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Listed at No. 5: Cape one of best cities for boaters

By Staff | May 13, 2016

SmartAsset, a website based in New York City devoted to providing financial information, is really high on Cape Coral these days.

After the company announced the city has the No. 2 highest net migration rate for retirees in the country, it named the Cape the No.5 place in the country to live for boaters.

The findings should come as little surprise’ Cape Coral has more hundreds of miles of canals that wind their way into many neighborhoods, giving many the opportunity to park their boats on the edge of their backyards and go out on the water at their leisure.

“It’s a natural fit with 400 miles of canals, fresh and salt water, our ease of access to the Gulf, the Caloosahatchee. I’m thrilled we’ve been recognized as such,” said Councilmember Rana Erbrick on Thursday.

“Any time you get in the Top 10, it’s not boring. What’s great is the recognition of the amenities we have in this city. With the canal access we have fresh and salt water. It’s an absolute draw.”

A.J. Smith, media relations specialist with SmartAsset, agreed this is yet one more feather in the city’s cap.

“Cape Coral is coming in high in a lot of areas in the factors we’re looking at. We’re coming up on the summer, so where are the best places to own a boat where it’s affordable,” Smith said.

Councilmember Rick Williams said it is more great news, but there could be consequences down the road, especially in the already crowded Caloosahatchee and Lee County waters in general.

It’s great to be recognized, but it will draw more boaters and create more confusion,” Williams said. “They’re welcome. It’s not a problem. Right now there are no major issues. Besides, we made another Top 10 list, and that’s excellent news. It gives us good publicity.”

There are more than 51,000 registered vessels in Lee County, which ranks fourth in the state. Many of them are 26 feet in length or less.

Williams said as Cape Coral gets built out, things will get more complicated, not just with boats, but with everything.

With the Caloosahatchee being the main route for not only Cape Coral, but for North Fort Myers and Fort Myers, it could make the river into the U.S. 41 for boats, with heavy traffic that slows to a crawl.

In fact, there is already an area, at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee, that has earned the nickname of “The Miserable Mile.” The last mile is a narrow, no-wake zone that slows things to a crawl.

“Everything gets shrunk into a narrow channel. There’s no wake, so boats that have been speeding down have to slow down there,” Williams said. “A lot of big boats go through there and it can get choppy.”

As next week is National Safe Boating Week, the news couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

All but one of the Top 10 cities were in the southeastern part of the country, and five of them were in Florida. Beside Cape Coral, there were St. Petersburg (No. 2), Tampa (No. 4), Jacksonville (No. 6), and Miami (No. 7).

Brownsville, Texas was named the No. 1 city for boaters, according to the study. Henderson, Nev., which is in the desert, was ranked last.

SmartAsset’s analysis focused on weather, cost and convenience, with five metrics being sales tax rates on boats, median annual housing costs, total water area, water area per 100,000 residents and the number of warm weather days.

“The city did really well with the water area with the canals. That’s one reason it scored so highly,” Smith said. “Areas like St. Pete scored a little higher in water area and Virginia had a lower sales tax and maximum on boats than Florida.”

The top U.S. 200 cities were ranked. Each metric was given equal weight.