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Community mourns loss of Paul McCarthy

By Staff | Aug 25, 2016

Paul McCarthy, owner of Captiva Cruises and McCarthy’s Marina, died Wednesday morning. He was 63.

Islanders herald him as a man who had a special relationship with the Sanibel Captiva community, especially with the area’s pristine environment.

McCarthy, owner of the excursion company for 30 years, was considered by many as a champion for the natural beauty of Southwest Florida and particularly its islands.

Kristie Anders, education director at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation and longtime friend, said it was a huge loss.

“He was a mentor. I was the beneficiary of his thoughtfulness. We docked our boats and I came every day by boat to his marina for 20-plus years,” Anders said. “The first day I met him he was at the SCCF office and explaining that he worked with the Architectural Institute in Chicago and wanted high-quality narrators on his boats.”

Together, Anders and McCarthy put together an 80-hour curriculum to prepare people to narrate on his boats, making sure that everything was top-notch. Nothing less would do.

“We were at a party at a place where we got extraordinary service. In his speech at the end of the night, he asked if they enjoyed themselves, looked around and noted how the staff took care of you,” Anders said. “I expect nothing less aboard my boat.”

McCarthy was born and raised in the Boston area and gained degrees in law and business administration at Notre Dame, later earning a master’s in public administration at Harvard. He started out as a corporate defense attorney in the late 1970s in the Chicago area.

Seeing a niche in the market, he started Chicago from the Lake, his first boat tour company, in 1982, with an old wooden fishing boat. The business, which included the “Architectural Tour,” would grow to include catering, dining and chartered vessels.

Looking for somewhere to do business during the winter months, McCarthy founded Captiva Cruises in 1986, an excursion boat company which operates a fleet of vessels and a program of tours and cruises of both a luxury and educational influence.

The business grew to the point where he sold his Chicago operation in 1991. Today, Captiva Cruises has 30 employees, an 18-slip marina and seven vessels.

This past May, McCarthy was one of just two businesses in Lee County nominated for two Chrysalis Awards, given to the best in business and tourism by the Visitors and Convention Bureau and the Great Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, winning the award for eco-innovation.

“It’s a huge honor to win the eco-innovation award, especially with all the people committed to eco-tourism. We’ve been in business for 30 years and we have an outstanding staff. Everyone has a strong commitment to the environment,” McCarthy said at the time.

McCarthy has also been nominated in the past for other awards and was presented with the Junonia Award, the VCB’s highest honor in 2014.

“He was a tremendous partner to the VCB, a big community advocate for Captiva and Sanibel. He was a really good guy,” said Tamara Pigott, executive director of the VCB, who worked with McCarthy on the Island Findings video, along with other projects such as the Captiva Holiday Village.

“Paul was a guy who loved life and I was sad hearing the news. It’s a big loss. He was so full of life,” Pigott said. “He was one of those guys who never said no. That’s how he responded to requests from our office.”

Despite the accolades, Anders said McCarthy knew how lucky he was and that few people would get the opportunities he had.

“He was committed to many things, but his greatest was to make people aware of how remarkable the environment was. He respected history and came from a family of educators. He held the opportunity for a good education in high esteem.”

Anders added he was a man of faith and always had the best interests of his workers and friends in mind.

“He was caring toward his crew and respected their family time and was really high energy. There is a multitude of people who will miss his friendship.” Anders said.

Community mourns loss of Paul McCarthy

By Staff | Aug 25, 2016

Paul McCarthy, owner of Captiva Cruises and McCarthy’s Marina, died Wednesday morning. He was 63.

He is remembered as a man who had a special relationship with the Sanibel Captiva community, especially with the area’s pristine environment.

McCarthy, owner of the excursion company for 30 years, was considered by many as a champion for the natural beauty of Southwest Florida and particularly its islands.

Kristie Anders, education director at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation and longtime friend, said it was a huge loss.

“He was a mentor. I was the beneficiary of his thoughtfulness. We docked our boats and I came every day by boat to his marina for 20-plus years,” Anders said. “The first day I met him he was at the SCCF office and explaining that he worked with the Architectural Institute in Chicago and wanted high-quality narrators on his boats.”

Together, Anders and McCarthy put together an 80-hour curriculum to prepare people to narrate on his boats, making sure that everything was top-notch. Nothing less would do.

“We were at a party at a place where we got extraordinary service. In his speech at the end of the night, he asked if they enjoyed themselves, looked around and noted how the staff took care of you,” Anders said. “I expect nothing less aboard my boat.”

McCarthy was born and raised in the Boston area and gained degrees in law and business administration at Notre Dame, later earning a master’s in public administration at Harvard. He started out as a corporate defense attorney in the late 1970s in the Chicago area.

Seeing a niche in the market, he started Chicago from the Lake, his first boat tour company, in 1982, with an old wooden fishing boat. The business, which included the “Architectural Tour,” would grow to include catering, dining and chartered vessels.

Looking for somewhere to do business during the winter months, McCarthy founded Captiva Cruises in 1986, an excursion boat company which operates a fleet of vessels and a program of tours and cruises of both a luxury and educational influence.

The business grew to the point where he sold his Chicago operation in 1991. Today, Captiva Cruises has 30 employees, an 18-slip marina and seven vessels.

This past May, McCarthy was one of just two businesses in Lee County nominated for two Chrysalis Awards, given to the best in business and tourism by the Visitors and Convention Bureau and the Great Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, winning the award for eco-innovation.

“It’s a huge honor to win the eco-innovation award, especially with all the people committed to eco-tourism. We’ve been in business for 30 years and we have an outstanding staff. Everyone has a strong commitment to the environment,” McCarthy said at the time.

McCarthy has also been nominated in the past for other awards and was presented with the Junonia Award, the VCB’s highest honor in 2014.

“He was a tremendous partner to the VCB, a big community advocate for Captiva and Sanibel. He was a really good guy,” said Tamara Pigott, executive director of the VCB, who worked with McCarthy on the Island Findings video, along with other projects such as the Captiva Holiday Village.

“Paul was a guy who loved life and I was sad hearing the news. It’s a big loss. He was so full of life,” Pigott said. “He was one of those guys who never said no. That’s how he responded to requests from our office.”

Despite the accolades, Anders said McCarthy knew how lucky he was and that few people would get the opportunities he had.

“He was committed to many things, but his greatest was to make people aware of how remarkable the environment was. He respected history and came from a family of educators. He held the opportunity for a good education in high esteem.”

Anders added he was a man of faith and always had the best interests of his workers and friends in mind.

“He was caring toward his crew and respected their family time and was really high energy. There is a multitude of people who will miss his friendship.” Anders said.