ENGLEWOOD — Captain Jim Olin, who runs Let’s Go Sailing! charters, can relax, knowing he’s on “vacation” now that sailing season is over.
“If you listen real carefully, you can hear a sucking sound,” Olin said. “Fifty percent of the population disappears from Florida when the season ends.”
Some sailing businesses are not enjoying as successful a season as they hoped due to cooler-than-usual, gloomy conditions in March, some owners say.
Others see a change in the market.
Much of the activity during the season is attributed to a mix of snowbirds and locals. According to sailing charter owners, they’re seeing more British tourists.
“Since January, it’s been pretty good,” said Jack Pearson, owner of Englewood Bait House. “We’ve had decent weather, except for March. Business is good.”
Pearson, who’s been running his business since 1987, also runs three charter boats.
“Busiest time is January through April,” Pearson said. “Now we’re just waiting until it picks up.”
Pearson said activity will slow until Memorial Day Weekend, then remain steady until Aug. 15.
“Snowbirds leave,” Pearson said. “Kids don’t get out of school until the end of May, then they’re taking their vacation. We’ll get those people until the kids go back to school.”
Pearson said business remains active during the summer with fishing.
“Tarpon is coming up for the summer,” he said. “We’ve been fishing for king mackerel, grouper, snapper and trout.”
For businesses like Bay Breeze Boat Rentals in Englewood, a multitude of factors provided a below-average season.
“We didn’t have as good a season this year as last year,” said Gerald Blanchard, a North Port resident who owns Bay Breeze. “Weather this March shut us down. Easter falling early didn’t help. Everybody leaves after Easter. So business isn’t going to be so good. The coverage of the red tide affected a lot of our business. It’s publicized so much, people would cancel even though there was none in our area.”
Blanchard said he expects a typical summer season.
“May and June are (often) mediocre,” he said. “July should be good. After that it is when it dies, August to October.”
Barrier Island Adventures in Englewood experienced a similar slowdown.
“We were expecting March to be like last year,” said Tammy Jurists. “We would have had a better season if it weren’t for March. After Easter, it died down. During the week of Easter, we were busy running both our boats. From October to March, it was slow. Now we’re back to normal.”
“Most of our snowbirds are from the United States, but we’ve been seeing more from the U.K.,” Jurist said. “We’re seeing more Brits than last year.”
“I’m starting to get more from overseas,” Olin said. “It used to be from up North, mostly from the Midwest. Now I’m getting more from New Jersey. Yeah, Englewood’s been discovered.”