MAK­ING WAVES

Times of the Islands - - Departments - BY BETH LU­BERECKI

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

GREG LEBLANC

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