Authors Posts by Southern Boating LP

Southern Boating LP


Breaking Physical Boundaries

After a day spearfishing in his prosthetic dive legs, Rob Murphy and friends show off an impressive haul.

Individuals with disabilities stay active on the water through products, boat designs and organizations.

Individuals with disabilities make up the nation’s largest minority group, which is also the only minority group that one can become a part of at any time in their life. In the last two years more than 20 million families in the U.S. have reported at least one family member with a disability, and nearly 40 percent of disabled individuals live in the South. When someone close to you is affected, that statistic becomes very personal and passion to spread awareness ignites. Thankfully, there are many companies, organizations and individuals in the marine industry that strive to enhance on-the-water accessibility for people with varying degrees of physical disability.

Twenty-seven-year-old Rob Murphy—an avid spearfisherman, diver, snowboarder, angler, and wakeboarder based in Palm Beach County, Florida—was spearfishing on a routine dive with five friends, just as he had done dozens of times before, when his life drastically changed. While surfacing, Rob was run over by a 36-foot sportfishing boat that negligently sped towards him despite his proper dive flags and warning yells. The propellers struck his oxygen tank—which saved his life—but his legs were severed just below the knees. Just two months after his accident, the diving and boating community celebrated Rob’s return to the water with custom prosthetic swim legs made by Matthew Bailey of Palm Beach Prosthetic Services, part of Florida O&P Services.

“Since Rob not only wanted to be out on the water on a boat but actively in the water, we had to make sure his dive prosthetics were completely saltwater-resistant, so we removed all the metal we could,” explains Bailey. Rob’s dive legs are exoskeletal, which means all the strength is in the outer shell. They are hollow with holes in the shell to allow water to flow through freely while swimming and ensure they aren’t buoyant. They also allow drainage once back in the boat. “His dive prosthetics are shaped just like regular legs, so they have the same hydrodynamics and allow him to swim normally,” Bailey says. “We ordered special dive ankles and beachcomber feet to allow Rob’s ankles to lock in a 70-degree swimming position or 90-degree walking position, so he can walk in the boat without changing his legs.” Bailey located a fly-fishing shirt company that had an “underwater camouflage” water pattern that he laminated onto the legs with clear resin per Rob’s design request.

Rob not only survived against the odds in a sudden tragic accident, but today—almost six years later—he is thriving both in and out of the water. When not hunting big fish for both recreation and spearfishing tournaments onboard his 31-foot Contender that he custom-designed for spearfishing, you can find him advocating for increased diver safety and building his growing business. “I will always love scuba diving, but I love how natural and pure freediving is—the freedom of diving down on a single breath of air is unlike anything else,” Murphy says. As an active young professional, he continues to inspire both disabled and able-bodied individuals to pursue their passions despite any obstacles.

Dr. Stanley Seidman, a successful psychologist in Fort Lauderdale, had an accident at six years old and when a doctor made a mistake, Stanley’s left arm required amputatation. Despite his physical setback Dr. Seidman began boating in 1974 and he and his wife Carol have cruised on their 63-foot Neptunus Pan-a-sea-a since 2001. When Carol cannot join her husband on the water, however, docking the large vessel single-handedly is a challenge. Around three years ago Dr. Seidman began using Yacht Controller, a battery-operated wireless device that allows him to remotely control his bow thrusters, stern thrusters, anchor, and engines in and out of gear at the press of a button. It sends a unique coded signal between the transmitter and receiver on Pan-a-sea-a to control docking functions anywhere on board. “When I used to dock the boat by myself it was a challenge, but Yacht Controller makes it much easier,” says Dr. Seidman.

The remote has a simplistic design with easy-to-use controls and requires very little adjustment time to become proficient. “I also love my Yacht Controller when we have to stop at bridge openings. I use the remote to effortlessly keep us in the same position,” Dr. Seidman says, who explains how the installation process is very simple for all standard powerboats.

Captain Mick Nealey is an experienced Keys captain and guide who launched Active Disabled Americans and Tranquil Adventures over 20 years ago to keep people with disabilities active and engaged in the water through fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, sightseeing, and other eco adventures in Key Largo. Captain Mick suffered from polio as a two-year-old and sometimes still uses a wheelchair to board his 28-foot pontoon boat via a ramp, which he also uses for guests. “I also modified a Jet Ski lift, called The Swinger that allows someone to simply sit in a chair that swings over the side of the boat and lowers into the water for easy access to swim, snorkel and kayak,” he says. “I’ve modified fishing equipment for people who cannot hold a rod and reel, scuba gear, and special kayaks for individuals with specific needs,” he states. Individuals can charter half-day or whole-day experiences that are catered specifically to their needs.

Two and half years ago husband-and-wife team Andrew and Karen Grego had the idea to build an attractive, versatile aluminum sportfishing boat. When someone mentioned outfitting it for wounded soldiers, Blue Water Warriors was founded with the purpose of helping veterans experience the ocean’s renewal through deep-sea fishing and diving adventures. Alongside marine engineers and innovative boat designers, Blue Water Warriors has developed and built the completely custom 37-foot Warrior—Hull #1 for the couple’s new line of Vision boats. “Our able-bodied brain would choose to do something one way based on what we know, but the guy who is physically injured might think differently,” says Andrew Grego. “I visited Walter Reed [Medical Center] several times to discuss what specifications on a boat would suit them and we have created a boat that someone in a wheelchair can basically board and run independently.”

When you see her, you recognize that Warrior is a vessel worthy of the brave men who will use her. “The guys we are dealing with are type-A personalities who don’t want to look or feel any more physically handicapped than they already are, so our main directive when designing Warrior was to create the feeling of empowerment and independence,” says Grego. Her features include wheelchair accessibility without a hoist, SeaKeeper gyrostabilizer for maximum stability, specially adapted fighting chairs, harnesses and equipment for fishing, transom and side doors that swing open, specially developed non-skid floor surfaces, on-deck wheelchair locks, storage for prosthetic limbs, and a deck-level head with an elevator lift to accommodate people with and without wheelchairs with no assistance.

One of the most inspiring details of this project is the overwhelming support from the local marine businesses. “The majority of this boat—electronics, labor to build, paint, motors, anchor, etc.—have been donated from local business and services who believe in this organization and its purpose,” Grego explains. “We are putting the logos of each donor on the boat and plan to attend as many boat shows as possible to introduce Warrior.” The couple dreams of growing their line of Vision boats by building one of these custom boats for each of the six polytrauma rehabilitation centers at military base hospitals down the East Coast and over to Texas’ Gulf Coast.

These individuals, products and organizations are just a handful of the many that positively impact the quality of life through boating for the disabled. Organizations and initiatives exist throughout the country that offer a multitude of on-the-water adventures. If you or someone in your life is challenged with a physical disability, research opportunities in your cruising area to ensure everyone can benefit from the refreshing, renewing experience that only the water can bring.

By Christine Carpenter, Southern Boating November 2014

Viking 92EB

Viking 92 EB

The Viking 92 EB is the culmination of the family-owned company’s 50-year history.

Four or so years ago, Patrick Healey, President, and CEO of Viking Yachts, was in Ocean City, Maryland, aboard a customer’s 115-foot motoryacht. “He owned one of our sportfishing boats as well, and I really enjoyed the spaciousness of being on the kind of yacht that allowed a large group to hang in the country kitchen, entertain others in the main salon, and allow the owners to sit outside with more guests on the aft deck area.” the idea for the Viking 92 EB was born.

The concept impressed Healey so much that he and Viking’s Design Manager, Dave Wilson, and Capt. Ryan Higgins, Viking’s South East Sales Manager, and demo skipper, also along on the visit, had a shared moment. There the Viking 92 EB was first conceived.

Design and engineering took cues from the highly successful Viking 82C. With a $7+ million per year investment in R&D, the two and a half year project culminated in a nine-month build schedule. The Viking 92 EB was the dockside crown jewel in Viking’s recent 50th Anniversary celebration and dealer meeting held in Atlantic City this past September.

The first thing I noticed about the 92 EB is how well proportioned she looks. “It was one of the primary directives, to make her look as good and well balanced whether dockside or out at sea,” says Wilson. Fantastic is a more apt description.

“With the 92 EB we can attract some folks from the larger yachts who also owned a smaller sportfishing boat and want to scale down to just one,” says Higgins. Scaling down to this 92-foot yacht, however, is hardly a sacrifice.

The Viking 92 EB incorporates large yacht features yet keeps intact the successful fish amenities found on all Viking open convertibles and enclosed bridge models. Standard features include an impressive full-service galley, free-standing dining table space, six-stateroom layout, full-beam master with his-and-her heads, walk-in closets, separate crew quarters aft with lounge and galley, a bridge deck that is as good as it gets, and the kind of storage spaces throughout that accommodate long trips away from home. Layout options are flexible.

For example, the pantry on the main deck’s starboard side can be converted into another stateroom. Indeed, on Hull #2, the owner is eliminating the free-standing dining table and reworking the salon layout along with the his-and-her heads by making one side a walk-in closet with the other a special locker design. The owner of Hull #3 included a dinette area inside.

To say the least, the interior fit and finish along with the décor package is as tastefully and well done as I’ve seen on any vessel of her class—and then some. The team paid special attention to the aft deck for an outdoor dining area. The variation on the theme incorporated the mezzanine area and created two levels—a yacht aft deck and a separate fishing mezzanine with seating, livewell, and refrigeration for the massive business end of the 92 EB, the lower cockpit. Fishing crews will utilize this space to be serious competitors in any tournament event.

Aiding that ability is her amazing performance—Captain Higgins had her up and running at a cruise speed of 30 knots with a fast cruise of 32, and she topped out at an impressive 37.2 knots at 2450 rpm in troubling four-to-six foot seas, and into the wind and current. During backing down maneuvers she pirouetted like a prima ballerina. In fact, I actually had to look out at the conditions to remind me we were in this kind of turbulent water. Of course, the Seakeeper M35 Gyro was of great help in keeping us rock steady.

“We’re 200,000+ pounds with full fuel and water,” explains Higgins in the noticeable quiet of the enclosed bridge. “But that all goes to our design and engineering teams with our resin-infused hull and deckhouse reinforced with carbon fiber, Nomex honeycomb in many of the interior panels for weight saving, and along with the hull bottom featuring flush and recessed engine pickups. To help further eliminate drag reduction, we eliminated the keel resulting in a straight V.”

Equal attention was given to the engine room space, which allows total access to every piece of equipment, pump, valve, connection, switch, filter, and any other critical area that needs attention and maintenance. On the Viking 92 EB the components normally found in an engine room that sometimes make for a rather tight space have been allocated to a dedicated space known as the mechanical room. Here one finds—again with complete access and serviceability—the ice chipper, AC power converter system, refrigeration units, compressors, cable masters, centralized water system, and generators. And, of course, access to the mains is accommodated in order to perform total critical engine maintenance with complete ease and accessibility. Another big yacht feature is that aforementioned AC power converter system. It gives the 92 EB complete and worldwide dockside abilities with single-phase, three-phase, 50Hz, 60Hz plug-in abilities.

“We’re a big team and along with our design and engineering folks, we left nothing to chance with this boat,” comments Higgins. “I get to see a lot of reactions when we introduce a new model, and the response to this one has been nothing but spectacular. Once you take the wheel and realize how maneuverable she is, I notice a feeling of complete confidence quickly settles in over whoever is at the helm, whether around the dock or heading out to sea.”

With all the advances Viking has incorporated in its past designs and all the developments integrated into the 92 EB, she will be sure to influence the next yacht, which is, assuredly, already on the drawing board at the New Gretna, New Jersey, headquarters. “It’s been that way for 50 years,” says Healey. “And there is no reason to change that at all. It’s something my father and my uncle, the founders of the company, always held true: We’ll build a better boat every day.”


See The Virtual Tour

By Ken Kreisler, Southern Boating November 2014

Boat to Baseball

Pack your baseball glove, team shirt and cap, and plan your spring boating to coincide with spring training!

Boat owners who enjoy multiple pastimes sometimes have difficulty choosing which activity to pursue when schedules conflict. Both boating and baseball, for example, are enjoyed during the summer months, and season ticket holders are reluctant to miss out on home games.

However, if you’re a boat owner in Florida whose favorite baseball team is one of the 15 that train in Florida’s Grapefruit League, you can get an early start on the season and boat to within just a few miles of most of the ball fields used for spring training. Even if your team’s spring training ball field is in the Orlando, Florida, area—for the Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros—the team will play as a visitor at one of the fields on the coast.

This handy B&B (boating and baseball) guide for your favorite teams provides their spring training parks in Florida and two marina options and how far from the ball park they’re located—some are even within walking distance! For complete game schedules, park and ticket information go to

BAL-Baltimore Orioles

  • Ed Smith Stadium, 2700 12th St. (12th St. & Tuttle Ave.), Sarasota, FL 34237
  • MARINAS: MARINA JACK-3 miles; 2 Marina Plaza, Sarasota, FL 34236; (941) 365-4232;; LONGBOAT KEY CLUB MOORINGS-10.2 miles; 2630 Harbourside Drive, Longboat Key, FL 34228; (941) 383-8383;

BOS-Boston Red Sox

  • JetBlue Park at Fenway South, 11581 Daniels Parkway, Fort Myers, FL 33913
  • MARINAS: FORT MYERS YACHT BASIN-12.7 miles; 1300 Lee Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901; (239) 321-7080;; LEGACY HARBOUR MARINA-14.7 miles; 2044 West First Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901; (239) 461-0775;

MIN-Minnesota Twins

  • Hammond Stadium, 14100 Six Miles Cypress Pkwy., Fort Myers, FL 33912
  • MARINAS: THE MARINA AT EDISON FORD-10.4 miles; 2360 West 1st Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901; (239) 245-7320; (take a tour of the Edison and Ford Winter Estates); MARINEMAX FORT MYERS @ DEEP LAGOON-12 miles, 14030 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33919; (239) 481-8200;

MIA-Miami Marlins and STL-St. Louis Cardinals

  • Roger Dean Stadium, 4751 Main Street, Jupiter, FL 33458
  • MARINAS: LOGGERHEAD MARINA-2.9 miles; 2700 Donald Ross Road, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410; LEGACY HARBOUR MARINA (888) LOGGER2 or (561) 627-6358;; BLUFFS MARINA-5.7 miles; 1320 Tidal Pointe Blvd., Jupiter, FL 33477; (561) 627-6688;

NYM-New York Mets

  • Tradition Field, 525 NW Peacock Blvd., Port St. Lucie, FL 34986
  • MARINAS: LOGGERHEAD MARINA-STUART-15.8 miles; 955 NW Flagler Ave., Stuart, FL 34994; (888) LOGGER2 or (772) 692-4400;; FORT PIERCE CITY MARINA-16.5 miles; 1 Avenue A, Fort Pierce, FL 34950; (772) 464-1245;

NYY-New York Yankees

  • Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa, FL 33614
  • MARINAS: TAMPA MARRIOTT WATERSIDE HOTEL & MARINA-5.7 miles; 700 South Florida Avenue, Tampa, FL 33602; (813) 221-4900;; MARJORIE PARK MARINA-6.4 miles; 97 Columbia Drive, Tampa, FL 33606; (813) 259-1604;

PHI-Philadelphia Phillies

  • Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater, FL 33765
  • MARINAS: CLEARWATER BEACH MARINA-7 miles; 25 Causeway Blvd., Clearwater, FL 33767; (727) 462-6954;; BAREFOOT BAY RESORT & MARINA-7.1 miles; 401 East Shore Drive, Clearwater Beach, FL 33767; (727) 447-3316;

PIT-Pittsburgh Pirates

  • McKenchnie Field, 1611 9th Street West (17th Avenue West & 9th Street West), Bradenton, FL 34208
  • MARINAS: TWIN DOLPHIN MARINA-1 mile; 1000 1st Avenue West; Bradenton, FL 34205; (941) 747-8300;; RIVIERA DUNES MARINA RESORT- 2.9 miles; 102 Riviera Dunes Way, Palmetto, FL 34221; (941) 981-5330;

TB-Tampa Bay Rays

  • Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte, FL 33948
  • MARINAS: LAISHLEY PARK MUNICIPAL MARINA-11.6 miles; 120 Laishley Ct., Punta Gorda, FL 33950; (941) 575-0142;; FISHERMAN’S VILLAGE YACHT BASIN-12.7 miles; 1200 W Retta Esplanade Suite 57A, Punta Gorda, FL 33950; (941) 639-8721;

TOR-Toronto Blue Jays

  • Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin, FL 34698
  • MARINAS: DUNEDIN MUNICIPAL MARINA-less than 1 mile; 51 Main St #1, Dunedin, FL 34698; (727) 298-3030;; MARKER 1 MARINA-3.8 miles; 343 Causeway Boulevard, Dunedin, FL 34698; (727) 733-9324;

WAS-Washington Nationals

  • Space Coast Stadium, 5800 Stadium Parkway, Melbourne, FL 32940
  • MARINAS:COCOA VILLAGE MARINA-8 miles; 90 Delannoy Avenue, Cocoa, FL 32952; (321) 632-5445;; EAU GALLIE YACHT BASIN-13.9 miles; 587 Young Street, Melbourne, FL 32935; (321) 242-6577;

By Liz Pasch, Southern Boating February 2015

Small Boat Generators

an image of a small boat generators, boat generator

Looking for boat generators? Expand your boating options by adding a generator for your boat.

What are the best boat generators?

When mariners gather for a discussion about all things boating, the second topic that often comes up relates to boat generators. (The first, of course, is about the quality of the drinks in the establishment.) The generator discussion usually reveals some level of confusion among participants. Some are confused about how powerful their generators should be for their type of boating. Others have concerns about noise and fuel consumption, while still others are concerned about pollution. All of these concerns are legitimate.

Small and Mighty

Like any other piece of boating equipment, the choice of size and type of your boat generators depends on how it is to be used. If the plan is to take it to the beach to provide power for a sound system or to keep the drinks cold, any number of small, portable gasoline units weighing as little as 50 pounds are available.

Both Yamaha and Honda have been in the portable generator business for decades, but there are other well-built players in the same market. Research—an indispensable boating skill—will help locate and price these units in any skipper’s local area. Many of these small units are as quiet as the inside of a library—about 60 decibels—and they are so light and small they can easily be carried on all but the smallest boats. Many small boats have them on board as a safety item to provide emergency battery charging, since almost all of them are capable of producing direct current (DC).

Bigger might be Better

If the generator is going to be used to power tools that are part of a vessel’s repair or maintenance system—such as a welding machine on a metal boat—the smaller portable units will generally not do the job. Any generator with an output of at least 5kW will be required if it is to be used as part of the repair and maintenance system of the boat, and it will not produce enough power to run all repair tools at the same time. However, it is perfectly adequate if the person doing the repairs is prepared to use one, or at the most, two power tools at the same time.

A generator of 12.5kW will produce the same power as is usually found in a small land-based home or condo and will generally enable all normal and regular electrical equipment to be operated at once. Larger boats, particularly those equipped with multiple chillers for air conditioning, or electric stoves, ovens, and refrigeration, should be looking at generators capable of producing 15-20kW.


In the past, smaller boats in the 25 to 30-foot range were simply not big enough to be able to carry the weight of an onboard built-in generator system. Similarly, gasoline-powered boats could not have onboard generators due to safety concerns because of gas fumes. However, in recent years a number of small diesel-powered generators have made their way onto the market. Some of them are referred to as “ignition proof” in that their operation will not trigger a gas fume explosion if installed in older gasoline-powered boats. They also have the advantage of being relatively lightweight. Three builders of this type of generators—Mase, Fischer Panda and Phasor—produce small output, diesel-powered generators in the 2.6 to 4kW range that are useful in even the smallest vessels. Not only do these smaller units provide power for 110V AC tools and equipment, but they can also keep batteries topped up through variously available battery chargers.

With the ever-increasing availability of lithium-ion batteries that can be charged very rapidly without adverse effects, boat generators that produce three-phase power are coming onto the market. These units can produce enough power to charge (through a special charger) a set of lithium batteries in a fraction of the time single-phase power can do the same job. Standard appliances don’t like three-phase power, however. A number of smaller generators offer a three-phase option. Another option most of the manufacturers are now making available is a generator with Direct Current (DC) output. These units produce battery-charging power for vessels using an inverter to produce AC current from an onboard battery bank.

Know your Watts

Any skipper who is considering adding a new boat generator should spend some time determining exactly what his electrical load is likely to be. All electrical appliances have the power requirements listed on the nameplate or electric motor. The power requirement will be listed in watts. When on full, electric heaters, refrigerators, and freezers usually require 1,500 watts—to run them all at the same time will take 4.5kW.

Don’t forget about a microwave, electric cooktop, water heater, and electronics. After all appliances and systems are examined and the skipper factors in how the electrical system will be used, the total power requirements will be determined and a decision on the type and size of the boat generator can be made.


Fischer Panda,





Looking for more? Learn how to repair your generator. 

By Roger McAfee, Southern Boating January 2015

Port Charlotte, Florida

Charlotte Harbor on Florida’s Gulf Coast will have you planning a return trip before you even leave.

Everyone loves a great comeback story. Celebrating with others who triumph over defeat is innate, and that is exactly what the residents of Punta Gorda and the surrounding Gulf Islands share since Hurricane Charley ripped through Charlotte Harbor and left behind ruin in 2004. Today, the coastal community has not only been revitalized in structure but also in spirit, with residents who noticeably take a great deal of pride in the strength, beauty and growth of their city. Punta Gorda beckons cruisers with distinctive art galleries, top-notch seafood restaurants, a revitalized downtown, and its location on the second largest estuary in Florida.

Located between Sarasota and Fort Myers, Punta Gorda is an outdoor enthusiast’s mecca with a handful of convenient marinas within walking distance of downtown. Boca Grande Pass is where the Gulf of Mexico meets Charlotte Harbor and is known as the “Tarpon Capital of the World.” Fisherman’s Village Yacht Basin is located directly on the harbor with no bridge clearance, and is the ultimate “one stop shop” for cruisers with an impressive marina, vibrant shopping and multiple restaurants, cafes and a sweets shop. Villas above each shop include a full kitchen, dining, and living room, and two bedrooms with a full bath.

Laishley Marina on the Peace River is a few nautical miles north of Fisherman’s Village. The Laishley Crab House offers excellent fresh seafood and a full sushi bar at reasonable prices, and when blue crab is in season you can’t go wrong with a flash-fried crab sandwich or fresh crab and avocado salad. Take the Harborwalk from the marina to the Spirit of Punta Gorda sculpture at the end of the waterfront park, which was commissioned by Marilyn Thorndycraft to symbolize the enduring spirit of the local residents. She and the local artist chose metal scraps from the rubble Hurricane Charley left behind to construct a meaningful sculpture of one palm tree bent over and one standing tall.

For more culinary options, head to Harpoon Harry’s at the end of the Fisherman’s Village pier. It overlooks an expansive harbor view and offers the traditional seafood baskets—all fried, all tasty. They also have burgers, salads and traditional fare if your crew is overdosed on seafood. (Is that possible?) Weekend nights attract festive crowds for the local musicians who frequent their indoor stage. For quieter dining with white tablecloths and candlelight, head directly upstairs.

In the same plaza, the Village Fish Market’s slogan is “Traditional New England Seafood.” Owners Sue and Nick Randall hopped the pond from “Old England” 12 years ago to convert this restaurant into a thriving local hotspot. The menu offers modern favorites such as seared ahi tuna and some dynamite scallops with traditional fare such as New England Clam Chowder and Fish & Chips—the combination makes you feel like you’re simultaneously in South Florida, Maine and London. The salted caramel cheesecake is not to be missed, but if you simply do not have room order one to go—you’ll thank me later. After a day on the water head to Opus for a killer oyster appetizer or impressive filet. It’s white tablecloth dining, but you can either dress up or stay casual.

Cruisers of the culinary persuasion will want to plan for the first Saturday of the month when the local Farmer’s Market is open from 8AM-1PM. You’ll find the traditional fruits and veggies, hand-made soaps, local jewelry, and eclectic art, but one of the most unique stands is the German Bakery. Traditional German breads, buns, pretzels, and pastries are baked fresh that morning and sold anywhere from 50 cents to 5 dollars.

While Charlotte Harbor is well known for its world-class fishing and impressive golfing, what sets this community apart from other fishing grounds is the thriving art scene. More than 600 artists display their talents throughout Charlotte Harbor, and the 28 larger-than-life murals that adorn the buildings throughout the city’s historic district show the history and pride of Punta Gorda. Download a list and a walking map or bike route to each mural.

On Thursday evenings head downtown to “Art Walk,” where live musicians and artists greet folks as they saunter into the stores, galleries and restaurants who open their doors to the community. For a more hands-on artistic experience, schedule a painting party with artist Marki of “Splash Wine & Paint Party.” Marki teaches a step-by-step canvas painting class paired with wine and cheese at various month. Her three-hour class near downtown Punta Gorda includes a professional frame for your masterpiece courtesy of Framing by Fred.;

After your artistic side is sated, rev up your latent “gear-head” at Rick Treworgy’s Muscle Car City—located just off I-75 and a five-minute drive from downtown. With 211 GM muscle cars dating back to the 20s, one man’s private collection of gleaming Pontiac GTOs, Chevy Corvettes, Chevelles, and Camaros bring back the glory days when hot rods ruled the road.

For active sight-seeing, pick up one of Punta Gorda’s free yellow loaner bikes at Fisherman’s Village or various locations throughout downtown. Wildlife enthusiasts will delight in the 200-plus bird species and hundreds of Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin that make their home in Charlotte Harbor. They’re easy to spot from your boat, kayaks, canoes and paddleboards, but if you don’t have your own, rent one from Holidaze Boat Rentals at Fisherman’s Village. Paddle over to the Peace River Wildlife Sanctuary at Ponce Park where pelicans, eagles, osprey, and other wildlife are rehabilitated.;

If you prefer a more secluded “deserted island” escape, cruise over to Cape Haze and Placida to dock at Palm Island Marina and Yacht Club. One of Florida’s very first clean marinas, Palm Island Marina offers all the expected services with premium customer service. Beachcombers are sure to find some sort of “treasure” on one of Florida’s most unspoiled shelling beaches—you are all but guaranteed to find sharks teeth. Take the $5 water taxi for the mile-long trip to Palm Island Resort. Stop by Rum Bay restaurant for lunch and then tour the resort and beach for a unique, first-class experience for vacations, events or day trips. A few transient slips for boats under 30 feet are available.;

While in the Placida/Cape Haze area, visit the Margaret Albritton Gallery and the Hatch Gallery—both filled with artistic crafts and treasures.

Then stop by Catania’s Winery in Englewood and chat with the owner, John Catania, whose history and knowledge in winemaking will ensure your wine cooler is full of local flavor.

By Christine Carpenter, Southern Boating January 2015


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