Eighth Annual Florida Catboat Rendezvous, Useppa Island, Southwest Florida, Jan. 25-27 By Gretchen Coyle The Useppa Island Catboat Rendezvous. Gretchen F. Coyle photo.
pproximately 150 Catboat aficionados—some with boats, some without—from all over the world met on 100-acre Useppa Island, FL, January 25-27 for the eighth every-other-year rendezvous. The laughs never stopped for the official three days, most visits extending into five. Friday night was a southwest Florida pork roast beach party with an old-fashioned bonfire. Were the pigs shot in the Ocala State Forest, on local mangrove islands where hunting is supposedly illegal, or in the Panhandle? No one was saying. Saturday started with a race followed by a sailors’ lunch on the beach. Dinner was at the Tarpon Restaurant with big Florida shrimp and prime rib. Sunday ended the rendezvous with an excellent brunch and awards ceremonies. Thanks go to the Useppa group of workers who chaired meals, helped tow boats out, repaired boats, were bartenders, sold merchandise, and acted as the official welcome committee with all the answers for visitors: Useppa Yacht Club Commodore Jim Doherty and wife Carol, Kay and Charlie Chapin, Kurt and Kathleen Stocker, Karen and Mike Albert, Bill and Carol Newbold, Craig Ligabel, Pat Lehman,
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and, of course, my husband John Coyle Suzie and Martin Deighton traveled the farthest, from England; Mark and Tammy Millam trailed their Compact Cat from Louisiana; seven Marshall 15-foot Sandpipers came from Barnegat Bay; a 17-foot Menger came from Georgia, a Chappaquiddick Cat from Cedar Key. Roger Allen, director of the Cortez Maritime Museum in Cortez, FL, sailed the Melonseed he designed and built, onto the beach at sunset, proving that timing is the key to everything in sailing. Shane and Paul Swigert, and their crew Craig Ligabel, showed up in “Eat My Wake” shirts, sharks with larger than life teeth. Want to hear men boo and women cheer? It all showed up on video shown at the Saturday dinner when Mark Millam and Scott Weidmeier were filmed actually carrying their ladies onto their boats so they wouldn’t get wet. “Chivalry isn’t Dead” prizes were awarded to both. More booing and cheering ensued. A “chick boat” comprised of Barnegat Bay, NJ, skipper Margo Limmer, crew Mary Beth King, and another lady, could be heard all over Pine Island Sound. Obviously, they