Southern Boating

Florida Gulf Updates April 2017

The Sugar Sand Walk features a creation by master sculptor Patrick Harsch.

Sand ‘Fantaseas’, new electronic boat shuttles, lingering Red Tide effects and more in the Florida Gulf Updates April 2017.

Sugar Sand Fantasea 

Anyone with children understands Sand Castle Construction 101. However, put those same tools, including buckets and shovels, in the talented hands of 11 world-class sand sculptors and you’ll get an end result that’s worthy of PhDs in both art and engineering. On April 14-23, Clearwater Beach will host the 5th Annual Sugar Sand Walk Exhibit. The event takes place just a block from the city marina at Pier 60. The theme changes every year, meaning you’re unlikely to see the same sculpture twice. Sugar Sand Fantasea, a Magical Adventure Above and Below the Sea is the theme for the 10-day event that features sand-sculpting classes, live entertainment, crafters, street performers, fireworks, and a sand-sculpting contest with a prize of over $6,000 to the winner. While the events are free, there is an admission charge for access to the Sugar Sand Walk. The fee is $10 for adults and $8 for adults 55 and over. sugarsandfestival.com

Free lift for Sarasota cruisers

Sarasota’s developing downtown district is only three blocks away from Marina Jack. But after a full day of browsing the artisan shops, stopping for a cappuccino at one of the many colorful sidewalk cafes and a gourmet dinner, a ride back to the boat may be in order. Sarasota has approved seven electric shuttles that carry six passengers each. Ferry tourists and residents alike can take advantage of the new ride option throughout the downtown district. This new feature is part of a city-funded plan to reduce motor vehicle congestion on the roads. The upcoming $339,000 project includes an app to hail a ride from the service and will be called Gotcha Ride.

Bay scallops – St. Joseph Bay

The residual effects of a prolonged 2015 Red Tide outbreak is anticipated to once again impact the annual Bay Scallop season in Florida’s Panhandle. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioners (FWC) approved a recreational bay scallop season lasting from July 25th through September 10th off Gulf County. This also includes all waters in St. Joseph Bay as well as those west of St. Vincent Island in Franklin County through the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County.

Bag and vessel limits throughout the entire bay scallop harvest zone will be capped at two gallons of whole bay scallops in shell, or one pint of bay scallop meat per person, with a maximum of 10 gallons of whole bay scallops in shell, or a 1/2 gallon of bay scallop meat per vessel.

FWC researchers conducted a scallop restoration project last year within St. Joseph Bay to help speed the recovery of the scallop population. Scientists reported these efforts have been going well, and the scallop population has shown signs of improvement. Still to be decided are dates for the season in nearby Dixie and Taylor Counties.