Conservancy celebrates its Good Fortune II
Len Zaiser IV shares the legacy of his grandfather, the late W. Brooks Fortune, a former Eli Lilly chemist and Army code specialist who was a Conservancy supporter and namesake of the Good Fortune II. The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has launched the Good Fortune II, a new 45-passenger pontoon boat that takes passengers on eco-cruises through Rookery Bay. Three narrated cruises are offered daily and the boat is available for private charters.
A ceremonial launch and christening took place Feb. 16 at the Good Fortune dock off of Shell Island Road.
The boat, which replaced the original Good Fortune cruise boat, was made possible through a gift from the W. Brooks Fortune Foundation and proceeds from the “Float the Boat” live auction portion at last year’s “Magic Under the Mangroves” gala fundraiser.
A former Eli Lilly chemist who decoded messages revealing Japan’s plans to attack Pearl Harbor, the late W. Brooks Fortune was a part-time resident of Bonita Springs who first became involved with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in 1994. After members of the Fortune family took a boat tour of Rookery Bay in 2000, the foundation donated $60,000 so the Conservancy could purchase a new boat for its tours. In recognition of the gift, the Conservancy named the boat the Good Fortune, honoring the Fortune family’s love and commitment to bringing guests to the beauty of Rookery Bay.
Len Zaiser IV, Rebeca Zaiser, Conservancy Nature Center Supervisor Kelly Sowers, Conservancy Education Manager David Webb, Conservancy President and CEO Andrew McElwaine, Good Fortune II Capt. Jim Pittman, Good Fortune II Capt. Meade Sommers, Conservancy volunteer and “Magic Under the Mangroves” committee member Judy Hushon, Good Fortune II volunteer coordinator Carol Haberkern and Conservancy Vice President of Development and Marketing Rob Moher toast the christening of the Good Fortune II.
COURTESY PHOTOS Len Zaiser IV, a grandson of the late Mr. Fortune, spoke at the christening ceremony and described how his grandfather was involved in pioneering the Salk poliomyelitis vaccine that helped curtail the polio epidemic of the 1950s, as well as in the development of Darvocet pain medication. “However, despite all of his accomplishments, he was a humble man and very honored to provide the opportunity for the public to experience the beauty of this fragile environment and to learn how to help protect it for generations to come,” he said.
Capts. Meade Sommers and Jim Pittman at the helm for the inaugural launch of the Good Fortune II. Over the years, the W. Brooks Fortune Foundation has given more than $170,000 to support environmental education as well as the Good Fortune program at the Conservancy. Most recently, the Conservancy received a three-year, $90,000 grant from the foundation to help fund the Good Fortune II.
During the christening and launch celebration, Conservancy of Southwest Florida President and CEO Andrew McElwaine thanked Mr. Zaiser, the W. Brooks Fortune Foundation and “Magic Under the Mangroves” committee member Judy Hushon for their continued support of the Good Fortune program.
“Thanks to the generosity of the Fortune family, as well as our ‘Magic Under the Mangroves’ patrons, we are able to continue to offer a unique opportunity for Conservancy members, local residents and visitors to explore Rookery Bay,” Mr. McElwaine said.
“The Good Fortune II offers residents and visitors a very intimate and personal way to learn about Southwest Florida’s environment,” Mrs. Hushon said. “Taking a ride through the mangroves, you might spot a dolphin, manatee or a bobcat. It’s a great adventure, and you really gain an entirely new appreciation for our water, land and wildlife.”
Also as part of the celebration, one of Good Fortune II’s Coast Guard-certified captains, Meade Sommers, read an “Ode to the Good Fortune” to commemorate the event:
“The Good Fortune II is a mighty fine boat, in Rookery Bay, it’s the very best afloat; the passengers love the wide, friendly layout, with plenty of room to move about; the Conservancy loves the new passenger count, which can mean a nice additional dollar amount; the naturalists have more people to tell, of the wonders that hold us all in their spell; the captains love the new controls and power, we can run it with pleasure, hour after hour; the Coast Guard likes that there is less rock, and that in an emergency, we can quickly get back to the dock; so to all who are responsible for this great feat, the Good Fortune II captains and crew think you’re really quite neat.”
Following the poem, Capt. Jim Pittman poured sparkling cider on the bow of the boat while Capt. Sommers rang a ceremonial bell, signally the close of the ceremony and the vessel’s official launch.
Aboard the Good Fortune II, the captain and a trained guide offer a variety of eco-leisurely cruises through the mangrove-lined channels of Rookery Bay, which is one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. Assorted wildlife, including hundreds of species of birds and many threatened and endangered animals thrive in this unique environment.
Good Fortune II adventures include private charters and the following daily cruise adventures:
¦ Early morning wildlife adventure:
¦ Leisurely lunch cruise:
11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
¦ Classic sunset adventure: call for times
In addition to the above regular outings, special cruise events and private charters are available. To make a reservation or for more information, call 403-4236. ¦