“When people get complacent and disengaged, that’s when the politics stall. Without your support and engagement, we’d just be two really ticked off fishing guides.” —Capt. Chris Wittman

The Bay House restaurant in Naples hosted their second annual fundraiser to benefit Captains For Clean Water. Tucked away on the Cocohatchee River, The Bay House is known for their upscale ambiance in an Old Florida setting, incredible seafood, and gracious southern hospitality.

The sold-out event accommodated over two hundred of the area’s most passionate supportersanglers, scientists, business owners, elected officials, and residentswho all showed up to reflect on the progress made for water quality.

“This year, we have an even bigger turnout than we did last year in the middle of a crisis. That shows Floridians’ commitment to getting these problems fixed,” said Captain Daniel Andrews of the outpouring of support, “It tells us that the community is more engaged than ever before.”

The Bay House owners, Jeanne and Peter Tierney, planned and hosted the event with help from the restaurant’s general manager, Jon Roberson, Chef Jamie Knapp, their generous donors, and their incredible staff who can often be seen donning Captains hats throughout the year.

The Captains For Clean Water raffle boat, a 2019 Hell’s Bay Waterman, was on display at the entrance, and the silent auction featured everything from a custom, SeaDek-topped YETI cooler to guided fishing trips to paintings of snook and tarpon from local artists.

Chef Jamie Knapp delivered the ultimate culinary experience featuring locally-sourced seafood and heavy hors d’oeuvres such as jerk swordfish and fried oysters.

Captain Daniel Andrews recapped the fight for clean water over the past year, underscoring record funding for Everglades restoration, a new water management board, and Lake Okeechobee operational changes by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

“It’s really encouraging that science is leading the decision-making now. All Floridians have come together over the past year and demanded change. These problems are not going to be fixed overnight. Regardless of what happens to our waterways over the next year, be sure you stay engaged.”

Captain Chris Wittman provided a closing statement that was met with a roar of applause, “Three years later [since founding Captains], we have a massive voice. Our elected officials and representatives at a state and federal level are listening to us because of everyone’s support in the community. Today, we do have a seat at the table and we’re actually rebuilding that table, piece by piece.”

The Bay House did an incredible amount of work to host this event for us and we are so appreciative of the efforts of everyone involved. Thank you to Peter and Jeanne Tierney, Jon Roberson, Chef Jamie, The Bay House staff, everyone who donated food, beverages, and auction items, Nick Shirghio for photographing the event, and to all our supporters who continue to stand up and advance the fight for clean water.

Photos courtesy of Nick Shirghio.