Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival kicks at Tarpon Point
The 2009 Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival kicked off their ten-day event with a great deal of success in Cape Coral on Sunday, while holding the first Monofilament Madness and Geo Paddle event at Marina Village at Tarpon Point.
Director of Amenities at Tarpon Point Marina Captain Kelly Tolbert said this year was the first year they held the geo-caching event.
“We hope to hold the event annually,” he said.
Tolbert launched 60 kayaks off the pier before 11 a.m. He said by the end of the day he anticipated he would launch approximately 40 more kayaks for individuals to take part in the courses.
The geo-caching event consisted of courses for both novice and advanced kayakers. The beginners’ course was geared toward individuals who were just learning kayaking and were new to geo-caching and the advanced course was for individuals who were familiar with a GPS system.
The beginners’ course was just under two miles long, Tolbert said. Participants were given a map to locate five buoys in the water. The map then had five codes on the back which correlated to what was given on the buoys.
Tolbert said the advanced course was four miles long and used a GPS system to find various buoys.
After the kayakers finished both the beginner and advanced courses they were given the chance to spin a wheel to win one of seven prizes.
The prizes included a two day, one night stay at the resort, a $25 gift card for Nauti Mermaid, two hour kayak rental, a $100 Visa card, Esterra spa express pedicure and mini facial and a $50 gift certificate for Marker 92 Waterfront Bar and Bistro.
Both Audrey Fitzgerald and her husband participated in the beginner geo-caching course on Sunday, along with enjoying the scenery in their kayaks after they finished the course. After they made it back to the pier they both spun the wheel and won the top prize, a two day, one night stay at the Marina Village.
After Audrey heard her husband won the same prize she said they should have a party.
“I thought it was wonderful,” Audrey said about the beginner course. “It was great to be a part of an annual event.
She said she enjoyed the course because it gave her the opportunity to kayak to five different buoys alongside the marina and write down a code at each stop that was then matched to a word.
“I had a great day,” Fitzgerald said.
The Monofilament Madness event, which is coordinated by Keep Lee County Beautiful, Inc., was also held at the Marina.
Site Coordinator Frank Cassidy said approximately 35 volunteers participated in the three mile radius clean-up around the Marina.
He said Cape Coral High School students also volunteered their time by shuttling out to Little Shell Island by boat to clean up around the mangroves.
“This is the first year we brought it back to Cape Coral after about a decade,” he said. “Thanks to the resort we are already planning next year’s event.”
Cassidy said the event is all about the mangroves and cleaning the fringes. He said the volunteers collected a couple hundred feet of monofilament, which will be recycled, along with other trash.
Florida Gulf Coast University student Laura Markley said she heard about the Blueway Festival through a conference she attended that was affiliated with the university.
“It was good,” she said about both the geo-caching and Monofilament Madness events that her and her two friends were able to participate in at the same time.
“We were out there for two hours,” Markley explained. “I would definitely do it again.”
Waterways Coordinator Betsy Clayton said Saturday was their big kick off day for the Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival, which had a great turn out. She said she talked with individuals from Ontario, Kentucky and various cities in Florida who had traveled to participate in the festival.
Clayton said the festival is a great way to deliver information to those who wish to kayak or explore the waterways of Lee County. Clayton said the festival is also a great way for people to meet fellow kayakers.
She handed out various brochures about the waterways, along with different events that are taking place in the near future to get individuals excited about the environment.
“It would be a shame not to explore the 230 square feet of inline waterways,” she said about the opportunities available in Lee County.
A sneak preview tour of the Resort at Marina Village was also held during the Sunday event to showcase their luxury environmental and pet-friendly resort.
Individuals were given the chance to walk through the Marker 92 Waterfront Bar and Bistro, along with viewing the studio suite, one bedroom suite, two bedroom suite and the three bedroom suite. Staff was present in every room to answer any questions concerning the room or resort.
Grosse Pointe Realty Broker Lauren Hagan said a special for Cape Coral residents will take place from Nov. 1 through Dec. 20 for a studio suite rate of $89 and a one-bedroom suite for $109.
Tolbert said the resort offers many affordable activities for the public and guests of the resort to enjoy.
He said individuals can rent a kayak and use the Marina’s waterways for $25 for a single and $40 for a double kayak for two hours. He said each additional hour is $10.
The area in which individuals can kayak is a safe haven, without a lot of boat traffic, he said.
Tolbert said a shuttle boat will leave the Marina every day at 10 a.m. and travel to Snug Harbour Pier. The boat will arrive at Fort Myers Beach at 11 a.m. and then pick individuals up at 2:30 p.m. to bring them back to the Marina for $15.
An hour and fifteen minute sunset cruise will also be provided for everyone to enjoy for $20 for adults and $10 for children.
For more information and reservations call 542-6222.