Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hurricane Charley ... 10 years later - PART 2


This is a continuation of the days that followed after Hurricane Charley. To read part 1 click here. 

We ventured outside after the storm had moved away and we were stunned.  Trees down, trees uprooted, tree limbs, roofs, so much “stuff” just everywhere.  Water was up to the house! We did our best to clear as much as we could to find the driveway.

Little did I know, but my middle son ran off on his bike to take a look at the damage that was done to the rest of the island. When I realized he was gone, and how long he was gone, I really became concerned as the dangers after a storm can be unexpected and so out of the norm, that I did not believe he would realize the dangers.  I was able to get the car out of the driveway to go and look for him but because of the debris, could only drive about 2 miles before turning around to head back home. As I pulled back in the driveway, there he was with his big grin, asking, “Hey man, where have you been”?  I was so hot, so expressing my concern for his safety surely did not come off in the best fashion.  But, at least he was now aware of the dangers to look for.

We had no electric, no water, and boy was it hot.  Funny though, we did still had the telephone!  We decided to cook in the yard. We dug a big hole, put logs in it, built a fire and cooked canned ravioli.  Surprisingly enough it was delicious!   We slept that night on the cool wooden floors as the heat and mugginess was stifling anywhere else.

The next morning we woke up to find out we were luckier than our neighbors North of us in Captiva and Punta Gorda.  They were really hit hard.  Our hearts went out to them. Click here to read how Punta Gorda has rebuilt from Hurricane Charley.
I told my boys that we needed to get things back to “normal” ; get all of the debris, (and we had mountains of debris), gathered up and put in huge piles along the road.  The three of us worked and worked.  It just kept getting hotter and so very muggy.

My cell phone was still working when I received a call from my wife informing me that the local marina owner had gone to the mainland and was bringing a boat over to Sanibel. I immediately contacted him, jumped on my bike and headed for the marina.  Meeting him there, he advised me that I would never get back on the island as there were police in boats not letting anyone back on.  I decided to give it a try.  I left and went to Port Sanibel Marina on the main land to pick up supplies, meet my wife and younger son, look at the damages there, and planned to return… Well on my way back I was stopped and told that I could not re-enter the island. I explained that my sons were still on the island, that we had weathered the storm on the island, and that I had supplies, etc.  They were not interested and turned me back to the mainland. As I was giving the news to my wife, she immediately tried to call the boys, but now the phones were not working.  She was able to get a hold of a family friend at Baileys Grocery Store who jumped in his car and drove over to let the boys know their Dad would be back sometime the next day.  

Arrangements were made for a mysterious way to get back to the island the next day.  Leaving at dawn we (some other Sanibel full time residents and myself) traveled quickly to an undisclosed area where we were met with transportation to our respective areas of the island.  I felt like a criminal, maybe a little excited, but sometimes you just gotta do what you have to do!

Arriving back at the house, I walked in and announced I was back.  I thought the boys would be happy, but they knew that now we would have to get back to work!  Worked and worked.  We even cleared out our neighbor’s driveway and yard.  Part of their pool cage was down, so we pulled that to the road pile as well.  Noticing their back door was ajar, we went in to make sure everything was ok and no water was inside.  All ok there.  

The rain began.  With no roof the water was just pouring in everywhere.  We were grabbing everything we could to contain water….grabbing towels that just got soaked.  Then eureka!  I ran down and started going through the garage.   I grabbed a Hobie sail, ran back up with it.  We were moving furniture all around to try to avoid the water flowing in.  We then secured the sail along the ceiling so that it would grab the water and shoot it out the front door!  Wow, that was the best idea ever!

The following days…filled with heat, muggy, work, and fun dinners in the driveway.  Yes boys, this is like camping out….sort of! 

-Craig

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hurricane Charley ... 10 years later.


It's been 10 years this week since Hurricane Charley ravaged the Southwest Florida area. It was the strongest hurricane to strike the U.S. since Andrew 12 years earlier and the first with a bull's eye on Lee County since Donna in 1960.  

Craig Stewart, founder of Adventures in Paradise, witnessed this first hand with his wife, three sons, a dog and a parrot. Here is his story. 

The National Hurricane Center prediction.
On August 12, 2004, my family and the staff of Adventures in Paradise were scurrying about doing the final preparations for our home on Sanibel Island, and the business at Port Sanibel Marina.  Charley was expected to track approximately 60 miles West of Sanibel with tracking movement to the Northeast.  We expected tropical storm force winds.  The storm was predicted to make landfall as a category two hurricane near the St. Petersburg, Tampa area on Friday, August 13.  We continued to prepare for the worse case scenario, but really just expected a big blow.

In the late afternoon of August 12th, my oldest son approached me outside as I was securing shutters on the house.  He had just spoken with my sister in law in Oklahoma, letting us know that my mother had just passed away.  I took about ten minutes by myself, trying to get a grip on all that was happening.  We finished with the house,  and by early evening had completed securing the marina so that the staff could return to their homes to make final storm preparations.  I took a bike ride along the beach to contemplate and grasp all that was happening.  The weather had taken on the “calm-before-the-storm” look, which was reassuring in a strange way.

The next morning, Friday, August 13th the family arose early.  We decided that my wife and youngest son would go to the mainland and my oldest and middle sons would stay with me on the island.  Hugs and kisses as they set off for Port Sanibel Marina. The winds began to pick up slightly, much like a normal summer thunderstorm.  At about 10:30 AM my middle son who was watching NBC-2 weather all morning, (Yes, we still had electricity, water, and cable television!), began to yell out “Holy “expletive”, you have got to see this!  So all of us went to the T.V. and couldn’t believe what we were seeing!  The weather man, (I believe it was Jim Reif), said the storm was “wobbling” and could be headed for Sanibel!  He did a screen writer arrow on the chart.  I could not believe what I was seeing.  It looked like the arrow stopped at our front door!  Needless to say, everything changed.  We started removing all of the artwork off the walls, moving furniture, built a “safe room” in the middle of the house, putting all of our personal ID’s and supplies in the safe area.  We moved our Double Yellow Headed Amazon Parrot, Gaspar, under the steps leading to the third floor, and we sat back and waited.  Our house phone and each person’s cell phones were all ringing off the wall from calls coming in from all around country inquiring what was going on and were we ok!  

My sons and I sat and waited.  We had closed the French doors leading to our glassed in sun room that was shuttered closed.  We could still see through the only un-shuttered window from a distance.  The winds picked up and as the afternoon approached, we could feel the whole house, (which is a three story piling home) begin to sway and actually felt as if it were moving.  The bird is clinging to the side of his cage at this point, motionless. The telephones are still ringing.  We are in for real ride!

The winds kept getting stronger and stronger.  We could hear roaring and banging.  We could see through the sky lights sheets of tin from our roof flying everywhere!  We could see the palm trees blow and disappear from our line of sight and then suddenly return upright.  We could see the one un-shuttered window go “concave”, (from the barometric pressure), which I did not know could really happen without breaking.  One of the French doors flew open.  We ran to grab the door to pull it closed, securing it with my oldest son’s belt!  We could see “white” over everything.  Then the rains started pouring into the house, as our roof was gone.  It was, as my middle son said, like King Kong on the roof shaking it like crazy.  

The winds died down, the rain let up, we knew the storm was moving away, however, we would still have to contend with the predicted 15 foot storm surge.  We did luck out, getting only about a 6 foot surge.  Knowing the storm had passed us by and the surge did not reach it’s prediction, we ventured out of the house.  We were safe, our house was safe, wet inside and out, but that was ok.  Trees were down everywhere, nothing looked right.  Was not even sure where our driveway really was.  We had done a lot of praying and hoping and know we were very lucky guys!  

The following 15 days, now that is a whole other story!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Share your photos with us!

We would love to hear from you.

To help us better serve you and our other guests, we appreciate any comments and feedback. Photos are great too! If you would like to share your experience with us please email us at info@adventuresinparadise.com. 


Check out a few photos that were recently submitted to us. 


"Sunset Dolphin Cruise. Thanks so much, again!" 
Norbert & Carla Froese




"I took this picture today from the boat during the trip to North Captiva Island.  We had a wonderful time.  Thank you!" 
- Lilia Lopez (Shelling & Lunch Cruise)




"Here are a few pictures from my sunset dolphin cruise. Thank you for such an amazing experience." - Ms. Maya 

We thank you for choosing Adventures In Paradise.com!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

July 4th Must Do's Around Sanibel!

What will you be doing? Here is our "Top 5 Things To Do"! 

  • Sanibel's Independence Day parade is a great family-fun event! I remember visiting Sanibel & Captiva as a child and always starting our July 4th waking up early to drop by Baileys Grocery to pick up some watermelon, and then head out to Periwinkle Way, setting up camp near what is now the Island Cow. We watched the local businesses show their 4th of July spirit as they threw out candy and other goodies. (Keep in mind you may get wet, they sure love their water guns.) The parade begins at Bailey's General Store and ends at Jerry's Foods along Periwinkle Way. The parade starts at 9:30 a.m. but the road will close about 8:45 a.m.
  • Bailey's General Store & Jerry's Foods offer food, drinks, live music, prizes, water slides and activities for children and adults! (Donations are accepted and fund various non-profits around the island. ) Stop by and join in on the fun! 

On this holiday getting out on the water is a blast!

  • The Sealife Encounter Excursion is a trip for all ages and offers a unique, hands-on learning adventure! Cruise out to Picnic Island and wade into the water with scoop nets and our Marine Biologist as we get an up-close encounter with seahorses, starfish, and pufferfish! Departs at 12:30 p.m. 
  • The Afternoon Dolphin & Wildlife Cruise is a laid back 1 1/2hr boat cruise through the waters of Sanibel and Pine Island. See dolphins, birds and possibly even a manatee or two; good simple fun! Departs at 3:30 p.m. 
  • Watch the Sanibel Island Fireworks from the water on our Fireworks Cruise! Each year, Sanibel Island puts on an awe-inspiring fireworks performance. The dazzling explosions shine on the Sanibel waters as hundreds of hypnotized Islanders stare upward at the red white and blue. A great way to see the sunset, dolphins, AND the Sanibel fireworks! Departs at 7:30 p.m. 
For cruise reservations call 239-472-8443.


No matter what you decide to do on 4th of July we are sure you'll have a wonderful time! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Give the Gift of Adventure!

With just a few weeks away from Christmas give the gift of an unforgettable experience!

Purchase a gift certificate for any of our cruises, whether it’s to watch the dolphins play on the Sunset Dolphin Cruise, or having the kids explore Picnic Island and net for seahorses, starfish and pufferfish on the Sealife Encounter Cruise. A gift certificate can also allow your friends or family to board the “Dolphin Waters” and embark on an all day Shelling and Lunch Cruise. If fishing is more their speed, then have them join our professional fishing crew and catch something spectacular on the all inclusive Backwater Fishing Trip!


Not sure about a specific trip? Thats okay too! You can purchase a gift certificate in the amount of your choosing. It's the perfect gift! 


Call 239-472-8443 or email us at info@adventuresinparadise.com to order your gift certificate today.