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Your Florida Waterfront Home

Shane Waterfront Wilson's Blog and Boating Guide

Archive for October, 2014

Estero Island and Fort Myers Beach Part 2

Posted by Shane On October 17th

Hello everyone, I hope you all are doing great!!!!

 

We left off last time at Matanzas on the Bay Restaurant on Ft. Myers Beach. We were able to make it all the way through the Bay and around the southern tip of Ft. Myers Beach before stopping for lunch at Matanzas.  Afterward, we were going to take you on the rest of the tour behind Estero Island to see all the different Restaurants, Bars and Marinas, but the afternoon thunderstorm put a quick stop to that!  I have to say, one of the great things about boating here in Southwest Florida is that even if it’s blowing 20 or 30 knots you’re protected by our barrier islands. No rough water, no sea sickness, just a great day on the water exploring the waterways.  This week we continue our waterfront journey.

 

Once you leave Matanzas, right across the Bay is a place called Bonita Bill’s Waterfront Cafe.  This is on the north side of Matanzas Harbor across from Fort Myers Beach at the base of the bridge on San Carlos Island. I’ve eaten here on several occasions and it’s a very cool place to go by boat. Bonita Bill’s serves Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner with tasty food and a festive atmosphere as well as live entertainment.  The staff is great and it’s just a really fun place to go. Check out the link to the trip advisor website that tells you more about Bonita Bill’s Waterfront Cafe.

 

 

 

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http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34231-d1556608-Reviews-Bonita_Bills_Waterfront_Cafe-Fort_Myers_Beach_Florida.html

 

Just around the corner is another great restaurant called Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille.  This place is awesome!!  If you’re into great food, great atmosphere, great water views, live entertainment…This is the place to go. Doc Ford’s features a lower deck outside right on the water and an upper air conditioned area as well. I like to describe the menu as eclectic Caribbean – try the Yucatan Shrimp, oh my gosh, spicy, but not too spicy, and soooo good. For your main course try the Banana Leaf Snapper – excellent. The name “Doc Ford’s” comes from the main character in a series of novels by Randy Wayne White, a local author and co-owner of the restaurant.  He writes all about Southwest Florida and??? Well, you just need to read his novels. One of my best buds, Craig, has read every one of Randy Wayne White’s books. Craig tells me it’s fascinating to be reading his novel taking place on the water in our local area and being able to reflect back, “hey,we were there”, or “hey, we saw this or we did that”. If you enjoy reading, you’ll enjoy these novels.  

 

For the novice boaters who may have challenges docking their boats, Doc Ford’s has full time dock hands who will help you guide your boat in and help you tie up; don’t forget to tip them. I only bring this up because several of you have called me and e-mailed me your concerns about docking your boat in front of all these people who are at these establishments. Yes, half the people are watching you dock your boat the other half are oblivious. As I tell all my new boaters, “take your time coming into the dock, there’s no race, take your time , nice and slow”.  When you get close enough, throw your lines to the dock hands, put your boat in neutral, and let the dock hands pull you in and secure your boat. These guys will make YOU look like a pro 🙂 No one has to know your heart is pounding out of your chest, no one has to know the anxiety you’re feeling as you approach the dock. Take it nice and slow and do not panic, ever!!!!. Oh one more thing, have your dock lines out and cleated off on your boat before you get to the dock. Not sure which side to cleat your ropes to?  Well do both starboard and port sides so you’re ready and you’re not scrambling trying to find your ropes and untangle them. Check out these photos and look at the Doc Ford’s website.

   

http://www.docfordsfortmyersbeach.com/index.html

 

 

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After pulling out of Doc Ford’s, head south down the Bay, it’s a beautiful cruise by boat.  You’ll see all the marinas, boatyards, shrimp boats, etc.

 

 

 

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I’m sure you’ve probably heard of the Key West Express.

This is where you would depart from, heading to Key West; coming back from Key West, you would disembark here as well.

 

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Just on the other Side of the Key West Express is another neat place to go. If you’re into sports and looking for a place to watch the game on the water, this is it…..Big Game Waterfront Grill. We’ve been here many, many times for football games, etc. It’s a great atmosphere, the service is great, and so are the people. There are plenty of places to park your boat. There’s nothing  better than meeting all your family and friends by boat here and watching your favorite teams play – there are big screen TV’s everywhere!

 

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Take a look at their website.

 http://www.biggamewaterfrontgrill.com/

Just next door is an equally fun place, with a totally different atmosphere, it’s called Parrot Key Caribbean Grill Restaurant at Salty Sam’s Marina.

 

This is another waterfront restaurant with great food and service and the crowd is always in a laid back mood. Parrot Key also features live entertainment. It’s fun to sit at the bar or a table on the water and see all the boats coming and going.  Many times while we’re waiting for our food to come out, or after our meal, we’ll walk the docks looking at all the boats.  It’s hard to put the feeling here in words – relaxed, casual, laid back  – “at peace” comes to my mind. Remember, Parrot Key is located on the grounds of Salty Sam’s Marina, a full service marina offering wet slips, dry slips, boat barn storage, fuel, service work, etc.  Scroll down to the weblinks to Parrot Key and Salty Sam’s…

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 http://www.myparrotkey.com/

 

 http://www.saltysamsmarina.com/

Now don’t be surprised if you see pirates at Salty Sam’s Marina…..There’s a pirate ship docked there and for a small fee will take you out on the high seas for a great time.  It’s actually quite entertaining with the show the pirates put on, on the Pirate Ship. I don’t want to say too much and spoil it, you just have to experience it for yourself.  This is a really fun adventure for when your family and friends come to visit…

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Here’s the website for more information on the ship and scheduling.

  http://www.piecesofeight.com/

 

I hope this issue of the Boating Guide has given you some new great places to go to, see and experience. We’ve been to these places time and time again. We bring family, friends, clients and every single time it’s a new adventure. You just never know what you’re going to see… Dolphin jumping in your wake, a large Leopard Ray jumping up and out of the water or the massive gentle Manatee swimming up to your boat. You just never know.

 

There are several other places to see and experience. We’ll hit those on next week’s Boating Guide.

 

Until next time, make it a great weekend. Please make time for your family and friends, life goes by so fast.

 

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Beautiful Southwest Florida

Posted by Shane On October 10th

Hello everyone, I hope you all are doing great!!!!

 

It’s finally beginning to feel like Fall down here in Sunny Southwest Florida. Last weekend we had a cool front come through and the temperature dropped. What a nice change. Every morning when we get up early and walk the dogs, the weather is great, low humidity, lower temperatures, it’s just beautiful out.

 

I regret to say, I did not make it out on the boat to get the additional photos I needed to complete this week’s Boating Guide. We have been very, very busy with work (for which we are very thankful and grateful).

 

Many of the snowbirds have come down early this year to secure their piece of paradise for the winter.  As for our local market, sales remain very strong. There are more properties coming on to the market and there are more and more properties selling. This is a great thing for our economy. Everyone I speak to is very, very busy no matter what type of business they’re in.

 

Until next time, make it a great weekend and enjoy your family and friends.

 

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Estero Island and Ft. Myers Beach

Posted by Shane On October 3rd

Hello everyone, I hope you all are doing great!!!!  Welcome back to the latest issue of The Boating Guide.  I’ve had some of my readers write in and say, “what if we don’t live on the water; where’s the best place to put our boat in? Where are the closest waterfront restaurants and watering holes that we can get to by boat?  We don’t know the waters that well in Southwest Florida and don’t want to run aground”.  Well, I would be happy to answer all of these questions.

 

In Fort Myers, the most centrally located boat ramp is the Punta Rassa Boat Ramp at Sanibel Causeway. It was all redone a few years ago, allows you to put in 4 boats at a time, and there’s plenty of parking. Punta Rassa also offers a large fish cleaning station and restrooms. At the end of the day when you’re pulling your boat out, it’s fun to check out what other fishermen have caught. I’ve seen Grouper, Snapper, Sheepshead, Redfish, Snook, American Red Snapper, King Fish, Spanish Mackerel, all kinds of fish.  Remember, there’s a $10.00 per day parking fee or you can buy an annual resident pass for $60 per year; just go to www.leeparks.org and search “parking sticker” for all the information. The annual pass also gives you access to several other ramps as well as parks in Lee County.

 

Punta Rassa Boat Ramp is really easy to find; from Hwy 41 go west on Summerlin Rd. towards Sanibel. Right before you get to the toll booths at Sanibel Causeway, stay to your far right, you’re going to veer off to the right onto Punta Rassa Rd. and then turn left to the boat ramp, you can’t miss it. Sometimes instead of leaving from the house, we trailer our boat to Punta Rassa Boat Ramp and put in there.  That way we can get to the Gulf quickly without going through the slow zones in the Caloosahatchee River. Take a look at some of the photos…

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Today we’re going to head to Ft. Myers Beach on Estero Island. It’s a short ride from Punta Rassa and there are plenty of bars, restaurants, marinas, fuel, etc., plus, the beach!  You can see Ft. Myers Beach as you go under the Sanibel Causeway Bridge heading South. The channel here is very well marked and you have plenty of water.  As you come from the Sanibel Causeway Bridge heading south, be sure to stay on the right side of the markers because on the other side, there’s a large sand bar.  Follow the markers to Ft. Myers Beach and once you get to the north end of the beach you’ll see more markers very clearly marking the channel going around and behind Estero Island. Once you’re at this point you’ll see San Carlos Bay behind and to your left; ahead and to the right there’s a public park at the northern tip of Ft. Myers Beach called Bowditch Point Park – a great place to anchor up, hang out and relax.  There are public restrooms, grilling areas, picnic tables, metered parking, and a little snack bar. The park underwent a beach restoration project several years ago substantially increasing the size of the beach and enhancing sea turtle habitat.

 

As you head south on the back side of the Island, you’ll come past a great big beige building to the right, this is the Pink Shell Resort. What a great place to stay, it’s right on the beach, has a great pool area, plus restaurants and bar right there on the Gulf.  There’s also a newer restaurant at the Pink Shell Resort on the Bay side; I haven’t eaten there yet, so let me know how it is?

 

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As you continue south towards the big Sky Bridge that connects Ft. Myers Beach to San Carlos Island and the mainland, you’ll see some really neat cottages along with huge “McMansions”…

 

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There are also several marinas where you can stop and get fuel or even keep your boat there.  There’s Moss Marina on the Ft. Myers Beach side and across the Bay there’s a new facility for larger boats and yachts, Diversified Yacht Services. Right next door is the United States Coast Guard…

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At the foot of the Sky Bridge to Ft. Myers Beach you’ll see a multi-colored building on the right called Nervous Nellie’s. The food is great and soooo much to choose from on the menu. At the very top there’s a bar called Ugly’s which has indoor and outdoor dining offering great views of the Bay… See the link below.

 

http://nervousnellies.net/

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Once you go under the bridge look to your immediate right. There’s another restaurant called Matanzas On The Bay. The food here is equally great with indoor dining and a large deck for waterfront dining! Matanzas also has an upstairs bar and dining called The Upper Deck.  This is another great spot to enjoy the Bay views or to catch a football game. Just next door is the Matanzas Inn with cute updated rooms and dock space for your boat. Check out the link below..

 

 http://matanzas.com/

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We had planned on visiting several other eating and drinking establishments on Ft. Myers Beach today, however, as you saw in the above photos, there was a very bad squall heading our way. I had been watching it build and build as we were eating lunch at The Upper Deck. As it drew closer and closer we could hear the thunder and see the lightning off in the distance – It was time to go! I must warn you, if the storm is too close, please stay put and wait for it to pass. Please keep in mind, I’ve been on the water my entire life and If I thought for one moment that we would be in danger, I would have stayed put. I told Anne, “it’s time to go right now”! It also helps that we were in the Lake and Bay flats boat which runs just over 80 MPH. We said good bye to our friends, hopped in the boat and took off. We were back to the ramp in no time at all. As soon as we had the boat pulled out and were on Summerlin Rd. the sky opened up!!!  Wow!!!  What a storm.. of course as most afternoon storms in Florida, they come quickly and pass quickly while cooling everything down – at least for a little while.

 

Stay tuned for next week and we’ll finish our tour of the back side of Estero Island (Fort Myers Beach).

 

On a serious note: I want to thank the United States Coast Guard, Lee County Sherriff’s Department, the Sanibel Police Department and any other law enforcement that helped rescue our friends last weekend. Thank  goodness for their quick response time… We have some friends who were fishing off Sanibel last weekend with 7 people on board – 4 children and 3 adults. No one knows why yet, but their boat sank. It was a 30 foot plus boat; the bow was the only part of it left floating up and out of the water. Thank goodness everyone kept their heads on straight. The kids were wearing life jackets and the adults put theirs on as the boat was sinking. They were able to call and give their coordinates to the authorities. Thanks to the quick thinking of the crew and everyone remaining calm, everyone is okay. Beyond scary to say the least.  Years ago, I used to get irritated when I would randomly get pulled over for a safety check on my boat. Checking life jackets, flares, other safety equipment, etc. I now welcome it, because I have had other similar situations, in which my buddies and I have rescued people from sunken boats. Having the proper safety gear on your boat in an emergency can save lives. Just think, if our friends had not been prepared, it could have turned out very bad. I don’t feel comfortable posting the youtube video of the rescue, however, If you choose to pull it up, go right ahead. Google “capsized boat off Fort Myers Beach”. Once again, I commend the captain, the crew and law enforcement who did an amazing job on their rescue.

 

Until next week. Make time for your Family and Friends, life is so short.

 

Make it a great weekend..

 

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