Vol. 8 No. 31 - April 23, 2008


Handmade and proud of it

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Urs Wunderli, far left, talks to festival goers about his sleek wooden
racing boats. SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE

Fair winds and following seas favored festival goers at the Third Annual Great Florida Gulf Coast Small Craft Festival last weekend.

Traditionally-built and designed wooden boats, restorations and contemporary craft including kayaks, skiffs, racing shells, fishing boats and classic Chris Crafts lured boatlovers to Cortez for three days of sailing, paddling and racing around The Kitchen in Sarasota Bay.

Camping, sea shanties, nautical talks and fresh seafood delighted boaters, who said they were happy to be back in Cortez after temporarily relocating to the Sarasota Sailing Squadron due to construction at the Florida Maritime Museum and FISH Preserve complex last year.

The Esperanza was christened during the festival on Saturday with the closest thing to Cuban rum available without violating the embargo.

Her name means hope, which is all her passengers had when they left Cuba for Florida in the 1960s in the original boat, restored by volunteers at the Florida Maritime Museum’s boatbuilding program from mere remnants. She is the Cortez museum’s pride and joy.

Details include natural fiber sheets and halyards and a miniature Cuban flag carved into the tiller, which was made from a melaleuca tree along with the mast and paddle. The mast rests on a Cuban centavo from 1958, the year before Fidel Castro overthrew Fulgencio Batista.

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