A beloved marina in Punta
Gorda, Florida, burned to the ground in February, taking with it more
than a dozen boats and an equal number of cats. At presstime investigators
were still searching for the cause of the blaze that devoured the Riviera
Marina on an early Sunday morning, but had no leads. Pat Cross, a long-time
customer who used to store his boat there, told reporters he would miss
the marina and the way it was operated by owner Barry Howard.
“The place used to have a nostalgia to it—a Popeye kind of place,”
Cross told the Sun Herald. “He sells gas cheaper than anyone around.
He makes it so that a poor man can have a boat. It’s not a polished-brass
kind of place.”
A shrimp boat captain reported he saw smoke billowing from the marina’s
two-story building. Seven fire engines from two agencies rushed to the
scene but were unable to quell the flames, according to Knight-Ridder
news service. Howard, a lover of cats, suffered minor burns on his hands
while trying to rescue as many felines as possible. In the past he has
spent thousands of dollars feeding, spaying, and caring for stray cats.
In fact, last year Florida’ Department of Environmental Protection
confiscated 150 cats from the marina, citing health risks to the area.
Another faithful marina customer, Christine Hall, stopped by after the
blaze to help Howard tend to the felines that survived.
ON THE SHELVES: S.O.S.:
Chilling Tales of Adventure On The High Seas Culling
19 of the most captivating sea stories in the English language, Chronicle
Books has unveiled S.O.S.: Chilling Tales of Adventure on the High
Seas, a pulse-quickening collection of stories that will spice up
any cruise. Including sagas from H.G. Wells and Ernest Hemingway to Sebastian
Junger and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the book captures some of the world’s
best authors writing some of the world’s most haunting sea yarns. Divided
into four parts - Storms, Shipwrecks, Sea Creatures, and Under the Waves - S.O.S.
offers thrilling accounts of true ocean mishaps as well as fictional tales
that take you as far as the bottom of the ocean. Reading these stories
aloud can make a rainy day on the hook an adventure for your family. $15.95,
paperback. Chronicle Books.
Just in time for the summer boating season, BoatSafe.com has added an
interactive section just for children. Packed with games, puzzles, and
trivia, this kid-centric Web page encourages young visitors to pose any
questions they have about boating and then answers them in detail. Your
kids can learn how to spot storms at sea, tie a slew of knots, and calculate
the distance to the horizon. Of course, marine safety is paramount throughout
all the site’s activities and instruction - and safety-smart boating kids
could ultimately prevent on-water emergencies from turning into disasters.