Thursday, October 21, 2021

Thunderbird Sailing opens on Isles of Capri



By Natalie Strom

Captain Otis Tavlin is excited to announce his newest business endeavor. Thunderbird Sailing, based out of Isles of Capri is now offering afternoon and sunset sailing charters.

“The Thunderbird is a world-class, ocean-racing Condor 40-foot Trimaran, 40 feet long and 28 feet wide. We motor out to open water, turn the motors off, get the sails out, hit the gulf and show people what real sailing is all about,” explains Tavlin.

“Generally we will be offering afternoon and sunset sails because the wind is better for sailing, although we will go any time anyone wants to go. The boat, itself is a racing sailboat, so it is built for performance. Which means we go fast, even in really light winds. When other boats have to motor, this boat can sail!”

This boat has also sailed about half-way around the world. As Tavlin explains, “I have been sailing since the age of ten. I’ve lived aboard

Sunset cruises available.

Sunset cruises available.

boats for years and I have 50,000 miles of ocean sailing experience. I’ve single-handedly crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice, been through two Panama Canal passages, sailed through Europe, been as far south as Antarctica and north up to the San Juan Islands in Canada.”

While leaving France and heading back to his home in California, Tavlin was offered a an opportunity by a friend in Naples. “So I came here and started working for SeaTow and I just didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to go home to California. How could you not stay?”

That was ten years ago, and Tavlin has never left. With sailing destinations such as the Bahamas, Panama and Jamaica so close, he felt it was the perfect place to continue his passion for sailing.

That passion has now led him to venture into his own sailing charter company. Years of working for SeaTow, other sailing and catamaran tours and TowboatUS, led Tavlin to realize that, “I already had my own

Relaxing on the Thunderbird.

Relaxing on the Thunderbird.

boat, so why not take people out on mine. No other boat around is a performance boat where sailing is really the number one priority. I wanted to do something a little different than what everyone else was doing.”

While the performance boat is meant for speed, the ride is very comfortable thanks to its wide base. This reduces leaning from one side to the other, allowing a relaxing, yet fast ride, without the worry of seasickness. Recliner seats add a touch of comfort as well. As each cruise lasts about two and a half to three hours, comfortability was an important factor in developing the company.

Another important aspect was putting together a knowledgable and experienced crew. Captains Pete Hansen, Nancy Nalley and Nancy Anderson will all share sailing time with Captain Otis Tazlin. “Both Nancys are also naturalists,” he adds, explaining their abilities to answer any questions about wildlife or the Southwest Florida environment.

Visitors who board the Thunderbird will also have an intimate

Smooth sailing on the Thunderbird. -PHOTOS BY OTIS TAVLIN

Smooth sailing on the Thunderbird. -PHOTOS BY OTIS TAVLIN

experience, as maximum capacity is six customers per sail. Smaller groups are welcome to rent out the boat for a more private experience. Each sail, whether afternoon or sunset, costs $60 per person. The boat can be rented at a private cost for $300. “This means that, for example, a family of four can rent the boat and ensure they will be the only ones out at their chosen time. Also, regardless of how the boat is rented, each trip can be tailored to the people onboard.” Water and sodas are available as well as a commode. Guests are welcome to bring their own snacks or anything else they may like to have while sailing.

Thunderbird Sailing picks up its passengers at The Blue Heron Restaurant, located in Isles of Capri. “It’s the first commercial building as you come onto the island, so it’s a great spot to pick people up,” adds Tazlin.

Thunderbird Sailing takes reservations by phone at (239) 776-5757. For more information, visit or email at

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