I’m sorry to report that Marco Island has taken yet another step toward proving that they are the most cruiser-unfriendly port in southwest Florida.
Many years ago, their Town Council passed an anti-anchoring ordinance that took years to get rid of. In a trial, in which Claiborne Young and the maritime lawyer who drafted the State’s anchoring rules testified, the law was found to be unconstitutional on a whole list of grounds and was tossed out.
More recently, the management of the Esplanade, the condo-shopping mall and marina in Smokehouse Bay made it clear to “those people” who had the audacity to anchor there that they were unwelcome, even though there was an agreement made with the town when the development was built that they would provide dinghy dockage for vessels in the bay. They continued to provide it – in as chintzy a way possible. You can dock your dinghy there for $10, but you must be back and take it out by 6pm or the access to it will be locked up. This means if you want to go into town for dinner, you’d better be a real “early bird.”
Just last week, we cruised to Marco and anchored in Factory Bay, a little farther up the river. We had always been welcomed there when it was the Marco River Marina. They charged a reasonable $5 a day for dinghies and you got back when you got back. Now that it’s the Rose Marina, there’s a new sign. The dinghy dockage is still five bucks, but they, too, have added the “you have to be out by 6pm” rule. Upon questioning some of their staff about it, the reply was “Well, we’ve had problems with it.”
The one remaining place to land in Marco is at the Winn-Dixie store on the other side of the Boulevard. You can get there through Smokehouse Bay and under the bridge to the right of the Esplanade. Take the first left under the bridge. There is also a nice public park right next to that bridge, but it is clearly marked with “No Mooring” signs. All it would take to suggest that cruisers were welcome would be for the town to simply take down those signs and replace them with “Mooring for Dinghies of Anchored Vessels.” A single section of floating dock tied to that wall would really be a welcome sign. Given Marco’s history, I’m not holding my breath.
Fort Myers Beach