included and served on the large table in the main salon was a full course breakfast and a light lunch. The new 1962 Star brochure said it did not take trips less than four days out of season and suggested a five-day minimum. The advertised price was $280 a day total during season for a party of four and excluded drinks and tackle.
The new Star of the Everglades was a custom-built luxury vessel, completed in 1927 for former Governor of Ohio James M. Cox, who at the time was the owner of the Cox newspaper chain which included the “Miami Daily News.” The vessel had been used in the Miami area to entertain Cox’s business clients and rich friends until around 1961 when Capt. Jim Thompson and his wife Rosina purchased it for their Everglades adventures. Thompson could tow behind the Star up to three small boats with various outboards having horsepower up to 40 hp, giving anglers access into the small creeks and backwater bays while the Star remained anchored at the mouths of the large rivers that drained from the Everglades.
In late 1970, Jim Martin of Marco Island spotted the Star in dry dock at the Turner Boat yard in Naples. It had been pulled for caulking and other maintenance work on the wooden hull. He liked the old style of the boat, saw an opportunity to buy a boat he could live on, and quickly negotiated with Jim Thompson for the purchase. Capt. Jim Thompson had lost interest in the excursion fishing business after his wife Rosina died, and he ended up selling the Star to Jim Martin for $7,500. They made one last trip to Everglades City to offload Thompson’s personal items and the guide boats; the trip back to Naples, according to Martin, was a very emotional trip for Jim Thompson, who had grown much attached to the Star. In a way, many others’ lives would be impacted by this vessel.
Martin docked the Star in Naples at Boat Haven, paying dockage of $20 a month and mooring it adjacent to U.S. 41’s Gordon River Bridge. It was in a location that was too shallow for most boats, but the Star, drawing only three feet, could use it. For two years, Jim Martin lived on the boat and would rent rooms out for extra income. He worked at the Marco Beach Hotel, and about once a month, friends would join him on party trips to Little Marco Pass (now Hurricane Pass), all pitching in on fuel. But, even with fuel being 20 cents a gallon, the twin Chryslers 135 hp inboards were gas hogs and expensive to run. The vessel was not easy to operate and required three to four people to get it under way. The boat was also two floors high making it susceptible to winds and, compounding the problem was the weight of the upstairs main lounge made of dark wood of cypress and mahogany, and under the seats, it carried 600-plus pounds of water storage in large copper tanks making the boat a little top-heavy.
Like Jim Webb, who has kept old brochures and photos of the Star, Jim Martin also has sentimental feelings about the Star, and retained numerous photos as well as his documents. Martin examined the official documentation — “Certificate of Enrollment for a U.S. Licensed Yacht” — from the U.S. Treasury Dept., and discovered that the vessel had been built in 1927 in Holly Hill, FL, south of Jacksonville. Martin decided to investigate and drove to north Florida looking at areas on the Halifax River. He found the location of the old boatyard and discovered that the builder was none other than William (Bill) McCoy — whose reputation later coined the phrase “The Real McCoy.” McCoy and his brothers had a great reputation building expensive speedboats and yachts for millionaires like Andrew Carnegie and the Vanderbilts, and, of course, also for the former Ohio Governor Cox for whom the Star was originally built.
During Prohibition, McCoy changed careers and ran whiskey from offshore boats into the eastern seaboard. On a usual trip, it was said he would make $300,000 profit! His profits ended on Nov. 23, 1923, when a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter intercepted McCoy’s vessel in international waters, outside the three-mile U.S. limit. After shooting 4-inch shells over his hull, McCoy surrendered, saying on capture: “I have no tale of woe to tell you. I was outside the three-mile limit, selling whisky, and good whisky, to anyone and everyone who wanted to buy.” He pleaded guilty, served nine months in jail and was soon out and back in the boat business. The phrase “The Real McCoy” originated because he refused to water down his liquor or sell moonshine like his competitors who, in their attempt to gain credibility, would claim their product was also “The Real McCoy.” As a result of McCoy’s capture, the U.S. changed its territorial limit from three miles to 12 miles.
By about 1972, Martin decided to sell the Star, one of his bigger concerns being what to do in the event of a hurricane. Heavy winds and waves would cause the boat to crash against the seawall or even into the adjacent bridge, so his plan was to sink it in place to stabilize it. Back in 1960, during the infamous Hurricane Donna, Capt. Jim Thompson had run the Star up into the backwaters of the Ten Thousand Islands and tied it off on mangroves — an option not available in Naples. Martin had several buyers interested in the Star, including one who wanted to operate it as a floating restaurant in Old Marco, but in the end, Jim Lowe purchased it.
Henry Lowe of Marco Island, brother of Jim Lowe, remembers when his brother owned the Star and lived on it with his wife and daughter: “When both Jim and I owned part of Marco River Marina (now Rose Marina), we each lived on a boat moored there. My family was in the Big Dipper, and Jim and his family was in the Star. Compared to the Star, the Big Dipper I owned was like a crude barge. The Star was fabulous, and clearly made by a craftsman. The details could not be found today. It had brass throughout. Cypress walls inside and the ‘knees,’ which support the deck from below, were not prefabricated, but were chosen from the best part of the tree where the wood would have naturally bent and was cut and crafted to be part of this elegant vessel.” Henry said that it had been a dream of both brothers to live on boats, and they both owned theirs for about two years before selling them. Jim Lowe, being in the marina business, kept the boat maintained and the engines running. He took his family and the Star down to the Florida Keys on vacations.
The next owner was Fred Von Langen, who played the organ while his wife played the drums and piano. They worked as entertainers at the Old Marco Inn, and also sold Amway products. His dream was also to live on a boat; so upon purchase from Lowe, Von Langen, his wife and two sons — ages 12 and 14 —moved aboard and lived on the Star while it was moored at the Marco River Marina. From all accounts the Star, a high maintenance, old vessel started to show its age and to go into disrepair. He reportedly replaced the old gas engines with diesel engines; they were not run much, and it did not take very long for it to deteriorate.
Joe Torre, who worked at the time at O’Sheas Restaurant in Old Marco, purchased the Star from Von Langen with plans to move it to Remuda Ranch (the current Port of the Islands) and live with his wife, her son, Dave, and two daughters aboard. As Torre could only get one engine on the Star to operate, he arranged for it to be towed south by both a ski boat (Torre had owned and operated a ski School) and a house boat toward the Faka Union Canal. The single engine soon quit, and on the trip down, Dave Torre reported that the ski boat pulling the Star capsized with the Star ending up in the mangroves. The Coast Guard came to the rescue and towed the Star to its new berth by the marina/restaurant at Remuda Ranch adjacent to the bridge at U.S. 41.
Joe Torre’s brother helped restore the Star above the water line, but below it, there were major problems; neither engine worked, and the old wooden hull was leaking. Dave Torre says that in the three years he lived on the boat, while attending middle school in Everglades City School, the boat continued to take on water. In order to keep it afloat, they ran the bilge pumps day and night, and when the pumps quit, the floor became “quite soggy” to walk on. In the mid-1970s, Remuda Ranch was having financial problems, and often the electric would go off for non-payment. In addition to the Star’s 10-kw diesel generator to power the a/c, Joe Torre would try to connect the Star to a shore generator to keep the bilge pumps running. Dave says ironically that “at the time we were actually living on a sinking boat, with its lights constantly going on and off. Strangely, it was sort of a reflection of what was happening next door at (the ill-fated) Remuda Ranch.”
While they did have divers dive the boat to try to make underwater repairs, nothing short of pulling the boat would stop the leaking. Torre said that with its failed engines and with no boat travel lift big enough or near enough to pull a vessel this size, there seemed to be little hope. The previous owner, Jim Martin, would later say he believed that the problem was in the caulking of the wood in the hull, especially in the area near the tunnel drive where the prop wash had, over time, slowly eroded away the caulking, causing inevitable leaking. Joe Torre managed to get the boat towed to the O’Sheas restaurant on Marco where it was docked for a couple of years, and his family continued to live on it while he worked at the restaurant.
By around 1980, the Torre family sold the boat to Billy Oliver of Goodland, as Oliver recalls, for the price of $8,000. Oliver had it towed to Goodland by a crab boat, and, like others before him, planned to live on it. He remembers the boat as being beautiful and also being quite a “party boat.” Oliver said for a while it was moored behind a house near Stan’s, but, instead of using the normal bilge pumps to keep the boat afloat, Oliver switched to using a larger sump pump in order to try to keep up with the amount of water coming in.
After a couple of years, Collier County red tagged the boat (for being in a residential area), so Oliver moved the Star to under the Goodland bridge. For a few days, Oliver had to leave to go to New York, and said, with sadness, that while he was gone, the Star sank and ended up sitting on the bottom. Meanwhile, before he returned, some kids had broken into it and tossed stuff into the water and did general damage. Oliver lost a lot of his photos and documents when the Star sank. For $5,000, he sold the wood, life rings, wooden knees and other nautical parts of the yacht to Ray Bozicnik. Then, after being stripped, the boat was donated to the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department, which used it for training as it burned off the topsides down to the waterline.
By 1982, the Star was gone, and its wood and other items purchased from it, under the creative direction of owner “Papa Ray” Bozicnik, were incorporated into his restaurant, the Little Bar in Goodland. Bozicnik had collected numerous antiques over many years while owning and operating restaurants in the Chicago area. The restaurant is today full of recovered wood doors, old pieces of a 1924 pipe organ, stained glass panels, an 1880 mantel and much more.
His son Ray remembers helping his father salvage the wood, door knobs, life ring and other items from the sunken vessel. From the Star, Papa Ray, with design help from his son built an entirely separate room — the “boat room” in the rear of the restaurant. That room, like the Star, is also air conditioned, paneled in the original rich woods, and its ceiling beams are supported by the almost century-old wood knees handcrafted by the Real McCoy’s craftsmen. It is a wonderful place to sit, drink cocktails or fine wine, eat great food, and immerse oneself into a classic era of another time.
I want to again thank Jim Webb for his memories of the Lopez family and the many brochures of the Star he has saved, Jim Martin for his vast knowledge of the history of the Star and the photos he shared, Henry Lowe for the information he shared about his brother Jim’s ownership of the Star, as well as Dave Torre for originally contacting me inquiring about the vessel he once called home, Alvin Lederer for the use of his photos, and to Billy Oliver and Ray Bozicnik for their information on the conclusion of this story.
By Coastal Breeze News Staff
A group of about 20 volunteers met in front of the Marco Healthcare Center recently to go over the logistics of the upcoming Kiwanis Car Show to be held Feb. 17. More than 175 classic and antique cars will converge on the grounds that morning.
If you’re an auto aficionado, mark your calendar! Trophies will be awarded in 20 different classes. There will be hot rods, muscle cars, sports and specialty cars of all sizes and ages.
The show begins at 9:30 AM. There is a spectator donation of $5 each with children under 12 free. Come on out and enjoy all the shiny chrome, fine paint jobs, spotless interiors and revved up engines! All proceeds go to the Kiwanis Club, providing scholarships and other opportunities for local children.
By Natalie Strom
Volunteers for the Florida Water and Land Legacy campaign have worked tirelessly over the last two years gathering signatures for their cause — dedicating funds to acquire and restore Florida conservation and recreation lands. In mid-January, the goal was reached: a required 683,149 valid petitions signed by Floridians in at least 14 congressional districts. It’s official. The Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment will be on the November 2014 ballot.
Picking up the broken pieces of the suddenly stunted Florida Forever program, The Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment would allocate money back into environmental, historical and recreational land acquisition.
Florida Forever began in 2001, following in the footsteps of Preservation 2000. A history of the funding provided by the Nature Conservancy states that Florida Forever would “provide $3 billion for conservation over 10 years. Florida Forever was reauthorized in 2008 for $300 million annually for another 10 years.”
Today, the budget for Florida Forever has been cut by nearly 100 percent by past and present governors and legislatures. Florida Forever funding came through the documentary stamp tax revenue which is paid when real estate is sold. This tax has been collected since the early 1900s and does not affect the Florida tax payer’s pocketbook.
The Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment would amend the state’s constitution to, in summary, “fund the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands including wetlands and forests; fish and wildlife habitat; lands protecting water resources and drinking water sources, including the Everglades, and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams; beaches and shores; outdoor recreational lands; working farms and ranches; and historic or geologic sites, by dedicating 33 percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents for 20 years.”
This measure allows Floridians to decide if they want to control the amount of money given towards land acquisition and management or if they want the governor and legislature to decide. It is a change in the Florida Constitution, and it is a very important issue. Be sure to educate yourself before you vote.
To learn more about the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment, visit floridawaterlandlegacy.org.
By Jeff Johnson
The Sailing Association of Marco Island (SAMI) installed its new officers (Bridge) for 2014 on Jan. 16. The annual event was held at Bistro Soleil where SAMI members enjoyed a wonderful dinner followed by the Change of Watch ceremonies.
The invocation was given by Past-Commodore Russ Rainey, and Past-Commodore Don Mills served as master of ceremonies. Mills introduced the outgoing Commodore Mary Lee Cale, who thanked her 2013 Bridge for their outstanding service over the past year. The outgoing Bridge included John Weston as vice commodore, Lucie Galloup as rear commodore, Robin Singer as secretary, Nancy Meyers as treasurer and Dave Dumas as fleet captain.
Commodore Mary Lee Cale then transferred the Commodore’s Flag to the 2014 commodore, Gail Carstersen.
The rest of the 2014 Bridge consists of BJ Henning as vice vommodore, Sheri Heard as rear commodore, David Dumas as fleet captain, Robin Singer as secretary and Stacy Onorato as treasurer.
SAMI was organized for people who enjoy the sport of sailing and cruising. The club plans and participates in several regattas each year and hosts several cruises to various locations. The club also holds monthly meetings, both at local restaurants and pot luck dinners held at various locations around the area. Most gatherings feature a keynote speaker on areas of interest to the club.
SAMI is always looking for new members and invites interested boating enthusiasts to check out its website at www.samisailor.org for more information.
The second semester honor roll for Collier County District Schools in the Coastal Breeze coverage area has been released and is printed below, except for Manatee Elementary School. Coastal Breeze News applauds the efforts of each student earning this distinction.
Everglades City Elementary School ‘A’ Honor Roll
Lely Elementary School ‘A’ Honor Roll
Amar Ahmed, Angel Diaz, Fauster Pierrecharles, Taylor Savage
Parkside Elementary School ‘A’ Honor Roll
Dominique Desir, Gabriella Falcon, Sabrina Rodriguez, Salomon Solorio
Tommie Barfield Elementary ‘A’ Honor Roll
Kevin Barry, Tyler Chute, Zachary Gremel, Reese Jones, Maggie Keegan, Michael Moriarty, Olivia Mundie, Eileen Poling, Elise Prodanov, Donte Vecchio
Everglades City High School High Honors
Mark Brown, Savannah Oglesby, Brandon Steffen, Cristen Steffen
Everglades City Middle School Honor Roll
Brandy Bowen, Ashlyn Goff, Bryce Kish, Claybrook Story
Lely High School High Honor Roll
Diana Alas, Stephanie Alvarez, Jessica Andrade, Ellen Angersbach, Ailyn Arizmendi, Carrissa Bearse, Elijah Beauplan, Diana Becerril, Jose Bess, Maria Bueno, Morgan Burke, Breanna Cardenas, Jackelin Castillo, Yvonne Castillo, Lemeck Cherenfant, Charles Ciurla, Emma Crawford, Joel Jean Devariste, Mathew Estrada, Bishi Eugene, Alexis Garcia, Maria Garcia, Jordin Giles, Yanet Gomez, Daisy Gonzalez, Gabrielle Graham, Ashton Greusel, Adriana Guzman, Colton Hail, Brynn Haizlip, Kare Hayman, Karla Hayman, Naaman Herrera Montes De, Salomon Herrera Montes De, Kenny Igarza Ajo, Jonathon Irigoyen, Angelica Jaime, Moliere Jean-Pierre, Jose Jimenez, Hannah Jones, Rawin Khayankit, Jonatan Kriqi, Monika Lara, Carolina Limones, Brenda Lopez, Monserrat Lopez-Flores, Alonso Lora, Lyndsay Mahoney, Sean Mcmullen, Yanish Meester, Eduardo Mireles, Katherine Moss, Nicole Murry, Taylor Murry, Tiffany Nguyen, Elizabeth Palacios, Jhemsly Palissier, Navia Penrod, Cassidy Penzo, Jose Perez, Michaela Pinter, Maura Poling, Araceli Pomajambo, Sanya Prabhakar, Tyler Qualls, Anthony Radosti, Karla Ramirez, Daniel Reed, Laura Rivera, Anthony Rocio, Frankie Rodriguez, Paola Rodriguez Fumero, Kevin Russetto, Francisco Segura, Liliana Serrato-Solorio, Cody Simmons, Barbara Solis Duran, Santiago Solis-Gamarra, Guillermo Soto, Francesca Spalla, Timothy Stoll, Kristian Sulser, Rebecca Sutton, Charmine Sylvestre, Anne Sophia Thelus, Sophia Torres, Xavier Vecchio, Anahi Vivar, Brittany Walker, Gage Wheeler, Taylor Williams, Randall Woodson
Manatee Middle School Highest Honors
Daniel Abraham, Guilline Andre, Ashley Arango, Antonio Arreguin, Jesus Barrera, Onna Batista Pardo, Chelky Blaise, Anthony Bonet, Eduardo Briones-Lemus, Jetro Calixte, Roberto Carcamo, Victoria Chavez, Allysa Chesterfield, Perla Cisneros, Lizeth Compean, Alicia Contreras-Sagredo, Isabel Cruz, Loobert Denelus, Daviel Diaz Pajon, Brenda Estala, Lorena Estala, Dginica Faustin, Christelle Francoeur, Areli Garcia, Jairo Garciga, Azabella Golles, Idania Gomez, Nayeli Gomez, Azalea Gonzalez, Lizbeth Gonzalez, Paulina Hernandez, Mayte Herrera, Fabian Jaime, Ella Kerchner, Natalie Lara, Jasmine Lopez, Cristian Lorenzo, Karelix Martinez, Brittney Mendoza, Alminesha Meronvil, Alfredo Noguez, Jennifer Padilla, Nohelia Parra, Noemi Pascual-Martinez, Sheebensh Prophilien, Karla Ramirez, Kimberly Ramirez, Carlos Ramirez-Lancon, Matthew Reed, Mercedes Reyes, Miguel Rodriguez, Salma Rojas, Carlos Salazar, Sierra Sann, Madison Seehafer, Rafael Serna, Cooper Siers, Emmanuel Sifrin, Kamalia Smith, Elizabeth Stephen, Claudia Tariche Fortes, Norma Urrutia, Jocelyn Vazquez, Katia Vega, Destanie Walker, Patricia Zepeda
Marco Island Academy Highest Honors
Tristan Ashby, Jordan Barrett, Zachary Brown, Alexa Campisi, Sarah Colburn, Duneshka Cruz, Marcus Daffner, Blake Dehooghe, Dylan Demkovich, Austin Estremera, Krystal Gonzalez, Annmarie Grossi, Michael Grossi, Natalie Halbuer, Ashley Hall, Jessica Hall, Haley Havemeier, Jacob Hurtley, Kathleen Kirstein, Livia Lenhoff, Steven Linton, Kiera Ludwigsen, Colin Mcmullen, Fermin Mendoza-Jauregui, Patrick Michel, Elizabeth Milakovich, Kaitlyn Nelson, Johnathan Olszak, Matthew Olszak, Mayra Ortega, Brenda Perez, Juliana Pisculli, Joseph Politi, Jessica Ragan, Meagan Reisinger, Sarah Reisinger, John Roche, Dylan Rogers, Kyle Russo, Caitlyn Schmidt, Connor Schmidt, Ariel Schneider, Peter Servente, David Snow, Cora Stahl, Colin Stretton, Danielle Sullivan, Stephen Vale, Alexis Vilk, Joshua Zegers
Marco Island Charter Middle School Highest Honors
Juan Acosta, Francisco Antunez, Emma Bailey, Joanne Belliveau, Regan Boyce, Megan Brown, Madeline Burt, Mckinley Champeau, Conor Coleman, Marshall Daffner, Lauren Dehooghe, Michael Desantis, Zachary Deserranno, Stuart Endres, Lauren Faremouth, Mariam Gomareli, Madeline Grucci, Ryenn Hart, Kiley Hartman, Teagan Havemeier, Cameryn Henell, Josemaria Herrera, Savannah Hoolihan, Madison Hopkins, Sereen Itayem, Ariel Joel, Morgan Jones, Scott Martin, Cipriano Martinez, Samuel Meredith, Michael Mertens, Sarah Nemeth, Daniel Nguyen, Lenka Okenkova, Lia Okenkova, Vy Pham, Laura Poelstra, Michael Poling, Richard Reisinger, Mikayla Rivera, Anabella Rodriguez, Lily Rosenblum, Santiago Ruiz, Harry Sukonik, Jolie Sukonik, Josephine Torres, James Ussery, Mary Vale, Ethan Van Boven, Jordan Vann, Hailey Vaughan, Enrique Vizcaya, Olivia Watt, Lauren Wesson, Ryan Witthoff
By Coastal Breeze News Staff
The Marco Bay Yacht Club held its 40th Annual Change of Watch on Saturday, Jan. 18, at Hideaway Beach Club. The Outgoing Commodore, Marcia Orsolini, introduced guests of honor, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 95, Civil Air Patrol, and Marco Island Sail and Power Squadron. After thanking the club for her year, she passed the gavel to the 2014 Commodore, Charlie Skillern. The Change of Watch New Officers are Charlie Skillern, Commodore; Jack Barter, Vice Commodore; and Al Saunders, Rear Commodore. The Commodore’s Ball took place after the traditional ceremony.
A Presentation of the Fleet was held on Smokehouse Bay. Even on the heels of cool weather temperatures, 10 boats came out to represent the fleet while landlubbers watched from the Esplanade. Past and present bridge officers oversaw vessels from the deck as members cruised by in their boats. Each boat announced itself, the name of the captain, any shipmates and guests. As the boat passed, they were acknowledged with a salute from the officers. Lunch followed at CJ’s on the Bay.
The club’s objective is to encourage safe boating, the sport of yachting and to promote the skills of seamanship and navigation.
By Nancy J. Richie
City of Marco Island
That Florida fabulous winter weather is finally here! It brought out a large crowd to clean the beach on Saturday, Jan. 11. The monthly city of Marco Island Beach Advisory Committee beach clean up could not have been scheduled on a more perfect morning.
City of Marco Island Beach Advisory Committee Member Ralph Barnhart manages the monthly beach clean ups, and was onsite at 8 AM at South Beach access with bottled water, gloves and bags donated by Publix for all volunteers. Shortly after 8 AM, fellow Beach Advisory Committee Member George Schmidt and former Beach Advisory Committee Member and current Marco Island Civic Association (MICA) Board Member Bernardo Bezos pulled up in the MICA beach vehicle to assist. Volunteers such as City Volunteer Beach Stewards Garry and Christina McLeske, Beach Advisory Committee Chairperson Debbie Roddy and husband Marty, Chamber of Commerce’s Katherine O’Hare, and seasonal residents John and Nancy Keck and retired Connecticut Parks and Recreation staff Bob Kennedy were all ready to help clean up the beach too.
At 8:30 AM, Al Bennaroche, owner of Affordable Landscaping Services Inc., and a cou-ple dozen of his employees and their families arrived in matching fluorescent yellow t-shirts ready to canvas the beach for trash. Armed with gloves and trash bags, they be-gan sweeping the beach in the dunes and along the shoreline. A cart full of trash — plastic wrappers, cigarette butts, plastic straws and utensils, bottle caps and glass pieces — was removed from the beach. Removing all trash big and small makes a dif-ference to our beach aesthetics and safety for beachgoers, wildlife and shorebirds.
The next beach clean-up is scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 8, from 8-11 AM. This one will be sponsored by the Goodland Civic Association, and volunteers are asked to meet at the South Beach Boardwalk.
If you, your business or a group you belong to are interested in participating or sponsor-ing a beach clean-up, or if you have any beach questions or concerns, please contact Nancy Richie, environmental specialist at 239-389-5003 or email@example.com. Please get out and volunteer!
By Austin Bell
The Marco Island Historical Society (MIHS) received a generous gift this holiday season, but not the kind typically found under a tree. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection/Florida Geological Survey and the Florida Paleontological Society partnered to donate a collection of more than 250 Florida fossils — the first such collection for the MIHS.
Included amongst the specimens are more than 225 invertebrates (mostly fossilized shells) representing at least 45 species that date to the late Pliocene (approximately 3 million years old). They were collected from a quarry in Sarasota on Nov. 9, 2013 by a team of professionals on a field trip with the Florida Paleontological Society Inc. Guy Means, assistant state geologist for the Florida Geological Survey, generously collected and donated the fossil marine mollusks for the MIHS. The shells are representative of this region during a time in which global climates and sea levels fluctuated dramatically. Though many of the species are now extinct, others (such as the Southern Quahog and Sunray Venus, both clams) can still be found on Marco Island beaches.
The vertebrate remains, also collected and donated by Means, are more recent, dating to the late Pleistocene (approximately 15,000 years old). They include the remains of both marine and terrestrial mammals, such as bison, deer, dolphin, horse, llama, mastodon, tapir and whale. Also present are the fossilized teeth of several species of shark, the upper jaw of a large mouth bass, a snook vertebra and an alligator osteoderm (aka “scute,” one of the pointy ridges along an alligator’s back). Several of these animals are now extinct as well, but all lived in Florida during the Ice Age at a time when the Florida peninsula was much wider than it is today due to lower sea levels worldwide. Florida’s first human residents, the “Paleo-Indians,” who are thought to have first moved into the area as many as 14,000 years ago, likely encountered some of these species.
The fossils were formally donated on Dec. 13, 2013, when Means drove them from Tallahassee to Gainesville, where he met Austin Bell, MIHS Curator of Collections, at the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH). Many species were identified on site by FLMNH paleontologists Richard Hulbert and Roger Portell, who graciously donated their time to creating an invaluable index and record for the MIHS.
Some of these fossils will be seen on exhibit in the Marco Island Historical Museum, likely in late 2014. Those items not on display will be preserved in collections storage and made accessible to researchers and the general public upon request. With the recent acquisition of a collections management database, the MIHS hopes to make some of its collections, including this one, available for online viewing in the not too distant future.
The Marco Island Historical Society is deeply grateful to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection/Florida Geological Survey, the Florida Paleontological Society, the Florida Museum of Natural History, and Means for their extraordinary generosity in the name of public education.
By Nancy J. Richie
City of Marco Island
Bromeliads are the perfect fit for Florida Friendly Landscaping (FFL) principals. They are the “right plant in the right place” for Marco Island landscapes, as they are species of plant that requires no fertilizer, maintenance or water, under normal conditions.
The most familiar bromeliad may be the pineapple. They are colorful and come in so many species (more than 2,000) — displaying colors from red tipped, striped, silver, green and gold core leaves to name a few. Their flowers are just as exotic with large stems and bright colors in sorts of shapes and arrays. They can be in the shade or sun, and require no fertilizer and relatively little water. Once established, no watering is required under normal Southwest Florida weather conditions.
Most are terrestrial plants, but they also can be epiphytic. They come in different sizes and can be layered in a landscape design to add pizzazz and depth. Insects and frogs love to hide in the leaves that create “cups” that hold water for their habitat. Creating beauty and adding to wildlife’s shelter benefits the natural food web and health of the island’s ecosystem.
Another benefit is that they have numerous “pups” or offshoots of new plants, at the base of the bromeliad. Once a bromeliad is a mature plant and has flowered, “pups” will be produced. If left in place, a nice blanket of bromeliads can cover a landscape. If that is not the desired look or plan for a landscape design, the “pups” can be easily removed from the original plant and transplanted in another location or potted singularly or in a group for dramatic looks on front steps or around a sign, pool or fountain. They add a very tropical flair in outdoor spaces.
Take a look at the Naples Botanical Garden. Many of the gardens, as well as the award-winning parking area landscape areas, have many species of bromeliads thriving and adding dramatic tropical beauty so appropriate for Southwest Florida.
In January, the city of Marco Island Beautification Advisory Committee Chairwoman and Calusa Garden Member Susan LaGrotta spent many rewarding hours planting dozens of bromeliads in the city’s Calusa Park, on the corner of Winterberry Drive and South Sandhill Street. Many of the bromeliads were planted under the Royal Poinciana, Calusa Park’s specimen tree. The landscaping under the tree has been struggling to thrive over the past couple years, and the transplanted bromeliads will be a perfect addition to spot on the island that many people walk by or visit.
Barbara and Hugh Messner, longtime Marco Island residents and avid gardeners, donated the bromeliad “pups” from their own yard to LaGrotta. Barbara is also a Calusa Garden Club member.
Last year, LaGrotta created the concept of PlantMarco. It’s a nonprofit program that island residents or businesses can donate landscape plants for replanting in other areas on Marco Island. If you are interested in donating plants to PlantMarco, please contact LaGrotta at SusanLaGrotta54@gmail.com. She will visit and look at the landscape offered to see if it is appropriate to plant at an island place.
If you have interest or have inquiries about Florida Friendly Landscape (FFL) or the Beautification Advisory Committee, please contact Nancy Richie, the city of Marco Island’s Environmental Specialist, at 239-389-5003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Coastal Breeze News Staff
It was beautiful day at the races — wiener dog races, that is. Last weekend, Naples Estates hosted the Second Annual Collier County Wiener Dog Classic as part of its I Luv Pets Fest. Proceeds from the event — $465 — were donated to Dogs for Disabled Veterans, a non-profit organization that matches rescue dogs with veterans with special needs. The I Luv Pets Fest featured a number of vendors and non-profit organizations all geared toward the care, awareness or rescue of animals. This year’s Classic winner was Candy, who is owned by Peggy Kay of Cape Coral. Kay also is the president of the Southwest Florida Wiener Dog Club. Brenda Hawkins, a dachshund owner in Naples Estates, organized the event again this year.
The city of Marco Island’s Community Beautification Advisory Committee will hold a community forum on Tuesday, Feb. 11, from 1-4 PM in the city’s Community Room.
Several educational stations will be set up with representatives from Rookery Bay, NEER, UF/IFAS Master Gardener, UF/Collier County, Landscape Entomologist, Mobile Irrigation Lab, local landscape companies, Lee County Electric Cooperative, Beautification Advisory Committee, ISA Certified Arborist and Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island. Employees from various city departments will be on hand as well, including Parks and Recreation Department, Public Works and Utilities.
Informative presentations will be given by RBNERR, Collier Soil and Water Conservation District, Marco Island Utilities, UF-IFAS Entomologist and FFL experts and Signature Trees, and ISA Certified Arborist.
Representatives will answer citizen questions relating to tropical landscaping, water conservation, Cul-de-sac medians, swales, butterflies and Florida-friendly plants. Door prizes, brochures and informational pamphlets will be available on a variety of topics.
Please contact Patty Mastronardi, Marco Island Parks and Recreation, at 239-389-5035 or for more information go to: www.cityofmarcoisland.com.
Golf is a sport! If golf is not treated as a sport, it is difficult to improve. In all sports, it is important to have good balance and a stable starting position. A shortstop in baseball, a linebacker in football and a defender in basketball, all stand in a ready position that enables them to make sudden movements. An athletic stance requires slight knee bend, forward bending from the hips and weight on the balls or insteps of the feet.
As an instructor, I give a student a tiny push on their shoulders from all four directions at some point in time in the lesson. An athletic stable position will be able to resist my push. A student who can resist a push of the shoulder is able to keep balanced when making a shoulder turn on the back swing. An athletic starting position requires the feet to be connected to the ground. What does that mean, feet connected to the ground?
When making a shoulder turn on the backswing, you should feel the ground under both feet. At the top of the backswing, the weight should be evenly disturbed on both feet. A good turn on the backswing has three elements. These elements are: feet connected to the ground, hips rotate in a circle as upper body rotates and the upper body rotates in a circle. The key is having the weight distribution 50/50. It is difficult — if not impossible — to move the body laterally while keeping the weight distribution 50/50 on the backswing. If correct balance is achieved at the completion of the backswing, the transition to the downswing is simplified. Golfers need to use the ground to start the downswing. Having stability on the backswing makes this possible.
There are three areas that need to be addressed when trying to accomplish good balance on the backswing. First, create correct motor skills on the driving range and in the gym by using the knowledge mentioned above. Take golf swings on a BOSU ball or on balance disks. If the feet do not stay connected to the balance disk or BOSU ball, the balance will quickly be compromised. Balance drills will create enough ankle stability to stay balanced at the top of the golf swing.
Second, create enough inward hip rotation to rotate the hips correctly on the backswing. If the hips cannot rotate correctly the body will move laterally. Third, having mobility in the upper back allows a good turn on the backswing. Many golfers are business men or women who sit at a desk on a computer for multiple hours a day. This can cause bad posture known as a “C “ curve. Visit www.mytpi.com for golf specific fitness, balance, hip rotation and upper back mobility exercises.
It is difficult to make good contact with the “little white ball,” but creating connection to the ground on the backswing makes consistently good contact achievable. Go see a local PGA and fitness professional for more details on how to build a team that will help create more stability in your life. Good luck, and let me know how your game is coming along.
Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is an active Student Mentor at FGCU; a volunteer with the First Tee program and was presented the 2010 and 2011 PGA’s President Council Awards on “Growing the Game.”
By Randall Kenneth Jones
As the shovels hit the dirt at the Jan. 15 groundbreaking of Terracina Grand’s new two-story memory care building near the corner of Davis Boulevard and County Barn Road, those in attendance were left to wonder.
Is this construction project just another in a long list of new development projects popping up in Collier County — or was Terracina Grand literally breaking much more important ground in an effort to proactively plan for the future residential and medical needs of those requiring specialized memory care in our community?
Afterwards, few would argue that the latter was clearly the case. It is estimated that as many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease, and many more go undiagnosed. The incidence of the disease is rising in line with the aging population.
Although Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, the risk of developing the illness rises significantly with advanced age. Current research from the National Institute on Aging indicates that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years beyond age 65.
Led by Chairman John Goodman, The Goodman Group — the development and management company for Terracina Grand — has been a respected leader in memory care for nearly 50 years. Terracina Grand’s new state-of-the-art memory care community will build upon The Goodman Group’s considerable experience as well as its ongoing commitment to the latest technological advances in health care.
After John Goodman’s impassioned presentation, Dr. Cade Copeland of LIFEstrength Family Chiropractic observed, “If it’s true that an organization’s culture is driven from the top down, then John Goodman, chairman of The Goodman Group, has undoubtedly moved the staff at Terracina Grand in a profoundly meaningful way. Goodman is immediately authentic, compassionate and completely focused on care.”
In an act considered unique for this type of event, a $25 donation was made in each attendee’s name to the Alzheimer’s Support Network of Naples (alzsupport.net). Guests were also educated on the journey and history of memory care in the United States by an inspiring historical timeline display.
The new free-standing memory care community will add 55 Alzheimer’s and dementia care apartments for 60 residents — more than doubling Terracina Grand’s capacity to care for seniors in the Naples area in need of memory care.
The new building will feature five friendship suites, 46 studio apartments and four one-bedroom apartments available on a month-to-month lease. The Goodman Group expects the new memory care community to add up to 80 new jobs at Terracina Grand.
Marco Island Chamber of Commerce President Sandi Riderman added, “The Marco Island Chamber is very honored to have Terracina Grand as a member. We are fortunate to have such an outstanding senior living community in Naples to provide care in a secure home environment.”
However, perhaps Collier County District 1 Commissioner Donna Fiala said it best: “The tender love and care Terracina offers—and their beautiful senior living community—have been a very positive addition to our community. We are looking forward to the memory care center opening and the health care it will provide.”
Terracina Grand is located at 6825 Davis Boulevard in Naples. The new memory care community is scheduled to open in early 2015.
Families interested in obtaining more information about Terracina Grand, a memory care community, or the Pearls of Life® memory care program, should call 239-455-1459 or visit terracinagrand.com orfacebook.com/terracinagrand.
Suddenly, it’s the end of January 2014. Where did the time go? When did the slow days of summer suddenly slip away? I guess I was too busy on my Fucillo HUGE KIA cruise to notice, but it is here: “Season.” Thus, the celebrations in Goodland — and all over South Florida — have begun. Ready to party? Because I am! (Big surprise.)
30th Annual Mullet Festival
Stan’s and Son’s 30th Annual Goodland Mullet Festival kicks off on Friday, Jan. 24, and continues until the sun sets on Sunday, Jan. 26. The usual festivities of fish cleaning, fried and smoked mullet eating, dancing to live entertainment, drinking buzzard punches, purchasing outrageous party wear from Island Woman and crowning a new Buzzard Princess and Buzzard Queen are all a part of this year’s agenda.
The Ultimate Kick-Off Party starts at 6 PM on Friday, featuring the Grayson Rodgers Band. Festivities begin at noon on Saturday and last until 6 PM. Well-known musical duo, Hot Damn, will perform, and a fish cleaning contest will take place at 3 PM, followed by the Princess Buzzard Lope Competition at 4 PM.
Sunday brings another full day of fun from noon until 6:30 PM. Faka Hatchee and Jeff Hilt will perform throughout the day and will help the crowd choose the 30th Buzzard Queen. The competition begins at 4 PM. Break out your finest feathers, ladies. Flap your wings to “The Buzzard Lope” and win by audience approval.
Don’t miss this fun and unforgettable event! Stan’s is located at 221 Goodland Drive West. You can’t miss it. For more information or registration, call Stan’s at 239-394-3041.
Goodland Civic Association Pancake Breakfast
Get to Goodland early during Mullet Festival weekend to fill up on a hearty all-you-can-eat breakfast of pancakes and sausage on Saturday and Sunday (Jan. 25 and 26) morning at the Goodland Community Center. The Goodland Civic Association’s popular Pancake Breakfast begins at 8 AM and lasts until 11 AM. That’s a lot of flapjacks to be served! Make sure to get your fill on coffee and orange juice, too. Located at 417 East Mango Ave., the place is sure to be packed as usual. Raffles for local restaurant and marina gift certificates will take place. The cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children. Proceeds benefit the GCA, a non-profit organization within the community which establishes effective communication with local governments. The purpose is to promote the general welfare of Goodland residents, community spirit, good will, education and discussion of issues which may affect the village.
Goodland Arts Alliance Art and Craft Fair
The Mullet Festival just gets bigger and bigger every year. New to the action is the Inaugural Goodland Arts Alliance Arts and Crafts Fair. The recently crowned 501(c)3 non-profit organization will hold a show at MarGood Harbor Park on Sunday, Jan. 26, 10 AM-4 PM. This “members only” show will feature the beautiful, handmade arts and crafts of those belonging to the GAA. Photography, pottery, paintings, jewelry, books, embellished shell art and more will be for sale only a hop, skip and a jump from Stan’s. Make your way down the street to MarGood Harbor Park, 321 Pear Tree Ave. The on-site museum will be open, and a 50/50 raffle will take place. Winner need not be present.
The addition of the GAA Arts and Crafts Fair on Mullet Festival Sunday was graciously encouraged by the local businesses and the locals. Be sure to stop by for one-of-a-kind souvenirs to remember your time spent in Goodland.
Mardi Gras Goodland Boat Parade
The 18th Annual Mardi Gras Goodland Boat Parade will be held Saturday, Feb. 14, beginning at 2 PM. As always, all proceeds go to Avow Hospice of Naples, and will be used to support the Marco Island Branch as it provides comfort and support to the terminally ill and their families primarily in the home.
Every year, Committee Chair Elaine Richie and her army of volunteers manage to raise more and more money for Avow. This year, Richie has been chosen by Avow to receive the 2014 Butterfly Award, which recognizes those who have given so much of themselves to further the mission of Avow.
“The award honors all of the people from Goodland who have made the parade such a success. Over the years we have raised over a quarter of a million dollars for Avow,” stated Richie in an email. “My committee this year consists of Amy Bozicnik, Mary Miller, Bonnie Duffy, Jo ‘B’ Bromley, Colleen Termini, Noreen Seegers, Nancy Titus, Linda Van Meter, Margie Fortune, Antoinette Bryant and Carolyn Bryant.”
This year’s theme is COMEDY. Boaters will pick a funny idea and decorate their crew and boat to depict it. Proceeds from raffles, auctions and t-shirt sales benefit Avow Hospice, and will be used to support services provided by their Marco Island office. For more information or to register your boat, please call Elaine at 239-642-8356 or visit www.mardigrasgoodland.com. Extravagance is NOT required and boats of all sizes and shapes are welcome. The only rule is TO HAVE FUN!
About The Author Natalie Strom has lived in Goodland for five years and has worked in Goodland for over eight years. She was crowned Buzzard Queen at Stan’s Mullet Festival in 2009 and is a founding member of the Goodland Arts Alliance. Natalie is a graduate of the University of Iowa and Editor of the Coastal Breeze.
Note: There is an email link embedded within this post, please visit this post to email it.
Inspiration for this column came from participating in my first outdoor art festival of the 2013-14 season. The Goodland Holiday Bazaar, sponsored by the Goodland Civic Association, was an unqualified success according to organizers, vendors and visitors. (I received many kind congratulations on the event, but must state again that other than showing up, I had nothing to do with it. Kudos to Connie Fulmer, Noreen Seeger, Natalie Strom and their hardworking team of volunteers.)
This is one of my favorite events for several reasons. Unlike the more formal juried shows I do, this one is more about supporting the village that has supported me for many years. It’s casual; it’s fun; it’s close to home; and I get to spend the day surrounded by people dear to me in a lovely venue — the MarGood Harbor Park.
And it’s what I refer to as my “shake-down cruise.” (You folks with boats will get the metaphor.) First, I have to haul out all the gear I stowed away last April; okay, first, I have to find all the gear I stowed away last April. Second, I must remember how everything works and where it goes, and third, I must decide what new bits to add and what old bits to discard/replace. Goodland, for me, is an extremely non-judgmental environment. If I miss a trick or two, it’s okay. Hopefully, by the end of the weekend, I’m all sorted and ready to cruise through season.
Of course, the reality I face each year is that I’m a year older. The tent is heavier, and so are the tables and gear boxes. The bending, lifting and hauling is more strenuous, and the little details are getting more slippery to my scattered mental faculties. So, I start earlier. I plan more. Make adjustments, and make several more trips before I’m all together. And yes, I’m reminded of just how much WORK goes into this crazy business. (Do you know a nastier four-letter word?)
One week prior, I start gathering all the bins, buckets and braces, the racks, the tie-downs, the display equipment. I try to make sure I’ve got all my PR materials (Dang, that elusive guest-book! Where the h*** is it?) I must remember the credit card machine, a bankroll for making change, sales slips and all my proper signage — if only! I also must send out notices through email, Facebook and assorted media outlets announcing that I’m to be in the show. I mean it may be a fun event, but it still is about sales.
Opening eve, all this gear, plus the actual artwork, gets loaded into the van in a manner that makes for sensible unloading in the pre-dawn hours on site. I go to bed with a sore back and a mind humming with, “What did I forget?”. Oh well, it’s not St. Augustine, or even Naples, it’s Goodland. Practically my backyard, and my heroic husband will make multiple trips to the house for…duct tape!…my portfolio!…Bungee cords and scissors! And yes, the dang guestbook!
Then, it’s show day. Up before dawn cracks a smile (though I do expect she is having a good giggle at my expense); fill the thermos with strong coffee; grab a to-go breakfast sandwich from the Red Rooster (the best); and off to join my other art-carnies for two hours of unloading, hauling and assembling. And…voila! It’s a gallery. The nice part is that it is a two-day show, so at the end of this long day, I can just zip the whole she-bang up, go home and saunter in the next morning with coffee in hand and ready for biz by 10 AM.
Now, it’s a second day of interacting with the crowd, obtaining new clients and trying to cultivate future ones. All in all, a most successful weekend. Then, after the last visitor wanders off, we all must deconstruct our traveling galleries, haul them all back to our vans and trucks and reload — thoughtfully — with the idea of unloading always in mind. When I look at the ceramic artists or stone sculptors, all I can thing is “ouch!”.
I would not call any of this a labor of love. I would, however, call it a commitment to something we love. And I would definitely call it WORK.
Here’s the funny (or not) part and the real impetus behind this article: During one of the days (can’t remember which) a very sweet woman came to say hello. She knows me from a part-time restaurant job I have, and the first thing she said to me was, “So, you’re not working today?” Honestly, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
About The Author Tara O’Neill, a lifelong, award-winning, artist has been an area resident since 1967. She holds degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida and is currently represented by Blue Mangrove Gallery on Marco Island. Visit her at www.taraogallery.com.Note: There is an email link embedded within this post, please visit this post to email it.