Boats, Beaches, and Birthday Suits
—Just Another Delivery For Our Intrepid Captain.
It was 2007, and I had recently returned home from a nine-month stint running a relief kitchen in Waveland, Mississippi, after Hurricane Katrina. I was asked by a fellow captain to deliver a Hinckley 36 from the Tampa area to Stuart, Florida. I eagerly took the delivery and asked my beautiful, dear friend Liz to join me.
We were headed south and would spend the night on the hook inside the north end of Captiva in an area called Foster Bay. The water is 6 to 8 feet deep up close to the bayside beach and the Gulf of Mexico is a mere 40 yards away. We arrived at Foster Bay and to my surprise there were already six boats in the anchorage. I had never seen any boats there in my years of running that waterway.
With the number of boats in this small anchorage we were not able to get as close to the shore as I had hoped, but Liz had the foresight to purchase two plastic air mattresses that we would use as dinghies to reach the shore. We blew up the mattresses, packed a cooler and backstroked our way to the beach. We arrived in the shallow water, rolled off our mattresses, and were greeted by a totally naked man. He immediately put on a T-shirt, although it covered very little! Liz turned to me and asked, “What do we do?”
“Walk south,” I said.
Walking through the mangroves we noticed small signs stuck in the ground that cautioned visitors that the Sanibel Naturists Club was on the island. Once on the Gulf side of the island we noticed an event tent a hundred yards to the north and 20 to 30 naked adults having a party! Looked like we found the Sanibel Naturist Club, we inferred!
We laid out our beach towels and were immediately approached by a hairy, barrel-chested naked man introducing himself as the president of the Sanibel Naturists Club. “I’m sorry to have intruded and I hope it’s okay if we stay the night,” I said, explaining why we were there and that we did not know anything about the Sanibel Naturist Club.
“Oh no, you’re fine, please join us,” he said.
“We appreciate the invitation, but if we’re not bothering you, you’re certainly not bothering us,” I said, politely declining his offer.
When he returned to his party, Liz and I decided to skinny dip ourselves! The president returned with a bottle of champagne and two glasses, placing them on our beach towels.
That evening we returned to the boat and had a wonderful romantic dinner onboard. We had good music and great food. The next morning, drinking our coffee on the transom seat, the other boats started to depart. The first boat out was captained by the gentleman who greeted us on the beach. He drove right up close to us and said, “That sure is a nice boat.”
“Yes it is,” I replied. “It’s not ours, we are just delivering her to Stuart for the owner.”
“Well, have a safe trip; y’all come back, because we sure would like to see more of you,” he said as he motored away. I’m sure he would.