SECTION B - News-y & Cruise-y Items

See information on our store's 50% OFF sale at the beginning of this update ...


By Barb Hansen
November 2013

The social media phenomenon is really something.  The ability to communicate instantly with anyone just about anywhere  in the world or to get information about most anything  just keeps getting better and better each day, or is it? 

I can’t argue with the ease of communications the web has brought to us as we stay in touch with friends, relatives and those who share common interests.  They are all just a tweet or post away.  Also, if you want to know whatever there is to know about a product or service, the web has got to be your best buddy.  That is particularly helpful when you plan to buy something.  There is hardly a need to go shopping anymore since you can buy most anything online knowing full well you undoubtedly got the best price since everybody knows everybody’s pricing and they are happy to ship your purchase to your door, overnight.  That’s just the way things are these days.  And, I’m all for it when it comes to the facts on pricing, ease of shopping and delivery to my home.

However, if you go beyond facts and seek out opinions, that’s when I have some issues.  I am particularly suspicious of reviews of restaurants, hotels, resorts and the like.  And the reason is simple and straightforward, these online reviews are nothing more than lies.  More and more reports are surfacing regarding the veracity of these review sites on the web.  I draw a parallel to some of the so-called reality shows on TV.  Here again, we are seeing an increasing number of reports that the only reality about these show is the scripting that fully guides the production of each episode to assure continued audience growth.  Two examples that come to mind include the show that features  the valuable items buyers find when purchasing storage unit contents, which are unknown,  when the rent has not been paid.  Those “discoveries” that are worth so much more than what the bidder paid are typically staged.  The second is the show that depicts the great deals homebuyers get in cities and towns around the world.  In this case, the episodes are produced well after the sale has occurred and scripted to pique viewer interest by dramatizing the so-called “deals” these buyers get.  There are more, but I think you get the point.

My suspicions on web-based reviews also comes from an experience we had with a customer I will refer to as a “nutcase” since my upbringing prevents me from referring to this individual as I would really like to.  In any case, this “customer” took issue with the business practices that have evolved over the thirty years Southwest Florida Yachts has been in business.  While those practices remain unchanged  today since they are good and proper for us, our customers and the people who place their boats in our charter fleet, take our courses or buy/sell yachts through us, this individual saw it fit to comment by posting lies about the experience this nutcase had while a customer of our company.  Despite the fact that we have been victimized, our recourse is about as good as the posting that occurred.  The so-called “reputation restorers” we could retain for a substantial fee solve this problem by simply posting favorable fabrications.  To me, that’s crazy.  A lie is a lie, whether favorable or not.  That’s not social media, that’s social madness and it makes me angry.

While I’m happy to have you tweet me, friend me or do anything else you want via social media, if you are thinking about utilizing the services of our company or any organization, check things out yourself and in person, if possible.  Or seek out the opinion of someone you know and trust or who has used the services you are seeking.  Vic and I have worked very hard over the last three decades to provide our customers with good value for any service we provide.  We appreciate the countless repeat customers we have and that tells us we are treating people the correct way.  Forget the review sites on the web unless you personally know and trust the individual whose comments are listed.  If not, try a personal visit to the potential service provider or locate someone you trust who has used those services.  Anything less is a shot in the dark at best.

Barb Hansen manages Southwest Florida Yachts, yacht charters and Florida Sailing and Cruising School, a live aboard yacht school.  Contact her at, phone: 1-800-262-7939 or visit:

Special Notice from Janet Groene re: This Month's Recipe ...SMOKESTACK CHILI ...


"This is in memory of the Fort Lauderdale smoke stacks that were always such a welcome sight as we labored across the Gulf Stream on a long, night passage.  Coming Home will never be the same again."

We're sure many will never forget them ... and it IS different!

The Stacks on the south side of Fort Lauderdale's Everglades Inlet were recently demolished.


The 72nd Anniversary of the attack on the military bases in and around Pearl Harbor, Hawaii is only weeks away.  Southwest Florida is blessed with having several of these former Servicemen living in this area.

The Marine Corps League of Charlotte County is again hosting, along with the many other veteran Organizations from this area, a ceremony at Fishermen’s Village at 5 pm on Saturday, December 7th, 2013 to honor these survivors.

So far, several will be honored.    We sincerely believe that this will be one of the largest ceremonies of this type in the southeast area of our great country.  This service will have a firing squad, taps, and the wreath ceremony conducted by active duty men from the Army, Marine Corps,  Navy and Coast Guard.   Music will be provided by Barb Mendillo on keyboard.  Military Music will also be provided by the Royal Canadian Legion Pipes & Drums, led by Warren G. MacConnell.

Ceremony begins at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday,  December 7th, 2013 at Fishermen’s Village Center Court.  For more information, contact:
Hank Mastowski, Ceremonies Chairman, Marine Corps League, Charlotte County Detachment #756 , 941 764-8286.

Fishermen’s Village is located off Marion Avenue, Punta Gorda.
P  941 575-3007
M 941 258-1327
F   941 637-1054

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Wabasso Island, FL –The Environmental Learning Center (ELC) is holding its 2nd annual Winter Green Celebration from 4 to 8 PM on Saturday, December 14. Once again it is loaded with activities for all ages. Visitors may paddle a canoe through the mangrove trails dripping with twinkling holiday lights. They can stroll along Indian River County’s first and only StoryWalk®, a trail lined with pages from a children's storybook about a young boy spending winter in Florida. There will be a high tech, geocaching treasure hunt with the help of Global Positioning System (GPS) units. Plus, children can create and take home a holiday ornament made from recycled materials. Visitors won’t want to miss the stunning illumination of the native plant garden. The Discovery Station filled with environmental exhibits, aquariums, and Touch Tank, will be open, too

Christmas caroling will be provided by the Osceola Singers from 5:30 - 6:15pm, Beachland Shark Singers from 6:30 - 7:15pm, and the Sebastian River Middle School Madrigal Choir from 7:30 – 8:00pm. And a ho, ho, ho will echo the grounds when Santa makes his appearance.

WinterGreen NightLights is free with paid general admission which is $5 per person. Children 12 and under are free, and ELC members receive free admission year-round. Parking is free.

ELC’s gift shop is extending its hours during the WinterGreen event to remain open for shopping. The shop proudly sells eco-friendly merchandise many of which are made in the USA. Jewelry, books, unusual lamps, beach toys for children, hostess gifts, and eco-games fill this all volunteer run gift shop. Proceeds from the sales support the many educational programs conducted for children and people of all ages at the ELC.
The Environmental Learning Center is located north of Vero Beach off County Road 510 at the western end of the Wabasso Bridge. Its campus includes exhibit areas, native plant gardens, picnic facilities, gift shop, and visitor center. ELC membership benefits, a list of its many ecology adventures about the Indian River Lagoon including nature walks, canoe excursions, and boating adventures can be found at Admission is $5 per person, children 12 and under free, and ELC members receive free admission year-round. The first Saturday of every month is free to all. ELC is open Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 4pm, Saturday from 9 to 4pm and Sunday from 1 to 4pm.  It all takes place at 255 Live Oak Drive.


King Fisher Fleet, headquartered at Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda, is now accepting reservations for Christmas Light Canal Cruises. These popular, family-oriented cruises tour residential canals to view Christmas lights, displays, and decorations on homes, boats, seawalls and docks. Boats of all shapes and sizes cruise the canals during evenings in December to enjoy this unique display of community Christmas spirit which has been a Punta Gorda Christmas tradition for nearly 40 years!

Christmas Light Canal Cruises run every evening from December 4th to December 31st. There are three departures each night: 6:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 9:00 p.m. and each cruise lasts one hour. Adult tickets cost $15.00, tickets for children age 3-11 cost $7.50, and tickets for anyone under 3 years old are free. Group pricing of $13.50 is available for groups of 15 or more adults. These very popular cruises sell out quickly so reservations are a MUST!

For those seeking a more intimate Christmas experience, private boat Christmas Light Canal Cruises are available aboard our 35’ Cabin Cruiser, which accommodates up to 6 passengers. Customers may bring snacks, drinks, blankets, and whatever else they choose for this special tour. The cost for these private cruises is $110.00.

For reservations or more information on Christmas Light Canal Cruises, call (941) 639-0969, or visit

King Fisher Fleet offers seven other cruises including daylong cruises to the islands of Cayo Costa and Cabbage Key and the town of Boca Grande, half-day Peace River and Charlotte Harbor cruises, short afternoon cruises, and sunset cruises. King Fisher Fleet also offers charter fishing with some of the best fishing guides in southwest Florida, departing every day from Fishermen’s Village Marina. Gift certificates for cruises as well as for fishing charters are available at the King Fisher Fleet office.

Voted “Best Charter Boats in Charlotte County” every year 1996-2013, Sun-Herald poll
Voted Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce Pinnacle Business of the Year 2009
Voted Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year 2010

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Treasure Harbor Marine - which lies across the island from Plantation Yacht Harbor in its own beautiful little harbor – is a family run, friendly, "Old Keys" kind of place. Daughter Sara has competed twice in the International Korean Cup Sailing Regatta as part of the University of Florida sailing team.

The Andersens were awarded the Boy Scouts flag for their kind hospitality to scout troops enjoying Treasure Harbor as a base for the summer live aboard dive program. The marina offers year round bare-boat charters as well as short and long-term dockage.


Well-known Marina Manager Peter Maury - President of the Marina Operators of the Bahamas Association (well on its way to its brand new web site) - has left his long-time post at Atlantis on Paradise Island to begin a new Yacht Management company. Maury and his associates will attempt to make cruising from place to place easier and more enjoyable for mariners visiting by boat. They'll be ready to answer questions and assist boaters needing help and/or information. The company plans to work closely with the Bahamas government, the Bahamas Tourist Office and the Marina Operators Association for the betterment of tourism, especially by boat!  

Sounds like the FLORIDA CRUISING DIRECTORY's now almost 32-year mission statement: "Make  Boating more Fun and Less Hassle for Florida Boaters and our Cruising Visitors."

Our first Directory (1982/83) covered from Stuart to Key West. We'd spread our territory out over the next few years and by 1987 we were covering all of Florida and included our first Cruising Guide to the Bahamas section!


Check out the Atlantis Holiday Events at Get to Paradise Island by boat or plane for fun and savings!!!


FINDING THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH : Ponce de Leon and Florida's Magical Waters

Pinellas County announces a lecture to be given by Author Rick Kilby at Heritage Village, 11909 125th Street N. in Largo on January 19.

Book sale and signing will follow Kilby's talk on how the search for treasures along Florida's waters five hundred years ago continues to remain part of the mystique of  Florida today. Dreamers,  opportunists,  developers, young families, tourists and retirees often seek to enrich themselves and enjoy Florida's bountiful wealth. Kilby illustrates how fictional mythology has sustained the legend and transformed the historical records of our populous peninsula.

Call (727) 582-2123 for more information or visit


The St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show® - largest in-water boat show on the Gulf Coast - is scheduled for Thursday, December 5 to Sunday, December 8 at Progress Energy Center for the Arts Mahaffey Theater Yacht Basin and Albert Whitted Park, 400 First Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. For more information visit Show Management. Visit

The Collier County Marine Industries Association has set January 20 - February 2 dates for the Naples Boat Show at 100 Goodlette Road South in Naples. Call 239-682-0900 for more information.


Fishermen’s Village (still featured on our monthly web site update's "Back Page") is located off Marion Avenue in Punta Gorda, FL.  1 800 639-0020 or visit on line at

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