A Harbor Happening in Punta Gorda

Locals and visiting sailors gather for a good time in this picturesque southwest Florida harbor.

Punta Gorda Florida

The picturesque city of Punta Gorda, located on beautiful Charlotte Harbor in southwestern Florida takes pride in being the home of friendly people dedicated to improving their community and to becoming a premier waterfront location in Southwest Florida. Punta Gorda Isles, a deed restricted neighborhood, is one part of the city renamed Punta Gorda 125 years ago. The Isles occupy much of the “broad point” from which the city derived its name.

The 50th Anniversary of the Punta Gorda Isles Civic Association (PGICA) is being observed this year with a large number of special events and activities. One of these events was “A Harbor Happening,” scheduled for November 17, 2012. Like the city of Punta Gorda, the PGICA Center was devastated by hurricane Charley in 2004. In fact, the new association building which began construction prior to Charley’s brief but destructive visit was flattened. Even as residents dug out from their own personal losses, the base building, which was 100-percent funded prior to construction, began anew. The PGICA is home to four boating clubs, a fishing club, a kayak club, 21 other association-based clubs and other interest groups where neighbors come to learn, relax, and socialize. The Association building also is home to the Search and Rescue component of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and, in addition, serves other broad community endeavors both within and external to the Isles.

November 16th was a cloudy dismal day, all day, a very unusual day. Event organizers were on pins and needles concerned about no shows. Residents and visitors from as far away as Fort Myers, 36 miles via the ICW to the south, and Clearwater, 104 miles to the north prompted perhaps by publicity on cruising guide author Claiborne Young's website, began to anchor off Gilchrist Park and moor off Laishley Park. The early birds were welcomed at the respective landside parks with docktail parties. Many strolled downtown to visit the quaint shops and restaurant row.

After a cool and somewhat windy night on the water, the group awakened to a beautiful day in paradise: warm, sunny, light winds and no rain! By late morning, a masthead count identified 164 boats on anchor off of Gilchrist Park and another 30 to 40 boats underway in the immediate area. At the same time, approximately 18 boats were moored off Laishley Park. Finally, both Fisherman’s Village Marina and Laishley Marina were almost filled to capacity. With the exception of the marinas, organizers estimate that between 250 and 300 boats of all types and sizes were on the water for the noon aerial photographs, including kayaks, dragon boats, the local fire boat, representatives of four area yacht clubs and local and state marine law enforcement agencies, and the US Coast Guard.

The 50th Anniversary land-based activities included a human sculpture spelling out PGICA followed by the number “50”, music and dancing, as well as exhibitors and vendors providing food and beverages.

More pictures are available for review on the Associations' website, www.PGICA.org. And remember, if you are looking for a great place to relax on the west coast of Florida, come to Punta Gorda, a boaters community, where you'll be welcomed by plenty of warm and friendly people. For more information about traveling by boat to Punta Gorda, go to www.boat2puntagorda.com.

Do you have news or photos to share from your local harbor? Send them to jen.brett@cruisingworld.com.