Tom Marvel Jr. of Naples is marveling himself these days over the recent comeback of red snapper.
“Nothing short of phenomenal,” he calls it, and he should know. He’s been fishing the waters of Florida’s Gulf off Naples since he graduated from college in 1979.
His father, Tom Sr., fished commercially out of Marathon in the 1950s and ’60s.
“I knew from an early age this is what I wanted to do,” said Marvel.
He fishes for grouper and king mackerel along with snapper. The haul of king has improved greatly since a low point in the 1980s, he said, and “grouper are a work in progress.”
His boat, the Sea Marvel, has never left the dock without him onboard, he said. It’s strictly owner-operated.
“I take a mate most of the time, but the setup allows me to operate single-handedly. That’s something I do less than I did 20 years ago,” he said.
His fishing experiences aboard are memorable, but so are others. He recalls fondly a few years ago taking his son and seven friends who had all just graduated from medical school on a camping and snorkeling trip in the Dry Tortugas.
Slow and steady is how Marvel runs the boat. His choice of a heavy engine with low horsepower meant it took a good 12 hours to get there from Naples, but it was well worth it.
The Sea Marvel is moored at a private residence in Naples, which is evidence of the local fishing fleet’s greatest challenge, according to Marvel. “Our town has lost a significant amount of the commercial waterfront to residential housing,” he said.
Home port: Naples, Fla.
Owner: Tom Marvel
Builder: Torres Boat
Year built: 1986
Fisheries: Red snapper, grouper and king mackerel
Hull material: Fiberglass
Length: 43 feet
Beam: 15 feet
Draft: 5 feet
Tonnage: 18 grt
Crew capacity: 2
Main propulsion: Detroit 671-N
Gearbox: Twin Disc 509 3:1
Propeller: 32″ x 28″ four-blade
Speed: 8 knots at 1,500 rpm
Fuel capacity: 750 gallons
Freshwater capacity: 175 gallons
Hold capacity: 10,000 pounds, iced
Electronics: Garmin 1040xs, two GPS units, Furuno 295 fathometer, Furuno 1835 radar, Simrad AP44 autopilot