Tales of the Southern Loop, Boyton to Miami, Part 2

Tales of the Southern Loop, Stuart to Boyton, Part 1

Tales of the Southern Loop, Boyton to Miami, Part 2

It was September 4th, early morning, we’d  had our first cup of coffee, the engine was yawning, and Ed was at the helm. Today was part two, Boyton to Miami…

“You know what to do right?” Ed jokingly mocked from the helm. He was way too chipper.

I rubbed my eyes. “Yes Captain.”

There wasn’t much wind or tide; I easily removed the spring, bow, and stern lines in that order.

ADRIFT inched off the dock.

“Good job mate.” Ed yelled.

“It’s easy on a day like today!” I replied, knowing the entire Southern Loop adventure would not be so easy.

It was an absolutely beautiful morning. Ed made the radio request on Channel 9 to open Boyton’s Ocean Bridge; we waited, and as the draw raised up the trawler slid into the long man-made cut of the Intercostal Waterway.

The scene was almost surreal, especially the reflections; the water itself did not look great -trapped inside seawalls, houses, and lawns gushing fertilizer.

Ed yelled,” Look at the man cutting the mangroves!”

I turned to see a worker balancing  atop rocks holding  a trimmer over his head.

“Unbelievable!” I sarcastically yelled back. “You’ve got to love South Florida!”

The sun shone hotter and hotter.  We passed Delray Beach, Highland Beach, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, Hillsboro Beach, and Lighthouse Point.

“Hey Ed,”Hillsboro Inlet and lighthouse is coming up. The pre-drainage Hillsboro River was about the north mark of the historic east coast seepage of the Everglades!”

I was referring to my new favorite book, Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades.

As we slowly made our way, I saw finger canals everywhere…

Construction to channelize the Hillsboro River and the Miami River had first begun in 1910. The New River, in 1906. It wasn’t just the most southern coastline that was wet either, apparently the region from the Jupiter Inlet to the Hillsboro Inlet was once so marshy people canoed between the two- and out into the Everglades- regularly. That was until drainage lowered the water table six feet! Crazy isn’t it!

“Everglades eastern flow was directed towards numerous natural outlets piercing the Atlantic Coastal Ridge, specifically Cypress Creek, (region of Hillsboro River JTL) Middle River, New River, Snake River, Arch Creek, Little River, and the Miami River.” These flows eventually made it to the Atlantic Ocean and  Biscayne Bay.” Pg 262, Landscapes & Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades, 2011. 

It is strange to think that there are no natural flows through these once cypress forests and rivers, but rather a channelized construction of canals, pumps, and structures kept in place by the South Florida Water Management District.

We forget that the Everglades’ waters, beginning in Lake Okeechobee, once seeped through, on and off, around today’s Pompano Beach; Ft Lauderdale to Miami; and even at South Miami to about Leisure City. Today ADRIFT would only make it to Miami.

  1. 1850s undeveloped South Florida: Cypress Strands, the Peat Transverse Glades; and the Marl Transverse Glades were once natural seepage areas from the Everglades. Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades pgs. 49, 48, & 266. Notice how canals were constructed to these natural outlets. (3)

2. Modern satellite image of of S. Florida, note areas that once flowed through near Pompano (Cypress Strands); Ft Lauderdale area (Peat Transverse Glades); and further south of Miami (Marl Transverse Glades). Compare image 1 &2.

3.  Earliest canals New River to Ft Lauderdale 1906; Hillsboro & Miami 1910. (Boyton for reference.) These canals led to where the water was naturally exiting the east coast.

“Hey First Mate!”


“Get your head our of that book and look around!”

“Holy cow!” I screamed. It looked like we were going to be swallowed up by the wake of a cargo ship!


4. Near Ft Lauderdale’s Port Everglades

5. Condos along the ICW near Ft Lauderdale

6. North area of Biscayne Bay, Broad Causeway Drawbridge at Bay Harbor

I was speechless. We had entered Ft Lauderdale. The modern Transverse Peat Glades! I watched in total amazement.

“Come up on to the helm,” Ed yelled. “We’re in Biscayne Bay almost to Miami.”

I put my book aside and crawled up the ladder. Even though I despise over development , it was very exciting. Huge ships went by and multi million dollar boats were docked everywhere.

“I think this is near the area of  the recent fish kill.” I said. I showed Ed my phone pointing to the area between Highway 934 and 1-95. “The bay has polluted stormwater runoff problems and also it doesn’t get all the fresh water it historically received because we have cut off its flow connection of the cypress, peat and marl transverse glades.”

Ed looked at me through his sunglasses. “You read too much. Just enjoy!”

7. Further south in Biscayne Bay

8. Port of Miami

9. Ed smiling

10. Miami shoreline near Miami River/Maimi Canal outlet

11. Some wildlife! Yeah! Cormorants!

“Wow. This is amazing I said. My book was put away under the cushions.

“Where are we going to park? Make sure we don’t damage any seagrass.”

Ed rolled his eyes. “Not “park,” “anchor!”

We made our way just southeast of the Magic City and Rickenbacker Causeway. Remarkably, we anchored without a blip on a sandy/muddy bottom.

ADRIFT relaxed and found her direction in the tropical breezes. The whole thing was rather otherworldly. “God I love South Florida,” I thought,” even with all its water and drainage issues, she’s beautiful!”

12. A homemade dinner on the ship!

13. The Magic City arises…as night falls.

19 thoughts on “Tales of the Southern Loop, Boyton to Miami, Part 2

  1. You have a way with words. Great adventure. Thank you both for sharing it. That Miami skyline has changed, alot since I was a kid and my Dad had an old fixer upper boat on the Miami River. Late 60s, early 70s not many “skyscrapers”. Thanks for your writings.

  2. Jacqul thank you for sharing….I am looking forward to reading the rest of the adventure story!

  3. So I had to look. Six-foot high mangroves can be trimmed by a licensed professional. Many separate heights require different levels of permission.
    The sailor in me had to ask: Is that an authorized “parking space”?

  4. Born in Miami in the thirties. Lived in and around town through the forties including a houseboat on the Miami River. Moved to Fort Lauderdale in the fifties where Dad had tugboats in Port Everglades. The Navy, college at Gainsville, and a career with the airlines kept me away from South Florida until retirement. Returned to the Treasure Coast, bought a cruising yacht and spent a lot of time on these waters you folks have enjoyed.

  5. Thank you. Do I understand correctly that freshwater from the Everglades used to drain naturally into the Atlantic? Has it been channelizing such flows that make the pollution problems, and/or that kills the seagrass? And, is the silt, detritus, etc. that eventually creates land, as in the Louisiana Bayou, thus washed away in FL too, as it has been in LA, and wasted? No need to reply. I read too much too.

  6. Ever since they found round-up herbicide causes cancer they have been cleaning out canals with a track hoe and dump truck. These herbicides have been preserved in the zero oxygen acid on the bottom. When they use this dirt for fill these chemicals they have been spraying WILL be activated when they come in contact with oxygen (air). YOUR (state gov.) actions will surely kill people.

  7. I just joined your journey!! I like the comments and am living vicariously through the post. I love being on a boat, especially for a journey of more than one day and preferably for maybe 3 weeks!! I have been on a boat making the journey from Stuart to Marathon, and am reliving that now. Thanks ps, I tried to enter the websites of jewelrybywhiticar.com and curtwhiticar.com but I couldn’t get them accepted.

    Laura Kay

    1. Hello LauraKay Whiticar Darvill. I bet you have so many wonderful stories about boat journeys! Thousands! I took one piece of your jewelry as I was nervous to lose things on the trip. I took the green sea-glass necklace. So beautiful and saved it for a very special occasion. Here is a link to your website https://jewelrybywhiticar.com for others to explore your fabulous creations! Thanks for writing and reading!!! And here is the incredible Curt Whiticar site. Such a special family of Stuart! One of Stuart’s first families. 🙂 https://curtwhiticar.com

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