Tag Archives: trawler adventure

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

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 3A cloud covered sun and a silver moon coated Biscay Bay with a metallic morning light. Today was September 6th, and last night something had changed.

At 3am Ed had shot out of bed. “It’s too quiet in here.”

“It is. That’s why we’re sleeping.” I rolled over putting the pillow over my head.

Ed returned a few minutes later. “The generator stopped working.”

“Oh,”I mumbled and quickly went back to sleep. When I awoke, I found Ed inside the engine room. 

“Good morning,” I said. He looked up.  “So maybe it’s not such a good morning; the generator doesn’t work.” I tried to smile. “But let’s not let this ruin our trip.” 

“Jacqui the oven/stove wont work, the refrigerator and the air-conditioning won’t work, and forget easily charging the phone or computer. We wont be able to anchor out. I was really looking forward to more of that.”

“Yeah, it’s a bummer. But it will still be fun. So we’ll have to depend on marinas to plug in that shore power thing.”

Ed smirked. “I’m surprised you remember- shore power.- In any case, let’s get ADRIFT underway.” Ed closed up the engine room, headed to the helm, and hit the button to raise the anchor. The clickity-clack sound of metal hitting metal echoed throughout the bow and upper helm.

“At least the anchor still works!” I yelled to my Captain. 

ADRIFT crept south in the direction of Tavernier. Once again, it was turning out to be a beautiful day. -Leaving Miami, Biscayne Bay-Card Sound, Biscayne Bay, heading south to the Florida KeysBiscayne Bay was stunning and huge. As we exited the bridge at Card Sound, the waterway started to narrow. Some boats were going very fast. I decided to continue reading my new favorite book, Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades,  rather than complain. I knew Ed was thinking about the generator…

“Hey Ed!” I yelled towards the upper helm. “Did you realize we have been passing the marl transverse glades?”

“Hadn’t really been thinking about them,”  he replied. 

I walked up the ladder and sat beside him. “I’m going to read to you, OK?”

“In contrast to the unobstructed, rimless, and continuously flowing Peat Transverse Glades, the Marl Transverse Glades were raised spillways, receiving water from the Everglades only during the wet season…The significance of of the Marl Transverse Glades for understanding predrainage Everglades hydrology lies not in their volumes of outflow but instead in their indication that Everglades waters from Rockland Marl Marsh typically rose high enough each year to flow out….” 

“Do you know what this means Ed?” 

“No idea…” 

“It means that when the Everglades were high, like now, during hurricane season, water oozed through to Biscayne Bay not just from areas around Ft Lauderdale, but also from south of Miami  to about Homestead. Today that stretch includes cities like Kendall, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Naranja, and Homestead Air Force Base.”

“That is pretty surprising.” Ed replied, seeming to be in better spirits. “So – another reason Biscayne Bay doesn’t get enough fresh water.”

“Look at you!” I lovingly mocked. “I’m surprised you remember!”

-Compare predrainage “marl transverse glades” (southern most arrows) pg. 48 & to post drainage developed areas today, pg. 49 -between Miami and Homestead. In predrainage times, this area McVoy calls the “marl transverse glades,” filled up/flowed over with high Lake O and rain waters oozing through to Biscayne Bay. Today due to development, pumps, and drainage this does not occur. Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades, McVoy, 2011.I looked up from my book. We were in a narrow waterway of mangroves and approaching Key Largo. “Why are those boats going so fast?!” I complained. I couldn’t hold back anymore.

“Because they are allowed to.” Ed replied. “They are in the channel.” Wakes hit up hard against the shoreline.

“They shouldn’t be allowed to go so fast in here. I don’t see how a manatee could survive. And it’s dangerous.” I agonized. 

“Just smile Jacqui!” 

Ed remained silent looking straight ahead. ADRIFT plodded along in repetative wakes while swirling through boat traffic. And I decided – I better just smile…When we arrived in Tavernier, at Mangrove Marina, Ed was once again focusing on the broken generator. Docking was not so easy this time. The winds had kicked up and I was in charge of the lines. I wondered how I’d jump off to the dock if necessary. The engine ground as Ed moved forwards and backwards trying to back into the slip.  We almost smacked into the dock and I yelled loudly realizing the fender was caught on a neighboring house boat. Thankfully, at the last minute, two young dockhands saved us. We thanked them profusely and Ed handed them a tip. 

“Thank God they were here,” I grumbled.

“One day they wont be.” Ed replied. 

“How would I have jumped on that high dock?” 

Ed did not answer. 

“I’m going to open the lazarette to look at this generator again.” I knew Ed would be obsessed until this was resolved.

“OK. I’m going to take a walk,”  I said. I’ll see you in a little bit.”

It was good to get on land and good for Ed and I to take a break from each other. 

Walking the marina, the first thing I noticed, were these weird and beautiful sea anemone like things on the floor of the shallow docking areas. I got down on my stomach to look closer. -It looks like the DREAM OF THE SLEEPING JELLYFISH. Over the course of our stay, I became totally preoccupied with them, checking on them throughout the day and evening. My blog post is above.I continued my walk. Quaint houses lined the streets. “I love it here.” I thought. “There is absolutely nothing like the Florida Keys.” Once my stroll was over, I knew it was time to make it back to see Ed. He was not a happy camper.

“What’s wrong hunny?” I inquired. 

“I’m not sure I will be able to fix the generator, but the marina office gave me a number of a guy to call. It’s Labor Day weekend. I’m not going to bother him.”

“Come on babe, all the days blend together in a place like the Keys. Let’s call him.” Before we called, we decided to take the inflatable canoe out into a small cove. It was so beautiful! The seagrass was lush and Ed thought he saw an otter but it ended up being a mother manatee and and her young calf poking their noses out to breathe.  It was so joyous to just be there next to them as they came up for air. I though about the fast speed boats we’d seen by the mangroves and prayed the mother and calf would be safe. The sun set , we made dinner,  and retired early. I dreamt of sleeping jellyfish and baby manatees.

In the morning I convinced Ed to take a walk, meet my jellyfish, and see the adorable Keys houses. Lo and behold there was a sign! A sign on a red truck that just happened to be the number the marina had given Ed for someone to fix the generator. Ed left a message and Larry Heimer, Blue Earth Marine Services, returned the call! Soon after we met Larry and Wendy. Wonderful people! Ed learned a lot watching and asking questions. Thanks to Larry the generator got fixed!   Ed after the generator was fixed by Larry Heimer and Wendy 🙂Stormy weather forms… I was so happy! Ed was smiling again!

But there was another issue brewing…

We looked up. “Where is this weather coming from?”  

“There’s a system forming,” Larry replied. “You best leave tomorrow if you can.” 

Night fell; Ed and I listened to the band playing.

Lights reflected off the water and I thought about the jellyfish sleeping on their heads on the milky limestone bottom and the thousands of years of time, tide, and water that had formed this remarkable place.

Ed and I watched the heat lightning and toasted our good fortune to find Larry and  Wendy to fix the generator. 

We decided that unless it was really storming, we would head out first morning light….

 

Useppa ~Very Different Waters Indeed

I was still stewing over thinking that Charlotte Harbor was the Gulf of Mexico when the trawler docked at Useppa.

The sunlight reflected off impressive white structures lining the island. An American flag flew prominently atop what Captain Glenn said was once a Calusa Indian midden ~the tribe whose arrow maimed, later killing, Ponce de Leon.

There was certainly an air about the place, that for eternity, it had been a center of power and influence.

As I walked with Captain Glen and Ed beyond the docks, the front office gave hints to the days of Baron Colliers’ famed Izaak Walton Club, clearing, dredging, filling and building, to make available Florida’s most famous of Tarpon filled waters.

ca. 1906 https://www.useppa.com/legacy/izaak-walton/, courtesy  web site, Useppa

Looking around, I saw messages and awards written on Tarpon scales, enshrined in glass casings of an era long gone by. It made my heart ache for a time of healthier Florida waters, times when nutrient pollution, toxic-algae, and over-drainage were not killing our state. I decided be thankful for this looking-glass of history and enjoy a walk.

The island remained absolutely beautiful…and such strange and wonderful treasures! As we walked up the mound, I gasped at the wonder all around me.

I saw night-blooming cactus vines like hundreds of green ropes covering the huge ancient oaks trees; Spanish-moss swaying in a light breeze: an empty beach catching the colors of coming sunset; orchids and bromeliads blooming everywhere high and low; a gigantic banyan tree, a gift from Thomas Edison, standing like an aging hurricane-weathered sentinel – old limbs broken and reformed, arching over houses and sidewalks alike!

There were animals too. We met a friendly, stowaway orange cat that had arrived on a supply vessel and now was the mayor of the town. And also an old gopher turtle happily clipping grass with an awesome multi-entrance and exit gopher tunnel.

At the end of the sidewalk tour, the famed Collier Inn stood atop the ancient Indian mound looking out over the waters. It was beautiful yes, but I knew, in spite of the awe around me, with no tarpon jumping, those were very different waters, indeed.

 

Links:

Useppa resident speaks up: https://www.news-press.com/story/news/2018/08/22/toxic-algae-florida-scientists-question-health-departments-stand/973593002/

Calusa Indians, Fl: http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/middle-school-lessons/001-Calusa/001-Calusa1.htm

Historic Society, Useppa: http://www.useppahs.org/pages/useppa_history.html

Izaak Walton Club, Collier: https://www.useppa.com/legacy/izaak-walton/

Note Useppa Award from Captains For Clean Waters: https://captainsforcleanwater.org

West Florida Sailing and Cruising School: http://www.flsailandcruiseschool.com

https://captainsforcleanwater.org

Getting to Know the Very Big Caloosahatchee and Beyond, SLR/IRL

Cape Coral along the Caloosahatchee River across river from Ft Meyers, Lee County, FL JTL

Recently, Ed and I took a trawler ride along the Caloosahatchee River and beyond with Captain Glenn. I learned so much, and got to see up close the condition of their waters.

The first thing that hit me was just the sheer size. The St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon, in comparison, seemed like the tip of a pen.

Flying in, one sees sprawling Cape Coral, once scrub and swamp, now carved with canals and spotted with endless houses. Like Port St Lucie on steroids. On the ground, four lane highways run through neighborhoods walled with strip malls. But old Florida houses are here and there, and one can tell this place was once a quaint hometown tropical paradise.

Remnants of Old Florida remain, a double-headed cabbage palm greeted us along Silver King Boulevard and the adventure began: P102, Inland Powerboat Cruising at the Florida Sailing and Cruising School.

As the old Grand Banks rounded the ben, the conversation went to Punta Rassa. It took me awhile to remember the areas historic importance in Florida and Cuban trade as the destination of the Florida cattle drive, as prominently featured in Patrick Smith’s famous novel,  A Land Remembered. 

 

Screenshot location from my phone

 

So a trawler goes slow, and the dolphins liked playing in the wake of our bow. I was happy to see them after reading about the many killed due to red-tide and blue-green algae outbreaks this past summer. There were dolphins everywhere! Calves and mothers too.

When we finally turned north into Pine Island Sound, again, the scale of the waterways and surrounding lands was amazing. I cannot imagine what a fishing haven this place was in its day! There could not be a more perfect combination of rivers, sounds, bays, and barrier islands.

Eventually, we made it north beyond Useppa, the once fishing camp of famed Florida developer Barron Collier, and up to Cayo Costa, a seven mile long state park. We anchored in Pelican Bay and then Ed and I made to the park’s dock. Looking down into shallow salty waters I saw what Captain Glenn said was turtle grass, along with drift algae. There were minnows and a few bigger fish. A good sign, but not particularly healthy looking.

Ironically, our pilot friend, Dave Stone, had sent us an aerial of Cayo Costa showing visible red-tide a couple of days before, so I was curious what Ed and I would see on the Gulf of Mexico side of the island. Thankfully, it was beautiful. I collected shells, admired the bird life, saw a manatee, and got lost in the simple beauty of the place praising those who must have worked miracles to keep it from turning into condominiums and green lawns belching nutrient pollution into the waters.

11-8-18 8000 feet off Captiva and Cayo Costa. Pilot Dave Stone.

 

As much fun as that day was, I was getting sick at the beginning of the trip and now I was coughing out of control. I went to bed early and when I awoke the boat was moving; the sound of the engines humming along.

I peaked my head out seeing a huge expanse of water thinking we were going through the pass between Cayo Costa and Boca Grande.

“Is that the Gulf of Mexico?” I yelled from the cabin excitedly.

“No, it’s Charlotte Harbor,” Ed yelled back. “We’re turning around to visit Useppa.”

The wind blew and the sun shone…

“God, I’m an idiot,” I thought to myself. I just thought Charlotte Harbor was the Gulf of Mexico.”

Things are bigger on the west coast and there’s a lot to learn around here!

 

Links:

Altering the Caloosahatchee: http://nsgl.gso.uri.edu/flsgp/flsgpm02003/flsgpm02003_part4.pdf

Lee County Watersheds: http://www.leegov.com/naturalresources/WaterQuality/watersheds/caloosahatchee