The Coral Strand’s Fishing Riches; Today’s Sailfish Point, Along the Indian River Lagoon

1950 map by Ben McCoy of the "Coral Strand" and its riches,  today known as Sailfish Point.
1950s map of Hutchinson Island’s “Coral Strand.” Today, known as “Sailfish Point.” (Map, Ben McCoy, courtesy historic archives of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)

How romantic, the “Coral Strand…” Like a string of pearls the riches of Hutchinson Island’s coast strung along the blue waters of the Atlantic and Indian River Lagoon. The crowing jewel, today,  known as Sailfish Point.

The above promotional map by Ben McCoy, brother, of the infamous rum runner, Captain Bill McCoy, highlights some of our area’s best features, most interesting history, and even an excerpt from a novel by Faith Baldwin:

” It was a long jut of land running into the water, upon one side was the ocean, upon the other, an inlet forming a small quiet bay. It was colored like a lithograph, strong blinding colors. The beach was so white that it dazzled, water and sky so blue they seemed unreal…”

If one looks closely at the map, fish of the area are listed around the point: Blue Fish; Sheepshead; Bass; Snapper; Pompano; Spanish Mackerel; and Tarpon everywhere…the Indian River is not noted just as the” Indian River” but the “Famous Indian River,” for fishing of course!

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The publication notes that five presidents, Arthur, Cleveland, Roosevelt, Taft, and Harding,  as well as Joe Jefferson, beloved  disciple of Izaak Walton, fished these waters as “who indeed among fisherman has not heard of the famous St Lucie Region, rendezvous for more than half a century for anglers  from all over the world!”

Believe it or not, according to The History of Martin County, the McCoy’s land, today’s Sailfish Point, was listed for $25,000.

It is fun to visit the dream like past, but soon or later, reality always sets in. In the 1950s the Coral Strand was sold to eccentric entrepreneur and Florida Oceanographic Society founder, James Rand, for its limited development the name was marketed as “Seminole Shores.” Later in the 1960s, the the Hutchinson Island property was sold by Harvard University to a group of Boston investors and eventually to Mobil Oil who legally tore the mangroves from the land, scared off the mosquitoes and filled it. Eventually, in the 80s the land was developed as exclusive “Sailfish Point.”

According to Dr Grant Gilmore, most famous for his long career at Harbor Branch Oceanographic, the waters/seagrasses surrounding Sailfish Point, the old Coral Strand, are truly the most diverse in the North America with over 800 types of fish, often growing baby fish, documented in these waters.

It is a crime that during rainy season, the Army Corp of Engineers often releases water from Lake Okeechobee exacerbating the pollution from our local canals killing the seagrasses in these waters, thus fish habitat destroyed. Last year, in 2013,  according to Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic, approximately 85% of the seagrasses were destroyed.

Yes, this has happened many times, but one day, it may not come back.

For history, for today, we must fight to protect our “Coral Strand,” and our pearl, our incredibly bio-diverse waters…

___________

The History of Martin County can be purchased at the Historical Society of Martin County: (http://www.martincountyhistoricalsociety.com)

 

10 thoughts on “The Coral Strand’s Fishing Riches; Today’s Sailfish Point, Along the Indian River Lagoon

  1. Well done Jacqui. You mention the price.. the property that sold for 25 grand was all of what we call Sailfish Point. Bill McCoy, is also the root of the term “The Real McCoy” as applied to prohibition liquor. His rum was uncut and pure.. always, so his goods were a known entity and preferred.”The REAL McCoy.” Your Mom has a great picture in one of her books about this.. an advertisement if memory serves.

    As a kid, we would go to Santa Lucia Beach.. the end of civilization back then, and Dad and Uncle Don would build a big bonfire and would fish all night. Uncle Don had an old Kaiser Jeep with a flathead 4 in it that he would, IF I passed the test, bring to the beach and turn me loose all night.. at age 9-14. The test was asking my Mother if my Grades were up, and had I behaved. A no answer to any question meant I was in purgatory.. stuck at the fire with my sister and young cousins.. miserable for me. IF however, I passed the test, the Jeep went and I had the run of the island from Jensen to inlet… nothing, and I mean NOTHING affected my behavior and grades more than “we are going to Uncle Don and Aunt Pat.

    These were some of the grandest times of my childhood.. nothing but sand dunes and Indian mounds… as meaningful to me as camping in the Glades alone. Occasionally, Uncle Don would load us up a couple at a time and we would build the fire and camp at the Inlet. If you weren’t run to the knot at least once a night, you didn’t have a line in.. the good ol’ days…

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  2. Comment from my mother….impossible????:)
    “Actually, I remember reading the $25,000. I think it might have been offered for that at one time but if you check page 58 of my Stuart book you will see I said that Ben sold the southerly 296.6 acres of Hutchinson Island for $125.00 in 1954. I cited “Six Deals Bring $280.00” in the Stuart News. I hope I got it right.” ST

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  3. More than any place on Earth I am connected the place you speak. It isa place beyond human names of geography. I can warmly recall the dirt road leading there from Stuart Beach, crusing in a dune buggy, and passing the spot my father proposed to my mother, which, to this day, I get a special feeling and always recall the significance of the spot as I pass it, as if it is like I came from there. Vividly I can remember the days fishing with Captain Allie Raphel in his boat the Caribee, and noticing the inlet shore, seeing it unspoiled, not a soul on the shore. Or sailing our boat, Scepter.around the whistle buoy as the charter boats returned from the Stuart Sailfish Tournement. Their wake beached our sailboat, and Mr Potsdam pulled us off the bar with his boat. We used to camp aboard at the Sun Parlor, what most call the Sandbar today. School trips with Mr. Willard, and lunch at the Whites. There was diving for stone crab and lobster. Oh and there were epic teen parties. Then I saw it, bulldozed, developed and destroyed. People today will never know
    .

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  4. Thank you for sharing, and for all of the shares from fellow followers. I am blessed to live in such a lovely area. I very often wonder what it was like years ago – and in the scheme of things, it wasn’t that long ago. One can only hope that the stories and photos from long ago will be read and treasured and lessons learned. Cheers, and hats off to you all!

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