President’s Report: March 2023
This is the President’s newsletter that I have been looking forward to sending to you for a long time. Our club is ready to open on March 16th. It will be a soft opening as we need to have our staff continue to get things ready for a full opening on April 1st. We still have a way to go to get to full operations. Please excuse any service bumps in the road that may occur in the opening weeks.
Chad has sent out emails informing you about the soft opening and full opening procedures. We are excited to see everyone at the club and once again enjoying your boating! Our staff performed a Herculean effort to get us open. On Tuesday we had 17 different trucks on premises finishing essential projects that needed to be done to enable us to open. We have calculated that our staff and management have worked over 20,000-man hours in the rebuilding. There have also been independent companies that have worked on individual projects that needed to be repaired or replaced.
Initially, when the hurricane struck on September 28th, we were in shock with the aftermath of the killer storm. The damage to Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel/Captiva, Fort Myers and the surrounding towns was just unbelievable. As Chad and I have reported many times over the past few months the damage to our club was devastating. Virtually everything on our property was either destroyed or badly damaged. Obviously, the job of rebuilding the club was going to be incredibly difficult but the Board of Directors, our management and employees pledged that we would do whatever it took, no matter how difficult it would be and no matter what problems we encountered we would rebuild the club as good as new. The Board set a date to reopen by the middle of March and we have gotten it done.
We still have a great deal to do to get back to 100% but we will adjust around the work projects so you can enjoy your boat and the club. Unfinished projects include siding on the barns. We are still waiting for siding permits. The siding has been ready, but we cannot install it without the permit. This has been a ridiculous circus to comply with new requirements. Our color scheme will be different with a more refreshing and modern look. We must abandon our largest fuel tank and remediate the soil around. That will take a while, but we will still operate. Chad will update this as we proceed. There will only be one forklift when we open. We are promised that one new lift will be ready in early April.
There are many people to thank in the rebuilding of our club. First and foremost, thanks to our management team. GM Chad Edmonds has done an incredible job. Without his efforts we would not be open yet. Chad has been our GM for most of the time the club has been open. He knows the club like the back of his hand. His knowledge of the club was a tremendous asset to our rebuild. Chad arrived at 6 am every morning and worked to late afternoon. He and I have met or communicated every day since Sept. 28th. Chad is a special person, and we are fortunate to have him with us. His management team of Javier, Kristi, Kyle, Adrian and Carol worked so hard with purpose and without complaint. And of course, we treasure our wonderful employees. Much of the work was backbreaking but they got it done. Most of them lost their belongings and some even lost their homes, but they showed up for work every day! I have said many times that we have a very talented staff, and their skills were so important in the rebuild. We are truly family!
Our Board of Directors was amazing to work with. Nick Amelio, Fred Walter, Randy Manning and Dr. Gary Aspinwall worked with me from day 1. We met dozens of times in person and sometimes multiple times a day on conference calls to do due diligence planning and solve the ever-present new issues. The task was overwhelming, the work was frustrating and tedious. The light at the end of the tunnel was far away but with their help we made it. Actually, the stress to everyone has been immeasurable. We all had to rely on one another to get to this point. In addition, to working on the club, my home was severely damaged by flood waters and subsequent mold issues, Fred Walter lost his home in Punta Rassa, Nick Amelio and Randy Manning suffered damage to their homes and Dr. Aspinwall lost his home plus his place of business in the flood. Most of us lived in rented homes and never missed a day in the rebuild.
Last but certainly not least, I want to thank all of our members who were fabulous in their support throughout this disaster. Your phone calls and emails to Chad and the Board were really wonderful and kept us going when things looked their worse. We could not have done it without you.
Our bar and restaurant will resume service with a limited menu and hours this weekend. We will open up on April 1st with full service and hours April 1st. When we re-open we need member support for the bar and restaurant! The hurricane cost us the best 5 months of our business. Also, with Punta Rassa closed for at least another 6 months we will lose a good deal of additional revenue. Please support the club through patronage of our restaurant and bar.
We still have a great deal to do. The major issue that we have now is with one of our insurance companies. In what has been a common problem for a large number of insured businesses and homeowners is delay and low-ball settlement offers. I am pretty sure that many of you have or are experiencing the same issues. I know that I am personally. We have 3 insurance companies. Chubb was great and paid us our full amount of coverage within 2 months of the hurricane. Another has agreed to the max amount of our policy. The policy that covers our wind damage is very difficult. They were unresponsive and finally offered us an amount of money to settle that was an insult to the word insult. How about $32,000 offer on a claim of over $5,000.000! Even though our policy covers replacement cost of our losses, they are going to fight us every step of the way as to what the damage amount was. Our adjusters are going to fight vigorously for what we rightly deserve but I do not see this ending quickly. I will be updating the members as this matter progresses.
I am sure that many of you have questions and concerns about safety from debris and submerged hazards on the waterways as a result of the hurricane. I called Sea Tow of Fort Myers on March 15th and spoke to Captain Jody Cook. I asked about conditions on the local waterways frequented by our members. His comments were as follows:
- He recommends staying away from the back bay of Fort Myers Beach as they are still finding submerged items under the water. I mentioned that I have had 4 friends who have boated around the island and had no issues at all. He felt that they were just lucky that they made it through without damage. Use your own discretion on this one.
- Pine Island Sound has channel markers missing so caution is advised.
- Matlacha Pass is terrible with many channel markers missing. Definitely stay away.
- The intracoastal has a few markers still missing but is very navigable. The farther north you go the better it gets.
- Offshore in the gulf is good.
- Getting fuel can still be an issue so please keep this in mind.
I also spoke with Captain Dan, owner of Sea Tow of Naples. His report was very encouraging.
- Gordon Pass is open from the Gulf to Tin City. No issues.
- Marco Pass and Capri Pass are open. Stick close to the red channel markers because there is some shoaling on Marco Pass.
- Wiggins pass is open.
- Fuel is available at several marinas. Probably the easiest to use is Hamilton Harbor.
- Many restaurants with docking in Marco and Naples are open.
Of course, conditions on the waterways can change frequently so please use your own discretion when charting your trip.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
Peter Mazzagatti, President
Sanibel Harbour Yacht Club