By Chris Forman WXCW, Channel 6 & Vice President of SWFMIA
Twenty-six years ago, my wife and I took residence in Cape Coral, on the water to become year round boaters. Snow shovels, ice scrappers and winter coats became a thing of the past. What we discovered very quickly was the boating paradise that lay in our backyard. In over two decades and having owned several different styles and sizes of boats, one thing has never changed, when you leave the dock the fun begins.
Heading north up the Caloosahatchee River, there are several nice restaurant choices at Marina Town in North Ft Myers and the Downtown River District in Ft Myers. A day comprised of a little lazy fishing (we’re not that good…doesn’t matter), cruising and a late lunch stop or early dinner seems to erase the stress of the work week. We often joke that the cost of boating is way less than the couch doctor, yet they have the same affect.
Heading down the river there is JK’s Riverstop at the Cape Coral Yacht Club. It’s bathing suit casual and full of boating friends you just haven’t met yet. Fun for kids and families, the picnic table laid back patio is a fabulous vista for a sunset and an ice cold drink and burger. Also down river are the The Joint Restaurant and Rumrunners at Cape Harbor, where casual outdoor or inside fine dinning await in a relaxing waterfront atmosphere.
Just a 30 minute boat ride south from home is Sanibel Island, a routine stop on Sundays for a swim with our floaty-toys, some Jimmy Buffet on the stereo and a picnic lunch on the back of our boat. Anchoring in waist deep water makes life easy and the view of the Gulf and lighthouse never gets old. It’s a great rendezvous spots for other boating friends. There is a no wake anchoring area, clearly marked by white buoys, that runs the length of the white sugar sand beach. My wife loves shelling and this area of Southwest Florida is heaven.
Estero Island, or Ft Myers Beach, as it’s commonly known, is also an excellent destination for lunch or dinner by boat with numerous boater friendly stops for the simplest of fare to full elegant meals. Several boating facilities and fuel stops are convenient as well.
Heading north up Pine Island Sound lies the barrier islands of Sanibel, Captiva, North Captiva and Cayo Costa with beautiful beaches that seem to go on forever on the Gulf of Mexico side. Inside the sounds lies some of the best fishing grounds in the country. The channel is well marked and easy even for the novice boater. The fishing for snook, trout, snapper, redfish and dozens of others is plentiful. It’s a haven for the serious sportsman or a fun day for easy fishing for mom, dad and the kids.
The Gulf side of North Captiva and Cayo Costa has thousands of my footprints in the sand. It never grows old for me, the hazel colored water and soft sand beach is where my toes belong. These islands are only accessible by boat, are home to waterfowl, a light tackle paradise and perfect for an afternoon snooze in the sand.
Summarizing for those of you who have yet to venture out by boat or don’t get out too often … even decades later it’s still fun, therapeutic and the stuff family memories and stories are made of. It’s the wind in what’s left of my hair, the sound of the water, the sheer pleasure of just driving my boat and my wife getting to read her book. So maybe we’ll see each other on the water next Saturday? I know I’ll be there. — Chris Forman.