Tag Archives: Trawler

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….

 

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

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

It was 9:36 am, September 3, 2020, and we were preparing to leave the Harborage Marina in our hometown of Stuart. The sun blazed down upon me as I  stood on the bow of the Mainship 400 trawler we had christened ADRIFT. The day had arrived. Ed and I were off -for three weeks- to experience our first real boating adventure- the Southern Loop. 

Ed yelled down from the helm. “So you know what to do, right?”

“Of course Captain!” I reviewed: 1. Check wind and tide direction. 2. Release the stern spring line. 3. Release the the bow spring line. 4. Release the bow line. 5. Release the stern line. 6. Make sure boat is clearing the dock. 7. Relay message to Captain. 

“Aye, Aye, Captain!” I yelled back over the sound of the diesel engine. Then just to tease him, I asked: “Is it the front, or back spring line first?”

Ed did not smile…the motor growled, I moved starboard, quickly, carefully, and methodically removing some lines from their cleats and bringing others on board.

The trawler inched forward like a sputtering whale. 

“You’re clear!” I yelled, watching the transom just miss the dock piling.  

We slowly motored out against the tide, and our adventure had begun. I walked to the bow looking over the wide and beautiful St Lucie. The trip through the St Lucie, the Jupiter Narrows, the Loxahatchee, Lake Worth, and the canal-like portion of the Intercostal Waterway to Boyton would be familiar, but from there it was all new territory.

  1. St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon looking towards St Luice Inlet

2. Jupiter Narrows entering Loxahatchee and Jupiter Inlet area

3. Jupiter Lighthouse first lit in 1860, Loxahatchee River

4. Channelized ICW from Loxahatchee River in Jupiter south to Lake Worth

5. Lake Worth

6. Port of Palm Beach just west of Peanut Island and inlet

7. Lake Worth, the Alba Hotel, built in 1926, is today’s Biltmore Condominium 

Ed, and I planned for our Southern Loop adventure for over a year. We took hands-on classes. We altered our schedules. We read books. Most important, we promised not to kill each other. 

This blog series is meant to share our adventure and learn about our South Florida  waterways with the help of an incredible book I read along the way, Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades, written by five South Florida Water Management District scientists, led by Christopher McCoy. 

By the time we arrived at Boyton Harbor Marina the sun was setting. It was time to have a cocktail at a classic establishment, the Banana Boat or TWO GEORGES, historically Lyman’s Commercial Fishing Dock, now part of the Community Redevelopment Area. 

A moist breeze filled the air. Ed inquired. “What’s our water lesson today?”

I took a deep swig of my daiquiri, “Well something new I learned is that there used to be a chain of ponds just west of here. Extensive. 20 miles of them! 2 miles wide…

Boyton sits not too far below Lake Worth in Palm Beach County. Chris McVoy’s book notes that in this area, not only was Lake Worth opened up to the ocean, and the gigantic arm of the Loxahatchee Slough -once connected with the Everglades- swallowed up by development, but  there was a  twenty mile chain of freshwater ponds – also described as a sawgrass marsh- just west of here, and now it’s the area of Congress Boulevard!”

“Really,” replied Ed. He took a swig of his beer. We drained the swamp right?”

My brain was frozen. “Sometimes I wish we didn’t. Not so much anyway…”

The two images above are from Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades and compare the area from the Loxahatchee to the Freshwater Ponds east of the Northern Everglades from 1850 to present. The contrasting images reveal many aspects of the environment that we don’t think about today. Going clockwise from noon. The connection of the C-44 to the St Lucie River; the channelization for the ICW along Florida’s east coast; the cutting of pine and cypress forests; the “disappearance” of the Loxahatchee Slough’s giant red arm up from the Everglades and across Palm Beach County to the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter; the replacement of the sawgrass plains with the Everglades Agricultural Area; the man-made inlets and the opening to the ocean of Lake Worth; and last but not least, the very rarely talked about chain of freshwater ponds that that have been drained and are now the area of Congress Boulvard. All of the drainage allows us to live here and helped agriculture in the past; however we have impaired our waters. Images, pages 48 &49, Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades, SFWMD, Christopher McVoy and others, 2011. 

Red lines equal pre-drainage boarder of the Everglades; yellow lines equal pre-drainage landscape boundaries: primarily sawgrass plains and Ridge and Slough with visible tree islands of which east coast development has heavily encroached. You can see the WCA (water conservation areas) along eastern Atlantic Ridge. You can recognize this because they are the only areas with ridge and slough water pattern remaining. These areas, although protected, are now water impoundments since the ACOE built the Central and South Florida Project after the 1947 flood. Tomorrow, we will learn how the Everglades’ waters once exited to the Atlantic Ocean right through parts of Florida’s east coast when we continue our trip from Boyton to Biscayne Bay/Miami! 

 

Adrift’s Indian River Lagoon Water Report, June-July 2019

July 5, 2019

Hi. I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July! Wasn’t it exceptional? Exceptional because the St Lucie/IRL’s water wasn’t toxic like so many times in recent years. So nice to be able to enjoy our waterways. No dumping of Lake O. I am grateful!

Today I am a back with an Indian River Lagoon Report for the entire Indian River Lagoon.

During my husband, Ed, and my recent 156 miles trip up the IRL, aboard ADRIFT, I contacted Duane DeFreese Ph.D., Executive Director for the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program. I called Duane because I knew why the southern lagoon looked better but was impressed by how good the water in the central and northern lagoon looked as well. No brown tide. No superbloom.

Since am unfamiliar with the waters north of the Treasure Coast, except by books, I wanted a scientific update. Well, boy, did I get it! See Dr. Duane’s comments below. Also included is the invaluable, recent St John’s Water Management District’s “June 20th Indian River Lagoon Conditions Update.”

For visual input as well, I am inserting some of Ed and my photos, with comments, of our incredible journey along what is still considered to be one of the world’s most biodiverse estuaries. What a treasure! From north to south, we must do all we can to ensure a toxic-free future.

Keep up the fight!

Jacqui

IRL map: Researchgate

Ed and JTL start of the trip on “Adrift.”

Location: Jupiter Island near the Jupiter Inlet, as almost always the water here is like the Bahamas, looking great! Near the border of Martin and Palm Beach Counties.

Near Jupiter Inlet, border of Martin and Palm Beach Counties. Wow!

JTL:

Duane, hi. Hope you are having a great summer. At this time, are there algae blooms reported in the IRL near Melbourne, the N. IRL north of Titusville, or anywhere in the Mosquito Lagoon? Thank you for letting me know. Jacqui TL

Duane DeFreese, Ph.D. Exec. Dir National IRL Estuary Program, http://www.irlcouncil.com

Conditions being reported to me by the local guides are consistent with the report and my own observations. Overall water quality looks pretty good, but small, patchy areas of poor water quality continue. The fishing guides tell me one day it looks great and a day later the same area will have color and turbidity (probably patchy bloom conditions). My personal observation is that we have been lucky so far and the system is vulnerable. I would not be surprised to see blooms intensify as we move deeper into summer and the rainy season. Lagoon water temperatures are also really warm. the SJRWMD Report documents that we have had patchy blooms occurring of multiple species. Two confirmed species of concern are Pseudo-nitzschia, a marine diatom and Pyrodinium bahamensis, a dinoflagellate. The worst water conditions continue to be in Banana River and in Sykes Creek. There are boater reports of patchy poor water quality in some areas of the northern IRL. The third species of significant recent concern has been Brown tide (Aureoumbra lagunendis). It was in almost in continuous bloom for most of last year in the Banana River. Bloom conditions have subsided. Aureoumbra thrives in warm, high salinity environments. It is not known to be toxic. Blooms of pseudo nitzschia, a marine diatom, can produce a neurotoxin called domoic acid. Blooms of Pyrodinium can produce saxitoxin. I expect that we will see patchy and flashy bloom conditions of multiple species throughout the summer. If we get lucky, I hope none of these blooms get intense enough to elevate toxin levels, low DO levels and fish kills. I’m very concerned about the slow recovery of seagrasses, even in areas of good water quality. Feel free to call me anytime.  Have a great 4th July!

Indian River Lagoon Conditions Update June 20

JTL:

Dear Duane, thank you so very much for the super informative reply! I wrote because my husband and I are taking our maiden voyage in a trawler. We have gone from Stuart to Jupiter to Vero to Cocoa, north as far as possible in IRL, past Titusville, and today-through the Haul-over Canal into the Mosquito Lagoon. Not being familiar with these waters, all I have seen visually appears quite good compared to the St Lucie and even parts of the S. IRL. Some varying coloration is apparent, but overall seems good and in the north, many baitfish balls are shimmering under the surface and dolphin families are gorging themselves and teaching their young! We have seen many dolphins everywhere. Throughout Indin River County, Ospreys nesting in channel markers. One after the other!  In the Mosquito Lagoon there were many more wading birds than S IRL. Even saw a few roseate spoonbills. I was not expecting it to be so full of life up here… a nice surprise. Not off the chart healthy, but marine and bird life very visible! I really appreciate the info you sent. I plan to blog on trip once home, so I can quote your knowledge. Happy 4th of July to you as well and I hope to see you soon.

 

The confluence of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon off S. Sewall’s Point, Bird Island. Near Stuart, Martin County.

Sewall’s Point and Stuart, Martin County.

Beautiful blue water near the Ft Pierce Inlet, St Lucie County. Ft Pierce rocks!

Waters of Vero Beach, Indian River County.

Old map showing the designated area of famous INDIAN RIVER LAGOON CITRUS. Citrus Museum, Vero Beach, FL

1920 Blue Heron Map shows clearly the area of the Everglades, Heritage Center and Citrus Museum, Vero.

Street sign in Vero Beach, as everywhere ALL canals lead to Lagoon! No trash, fertilizer, pesticides, etc!

Sebastian Inlet, Indian River County, brings blue waters to the area. So pretty!

Approaching Cocoa Village, north of Melbourne in Brevard County.

Waters nearing Cocoa Village in Brevard County

Ed and I visited the Kennedy Space Center along the Indian River Lagoon and Banana River. Surrounded by the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Space & Nature. https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Merritt_Island/visit/plan_your_visit.html Such an inspiration!

3-D movie at Kennedy Space Center really took us to the moon, Mars, and beyond!

The ominous Vehicle Assemble Building, NASA, so large it is visible no matter where one is are along the central and northern IRL. It’s like it is following you!

Eau Gallie, Melbourne. The Eau Gallie River, or Turkey Creek,  is a small version of the St Lucie and also impaired due to runoff from agriculture and development.

Like a sentinel, the Vehicle Assembly Building as seen over the Indian River Lagoon north of Titusville.

Baitfish!

Waters approaching Titusville, Brevard County.

Train track bridge north of Titusville, Brevard County.

Train track bridge north of Titusville, Brevard County. Shortly beyond channel turns right through the Haulover Canal and into the Mosquito Lagoon.

Ed navigates through the Haulover Canal, connecting the northern IRL with the Mosquito Lagoon.

Water in the Haulover Canal was greenish.

Entering the stunningly beautiful, peaceful, undeveloped Mosquito Lagoon. This area is flanked by the Scottsmoor Flatwoods Sanctuary and Canaveral National Seashore. Wildlife abounds.

360 of the unforgettable Mosquito Lagoon:

Flora and fauna along shoreline, Mosquito Lagoon

Anhinga twins, Mosquito Lagoon

Incredible footage of 4 dolphins in our wake near Ft Pierce welcoming us home!

ADRIFT is a 2007 Mainship 400 trawler, top speed about 8 knots 🙂

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