Monday, May 24, 2010

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille featured in New York Times Magazine

Chef Greg Nelson, right, visits with diners at the Doc Ford's restaurant in Fort Myers Beach.

Sanibel’s famous Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille has reached another level of renown in a New York Times Magazine food feature. The dish that gets the attention is Yucatan Shrimp; fresh, boiled shrimp tossed in garlic butter with Indonesian sambal and jalapeno added. It is cut by lime and made fragrant with cilantro.

The article, written by Sam Sifton, quotes chef Greg Nelson’s recipe and taps into Doc Ford’s owner and author, Randy Wayne White as saying, “The communal act of peeling and eating the cooked shrimp leads to a sharing of the spirit of Sanibel itself, and casual, family-style dining that brings people closer to one another than they might get primly eating with a knife and fork”.

The article goes on to describe White’s activities as the author of the 17-book series of Doc Ford’s mysteries. Doc Ford is portrayed as a former government agent who has “retired” to Sanibel Island as a marine biologist. As he yearns for the contemplative life of science, he finds himself regularly involved in intrigue with crimes and miscreants.

Sifton points out that food plays a role in White’s mystery novels. Doc Ford and his off-sider, Tomlinson, frequently are found in Doc Ford’s Sanibel stilt-house cooking and talking.

“Cooking not only whets the appetite, it sharpens all our senses, which makes it the best possible time for honest talk, factual and fanciful,” according to an e-mail from White that Sifton quotes.

Not surprising then, that diners in Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille are often seen, whether on Sanibel or the establishment on nearby Fort Myers Beach, sharing stories and laughs over tropical cuisine served at White’s island eateries. Add a Doc Ford’s specialty mojito or a glass of cold draft beer, and a meal can stretch out for an afternoon or evening.

"As Sam Sifton has identified and aptly shared with thousands of readers on Sunday, the food at Doc Ford's is where it starts," said restaurant co-owner Marty Harrity. "You've got to have great food, ambiance and service to deliver a memorable dining experience. At Doc Ford's and the Beached Whale, that's what we're all about."

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille on Sanibel is located at the corner of Sanibel-Captiva Road and Rabbit Road near the J.N Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge entrance. Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grille on Fisherman's Wharf in Fort Myers Beach is on the Fort Myers side of the Matanzas Pass Bridge, directly under the bridge.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lucky 7 Offer

WOW! Lucky 7 Offer - Stay 7 nights in a 2 bedroom, 2 bath Gulf Front Complex for $777. Mention the Lucky 7 offer and receive a beach cooler bag. Certain restrictions and limitations apply.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Small creatures steal the show at TBE's Touch Tank exhibit

A sampling of some of the small creatures you might encounter during a visit to the Tarpon Bay Explorers’ Touch Tank and Aquarium Exhibi
The spring season on Sanibel brings a flurry of activity as birds are foraging for food for their fast-growing chicks. You might see pelicans and osprey diving into the water or herons and egrets wading in the shallow grass flats. What are these feathered parents hunting for? They feed on the thousands of small fish, mollusks, and crustaceans that live on the bottom of the estuaries.

While it can often be difficult to see beneath the surface of the water to observe these small creatures, you can get a great view of many of them in the Touch Tank and Aquarium Exhibit at Tarpon Bay Explorers, located at 900 Tarpon Bay Road.

The Explorers offer presentations in the Touch Tank during which a naturalist teaches guests about the lives of animals such as spider crabs, oysters, lightning whelks, burr fish, horse conchs and more. You could see a giant red hermit crab and learn how this crustacean protects itself by living in a salvaged snail shell.

Your guide will give you the opportunity to get up close and personal with a prehistoric-looking horseshoe crab – who is more closely related to spiders and scorpions than to crabs – and tell you about their use in modern medicine. Many guests are thrilled with the opportunity to closely observe a pair of sea horses, covered in bony plates instead of scales. These elegant fish are also bizarre, as it is the male sea horse that carries babies!

You can learn much more about sea horses, horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs and the many other small creatures that inhabit our estuaries during a visit to the Touch Tank. Or, to make your visit complete, follow up with a boat ride in Tarpon Bay. The Nature and Sea Life Cruise is a great way to learn more about the birds, manatees, dolphins and other wildlife in The J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Touch Tank Presentations are offered daily at 11 a.m., 1:30 and 3 p.m., and the Nature and Sea Life Cruise (including the Touch Tank) is offered at 11 a.m., 1:30 and 6 p.m. daily. For more information and to make reservations, call the Explorers at 472-8900 or visit
Submitted by STEPHANIE RAY

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Letter from Purre Water Coalition

May 12, 2010

Having personally assisted with attempts to remove crude oil from the sandy beaches of Cape Cod in the 1970s and knowing it is an almost impossible job, we at PURRE are looking outside the box for means that might work as a "last line of defense" on all of our beaches.

Take it from me, with any wind and surf, the "floating booms" that seem to be the federal and state governments only line of defense will not work. They will help control movement on a calm sea to an extent but become mostly useless once the wind picks up.

You can see that the crude oil is already past the multiple booms south of Louisiana and into the bay areas and beaches, and if you noticed in the newsreels the estuary waters were mostly calm. If you saw the news tape of the Haz-Mat crew hand-shoveling the oil from the small barrier island south of New Orleans, you can see what an endless effort it will be.

As on Cape Cod in the 1970s, all of the volunteers felt really good knowing we helped and did all we could, but frankly it was never enough the oil and residue was there for almost a decade.

It is my feeling that Sanibel, and all of Florida, needs to take action to protect herself with a "last line of defense" so if any oil gets through the booms, at the very least, we can make a valiant effort to keep the oil off of the sand.

Once the oil gets pulverized by the surf and into the sand, it will take years to clean up.

This video link is from the website, a site that I monitor as a building contractor always looking for greener methods and products. It shows a possible and fast solution to the oil problem as presented by C.W. Roberts, Inc.:


The company is based in Tallahassee and has an office right here in Fort Myers:

C. W. Roberts Contracting, Inc.
15101 Alico Road
Fort Myers, FL 33913-8259
I have personally talked in depth with Darryl Carpenter, Vice President of C.W. Roberts, Inc. about this solution and I am convinced it will work. All C.W. Roberts is asking for is one square mile in the offshore spill area to prove it will work.

If it works, and I think it will, we will then work directly with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and all related State and Federal agencies to come up with a process to use this solution in the near beach zone with rapid removal as a last ditch effort to protect our beaches.


Michael Valiquette, Chairman of the PURRE Water Coalition

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

About Vip Vacation Rentals

Since 1978 VIP Vacation Rentals, LLC has been servicing the unique needs of Southwest Florida's vacation properties owners who have entrusted us to offer their homes and condos to travelers from around the world. Many of our guests visit our area for a vacation and end up staying a life time. With over 100 years of employee experience - VIP Vacation Rentals is here to help that dream come true. Our reputation for thorough, efficient, and discreet handling of our guests has been hard earned and well known in the vacation rental business. We offer only the best in accommodations that can be found in Southwest Florida. So for that family beach vacation, escaping the cold of the north for the winter, or just relocation to enjoy the lifestyle of Florida, just ask your friends - When they like what they see They call VIP!
Why Rent From VIP Vacation Rentals?

VIP Vacation Rentals - a trustworthy, professional company that has been dedicated to providing excellence in hospitality for over thirty years.
-We have quality accommodations that undergo a large list of quality assurance measures
- We have been in business and located on Sanibel & Captiva Islands for over 30 years.
- We have over 100 years of experience with our on Island friendly & knowledgeable staff.
- We have only the highest standards when accepting properties into our rental program.
- We meet or exceed all State and local regulations regarding cleanliness and safety.
- We are properly licensed by The City of Sanibel, Lee County and The State of Florida.
- We respond to problems, questions, lockouts and emergencies 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
- We have no hidden fees passed along after you book your reservation.
-We offer an unforgettable vacation that is full of relaxation and enjoyment

Making your dream vacation plans should not be a difficult or uneasy proposition. Your vacation is our only business. Our On Island professional staff is here to help you find the perfect property and everything that goes with it.

No surprises. No misrepresentation. We hear all the unfortunate stories from visitors who did not use a professional company.

Our properties meet the highest standards for cleanliness and quality, our linens are sanitized and each property inspected before your arrival. We only use trained and licensed professionals to service our properties in case of an appliance failure or if you simply lock yourself out. To complete your vacation, we also offer travel insurance, beach, bike and baby equipment rentals, and information on our beautiful islands.

Check out our availability on this secure website and reserve your vacation online, or call us now. We look forward to your visit.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Website for those Monitoring the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Additional Website Recommended for those Monitoring the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Currently, the City of Sanibel beaches are in pristine condition and are all open to the public. At this time, there is no smell of oil or burning.

The City of Sanibel recommends the following additional website for those monitoring the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill:

For the latest updates released by the Federal and State governments, please monitor the following websites:

Fowler's latest San-Cap Nature Calendar features wonderful images of local wildlife

Nature photographer Dick Fortune's image of a trio of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, shot off the coast of the Sanibel Lighthouse, was selected for the month of January.

Sanibel-Captiva Nature Calendar "firsts"

Recognizing that paper manufacturing and printing are two of the most pollution-creating industries, this publication was:

First to help support local and regional environmental organizations. To date, the publisher has donated $15,689.25 to conservation groups located in Southwest Florida.

First to print a four-color photographic calendar on recycled paper in North America. The 1991 edition was printed in May 1990.

First to reduce consumption and waste by using thinner paper than any other four-color photographic wall calendar.

First to refuse to individually shrink-wrap, use wasteful stiffeners and/or pre-box each calendar. Total reduction in paper materials used to manufacture this calendar when compared to other similar-sized wall calendars is a full 66 percent.
First to include full-featured narratives by experienced nature writers.
Although the current calendar has yet to reach the middle, for wildlife lovers of the islands, the arrival of the month of May also means that it's already time to look ahead to next year.

Released in the past two weeks to local retailers, the 2011 edition of the Sanibel-Captiva Nature Calendar features a spectacular front cover photograph of a pair of white ibises dueling for territory. The image was photographed within the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge by Sara Lopez, a longtime contributor to the calendar series.

"This edition of the calendar depicts the behavior of the many different species of wildlife on and around the islands," said Jim Fowler, publisher of the Sanibel-Captiva Nature Calendar. "There is nothing more enjoyable than to put your camera down and simply observe the island wildlife going about their daily lives."

Over the years, a number of professional and amateur photographers from around the world have contributed some of the greatest examples of breath-taking animal, bird and marine photography to the calendar, which has become somewhat of a collectors' item since it contains such eye-popping images and interesting facts about local wildlife.

In addition to Lopez (whose pictures appear on the cover, in March and August), the calendar contains images skillfully captured by photographers Dick Fortune (January, September and December), Cliff Beittel (February, April and June), Charlie Heidecker (May), Bob Lindholm (July), Lorraine Sommer (October) and Cheryl Molennor (November). Each photograph is accompanied by complete subject information including full descriptions, nesting, breeding and feeding habits, range, habitat, status and health.

Each month, it includes enticing photo narratives penned by islander Betty Anholt, former islander Charles LeBuff and birding expert Bev Postmus. Each month also features a shell sketch by the late islander Sue Stephens and a turtle graphic during the sea turtle nesting months (May through October).

"The sight of dolphins in island waters is always joyful to onlookers, in part because the eight or nine foot mammal with its centered dorsal fin seems to be having a great time," Anholt writes in January's text accompanying Fortune's image of a trio of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins off Sanibel's east end. "Dolphins are social animals, distributed worldwide and congregating in fluid groups of nursery females, juveniles and males. They are protected, but not endangered, with an approximate population of 67,000 in the Gulf of Mexico."

First published in 1988, this is the 23rd edition of the popular calendar. Sold only in Southwest Florida, it continues to set the standard for other calendar publishers, here and abroad.

"(The calendar was) created from an idea that took seed during my island experiences since I first came to Sanibel in the early '70s, I have tried every year to put together a calendar that truly shows the natural beauty of the islands," Fowler said.

Because the calendar is an environmentally-conscious publication, a portion of the proceeds is donated annually to an environmental group headquartered in Southwest Florida. Since 1989, more than $15,000 has been donated to state conservation organizations.

Previous donation recipients have included C.R.O.W. ($1,000 in 2004, $600 in 2001 and $400 in 1990), Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation ($1,000 in 2006, $500 in 2000 and $1,000 in 1994), Calusa Nature Center ($650 in 2002 and $500 in 1996), Sanibel-Captiva Audubon ($700 in 2003 and $484 in 1992) and Save The Manatee Club ($700 in 2008 and $500 in 1997).

Last October, $1,000 was donated to the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society, bringing the total amount donated through calendar sales to that organization since 1991 to $3,538.

"It continues to be my goal every year to publish a calendar that not only is beautiful and useful, but also promotes wildlife conservation through interest, information and education," added Fowler.

Again this year, the calendar will be available - upon request - delivered by mail order with a shipping envelope made from garbage.

"We saved the make-ready sheets from the press set-up and created custom-fit mailing envelopes," he explained. "This paper is usually sent through the printing press once then on to the landfill. Now this paper will be used a second time as envelopes, thereby further reducing waste."

The calendar retails for $13.95 and is sold throughout Southwest Florida in book stores, gift shops and other retailers. Mail orders send $13.95 (plus $2 shipping and handling) to: Sanibel-Captiva Nature Calendar, P.O. Box 356, Sanibel Island, FL 33957. For the custom-printed Blind Pass Tide edition (available this fall), send $16.95 (plus $2 shipping and handling) to the above address.

For additional information, visit or call 859-846-4528.

"It is the best calendar in the world, and probably the best calendar that ever was," boasted Fowler. "It is the only calendar that truly represents what Sanibel and Captiva are all about - nature!"

Monday, May 3, 2010

ON THE WATER: Mixed action with larger fish arriving daily

Offshore fishing picked up this week with reports of king mackerel, cobia and mangrove snapper and inshore despite unfavorable tides much of the week anglers caught trout, mackerel and a mixed bag of other species.

Near shore artificial reefs gave up good action for a mixed bag including snapper, grouper, mackerel, cobia, permit and sharks. At time, anglers found a different species taking the bait on each drop, leaving lots of anticipation of what would be on the end of the line next.

For bait, live pilchards and pinfish or shrimp tipped buck tail jigs were hard to beat. Hanging a chum bag off the boat also helped to raise the snapper and attract mackerel and other fish. King mackerel up to 20 pounds and cobia were also caught on larger pinfish and blue runners free lined behind the boat on heavier tackle. There were a few reports of tarpon showing up off the beaches of Sanibel, not in big numbers, but more should begin showing up any day.

From 60 to 70 foot depths, there was good fishing for mangrove snapper. Anchoring and chumming over structure raised the fish with mangs up to seven pounds reported. Depths from 70 to 100 feet are holding good numbers of amberjacks. Fish averaging 20 to 40 pounds were caught over structure on both live bait and butterfly jigs white in color.

Back in on the beaches, pompano were caught along the surf of Cayo Costa and in two to six feet of water inside the Gulf Passes. They averaged one to three pounds and were caught on live shrimp and quarter ounce white nylon jigs with a chrome head. The best bite was over the morning incoming tide.

Inshore, the Spanish mackerel bite was good from the flats on either side of the Sanibel Causeway, off the flats adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway in the Sound and throughout Charlotte Harbor. Bluefish, jack crevalle and small sharks were also mixed with the macks. The mackerel are averaging two to four pounds and baits included Clark Spoons, white Bucktail Jigs and live pilchards.

Trout averaging from 14 to 18 inches were caught in Rocky Channel and near Cabbage Key in the Sound and along the bar edges in the Harbor. They are schooling up preparing for their spawn, if you fished around a little and located a few, chances were good that many more would move in to eat for the angler with a little patience. An occasional larger trout up to 22 inches were mixed in and a few large trout were also caught by those targeting redfish and snook.

Tides were not favorable for red fishing the bushes as we never had any good daytime highs. A few fish were caught along oyster bars in Matlacha Pass and in potholes in Pine Island Sound south of Pineland. Low morning tides gave good opportunities for tailing redfish, with a few reports of fish on fly from Matlacha Pass in Smokehouse Bay and near Buck Key in the Sound. This week, we have some great afternoon high tides and should turn up some good fishing under the mangroves.

I am beginning to see tarpon showing up in their annual haunts in the Sound, not in great numbers but they are arriving. The water is still a little cool as a result most of the fish are laid up in sand holes just below the surface absorbing the bright sun. On a day with a light breeze and no clouds, this could present the perfect fly fishing or sight casting opportunity. We also caught sharks up to four feet this week while mackerel fishing in the Harbor and broke off two cobia. Schools of large jack crevalle are also working along bars and shorelines - hook into one of these bruisers and you can test your tackle and muscles in a hurry.

This has all the making for a great week of fishing, if the weather allows. We are on strong full moon tides with really good afternoon highs; our weather pattern is finally getting somewhat normal with light winds giving way to afternoon sea breezes. And best of all, with every warming day, more and bigger fish are moving into our waters. When you go fishing, make sure you bring along the heavier tackle - the big boys are arriving!

If you have a fishing report or for charter information, contact us by phone at 239-283-7960, online at or via e-mail at Have a safe week and good fishin'.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Get ready to juggle fun at BIG ARTS Family Day

Winning a prize for guessing the number of animal crackers in a jar - complements of Pinocchio’s Ice cream - will be part of the fun and games during Family Day at BIG ARTS on Sunday, May 2. Clara and Madelyn Seymar, visiting from Brattleboro, Vermont, hold up the prize that will go to the animal cracker winner. Pinocchio’s Ice Cream co-owner, Stephanie St. Johnston shows the jar containing the cookies.

A petting zoo consisting of musical instruments.

A man who is daring and talented enough to juggle a running electric carving knife.

Nope it's not an introduction to a new block buster adventure - but close.

An adventure in own right, BIG ARTS annual Family Day is once again upon the community.

The annual free event slated for Sunday, May 2 is a day for everyone of all ages to come out with their families and enjoy a day of art, music, food and world-class entertainment.

BIG ARTS 5th Annual Family Day begins at 3:30 p.m. The day includes juggling, comedy, theater, art, and music.
World champion juggler and comedian Mark Nizer will highlight the day.

Nizer who has been juggling for 30 years will take Family Day visitors on a wild adventure as he hurls odd and often dangerous items such as running electric carving knives and a 16-pound bowling ball through the air and catches them.

But that's not it.

Viewers will be able to participate vicariously by donning a special pair of 3D glasses during his act. The glasses will convert colors to different dimensions, Nizer said.

This will be the first live 3D show.

"It's going to be awesome," he said via a telephone interview.

Since winning the International Juggling Championships, Nizer has taken his one-man show with original comedy, world-class juggling, music, and technology all over the world. Whether it's five ping pong balls being thrown 20 feet in the air using only his mouth or juggling a running electric carving knife, and a 16-pound bowling ball, one never knows what to expect, according to a press report.

"I like family events," Nizer said. "I like to get everybody involved. I like sort of entertaining at different levels."

Nizer got into the entertainment business under the wing of Bob Hope. He has since taken his show all around the world including a U.S. Embassy appointed trip to Zimbabwe.

"I've been everywhere," he said. "I have exceeded my expectations."

Aside from Nizer's headline act, attendees will be able to to enjoy an instrument "petting zoo" with the Southwest Florida Symphony, and a performance by the Sanibel School Steel Drum Band, according to a press report.
The afternoon will also include the visual arts opening reception for Open Doors: Great Expectations XV. The student exhibit in Phillips Gallery runs through May 21 and is sponsored by Visual Arts Patron Season Sponsors June Rosner and Russ Bilgore.

Lee Harder, the Executive Director of BIG ARTS, said she is expecting a great turnout for this year's Family Day.

The day has been set aside to bring families together and say thanks for supporting BIG ARTS during the season.

"It has grown every year," Harder said. "We hope that the trend continues."

Funded through donations to the Alliance for the Arts, Open Doors: Great Expectations XV Exhibit is open Friday, April 30 through Friday, May 21 in Founders Gallery, according to a press report.
BIG ARTS Family Day is sponsored by the L.A.T. Foundation. Student Exhibit is sponsored by Visual Arts Patron Season Sponsors June Rosner and Russ Bilgore. Open Doors Exhibit is supported by Visual Arts Season Sponsors Deborah and John La Gorce.
For more information, call 395-0900.