If you haven't noticed the increase in traffic then you haven't been paying attention. The returnees are trickling into Southwest Florida, and we locals are in for the Fall shock. Not a bad shock but a pleasant shock as we catch up with the seasonal members. New grand kids, medical procedures, traveling hassles and the like.
It is a great opportunity for we locals to tell them of the fantastic fishing trips and the local cruising that we've done. 'Cleveland Jack' and 'Tim the Restorer' have great pictures and stories of their fishing charters especially their Gag Grouper trip where they limited out three hours into the trip.
"So many fish that we were glad to throw the small ones back because, as soon as you bated up, you had another strike," says Jack.
'Tim the Restorer' rearranged his entire workweek just to get in on that trip, and the pictures he took proved it was worth the effort. "I work seven days a week and I deserved the time but, if I'd have known we'd been in so early, I could have got on a new project," he said while passing around his iphone with the slide show of the fish they caught.
Tim restores and maintains world-class yachts and is in great demand all year long. 'Cleveland Jack' is a back-flow inspector and is quite busy, also, even though I don't know what it is that he does, except it is a new law that businesses have to have their back flows checked?
'Pensacola Jim' was the first of this returning group to get his boat out on the water. He is quite the weather predictor and saw this week's wind and then rain coming, so he was on his boat Friday. He explored the new docks at Doc Fords and docked at Matanzas Inn Restaurant for a great sandwich. As usual, it was just Jim and designated driver 'The Reverend.' I never realized how hard it is to get people to come out on a boat spontaneously. Any female volunteers?
'Boat Club Frank' and 'Gulf Harbour Karen' are back. So are 'Tween Water Dwayne' and his lovely wife, Sandy. They've all had a great summer and we will exchange stories all winter around the meeting tables and at waterfront restaurants.
Strangely, none of them are die-hard football fans. They are always at the waters edge when the games are on. That is okay, because they don't crowd in to see their favorite team and demand that the one of 25 television sets, exactly in front of them, be changed to their team's channel. "We were here first....what do you mean you want to watch Tampa Bay...where are you from....this bar is owned by Ohio people...they all should be tuned to the Browns....we were here first!"
We watched the first half of the 4 p.m. games at Bayside Bar and Grill. They have great hot, hot wings and fantastic garlic wings. We then went to the Nauti Turtle for the second half. The Nauti Turtle is a 'Browns Backer' place, so naturally the majority of television sets were on the Browns. It was a hard-fought football game, and the crowd made 'dawg' noises when the Browns made a good play. It was like being in a stadium except for the great water view and reasonably priced special food and drinks.
The threat of rain kept the boat traffic to a minimum so my 'designated driver' wife didn't get on the water this weekend. But, we did get back to the canal in time for some new neighbor's hospitality. They had balloons tied to a sign that said 'parteee' which is the usual way of announcing a non-sanctioned get together on the canal.
New members 'Fredricksburg Fred' and his wife 'Potomac Patty' were serving hors d'oeuvres made from Chesapeake Crab Cakes ordered from QVC and bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon from Omaha Steaks. While Patty was pontificating about her astute shopping skills, as she danced around her garage, she stopped in front of me and asked, "I only paid six ($6) measly dollars for each crab cake and they're almost all crab? Don't you like them?"
I don't remember thinking about anything at that moment. It must have been the 8 or 9 half-Yuengling and half-bud light draft beers (I drink Bud-lightning whenever I can't get Pabst Blue Ribbon) that gave me a slack jaw look that she mistook for food disdain. In a clumsy attempt to recover I said, "Do you know we have delicious blue crabs right here in our canal?"
"Well they certainly can't be as good as Chesapeake crabs," she said with the self-confidence of a newbie.
"After you've been here 27 years, my dear, you may realize that Florida is one of the largest producers of seafood. So when I hear people buying seafood from QVC or Tiger Shrimp from Publix, I assume they are just another group of out-of-towner retirees longing for the good-old back home taste of 'QVC' crab cakes?"
I'm not sure how my wife does it but she is always 'Johnny on the Spot' when I'm making a fool of myself. Before I could say, "and another thing!" I was whisked away to my abode. I'm not sorry I said it, but it's better left just as it was.
Send questions and comments to boatguiEd@aol.com or this publication. Watch 'Boaters Treasure's' the TV show hosted by number one son, when it returns to Comcast 9/14.