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Pirate ship setting sail for first time since Hurricane Ian this weekend

Posted on January 22, 2023

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — The Salty Sam’s Pirate Ship will set sail for the first time since Hurricane Ian slammed into Fort Myers Beach.

After nearly four months of repairs and upgrades, the pirate ship is ready to welcome its first guests back on Saturday.

“We haven’t sailed for months out here,” said one of the pirates. “I don’t know if anyone else has, so everyone raise their glasses and a toast.”

It’s a sight and certainly a sound that’s known all around the island. The pirate ship set sail on Friday evening, blasting its cannon in a test run.

The boat was damaged during Hurricane Ian when the storm surge pushed the boat from its moorings and into other boats.

“The entire boat was banged up,” said Ryan Vandenabeele, Director of Marketing at Salty Sam’s Marina and Pirate Cruise. “During the storm, there was a big super yacht right next to us. And during the entire hurricane, it was just smashing against us.”

The boat needed to be pulled from the water and given the green light by the U.S. Coast Guard before it could operate again. Pirates also took the time to make some upgrades, like a fresh coat of paint.

“They absolutely love what they do,” Vandenabeele said. “They did a great job painting and putting this boat back together. We got her up and going as fast as we could.”

Aboard the ship on Friday were family, friends and a first-grade class from Heights Elementary in Fort Myers.

“Coming from school to here, I was so excited to come, to see the smile on their face,” said Ashley Roth, a teacher at Heights Elementary.

“It’s a good experience to see the water from the hurricane,” added Nora Amati, one of Roth’s students.

Parents aboard with their kids were just as excited to see the ship back out on the water.

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh it’s open again!’ Yeah, I’m so very excited,” said Kelly Amati.

After shaking off the rust, the Salty Sam’s crew is ready to officially open on Saturday. Already half of the tickers are sold, but more importantly, they’ll be back with the people that make the island so special.

“It’s kind of hard to put in words, but it’s just magical to me,” said Vandenabeele.


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