No matter how much money and effort you throw at it, recovering from a natural disaster such as Hurricane Ian, which pummeled Southwest Florida in late September 2022, takes time. Less than a month ago, there was still too much floating debris and too many submerged hazards in the water for Fort Myers Offshore to start from the Sanibel Island Causeway—per the nonprofit scholarship fundraising powerboat club’s longstanding tradition—for its Holiday Fun Run. Though 25 club members and their passengers did come by boat to the New Year’s Eve happening, the majority arrived from various departure points. And most came to the lunch venue by car.
With their own Skater catamaran temporarily out of commission with an engine issue, club members Erik and Julie Breckenfelder caught a ride with their friend Neal Kirby (center). Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Not so with yesterday’s Lunch Run to the Naples Hyatt Resort, which saw 37 boats make the mostly smooth-water trek.
“Yesterday was our first official start from the Sanibel Causeway since that bastard Hurricane Ian came through,” said Tim Hill, the president of the club. “And it was the best weather we’ve ever had for this run. For the last several years, it’s been cold and rainy.
“Seeing dolphins playing and swimming was a very encouraging sign,” he added. “ “Performance boating is back in Southwest Florida. And so is Fort Myers Offshore.”
Yesterday’s lunch run was the maiden voyage for a brand new Sunsation 32 CCX center console owned by Steve and Liz Roesler, who invited Tim and Cyndee Hill (center) to join them.
Though debris still remains in the Intracoastal Waterway and Gulf of Mexico and traveling those waters still means taking extra to look for floating hazards, Hill described it as “very manageable and easy to spot.” So, too, did club member Devin Wozencraft of Wozencraft Insurance, who ran his 30-footer Skater Powerboats catamaran with his daughter and “wing-woman,” Lelani, in the event.
“There was still some aftermath debris to dodge from Hurricane Ian off Fort Myers Beach, but conditions overall were very favorable for the run to Naples,” said the high-performance marine insurance man.”
The only other slight challenge, said club member Erik Breckenfelder, was the monotone gray sky and matching water color, which made conditions tricky to read.
“The seas were largely clam but there were small ‘hidden’ rollers,” said Breckenfelder, who caught a ride to Naples with wife, Julie, on their friend Neal Kirby’s catamaran. “Still, there was a great mix of boats and the Naples Hyatt is always a fine venue. It was wonderful to see Fort Myers Offshore back in action and stronger than ever.”
Enjoy more images from the Naples Hyatt lunch run in the slideshow above.
Fort Myers Offshore board member Troy Schrick not only helped coordinate the run, he provided entertainment during the dockside lunch as the club’s unofficial/official DJ. During the event, the club members welcomed Looie McQueen as a new board member.
McQueen replaced board member Amanda Gardner, who departed the role a couple of months ago according to Hill.
“Our beloved Amanda had become too busy with work and felt that she wasn’t contributing enough, and though we loved everything she did she stepped away from the board,” he quipped. “But we are very excited to have Looie on board—and on the board.”
The Naples Hyatt remains among the most popular destinations for the Fort Myers Offshore group.
Scheduled for February 11, the next Fort Myers Offshore event is a lunch run to Miller’s on Boca Grande.
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