Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory is sponsoring the 5th Annual Whatever Floats Your Boat Regatta in Apalachee Bay on Saturday, September 24th. Marine science chronicles unusual sea creatures but nothing quite like the outrageously constructed vessels made of recycled materials that are used in this race. Teams that are up for the challenge design their own vessel and compete in either the sailing or non-sailing categories. Captain and crew sail, row or even scull around the course. Some, however, topple over or slowly sink into the bay, much to the delight of the crowds who gather on the shoreline around the lab and boat basin. The event runs from 12PM-3PM and includes outdoor food, music and fun with an opportunity to teach participants about reducing the environmental impact of plastics and other trash. marinelab.fsu.edu/outreach/regatta

Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 17th
Expect plenty of pirate lingo, backslapping salutations and an eye patch or two on International Talk Like a Pirate Day. While Hallmark probably doesn’t have a large display of greeting cards for this annual event, columnist Dave Barry helped publicize the concept some years ago. Now, dozens of pirate-themed events take place across Florida on the weekend closest to this day every year. The Big Lagoon State Park on the Florida Panhandle hosts this year’s Perdido Key Pirate Festival on Saturday, September 17th. Modern-day mutineers celebrate with entertainment including hands-on activities for kids, family games and a chance to hunt for pirate coins that are redeemable for prizes. One lucky pirate who finds the “Lost Key” will take home a grand prize treasure chest. Big Lagoon is a 705-acre state park located about 10 miles southwest of Pensacola along the ICW. The park has a launch ramp for those who trailer, and several nearby, deep-water marinas are an easy drive away.

Ft. Myers Municipal Marina District expansion
Interested in putting a fresh face on the marina district in downtown Ft. Myers? A private developer is being sought to transform businesses around the municipal marina, attract more retail, expand docks, and add moorings. Mayor Randy Henderson would like to take the expansion plans even further. Henderson, a pilot and avid cruiser, has potential Key West excursions in mind and would like to create an area for seaplane traffic in the marina district. The marina was originally built in 1937 as a Works Progress Administration project under Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. In 2016, the marina received a major facelift and now boasts 240 slips that are typically full with a long waiting list for entry. The marina currently allows liveaboards, and this policy is not expected to change. Ft. Myers Municipal continues to be a popular overnight destination for cruisers transiting Florida via the Okeechobee Waterway and is a middle-market boating facility, although it has room for larger yachts. In April, the city selected Mainsail, a Tampa-based hotel operator, to take over completion of the proposed Harborside Hotel—a new 225-room, full-service hotel and parking garage. The marina district, however, remains a separate venture with no particular timeline.

By Alan Wendt, Southern Boating Magazine September 2016

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