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Boating: Any style boat is good in Florida

December 6, 2011
by boatguy Ed , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

I long for the old days when I was young. When a night out started at 9:30 p.m. instead of 4:30 and ended after 2:30 a.m. instead of 7:30 p.m. When the early bird special was a day in the spring when you could purchase new grass seed and plants. When we didn't even know what a happy hour was. The old days; when I was young.

Ah, life is too short as we grow old and much too long when in grade school. "I'm almost nine," was the common answer from an eight year old. Now it's 39 or 49 or 59. I'm not complaining mind you, well a little, because I enjoy my life, but I long for the time passed when I was younger.

I've changed, boating has changed and the economy has changed drastically. At the recent Fall Fort Myers Boat Show I watched several men fawning over a 20-foot center console 'snot' boat. That isn't the brand name, it's a inexpensive style of finish for the inside of the boat.

Instead of a custom formed fiberglass deck, the maker foams the bottom of the boat and then glasses over it and finishes the deck with flecks commonly referred to as 'snot.' I know you've seen them but probably never knew what to call that finish, now you'll never forget. In years passed we would have scorned anyone who would have considered such a boat.

Since the sky rocketing price of oil has pushed the price of fiberglass into the stratosphere, many boat builders have sought a cheaper way. Maybe it's just aesthetics, saving money is what it's all about these days. Anyway to get on the water.

Fort Myers Beach is blessed by water, sun and waterfront restaurants. I'm not sure there is another city in Florida that has as many waterfront establishments. Estero Boulevard is lined with Beach bars on one side and with want-to-be Beach bars on the other side of the road. My personal favorites are the restaurants on the Back Bay because most have docks.

With so many waterfront restaurants around it is natural to expect competition to keep prices low, and all of them are relatively cheap. If you dine at the Gulfshore Grill or the Bayside Sports Bar and Grill, you will be able to gaze out on the water from both places but at the Gulfshore you see the Gulf of Mexico and at the Bayside you can see a canal. The food is great at both places but the pricing is dramatically different, as you would expect.

The benefit of competition is the quality of the food. I can't think of one bad item on any of their menus. Yet many of our "Dead End Canal Yacht Club" members have strong feelings about one or another. A cheeseburger is a cheeseburger I've always thought but there must be a nuance to one place. I'll admit that some of the onions are wafer thin and the cheese appears to be a half slice at others, but they taste the same to me.

It's getting to the point that our club can hardly agree on where to go for a happy hour. Most of us like to have an appetizer with our cheap drinks and our designated drivers expect to be fed as well. The advent of the 'power hour' type addition to happy hour has included some very tasty morsels but limit the time they are available.

Like I said, we are very lucky. One place is so inexpensive that I won't mention it in this column because we can barely get seats for a few of us as it is. The food specials range from prime rib to half-price pizza and beyond, and the drinks are the least expensive that we've found anywhere, even off the water. The only missing link is the lack of dockage and parking. We are hoping that it comes available soon. Parking is just a few hundred feet away but docks won't be available any time soon.

The Back Bay is loaded with really good places from Matanzas to Bonita Bills to Doc Fords to Parrot Key to Nervous Nellie's to Bayfront Bistro to The Fish House. There are also several great places on Bonita Beach. How's that for a selection. They are all accessible by car but they are so much more inviting by water.

That is why our newest arrivals are so keen on getting a boat. They will spend years learning the skill of fishing or the art of cruising but finding a waterfront restaurant is as easy as falling off the bow while trying to reach for a piling. Just watch the smiles on the faces of the arriving boaters and you'll see how rightfully proud they are. Even if they arrive in a 'snot' boat!

Boatguy Ed is a life long boater and passed Commodore of the "Dead End Canal Yacht Club."Send Questions and comments to or to the editor of this paper. BGE is now a volunteer on his son's TV show, Boater's Treasures!



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