Punta Gorda - The “Fat Point”

Roger Strube / Roger H Strube, MD


Fishermen’s Village - “Fishville”
South Shore of the Peace River

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Ponce de Leon Inlet
West Shore of PGI


Punta Gorda (“Fat Point”) is located on the east side of Charlotte Harbor where the junction of this large body of protected water meets the Peace Rive forming an estuary.  This small town is located between Ft Myers to the south and Sarasota to the north.  We are about 45 minutes north of South West Regional Airport.  The Punta Gorda Isles section was developed over 30 years ago.  The developers dug a massive canal system, a project that would never be allowed today.

There are sailboat and powerboat sections.  The sailboat sections have direct access to Charlotte Harbor and the powerboat sections are restricted by bridges with clearance adequate to allow many larger motor yachts to pass.  A well known tourist attraction, Fisherman’s Village (known to the locals as “Fishville”) is on the north shore of PGI.  Fishville has several good restaurants and many shops. The marina located there was rebuilt after Hurricane Charlie and has slips available.  It has a fuel dock, pump out station, laundry, tennis courts and a small marine store.

A new marina with facilities for powerboats including transient boat slips and a launching ramp is located to the east of Fishville between the Tamiami Trail Bridge (Hwy 41) and the Interstate 75 Bridge.  Unfortunately the Hwy 41 bridge has only 45 feet clearance so most medium and all large sailing vessels are unable to reach this marina.  It is possible to anchor just west of the restricting bridge just off Gilcrest Park, near downtown and dingy into shore at the Best Western Hotel or at Laishley Park Marina, between the bridges.

My home is in the north west section of PGI with direct access to Charlotte Harbor by way of Ponce de Leon inlet to the south and west.  There is also powerboat egress under a Marion Avenue bridge and out a canal into the Peace River to the north.

Boca Grande is located about two and a half hours south and west through Charlotte Harbor.  Boca Grande provides access to the Gulf of Mexico and the rest of our Water World.  Marco Island (just south of Naples, Florida) is a full day sail south.  Sailing south from Marco Key West is another day sail.  Key Largo is a day sail south and east from Marco.  Sailing from Key Largo the Bahama Cays of Cat & Gun are about 60 miles east or Bimini about 75 miles north east.  The Dragon can easily travel 80 to 120 miles in a day under sail or power. 

db_Copy of ArialPGIsles082
db_MillenniumDragon at PGI Dock 31

2560 Rio Palermo Ct
Just Right of Center at
Apex of Dog Leg Left

The Dragon Lived in the Canal
Center Left Across from White
Tile Roof Condos in the Foreground

Millennium Dragon at the Dock
Looking WNW Across Lagoon

Why, you might ask, do I need to know any of this?

There are several good reasons.  The first being that if you are contemplating a purchase and commitment of this magnitude, you may want to kick the fenders and look inside the the boat underconsideration.  It would be good to know where she lives.  If you are coming any distance, you might want to stay more than a few hours and see some of the local sights.

A dockside tour should be arranged by contacting the boat broker. The use of a broker protects both the buyer and the seller. The broker will arrange a tour of the vessel. If you are a serious, qualified buyer further arrangements will be made through the brokerage.

The most important reason to know where your new boat will live may not have occurred to you as yet.  Your boat needs a home and you will need to provide a home for the vessel. I am talking about a place to moor or dock the vessel once you purchase her.  Even if you plan to move aboard and sail off into the sunset, you will need a good deal of time to prepare yourself and the vessel for this adventure.

Where will you keep your new catamaran
until you are ready to start
your live aboard adventure or extended cruise?

Any vessel capable of world cruising or living aboard requires adequate mooring.  The cost for mooring any vessel the size of the Dragon can get into thousands of dollars per month.  You need to budget for your cost of keeping any vessel you purchase at a dock or on a mooring while you prepare yourself and the boat for your adventure.  You may want to read or reread my log of our first year sailing Millennium Dragon. 

The boat was commissioned a few days before January 31, 1999.  My wife and I began full time preparation for our extended cruise in early April 2000.  What was planned as a short three week final preparation turned into 6 months (to October 18, 2000) of final fitting, refitting and sorting out major issues.  I admit we probably were having way too much fun in Port Royal, a.k.a., “Tar Pit Harbor” but that is another story. Anyone who has purchased a new vessel located in a pleasant setting will understand. 

Over the next eleven years we sorted out what works and gotten rid of things that didn’t.  The point is that simply stepping on a boat and sailing off into the sunset is very difficult and really only accomplished if you are chartering for a week or two.  If you are to make the new boat your own, a bit of time and effort needs to be spent to get to know her.  Even if you are extremely efficient it will take you a month or two getting ready for the adventure.  So what is the answer and where will you keep the your new vessel?

Even a live aboard couple will need a month or two preparation time before starting their big adventure.  You may want to do some extended cruising but you need a place to keep and refit the vessel between vacations. Alternatively you might want to look into some of the marinas that are converting to “Dock-O-Miniums”.  I have seen some of these priced between $200,000 and $750,000 in South Florida.

When my wife Kathy and I transitioned from living aboard for two years to land based shorter term cruising she wanted a land base. Some cruisers call this “swallowing the hook.” We had traveled both coasts looking for a proper place to keep the Dragon keeping in mind, “If coconuts don’t grow there, we don’t go there”.  Our search lead us to Punta Gorda on Florida’s west coast.

We looked for a home for several weeks.  Our timing was good.  We sold our home in Miami and went looking at property with Nancy Andreae.  Before I walked through the house I checked the dock and the available turning basin.  As we walked around the corner of the building and saw the dock and sea wall, I knew we would buy the place.

I have always told people we purchased a dock with a house attached.  Prices have gone up and down and leveled off.  The empty lot across the cull du sac from us was for sale at $950,000 in 2007.  It sold recently for around $300,000. A house is being built on the property so the total value with be between $600 and $700 thousand. It has a great view and lots of dock space.

If you plan to sail off into the sunset, live aboard and anchor out when not sailing, the cost of mooring may not be an issue. If mooring is in you plan, do the cost spread sheet thing. Buying a home on a canal on the SW Florida coast may be your least expensive way to go. Alternatively, there is a lot of unused dock space in South Florida. The availability of temporary cost effective dock space may provide you a valuable option if a delay in your departure is in the plan.

Before you purchase any boat determine the cost of mooring.

 Unless you have hit the lottery, you will need insurance to get a loan and protect your investment. Most companies require submission of a hurricane plan. The information regarding this plan for Millennium Dragon is below:

Overview Punta Gorda

Ponce Inlet

PGI Looking West

Mariner's Cove

The Dragon at the Dock






Dragon at the Dock

Stern of the Dragon

Fishermen's Village Looking South





Dragon’s Lair -- Tropical Storm Fay

Picture taken August 19, 2008 at 11:04 AM.  Tropical Storm Fay is due East with winds gusting over 40 knots in Punta Gorda.  Note anchor lines out into the canal basin.  The wind is blowing out of the NE quartering the port bow.  The Dragon is well sprung off the dock pilings.  Note the double halyard wrap on the roller furling jib.  The screecher is lashed down in the port trampoline.  The main sail cover is protected by a trampoline material shield and lashed to the gutter boom.  Nothing is flapping.

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