Take a Chill Pill - Come to Sanibel! April 25 2020, 2 Comments

Whew! Yeah, these certainly are interesting times and we’re all going through a lot right now. Heck, the entire world is. Regardless of where you stand on what the next moves ought to be on the national, state and local fronts, here’s an optimistic outlook shared by many – We will emerge from this whole situation and be stronger than ever. I’m in this camp and am already planning on getting the barnacles sheared off with the onslaught of visitors who will begin escaping to Sanibel. Already, plans are being made to open up many of the resorts on Sanibel and Captiva on May 1. Most restaurants and other services are sure to be in like step. And, I’m confident that everyone is going to be “safety savvy” when it comes to welcoming returning guests. I know we are. (More on this later)

For the purpose of keeping all of you amusingly and factually informed about HeyMonSanibel, I thought I would provide a little Pre, During, Post recap as it relates to observations and activities surrounding this naughty pandemic.


Until everything came to a complete halt starting the last week of March, it was our typical spring game-on time, like years past. In fact, bookings and outings of all types were reaching an all-time high. It was good crazy. Complimenting this was the return of outstanding fishing of all species. And, while we never want sustained weather droughts, the decrease in rainfall was helping to ensure that our waters (both fresh and salt) were crystal clear and less threatened by algae build-ups. In addition to fishing, this was allowing for outstanding cruising and gunk-holing throughout Pine Island Sound and the Gulf of Mexico.

April, May and June? What can I say? It was going to be, hop a ride on the race boat and hang-on. And then it was, “Holy crap, Vern!” Like the onslaught of a major storm, she suddenly submarined with the onset of the big CO ’19. Now what?


Okay, having been through some pretty rocky periods during my lifetime, if I learned anything, it’s DON’T PANIC. Instead, accept what is. If you can’t personally solve it, “Chill out. Have a Salad, Eat a Peach.” This too, shall pass. For a little amusement, check out my interview as CO ’19 was beginning to peak and while I was doing some shopping at Costco for salmon and octopus. So many others were cleaning the shelves of toilet paper and bottled water. I guess that’s what comes with any panic. I didn’t get the memo to hoard-up. Press on.                 

As we got into full shutdown mode and cancellations rolled in, the Have-a-Salad-Eat-a-Peach mindset got me off on a new tack. Like many, this downtime could translate to getting after a myriad of items lingering on the eternal projects “to do” list. House stuff, yard stuff and better yet, boat and related guide stuff. I figured I’d hit the first two quickly in partnership with Barb and get those out of the way first. Then, the projects I had in mind for the boat, HeyMonSanibel and gear, would ultimately be of benefit and bring increased pleasure for our guests. However, these initiatives would require more time, patience and craftsmanship. But what hey, there was time to be had, salad and peaches have become regular fare and I was committed to doing each job right and fitting for a floating damsel approaching thirty years old. Besides, there is nothing more fulfilling than working on boats. I recall my days as a partner owner of Northland Yachts in Minnesota. Our very first marketing brochure started with this premise. It’s been with me ever since.

“There is nothing----Absolutely nothing----Half so much worth doing

As simply messing about in boats……

Wind in the Willows (River Rat)

With the above in mind, I decided the first major boat project to tackle would be to strip and refinish all the teak on the center console which was looking old and tired. Most of this woodwork is trim for a number of plexiglass sliding and compartment doors. These were also in need of replacing which is no easy task. In addition to careful removal of the frames, there are very few outlets who will do custom cutting of specialized smoked plexiglass, much less even have a supply of it. We got it all done though after 2 ½ weeks. There was endless sanding, applying four coats of Siken’s (a specialized coating that’s better than varnish) and finding and replacing six precision cut and drilled smoke plexiglass doors. The results are below. Ain’t it beautiful? You’ll relax in all the surrounding warmth the next time you come on board the HeyMonSanibel.

Another side project or initiative that we like to do anytime we can is for Barb and me to take to the water and scout out new areas to explore for fishing and cruising. In the past, the challenge has been finding the time in between charters to do so. Now, by having the calendar open, we’ve been able to venture out to test some spots we’ve had our eyes on. Some have turned out to be marginal. A few others have been gold mines literally in our back yard. In one particular area, it was really picturesque – great for cruising, and potentially fishing. As it relates to the latter, we soon found out we were onto a special place when a few big reds, a nice Snook and a myriad of mangrove snapper popped our lines. Now, while this may not happen everyday, we’ve had decent action on repeat visits. Finding these places is fun for us and provides a greater variety of options, especially for many of our repeat guests who come on board with us every year.

Our time on the water also provides us the opportunity to experiment with new equipment and fishing rigs/lures. While we always can count on tried-and-true techniques and equipment to carry us through, it’s fun to change it up once in awhile. Plus, it helps us hone our skills on how to adapt to different habits of fish species.

The next boat project that is being tackled is to replace all of the pitted aluminum moulding on the center console and gunnels running fore and aft. Not only will this look better on the boat when done, it will ensure clothing and/or human parts will always glide smooth while hunkered down catching a big fish. We’ll flash a picture or two when we’re done.

An inventory of all safety equipment has been made and everything is updated and conforms to US Coast Guard rules and regulations. For example, it is now required that all Adult life jackets have reflective tape on them in specified areas. Additionally, a waterproof safety light must now be affixed to each jacket. Note: It should be noted, that in addition to having seven adult life jackets on board the HeyMon, we also have three pairs of different sized youth life jackets that are USCG approved. This is very handy for families with kids so they don’t have to worry or be concerned with supplying their own. Lastly, all life jackets have been completely sanitized and are washed down thoroughly after usage which thankfully never really occurs. Nevertheless, we still do a complete rinsing of these items on a regularly scheduled basis.


We’re rarin’ to go at HeyMonSanibel. The scuttlebutt on the islands is when things do open up soon, it’s gonna be like the floodgates are sprung open. Folks are going to pour into the area to step out and be close with Mother Nature.

This being said, there is likely going to be some trepidation. Further, we want to be contributors to helping ensure we’re complying with recommendations made and to put your minds at ease. Let’s recap some of those.

  • Social Distancing The great thing about our boat, the HeyMonSanibel, is she’s long enough to allow guests to keep safe recommended distances from each should they desire to do so. This includes me. From where I’m usually positioned at the helm, I’m a good six feet away from where most of you would be sitting or fishing. We’ve even got a plexiglass windshield to provide an additional barrier. How cool is that. It’s like the boat was made for this gunky stuff we’re dealing with. One more thing, and it bears repeating from what we’ve stated before, anyone on board the HeyMonSanibel on a given outing are members of your group only. We never mix guest groups together which sometimes are referred to as “split charters.”
  • Gloves and Wipes We have a supply of rubber gloves and sterile wipes on board for all guests. They are available should anyone request them.
  • Masks For any guests choosing to wear one, feel free to bring your own so you have the most confidence in them.
  • Gear You will supplied with rods and reels that have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized prior to using them. Any additional apparatus such as fish holders, etc. are cleaned after each outing.
  • The Boat Even prior to this CO 19 stuff, we always thoroughly clean the boat after each outing. You can be assured that you always will be riding in safe and comfortable conditions.
  • Fresh, Unencumbered Air That’s right folks. With each outing on the HeyMonSanibel, you will receive an ample supply of fresh air to relax in. Won’t that feel special? Your Captain, Mr. Rogers thinks so.

You’re cramped up right now, wherever you are. Soon, that’s going to change. Along with significant others, there is going to be a big-time urge to escape, spread your wings and chill out. What a better place to do it in, the islands, and aboard the HeyMonSanibel - just dropping some lines in the water or sipping a cold one while watching your cares fly away. Come visit soon. We’ll be here to enthusiastically greet you. And, maybe with some peaches.