provided to The Santiva Chronicle
Post-hurricane business reopenings continue to inspire ribbon-cutting celebrations for the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce. On Tuesday, Jan. 3, the chamber shot off its signature (biodegradable) confetti cannon at McCarthy’s Marina on Captiva Island to congratulate Captain Brian on the Water’s return, and on Thursday, Jan. 5, SanCap Pak-n-Ship’s reopening on Sanibel Island was cause for applause.
Capt. Brian was forced to move temporarily after Hurricane Ian’s landfall on Sept. 28 to Port Sanibel Marina due to damage to the dock and flooding in the office at McCarthy’s Marine.
“Overall, it was minimal damage compared to other areas,” said Capt. Brian Holaway, who has been running loca charter tours since 1995. “It feels good to be back to my normal environment.”
He was able to save his 24-foot center console boat trailered in his garage. He was up and running a few days later to ferry friends to their homes on the islands. Holaway later docked at a friend’s house in the Iona area of Fort Myers and transported supplies for badly needed hurricane relief in St. James City on Pine Island. Now he’s back to doing tours.
“I am thankful I get to do what I do,” said Holaway, who is known for his in-depth tours to lesser-known spots. “I am passionate about the area history, people, and places. I enjoy learning new things and meeting people from around the world. I customize each charter, try to find out more about my guest’s interests, and strive to show them something they may have never seen or don’t know about Southwest Florida. As a local guide for nearly 30 years, I am constantly learning and striving to make each trip a new experience for my guests, who often become friends or repeat guests.”
His five-hour Beach & Lunch tour to Cabbage Key, which is back open for business, is his most popular. Currently, there’s also been high demand for beach trips to North Captiva and Cayo Costa.
“Capt. Brian has been a good friend to local tourism for years, and became a strong asset in the industry’s recovery,” said John Lai, chamber president and CEO. “He is a Captiva staple, and we’re so happy to see him back at home.”
“The chamber’s updates via email, the recent luncheon at Sanibel Harbour and their recognition of island businesses overall as we reopen is a big boost to morale,” said Holaway. “Seeing familiar faces at the luncheon and receiving information related to the recovery was a huge boost.”
SanCap Pak-N-Ship moved across the street to a temporary location at 2341 Palm Ridge Road to be able to reopen on Sanibel and fill postal needs on-island while the post office is closed. Four feet of floodwaters and a leasing situation made it difficult to reopen in the original location where Lauren Clifford and her husband Dustin Dariano have operated for six years.
“We pack and ship items such as artwork, shells, and home goods,” said Lauren. “We also have personal mailbox services for people, which is especially handy for everyone not wanting to go all the way up to Jet Loop to get their mail. We notarize documents, print documents, offer scan and email services, and accept drop-off packages including Fedex, UPS, Amazon, and U.S. Mail.”
“This is just what the island needs right now,” said Lai. “We are so appreciative of practical services like what Pak-N-Ship offers to make life easier for businesses and residents on the island. Thanks to Capt. Brian and the Pak-N-Ship team for starting out the new year with optimism and forward momentum.”
Clifford, in turn, thanks the chamber for helping to “spread the word about the island’s recovery process, including updating people about the progress the islands have made thus far, informing the public about businesses as they reopen, and continuing to show their support to all Sanibel and Captiva residents and businesses.”