One Day

A Day in the Life of Cortez Boat Captain Kathe Fannon

Kathe Fannon makes sea adventures.

By Cooper Levey-Baker November 29, 2017 Published in the December 2017 issue of Sarasota Magazine

After a 1994 state law banned a type of nets that had been used in Florida fishing, many locals had to reinvent themselves. Among them was Kathe Fannon, whose family had been Cortez fishermen for four generations. Fannon decided to begin offering boat tours of local waters. With her cocker spaniel assistant, Skipper, perched by her side, Fannon, now 56, regales her passengers with tales of local history, sea adventures and marine ecology, taking people just about anywhere they want to go. “As long as it’s legal and moral and won’t land me in hell or jail, I’ll do it,” she says.

0138 portra epbred

Image: Robert Castro

9:15 a.m. “That’s our ride to work every morning. I live in Cortez Village and it’s really nice. I can see Star Fish Co., where I dock my boat, from my house.”

0004 kodak portra vc xzxd3k

Image: Robert Castro

9:46 a.m. “My first dog, Pup-Pup, taught Skipper how to spot dolphins, manatees, stingrays, even schools of fish. He’ll run to the bow and start whining. My passengers lose their minds.”  

0122 portra ca6lgr

Image: Robert Castro

10:03 a.m. “We go looking for dolphins and manatees. We go sandbar-hopping. We snorkel. We do family fishing off the boat. People ask where we’re going, but I don’t know until I pull away from that dock.” 

0120 portra o43jdw

Image: Robert Castro

11:14 a.m. “We get overboard and pick up conchs and crabs, all kinds of cool stuff. It amazes me how many grown people have never seen a live starfish or a seahorse.”  

0126 portra s6c0ts

Image: Robert Castro

12:26 p.m. “I make the pies for Star Fish. The owner, Karen Bell, needed help, so I started making them for her back in 1997. Normally I don’t do it until midnight or 1 a.m., but I had some free time today.”

0128 portra gmpmzj

Image: Robert Castro

3:43 p.m. “A friend built my library out of a cedar tree. People use it and drop off books, too. I couldn’t believe how much grouper fishermen read. They’re out there for 12 days. What else are they going to do?”

Screenshot 2017 10 30 13 toodtu

Image: Robert Castro

7:06 p.m. “My husband Mike [at right] builds all my boats. When you’re from Cortez, you might not be able to spell ‘boat,’ but these Cortez boys, they can flat build you a boat.”

0132 portra  2  md3nev

Image: Robert Castro

9:46 p.m. “My husband is a bay shrimper and he shrimps seven nights a week. He crawls into bed and I crawl out. I keep his shrimp book for him.”

0144 portra kjpn9n

Image: Robert Castro

1:16 a.m. “For a long time, I couldn’t sleep. I’d wake up 15, 20 times. But my niece gave me these essential oils and said, ‘Put these on your feet.’ I sleep all night long now.”

Filed under
Show Comments