Tag Archives: Southern Loop

Tales of the Southern Loop, Tavernier to Marathon, Part 4

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

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

Tales of the Southern Loop, Miami to Tavernier, Part 3

Tales of the Southern Loop, Tavernier to Marathon, Part 4

When Ed and I awoke, it was September 7, 2020. Even though rain and low visibility lie ahead, we decided to move towards Marathon. If we remained in Tavernier, the weather would only get worse.

Today, we would be passing some of the most famous areas of the Florida Keys such as Islamorada, where a memorial stands in remembrance those who perished in the all time historic Labor Day Hurricane of September 2, 1935. The tropics were buzzing this 2020 as well as Ed and I inched southwest through the drizzle. 

Within a few hours the weather was mostly behind and a family of dolphins welcomed us to their home of Florida Bay.  Florida Bay, a magnificent body of water that for centuries has cast its spell upon multitudes. A water body that now has its fair share of ecological issues due to Florida’s extensive agriculture and development that has basically stopped the flow of fresh water from the once Everglades, “River of Grass. “

-Historic Florida map, 1884. Interacting with the bottle nosed dolphins was a fun contrast to the stressful broken-generator-scenario that had consumed us in Tavernier and put me in a really good mood. 

  1. Dolphins jumping in our wake, Florida Bay with video! 

2. Before us was beautiful…3. Behind us looked ominous…It was a spectacular trip! Six hours later we arrived at Marlin Bay Marina in Marathon.  Everything was first class. Dockhands Gilde and Frances ran out to meet us so docking was a non-issue; Barbara checked us in with a friendliness not often anymore experienced. Nonetheless, a couple of  things were clear: not that many people were there, and in public places, even outside when in public, we would be wearing a mask. Covid-19 was taken very seriously here in Monroe County especially because Hurricane Irma had wiped out their hospital in 2017. Ed and I thanked Barbara and walked out carefully into the lightning and drizzle, a hint of things to come.4. Ed checking in and standing on wall at Marlin Bay MarinaEd and I were overnighting longer in Marathon because I had a week of meetings for the South Florida Water Management District. With the Zoom format trawler lifestyle was no big deal, but having reliable wi-fi was. Marlin Bay Marina turned out to be the perfect place for everything.  All technology worked and Ed went snorkeling while I zoomed. 

When time and weather allowed, Ed and I spun around in the dingy.  We saw iguanas, darting Northern Rough Winged swallows, minnows, nurse sharks, parrot fish, loads of penguin like cormorants, American egrets, white egrets, various herons, ospreys, magnificent frigate birds, pelicans, an island rookery, and visited a place achieving “ecological sainthood,” the world famous Marathon Sea Turtle Hospital. 

5. Sea Turtle Hospital display, Marathon Ed and I took long masked walks to the Fish Market on 35th Street and beyond, taking note of the thousands of crab and lobster traps lining the streets. Of course fishing and crabbing is a longstanding Keys’ industry. Thankfully, today there is more pressure for sustainable methods. In any case, its a way of life that will not be given up. 

6. Crab and lobster traps lined the streets/lots of Marathon  7. In spite of Covid, the Fish Market and other restaurants and shops at 35th Street were busy 8. Goofing around at the Fish Market

The water in Marathon looked as healthy as anywhere we’d seen with lush seagrass beds and substantial wildlife. The only thing we noticed was that there were not many pelicans flying in formation as we regularly see along the Treasure Coast. Here, if we saw a brown pelican, it was flying alone. 

10. Dingy adventure reveals seagrass beds, rookeries, and wildlife-Lush manatee grass-Magnificent frigate birds-An invasive but cool looking iguana -Minnows eating what looked to be periphyton 

Towards the end of our stay, Ed and I  walked at least a mile along US1 to Publix. We wore our masks the whole way;  it was so hot! I felt miserable. Cars zoomed by along a busy road that could have been anywhere. It was hard to believe all of this was all once mangroves and a native wildlife habitat. I really wanted to take off my mask. But I didn’t. Ed and I knew the importance of keeping them on, plus, in Monroe County the fine for not wearing a mask was $250.00.

11. Ed walking along US 1 in Marathon  As we neared home, we saw that the clouds we’d watched building over the past few days were lending themselves to the beginnings of a beautiful sunset.  Even though we were dripping sweat, we ran as fast as we could. When we got to the marina the sky was silver but ablaze. 

“Ed! Take off your mask!” I said to Ed. “Let’s take a selfie!”

We took off our masks, came together, and smiled. I thought about the smiles on the faces of the dolphins that had greeted us and I was eternally grateful for the beauty around Ed and me. Hurricanes, pandemics, changing landscapes, and impaired waters…the world remained a beautiful place!

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!”

“Captain!”

“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.