Celebrating Southwest Floridians
STORIES OF THE SEA Robert N. Macomber is a master of multitasking. The prolific Pine Island- based author can have five novels in the works at any given time. He also conducts book signings, reader meet- ups and lectures around the world and serves as a consultant for the Department of Defense.
“My readers energize me,” he says. “I love meeting with them and watching them learn more about themselves through my books. ”
Macomber’s latest book in his Honor Series that follows fictional American naval officer Peter Wake is Honors Rendered. The book is centered around a confrontation between the United States and Imperial Germany in the South Pacific in 1889.
“I try to write about little- known things in history that actually were very important and the foundation for where things are now,” he says. “This is one of those moments in history where the consequences were rather far- reaching.”
His next book focuses on a failed assassination attempt in Florida in 1892. “The fact that the target lived through it changed history,” says Macomber.
Though he gets to travel the world, Macomber’s always happy to come home to Southwest Florida. “Life here is extremely laid- back and calm,” he says. “There are no pretentions on Pine Island.”
Robert N. Macomber, robertmacomber.com
PASSIONATE ABOUT PADDLING Greg LeBlanc first tried kayaking while working as a naturalist at what’s now the Calusa Nature Center in Fort Myers. He bought himself a kayak, then seven more, and then started giving tours. “I realized what a great tool a kayak was for environmental education,” he says.
Some two decades ago, he and Barb Renneke started the Captiva Kayak Co., which operates out of McCarthy’s Marina on Captiva Island. Since then they’ve been taking folks of all ages and experience levels out on local waterways. “Kayaking is such a natural activity for this area,” says LeBlanc. “You can go into bays, rivers, creeks, mangroves, canals— whatever you want.”
LeBlanc leads tours that explore the Pine Island Sound side of Captiva and nearby Buck Key. For those who want to go it alone, he helps match paddler to kayak and offers tips and advice.
“We review paddle strokes, show how the boat works, go over charts and tell them where to go and where not to go,” he says. “We don’t just shove people out and say good luck. And when they get back they often say, ‘ Wow, that was great— and easy.’ Kayaking is something people can do for the first time and do it well, and see a really spectacular place in conjunction.”
Captiva Kayak Co., 239- 395- 2925, captivakayaks.com
ROBERT N. MACOMBER