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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.

“Going Home” to Meet Maggy Hurchalla, SLR/IRL

The house built in the early days of Miami by Maggie's mother.
The house built in the “outback” by Maggy’s mother in the early days of a growing Miami.
The driveway leading to the house. (JTL)
The driveway leading to the house. (JTL)
The porch.
The porch.
The grounds has many trees planted by Mrs Reno years ago that are now gigantic.
The grounds has many trees planted by Mrs Reno years ago that are now gigantic.
Oolite rock on the grounds.
Oolite rock on the grounds.
The house only lost one shingle during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. This hangs on the wall as a testament to Mrs Reno.
The house only lost one shingle during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. This hangs on the wall as a testament to Mrs Reno and her husband.
cover of book
Cover of book. Mrs Jane Woods Reno.
In 1994,  when I was a much younger woman, my mother handed me a book entitled: “To Hell With Politics,” a compilation of the writings of Jane Wood Reno.

My mother noted that the author was an incredible woman. She had built her house with her own two hands; was a savant; she had had a career as a reporter for the Miami Herald; she once hiked many miles northward, for days and nights, along the Atlantic’s shoreline meeting, speaking, and writing about the people she met along the way; she had befriended the Miccosukee Indians and they considered her an “Indian Princess;” she raised peacocks on her very large parcel way out west of Downtown Miami; she was a dedicated mother and wife…..she was Martin County Commissioner Maggy Hurchalla’s mother.

To say the least, I found Mrs Reno’s story interesting and never forgot the book. Fast forward twenty years; I was invited to visit the house, and I did.

Driving down on October 24, 2015, I thought it would be a straight shot down the Turnpike from Stuart. But somehow I “took a wrong turn” and ended up in the craziness of Downtown Miami driving in carpool lanes as a single driver, cameras taking my picture, and barriers forcing me to stay in “my lane.” As I pulled off I-95 stressed out and sweating Siri’s voice rung in the tense air. Then I saw it, the mailbox.

Turning right down a long unpaved driveway I exited the bustle, excessive traffic, shopping malls, and crowded housing developments, and went back in time. Driving in I noticed wild coffee plants and gumbo limbo trees  just like some areas of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. “Weird.” I thought. “Is there a creek around here somewhere? I wonder what Kendall looked like before they drained it, filled it, mowed it down, and planted hedges? A pine forest? An oak/palm hammock? Beautiful…”

I parked my car and looked around. Time stood still. A tropical breeze floated through the trees and the sun shined. Birds were chirping. Legend Maggy Hurchalla greeted me and I toured the grounds of her family home. She was there caring for her older sister, former U.S. Attorney General,  Janet Reno. It was a day I will always treasure. A day a book I read as a younger woman came to life.

I think the photos will say it all, so I won’t write much more.

The house is an island. It is a symbol of what was, and what has become. Thank you to Maggy Hurchalla who helped keep what happened around her childhood home from happening in Martin County.

You can see the Reno parcel unchanged amounts the rampant development of Miami Dade. Google maps 2015
You can see the Reno parcel unchanged amoung the rampant development of Miami Dade. Google maps 2015
Up close.
Up close.
Maggy give me a tour or the grounds. (Photo JTL)
Chickee built by Maggy’s brother. (Photo JTL)
Maggie gives me a tour of the grounds.
Maggy gives me a tour of the grounds.
Mrs Hurchalla having a park named after her in Martin County 2013. (MC Flicker photos.)
Mrs Hurchalla having a park named after her in Martin County 2013 for her work as a commissioner from 1974-1994. (MC Flicker photos.)
Plaque in park. Photo Sandra Thurlow 2015.
Plaque in Maggy’s park,  Photo Sandra Thurlow 2015.
Sally Schwarz’ article about park in MC: (http://opinionzone.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2013/12/07/martin-county-names-park-after-maggy-hurchalla/)