SECTION B - News-y & Cruise-y Items

 

 

Going “Virtual”: How Do You Want Your Aids to Navigation?

US Coast Guard Wants to Hear from Boaters with 25-Question Survey

ALEXANDRIA, Va., July 31, 2015 – For recreational boaters, the waterway signposts known as aids to navigation are critical for a safe journey. But what if an aid to navigation (ATON) such as a floating buoy marking the edge a deep-water channel could only be seen on an electronic screen and not by the naked eye? Will recreational boaters benefit from these new “eATONs”? That’s the question the US Coast Guard wants to find out with a 25-question online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/21stCenturyWaterways . A full look at the issue is found in the August/September issue of BoatUS Magazine at BoatUS.com/virtualnavigation .

On March 12, 2014 the USCG began operating 25 fully functioning “virtual” and “synthetic” eATONs in San Francisco waters with a goal to improved safety and efficiency. Some of these electronic waterway signposts mark the ship-traffic lanes outside the Golden Gate Bridge. The eATONs are only “visible” to vessels equipped with Automatic Identification System (AIS) technology that’s currently found on large commercial vessels and a small portion of recreational boats.

Said BoatUS President Margaret Podlich, “Although the US Coast Guard recently had 12 public listening sessions, recreational boaters did not attend in large numbers. As a result, the agency now has an online survey to capture our viewpoints, and it’s in every boater’s interest to speak up.”

“Unlike commercial vessels, recreational boats are much less likely to have sophisticated electronics needed to access some of the newer proposed systems, such as virtual buoys projected on electronic charts,” said Podlich in testimony to the US House of Representatives subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. ”There’s still a significant need for the tried-and-true physical ATONs in areas where boaters operate, such shallow-draft harbors and channels.”

Boaters are encouraged to take the short survey before the end of the year.

 

 

FWC encourages recognition and use of the divers-down flags/buoys

Whether diving in Pensacola, scalloping in the Big Bend, lobstering in the Florida Keys or seeing the sights below the water’s surface in one of the many rivers in the Sunshine State, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants to remind divers to use a divers-down flag or buoy whenever they are snorkeling or scuba diving.

The divers-down symbol is rectangular or square and red in color with a white diagonal stripe. A divers-down flag displayed on a boat must be at least 20 inches by 24 inches and displayed at a high point where it can be observed from 360 degrees around the vessel. A buoy may not be used or displayed from a vessel. A divers-down flag or buoy, displayed from the water, must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches. A flag must have a wire or other stiffener to hold it open and a buoy can be three- or four-sided.
All divers must prominently display a divers-down flag or buoy in the area in which the diving occurs.

“Proper use and understanding of what a divers-down symbol means is critical,” said Lt. Seth Wagner with the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. “It is meant to alert boaters to the presence of people under the water’s surface and to give them plenty of room.”

All vessels must make reasonable effort to stay at least 100 feet away from a divers-down flag or buoy within a river, inlet or channel. In open waters, vessels must make reasonable effort to stay 300 feet away. For safety, divers should stay within those same distances of their displayed flag or buoy. A vessel that approaches closer must be fully off plane and at idle speed.
“Divers share the responsibility of boating safety with the boat operators,” Wagner said. “Diving without the divers-down symbol displayed or using it for reasons other than to inform of the presence of divers is unlawful.”

The flag or buoy should only be displayed when divers are ready to enter the water or are in the water. When divers or snorkelers exit the water, it must be taken down.

More information on divers-down flag requirements is available online at MyFWC.com/Boating by clicking on “Boating Regulations.”

 

 

BASS MANAGEMENT IS EVOLVING

Fish Busters Bulletin 

Bass anglers may wonder why the Sunshine State supports some of the best bass fishing in the world. Florida’s abundant lakes and rivers provide habitat necessary to produce good fisheries and the Florida largemouth bass possesses unique genetics that favors rapid growth to trophy size. Harvest management through fishing rules and regulations also play a role, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is currently considering sweeping changes to streamline bass regulations and make them more effective.

The history of Florida’s bass regulations is quite interesting. The first freshwater fishing regulation in Florida passed in 1855, only 10 years after statehood and 58 years before the first game commission. The law prohibited use of haul seines to harvest largemouth bass.

In 1913 the first game commission, which existed only two years, set bag limits, instituted minimum size regulations for bass, closed spawning seasons to fishing and banned most fishing nets.

Those rules seemed intuitively to be positive, proactive conservation measures but black bass regulations have evolved over the last century as scientists learn more about the species, their habitat requirements, population dynamics and angling impacts. Prior to establishment of the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission (GFC) in 1943 as a constitutional agency, counties or various interim state game commissions regulated bass fishing based on local opinion and traditional approaches of other states.

The GFC started hiring fisheries biologists in 1946 who determined that previous regulations had little impact in most Florida waters. They recommended liberalized regulations following the prevalent ‘Maximum Sustained Yield’ model.

In 1990 biologists and the outdoor media became concerned that Florida’s bass fishery was not sustainable under increasing fishing pressure and environmental impacts. As a result, the GFC adopted an ‘Optimal Sustained Use’ approach to frame new statewide regulations in 1992. While many biologists favored increased protection of quality-sized bass, they recommended minimum size limits as most anglers supported protection of smaller bass.

From 1992 until the present, biologists modeled, implemented and studied a variety of sophisticated regulations in specific water bodies or zones within the state. Evaluation of the results of these studies included field sampling and creel studies that determined not only how fish populations were affected but also the impact on fishing participation and success.

The FWC, which succeeded the GFC in 1999, has been a leader in researching better ways to manage harvest not only with hands-on experimentation but also by monitoring successes and failures of bass regulations in other states and carefully evaluating the causes. Integrating social science with biological research allows the FWC to develop regulations that are justified biologically while accommodating angler opinions, attitudes and behaviors.

Consequently, the FWC Commissioners favorably reviewed draft black bass management rules on June 25 at a public meeting in Sarasota. Staff will continue to discuss the draft rules with the public and the Commission will consider the rules for final approval in February 2016. Once approved, new rules will go into effect on July 1, 2016. The intent is to simplify rules ¬- allow anglers to keep smaller, more abundant largemouth bass and increase abundance of larger bass statewide by changing length limits for black bass species and eliminating many specific rules for different water bodies.

Anglers are practicing catch-and-release at record levels. While reduced harvest of large bass is beneficial, culling bass under 16 inches may improve some fisheries by reducing competition among bass so individuals grow faster and larger. The proposal would allow additional harvest of younger, small healthy bass that are very abundant and steadily replaced by nature, by the relatively few anglers who consistently harvest bass. Meanwhile, anglers who are targeting larger bass for the experience and who often release them should soon see more bass longer than 16 inches, as those fish will be recycled more than ever before.

“We believe this innovative proposal will streamline bass management,” said Commissioner Aliese “Liesa” Priddy after the staff presentation at the Sarasota meeting. “We want to make it as easy as possible for Florida anglers, as well as those from out of state, to enjoy bass fishing in Florida, the Fishing Capital of the World.”

In Florida, black bass species include largemouth, spotted, shoal, Suwannee and Choctaw bass. The largemouth bass is found statewide and is known worldwide for reaching trophy size, whereas the other four species are smaller and, within Florida, are found only in the panhandle area (see MyFWC.com/Fishing for details).

Specifically, the proposal would eliminate the three zones that currently regulate bass harvest along with 42 special regulations for largemouth bass. This simplification in the rules was one of the key features sought after by anglers and resource managers.

Under the proposal, anglers could still keep up to five black bass (all species combined) of any size, but only one bass 16 inches or longer in total length could be kept per angler per day. For Suwannee, shoal, Choctaw and spotted basses, the current 12-inch minimum size limit would be maintained, although there would be no minimum length limit on largemouth bass. In addition, the proposed changes include a catch-and-release-only zone for shoal bass in the Chipola River.

The current bass tournament permit program would continue to allow anglers participating in permitted tournaments temporary possession of five bass of any size. This program has been in place for over 20 years and allows delayed-release bass tournaments to take place, and requires proper care, handling and release of all bass caught during the tournament.

Gene Gilliland, national conservation director at B.A.S.S., said in written comments about the proposal: “FWC's Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management staff has done an outstanding job collecting data that supports this recommendation. Statewide regulations that are simple for the public to understand are more likely to be accepted and followed.”

“This new approach is very innovative, and I anticipate that many states will follow suit,” said Dr. Michael Allen, professor of freshwater fisheries ecology with the University of Florida.

Other speakers included: Eamon Bolten, Florida B.A.S.S. Conservation Director; Adrian “Lunker Louie” Echols, a well-known 13-year-old ‘Elite Angler’ with a bunch of TrophyCatch entries to his credit; Don Hatcher, a fishing guide on Lake Istokpoga for the past 32 years; and Jeff Miller, owner of Millers Boating Center in Ocala. Each of these speakers complimented the FWC on listening to anglers’ input and supported the proposed changes.

The commissioners approved the draft to move forward and will take formal action in February 2016 at which time the rule could be approved for implementation on July 1, 2016. They complimented Champeau and his team of biologists, represented by Allen Martin and Bill Pouder at the meeting, and thanked them for leading the way in incorporating a mix of science-informed decision making with a common sense approach to refining management practices that deliver what the public wants from their bass fisheries.

Details of the proposed rule changes and public input can still be provided via two surveys at MyFWC.com/BassSurvey.
Instant licenses are available at License.MyFWC.com or by calling 888-FISH-FLORIDA (347-4356). Report violators by calling 888-404-3922, *FWC or #FWC on your cell phone, or texting to Tip@MyFWC.com. Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and select “more news,” or bit.ly/FishBusters for more Fish Busters’ Bulletins. To subscribe to FWC columns or to receive news releases, visit MyFWC.com/Contact.

 

 

FWC ENLISTS GULF REEF FISH ANGLERS TO PROVIDE DATA

As part of its goal of working with anglers to improve data collection and management of fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is asking for anglers’ assistance through participation in the Gulf Reef Fish Survey. This new data collection program will improve how recreational catch is monitored and provide information needed to ensure sustainable fisheries in Florida.

As of April 1, 2015, saltwater recreational anglers fishing from private boats off Florida’s Gulf coast (excluding Monroe County) are required to sign up for the survey if they intend to harvest, attempt to harvest or possess any of the following reef fish species: red snapper, vermilion snapper, black and red grouper, gag, gray triggerfish, banded rudderfish, almaco jack, lesser amberjack, and greater amberjack. Anglers enrolled in the Gulf Reef Fish Survey may be selected to receive a questionnaire in the mail to report information about their recent recreational fishing trips. Additionally, FWC biologists will meet anglers at marinas and boat ramps to collect information about their catch that day.

Anglers’ participation in this focused survey will help improve estimates of recreational fishing efforts and catch for use in management decisions specifically for reef fish. The information gained from this monitoring program will assist state and regional fisheries management agencies in their mission to ensure a healthy and sustainable resource and to maximize recreational fishing opportunities in Florida. Participants who are contacted by FWC and agree to provide information will be entered into a drawing to win an annual, 5-year or lifetime recreational saltwater fishing license.

“The success of this new data collection program not only depends on anglers signing up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey, but also, if selected, responding to questionnaires and dockside interviews,” said Beverly Sauls, research scientist with FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “Without reliable information on all fishing activities, managers are often forced to take conservative measures to ensure overfishing does not occur. Information collected from the Gulf Reef Fish Survey will help managers provide optimum recreational fishing opportunities in Florida”.

For more information about the Gulf Reef Fish Survey and specific species covered, visit MyFWC.com/research, click on “Saltwater” and select “Gulf Reef Fish Survey” under “Commercial and Recreational Fisheries.”

For more information about who is required to sign up for the Gulf Reef Fish Survey and how to get started, visit MyFWC.com/fishing, and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” then “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Reef Fish Survey.”

 

 

SF Fall Boat Show

 

 

 

Get Ready For the South Florida Fall Boat Show 2015 SF Fall Boat Show2

The South Florida Fall Boat Show is set to sail into West Palm Beach Saturday September 12th through Sunday September 13, 2015 at the South Florida Fairgrounds, West Palm Beach, Florida.

While boats are the main attraction, this show offers much more. The Fairgrounds will be packed with an impressive display of marine accessories. A wide range of other types of marine products, hardware, electronics, nautical hardware, clothing, shoes, and nautical gifts will on sale.  The best place to find bargains, quality and a wide variety of fishing equipment and supplies, restock up here. People come to boat shows ready to buy or sell so this is the perfect opportunity to get your fishing and boating bargains. Boat Dealer Space may still be available. For Info CLICK HERE

 

 

JUPITER INLET LIGHTHOUSE AND MUSEUM SUMMER CALENDAR

Lighthouse Sunset Tour
Aug 12, 19, 26
Time varies by sunset
Take in the spectacular sunset views and witness the Jupiter Light turning on to illuminate the night sky.  Visitors get an inside look at the nuts & bolts of a working lighthouse watchroom.  Tour time approximately 75 minutes, $15 Members, $20 Non-Members, RSVP required, 561-747-8380 X101.  Tours are every Wednesday weather permitting, time varies by sunset, call for tour time.  Children must be at least 48” tall to climb the tower.  www.jupiterlighthouse.org .  Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, 500 Captain Armour’s Way, Jupiter, FL 33469

Lighthouse Moonrise Tour
Aug 29
Time varies by sunset
A howling good time and spectacular evening view of a full moon from the top of the tower! Tour time approximately 75 minutes, $15 Members, $20 Non-Members, RSVP required, 561-747-8380 x101. Tours are weather permitting, call for tour time. Children must be accompanied by an adult and be at least 48” tall to climb. www.jupiterlighthouse.org . Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, 500 Captain Armour’s Way, Jupiter, FL 33469

Tales from the Archives
Aug 19, 6-7 PM
Join us in the Museum café as Staff shares the latest discoveries in local historical research and new findings from our ever expanding Museum’s collection. You may be the first to hear about new research shedding light on an old mystery or see an unusual or rare donation up-close! What fascinating facts are in the archives of the Loxahatchee River Historical Society?  Historian and Collections Manager Josh Liller will give a 30-45 minute presentation related to local history drawn from our Archives and the latest research.  Q&A will follow. A must for history buffs. Free to the public. Check our web calendar for additional scheduling. Space limited RSVP required to 561-747-8380 X101. www.jupiterlighthouse.org   Location:  Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, 500 Captain Armour’s Way, Jupiter.

Twilight Yoga at the Light
Aug 10, 17, 24, 31  7-8 PM
Experience the serenity of Yoga with Mary Veal, Kula Yoga Shala, 
on the Lighthouse Deck at Sunset! Every Monday (time will vary monthly based on sunset.)  This is an all levels class and beginners are welcomed and encouraged! Offered by donation. Bring a yoga mat and a flashlight. Meet at the Museum 10 minutes prior to start time, class is weather dependent-please check website for updates and future start times. Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, 500 Captain Armour’s Way, Jupiter, FL 33469
Experience the serenity of Yoga with Mary Veal, Kula Yoga Shala, on the Lighthouse deck at Sunset every Monday! www.jupiterlighthouse.org

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum  

Blue Star Museum – Active Duty US Military and their immediate family with ID are admitted free – Year-round!
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum offers climbing tours of the landmark 1860 lighthouse. The waterfront Museum in the restored WWII building exhibits Five Thousand Years on the Loxahatchee, which explores Native American, Seminole, Florida Maritime, Lighthouse, Pioneer and WWII Secret “Station J” history. Showcasing the amazing past of the Loxahatchee River region, the heritage site also features the Tindall Pioneer Homestead, Pennock Plantation Bell and Lighthouse Keepers Workshop. Also available are the museum gift shop, educational programs for children and adults, sunset tours, moonrise tours, weddings & proposals, and special events. The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the 120-acre federally designated, Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area. Hiking trail and observation tower located on the north side of Beach Road. Open Tues-Sun (Open 7 days Jan-Apr,) 10 am-5 pm, last lighthouse tour leaves at 4 pm. Closed on some major holidays. Children must be at least 48” tall to climb tower. Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, 500 Captain Armour’s Way, Jupiter, FL 33469, 561-747-8380x 101, www.jupiterlighthouse.org .

 

 

PC Events


Please note changes from last month that are highlighted.

•Please remove information stating that Fort De Soto Park will be offering history and beauty tours.  Fort De Soto normally does offer these type of tours, however, in the months of July and August, they are not offering any nature tours.

Sept. 17
Archaeology Lecture Series: “Ancient Mariners of Tampa Bay
: The Weedon Canoe and the People Who Used It” is the featured topic of this presentation. Brent Weisman, Ph.D. will discuss how the Native Americans plied the waters of Tampa Bay for centuries, making their living from the natural bounty of fish and shellfish that thrived in the shallow waters of the estuary. This talk will provide a detailed study of the canoe and why it was important to the early native people living on Weedon Island. 7 to 8 p.m. Free; registration required. Register online at www.weedonislandpreserve.org. Weedon Island Preserve, (727) 453-6500; 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg.

Sept. 26
Paradise Lost: In “Tampa Bay
: Paradise Lost (And Found Again),” audience members will take a whirlwind history tour of our own “estuary of national significance” and learn about some of the fascinating creatures that live in, on and around our region’s signature waterway. Participants will also be invited to test their “Tampa Bay IQ” with a fun trivia challenge. 10:30 a.m. to noon. Register online at www.brookercreekpreserve.org. Brooker Creek Preserve, (727) 453-6800; 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs.
 

 

 

LADIES, LET'S GO FISHING SCHEDULE

The  "No Yelling School of Fishing!" has a few events scheduled . . . the Following activities are usually included ...

•Learn fishing from A-Z in one weekend!
•Kickoff party on Friday, appetizer contest, silent action and fun raffle
•Full day including classes in inshore/offshore fishing, lunch and hands-on skill stations such as knot tying, spin, fly and net casting, lure rigging, gaffing grapefruits, trailer backing and boat handling.
•Optional inshore or offshore charter fishing on Sunday.
•No equipment or experience necessary.
•Ladies can register a male guest or teen.

Dates:
Sept. 11-13 – Bimini Bahamas and Nov. 13-15 – Keys/Tavernier. Register online at www.ladiesletsgofishing.com .  Phone: 954-475-9068. Email info@ladiesletsgofishing.com
 "Ladies, Let's Go Fishing!"
The No Yelling School of Fishing
www.ladiesletsgofishing.com
Like Us On Facebook: “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!”
http://twitter.com/billfishbetty
954.475.9068 o. | 954.474.7299 f.

 

 

CAMPFIRES PROHIBITED ON SHELL KEY DURING TURTLE NESTING SEASON ... THROUGH SEPT. 30th.
Campers at Shell Key Preserve will no longer be allowed to have campfires during sea turtle nesting season, which runs through Sept. 30.

The ban is being initiated because the campfires may illuminate the beach area at night, disrupting the sea turtle nesting process. The new rule is in accordance with state law which prohibits certain activities disruptive to sea turtles.

Violations will result in a $118 fine.

From Oct. 1 through April 30, campfires are allowed in the designated camping area on Shell Key, but campfires are prohibited year-round outside of the designated area.

Shell Key Preserve is maintained by Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources. It is only accessible by boat. Anyone wishing to camp on the island must have a permit. For more information about Shell Key Preserve and to obtain a permit, visit www.pinellascounty.org/park/managedlands/skp.htm .

For more information on sea turtles in Florida, visit http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/sea-turtles .

The Pinellas County app is available to connect citizens to their government and make it easy to report issues and access useful resources. Pinellas County can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. More information is available on the county website, www.pinellascounty.org , which features LiveChat for assistance. Pinellas County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

 

 

NEWS FROM JACKSONVILLE'S RUDDER CLUB AND THE FIRST COAST SAILING ASSOCIATION

Visit the Rudder Club Website for more information click here

Monday, September 7th

Labor Day Burnit
Set up grill, provide sides and dessert.

Saturday, September 12th

Crew, Fall one design series
Set up buoys/race course enjoy a day out on the powerboat

Saturday, November 21st

Principal Race Officer, Fall one design series
Set up buoys/race course enjoy a day out on the powerboat

There will be personnel to assist you and make sure you have what you need, come on out and have a good time and help the club at the same time

River Ruckus

 

August Franklin County

SGI Full Moon Climb

Fall Schedule

The August Full Moon Climb at the Cape St. George Lighthouse on St. George Island will be held on Saturday, August 15, 2015.  The Sunset/Full Moon Climb will take place from 8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and will include light hors d'oeuvres and a sparkling cider toast to the full moon.  Cost is $15.00 for the general public and $10.00 for members of the St. George Lighthouse Association. After sunset, people are invited to climb to the top of the lighthouse for a breathtaking view of the full moon, as space and time permit.  Cost is $10.00 for the general public and $5.00 for SGLA members. Future climbs are scheduled for Sept. 27 and Oct. 27.

Rio Carrabelle Hosts Art Exhibit Through August

The Rio Carrabelle Art Gallery in Carrabelle will host an exhibit featuring the poloraid print work of  Photographer Emily Naff, and the "Apalachicola Retro" - photos of Bo May. The exhibit also features local images by  Sharon Johnson.

 

 

History Presentation Sept. 12 in Carrabelle First People of Forgotten Coast

The Carrabelle History Museum will present the second in a series of presentations about the "First People of the Forgotten Coast" on Saturday, September 12 at Carrabelle's Franklin County Senior Center. The presentation, scheduled to begin at  10am, will feature noted history authors and experts Madeline Carr and Joe Knetsch.

 

 

 

Rock By The Sea Charity Music Fest Sept. 24-26 

Rock By The Sea & Now I Play Along Too present this charity music festival to benefit Now I Play Along Too and Franklin County Library.

The three-day event, hosted at Harry A's on St. George Island, will feature artists including Melodime, Steve Everett, Stephen Kellogg, Tony Lucca, Paul McDonald, Amy Gerhartz, Brian Fechino, Tim Brantley, Hey Monea!, The Georgia Flood and The Blues Factor. Activities include a Scavenger Hunt and Golf with a Musician.

 

Celebrate the Bay September 25 

It's all about the Bay on Sept 25 as the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve (ANERR) celebrates National Estuaries Day at its Nature/Visitor Center in Eastpoint. The festivities will run from 1:30-6 p.m. and will feature family-friendly activities, touch tanks, fun and educational games.  ANERR recently expanded its extensive series of trails at the Reserve. Visitors can now enjoy 1,600 feet or nearly 1/3 of a mile of newly built raised wooden boardwalks that traverse the Reserve’s 28 acres plus another 400 feet of trails.  The Visitor Center is located near the St. George Island Bridge at 108 Island Drive, Eastpoint.
 

 

FISHERMEN’S VILLAGE

fishville promo

 

Fishermen's Village
READER'S CHOICE AWARDS FAVORITE
SHOPPING DESTINATION!
1200 West Retta Esplanade #57A
Punta Gorda, FL 33950
P  941 575-3007
M 941 258-1327
F   941 637-1054
www.fishville.com

 

 

DIVE, SNORKEL, KAYAK OR PADDLE THE UPPER FLORIDA KEYS AUG. 20-23 DURING THE THIRD ANNUAL REEF CRAWL

KEY LARGO, Florida Keys -- On-the-water and underwater enthusiasts can dive, snorkel, kayak and paddle from reef to reef during the third annual Upper Keys Reef Crawl set for Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 20-23.

A roster of topside and subsea activities are planned during the four-day fest including specially scheduled dive trips to fish-filled Key Largo and Islamorada-area coral reefs. All are designed to promote marine conservation and preservation.

Reef Crawl offers divers, snorkelers, kayakers and standup paddle enthusiasts an exceptional opportunity to explore America's best sites along the continental United States' only living coral barrier reef. Participants learn about reef ecosystems, coral restoration, fish identification, artificial reefs, fish behavior, invasive lionfish and more.

Festival highlights include four days chock full of sunset paddle and mangrove tours, paddleboard yoga classes, backcountry kayak trips, specially scheduled reef snorkeling trips and wreck and reef dives during morning, afternoon and twilight hours.

Divers also can "give back" to the reef and sign up for coral restoration educational seminars coupled with hands-on coral nursery dives as well as participate in lionfish harvesting dives.

Personal, VIP six-pack and group registrations are available starting at $79 per person. VIP card holders are entitled to exclusive Reef Crawl event pricing, social gatherings and discounts on lodging, meals and excursions -- several valid for use through Dec. 31, 2015. VIP cards can be purchased in advance at reefcrawl.com/2015-reef-crawl-vip-cards/ .

Registered Reef Crawl VIP card holders can pick up their festival gear bags and packets full of exclusive discounts, samples, product giveaways and a commemorative 2015 Reef Crawl T-shirt at the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce at 10600 Overseas Highway, mile marker 106.

A portion of each festival registration benefits Florida Keys conservation efforts.

Event information: www.reefcrawl.com 
Key Largo visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keylargo  or 800-822-1088
Islamorada visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/islamorada  or 800-FAB-KEYS

 

 

'HEROES SALUTE' TRIBUTE TO HIGHLIGHT FLORIDA KEYS LABOR DAY WEEKEND

DUCK KEY, Florida Keys -- Military, fire rescue, police and medical personnel are to be honored with specially priced rooms and recreational programs as part of an annual Heroes Salute Tribute Weekend held Friday through Sunday, Sept. 4-6, at Hawks Cay Resort, Villas and Marina in the Florida Keys.

Highlights of the "heroes in action" Labor Day weekend event include a family fun night Friday with food, games and a movie under the stars. Set for 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., the event is free and open to the public.

Saturday, an early morning Heroes Salute 5k Run/Walk is planned followed by a post-race party, a mini touch-a-truck event, an evening cookout and honorary lighting of the fire pit with a photographic video tribute at sunset to honor fallen heroes and those formerly and currently in action.

A participation fee applies for the 5k and cookout events. Register for the 5k at www.themeruns.com/home/heroes-salute/.

Sunday features an American-style barbecue, a live music performance by Keys tropical rock musician Howard Livingston and his Mile Marker 24 Band and a fireworks show. Tickets for the all-American barbecue are available for advance purchase and cover admission to the evening events. Ticket prices are $25.95 for adults, $13 for kids ages 4 to 12 and free for children 3 and under.

Hawks Cay Resort partners with Firehouse Subs restaurant franchise to donate a portion of proceeds to the chain's primary charity, Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.

Accommodations at several Marathon-area hotels, inns and lodging properties are available during the Labor Day weekend in addition to specially priced guestroom rates at Hawks Cay Resort.

Heroes Salute also includes value-added offers at Hawks Cay Resort on Dolphin Connection programs, fishing, diving, watersports and spa treatments between Aug. 17 and Nov. 23, 2015.

Event information: www.floridakeysheroes.com
Marathon visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/marathon or 1-800-262-7284

 

 

INAUGURAL KEY LARGO AND ISLAMORADA BACKCOUNTRY ROUNDUP SET FOR SEPT. 11-13

ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys -- Anglers of all ages can compete in the inaugural Key Largo and Islamorada Backcountry Roundup, a boat/team tournament set for Friday through Sunday, Sept. 11-13.

Teams of up to three anglers per boat, either professionally guided or unguided, are to pursue snook, redfish and trout during the around-the-clock catch-and-release competition staged in Key Largo and Islamorada waters.

Tournament headquarters for Key Largo is bayside at Sundowners Restaurant, mile marker (MM) 103.9. Islamorada headquarters is at Marker 88 restaurant, MM 88.

Teams score points on releases of each of the eligible species per day, using 20-pound line in bait and artificial divisions, as well as on fly.

Overall winners are to receive $1,200 for a first-place finish, $750 for second place and $500 for third place. Cash prizes also are to be awarded for the most releases of each species. Trophies are to be awarded for the most released species in the bait division, spin/plug division and fly division.

The boat event opens Friday, Sept. 11, with an evening kick-off event and captains meeting at each headquarters location.

Fishing is permitted day and night until score sheets are turned in between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 13. A dinner and awards ceremony follows Sunday's fishing and features a silent auction and raffle.

Entry fees are $225 per boat for a two-person team if received before Sept. 11 and $250 thereafter. Additional adult angler or guide fee is $125.

Tournament proceeds are to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.


Event information and registration: www.backcountryroundup.com
Key Largo visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keylargo or 800-822-1088
Islamorada visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/islamorada or 1-800-FAB-KEYS
Florida Keys fishing information: www.fla-keys.com/fishing

 

 

POKER RUN BIKERS TO TRAVEL FLORIDA KEYS' OVERSEAS HIGHWAY SEPT. 17-20

KEY WEST, Florida Keys -- Motorcyclists can travel one of America's most incomparable highways and explore the Florida Keys island chain during the 43rd annual Phil Peterson's Key West Poker Run. Scheduled Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 17-20, the event typically draws riders from throughout the United States on up to 10,000 bikes.

Participants are to traverse the Overseas Highway (U.S. Highway 1), the 113-mile roadway from mainland Florida to Key West, crossing 42 bridges and discovering long vistas of breathtaking open water. As well as offering a unique motorcycling experience, the Poker Run raises funds for the Diabetes Research Institute and charities of the Key West Sunrise Rotary Club.

Through Aug. 31 bikers can register to ride online at www.petersonsharley.com. Beginning Sept. 1 registration is to be open at Peterson's Harley-Davidson of Miami, 19400 NW 2nd Ave., and Peterson's Harley-Davidson South, 19825 S. Dixie Highway.

Upon registering, each participant receives a poker sheet and can purchase a weekend parking band. Drivers of cars and trucks also can participate in the run.

Bikers who want to explore the Florida Keys prior to the main event can participate in parties and adventure tours around the island chain Monday through Wednesday, Sept. 14-16.

Starting at 8 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, Poker Run participants are to ride the Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West, stopping at designated points to draw cards. Holders of the 10 best poker hands are eligible to play in a winner-take-all round of Texas Hold 'Em, competing for a new Harley-Davidson 500 Street motorcycle or $6,000 cash. The high-stakes round is set for 11 p.m. Saturday at Rick's/Durty Harry's Entertainment Complex, 202 Duval St.

A section of Key West's lower Duval and Greene streets is to be closed to car traffic and open only to motorcycles and pedestrians during much of the Poker Run, so bikers with weekend parking passes can park on the street to display their bikes. Other attractions include a Thursday night "Upper Duval Crawl" and bar stroll, bike merchandise market, "Biker Bash" and street party, custom bike show, tattoo contest, blessing of the bikes and parties at Key West watering holes.

Events conclude Sunday, Sept. 20, with a waterfront brunch at the Conch Republic Seafood Co., 631 Greene St. in Key West's Historic Seaport.

Event information and schedule: www.petersonsharley.com
Key West visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY

 

 

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