Tourism on Estero Island will be boosted by an "historical" decision, according to a report at the Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce luncheon today.
An official from "America's Privateer" LYNX, a replica of a war ship from the War of 1812, announced that the 80-foot long, 122-foot tall square topsail clipper schooner will make its winter port on Fort Myers Beach. The wooden sailing ship functions as a mobile museum for tours and is available for day sailing trips and charters to relive American history and educate students of all ages.
LYNX, which made its first-ever grand entry into Gulf waters on Jan. 3, by docking at the pier at Nervous Nellie's Waterfront Eatery at Snug Harbor Marina, planned on staying at the local port of call until Jan. 24. Crew members and officials from the Lynx educational board have been very pleased with their stay thus far.
"The welcoming has been truthful, sincere and honest from everybody," said Don Peacock, chairman of the Lynx Educational Foundation. "You have facilities and very quick access to the Gulf. We feel that we are in safe hands and can bring something to the community. I will not lie that we had other people interested in having us."
The Lynx Educational Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan, educational organization, dedicated to hands-on educational programs that teach the history of America's struggle to preserve its independence. The maritime challenges during the War of 1812 are taught aboard the American Privateer Schooner Lynx utilizing a comprehensive, interactive program designed to enrich personal achievement through teamwork and the discipline of sail training.
"We feel so secure of what we have seen already and after meeting your business leaders and sharing the thoughts that came across our deck," added Peacock. "We would be foolish to think that we could recreate this somewhere else, so why ruin from the momentum."
LYNX will still depart for its next port of call in St. Petersburg on Jan. 24, but only for a short visit before returning on Friday, Feb. 1.
"We will come back and make a re-grand entry, so to speak, and will be back open for business on Saturday," said Peacock.
Plans are for the ship to remain at its Beach location until late March. It will then head across the Key West bend, into Atlantic Ocean waters and up the East Coast. After a maintenance stop in Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, the vessel will transit Nova Scotia and into the Great Lakes and points beyond.
Peacock said the LYNX crew plans on flying the yet-to-be made Town of Fort Myers Beach flag throughout the year.
"We look forward to being part of your representation going forward. We are really proud and honored to be part of what you have to offer here," said Peacock.
Under the auspices of the Lynx Educational Foundation, LYNX operates as a sail-training vessel dedicated to teaching programs designed to enrich personal achievement through teamwork and discipline. Those interested can go on daily dockside tours for $6 per person (ages 12 and under are free) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or participate in sailing excursions for $65 for adults or $35 for ages 12 and under from 3 to 5 p.m. The vessel is also available for charters.
This year marks the 201st anniversary of the War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner signing.
"The War of 1812 really solidified our position as a nation of power. We didn't win the war, but we fought a respectable war. Some people call it the Second War of Independence," said LYNX captain John Beebe-Center. "We're an educational vessel. We like to explain how private war ships were used in the defense of the country during the War of 1812."
The replica LYNX was designed by noted marine architect Melbourne Smith of Annapolis, Md., and built by Rockport Marine in Rockport, Maine. The original LYNX was built at Fell's Point, Md., and commissioned during the opening days of the war, making her among the first ships to defend American freedom.