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Barnacle Phil’s donates proceeds to SCCF, North Captiva conservation projects

By Staff | Mar 23, 2011

SCCF's Kristie Anders and two other North Captivans help count bills and stuff money into various bags and buckets.

North Captiva Island remains one of the few places left where man and nature peacefully co-exist in complete harmony. North Captiva was separated from Captiva back on Oct. 25, 1921 when a hurricane carved out Redfish Pass.

Located north of Captiva and south of Cayo Costa, a part of the Charlote Harbor barrier island chain, North Captiva is spproximately four miles long and one-half mile wide at its widest point.

Once upon a time (post-Calusa but pre-us) there was only an irregular population on these barrier islands — North Captiva, Cayo Costa, Boca Grande, Useppa, Gasparilla,and so on. Irregular, as in fishermen who came and went, ice suppliers who came and went, and the like.

Places like North Captiva’s Barnacle Phil’s emerged as spots for hungry (and thirsty) fishermen to grab a meal and/or a beer. When they were flush with a good catch, they’d indulge themselves… and hang a dollar or two on the wall, ceiling, door, whatever, to cover them when fishing was bad and they were broke.

Barnacle Phil’s was just such a place on North Captiva. Looking somewhat like a weathered shack with creaky floors, slapping screen doors and a kitchen outside, it fit the bill perfectly. And Deb and Charlie Skinner, the new owners of the popular destination, want to keep it that way.

Dollar bills were attached with construction staples all over everything, including a sailfish hanging on the wall.

But first, they’d like to repaint and kind of spruce the place up.

They approached another North Captiva resident, Kristie Anders, SCCF’s Educational Director, to find out if SCCF might interested in helping get the money off the woodwork, then contributing it to North Captiva Island conservation projects. Since SCCF is dedicated to the preservation of coastal habitat on and around our barrier islands, the opportunity to help Cayo Costa State Park (of which North Cap’s conservation lands are a part) rid itself of the invasive Brazilian pepper was too good to pass up.

So off went the Hammerheads, toolbags, belts and boxes in hand, early in the morning of March 16 on Captiva Cruises’ “Santiva” headed to Barnacle Phil’s. Shortly after noon, they headed back with about $7,000 counted and, by the time Red Anders and other North Captiva residents (some of whom arrived before dawn) left right around sunset, more than $13,000 had been collected in various paint buckets, dufflebags and grocery sacks.

“It was really wonderful to see North Captiva embrace this the way they did,” Anders said. “And the Hammerheads, too. This isn’t part of ‘what they do,’ but there they were, including two or three who came out of ‘retirement’ to help.”

There were a couple of moments of panic, however, on Friday morning. In a previous “Pull-down-the-dollars” effort right after 9/11, the collectors had been told they had to clean the money before taking it to the bank. But this time, when someone called Bank of the Islands to check, the teller kind of laughed and asked “Barnacle Phil’s?”

One $1 bill had been attached to the very end of cabinet, within inches of a window. That’s one for an expert like Dean Skaugstad, lead Hammerhead.

A second later, she declared, “Bring it on!”