Captiva Cruises has been closed since Hurricane Ian, but on Thursday it will reopen. The boats are usually able to bring people to Cabbage Key, but lately, they have not been able to.
Bob Rando owns Captiva Cruises and a 45-foot catamaran. Capt. Dave Smiley took WINK News reporter Emma Heaton to an island that is inaccessible by car.
“This boat can go places that the other boats can’t get because it has a shallow draft,” Rando said.
The first stop was McCarthy’s Marina. Heading to Cabbage Key, one might have expected the worst, remembering the way Category 4 Ian slammed Sanibel.
But, in fact, “Cabbage Key looks fantastic,” Rando said.
Rando docked the boat so that one could see in person: the key was pristine. The historic water tower that has stood since the mid-1930s remained intact, along with the seven cottages on the key and Scott Lepson’s Cabbage Key Restaurant.
“It’s extremely reassuring that Cabbage Key survived,” Lepson said. “And the one thing that I learned after this storm is that it was important for the community that we were up and running, because we’ve been a part of the community for 47 years.”
Lepson says that while they still have the restaurant, what they need most is customers. He asked WINK News to spread the word: Cabbage Key Restaurant is open; boaters, come on over.
“We’re back to 100% hourly operations, Cabbage Key, then we realized that a lot of our surrounding community partners are not at 100%,” Lepson said. “Docks aren’t open, marinas aren’t open, and most importantly, places where guests stay still have not resumed 100% of operations yet, and that affects us.”
Lepson says the local scene, along with the restaurant’s menu, will keep drawing customers in. And his famous hamburger is still delicious.