When the last two events of the 2022/2023 Fort Myers Offshore season—the April 1 Cayo Costa Raft-Up and the April 22 Nor-Tech-backed happening—are in the books, Fort Myers Offshore president Tim Hill and his wife, Cyndee, a board-member of the nonprofit scholarship-fundraising powerboat club, will exhale much-deserved sighs of relief. And for good reason, because the 2022/2023 season has been the most difficult in the Southwest Florida’s outfit’s 19-year history.
Event demand continues to outstrip supply for Fort Myers Offshore. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Just six years ago, Fort Myers Offshore averaged 25 to 30 boats per event. Until Hurricane Ian leveled Fort Myers Beach and partially destroyed portions of several nearby communities in late September, the club had been averaging 60 boats per event in 2021 and 2022 and saw a record 108 boats participate in its 2022 New Year’s Fun Run.
The influx of performance-boat enthusiasts to the area during the past three years fueled demand for Fort Myers Offshore events. Even before Hurricane Ian made landfall in Fort Myers Beach, the club was struggling to find venues that could accommodate its growing fleets. The Category 5 storm, which wreaked havoc on the organization’s most-popular destinations, created a venue shortage that exacerbated the situation.
Demand simply outstripped supply.
“Just finding places to go has been the biggest challenge,” Hill explained. “That’s why we’ve had to visit some of the same locations twice.
Next up on the 2022/2023 Fort Myers Offshore event roster is the always popular April 1 Cayo Costa Raft-Up.
“We got big, so fast,” he added. “And then came Hurricane Ian. It was challenging enough when we had eight destinations that could accommodate our group. It’s even harder now that we have only two or three.”
Hill doesn’t yet have a solution. Plus, he fears the problem could get worse before it gets better.
“A lot of Fort Myers Offshore members didn’t bring down their boats after Hurricane Ian,” he said. “The biggest issue now at the few venues we have is dockage. People can always come by car, but that kind of defeats the purpose. I don’t know what the answer is, but we’re working on it.”
Hill paused to chuckle.
“Cyndee and I don’t even have a boat,” he said. “We sold our Sunsation center console just before the storm. But we do have a lift behind our house and it’s itching for a boat, maybe even a cat this time.”
Finding lunch venues with adequate dockage is an ongoing challenge for the organizers behind Fort Myers Offshore events.
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