From the Bilge is where we post picture(s) that we have not used, that don’t fit into any specific blog post or that highlight some of our favorite places. The pictures might not be stunning, but they will recall something we think is worth sharing. We hope you enjoy these non-chronological items as they pop up From the Bilge.
Stiltsville as seen from the bow of LIB.
During our ICW travels in Miami-Dade County, we saw buildings in the distance that were built over the water. At the time, I had no idea what they were, but I have since learned a bit about their history.
Approximately a mile south of Cape Florida on the “Safety Valve,” the shallow sand flats that run along the Florida coast near Biscayne Bay, is a group of buildings built on stilts.
In the early 1930s a man named “Crawfish” Eddie Walker built a shack on stilts and from there he sold fish bait, beer and his own famous crawfish dish called chilau. “Crawfish” built his shack toward the end of Prohibition and because it was a mile off the coast, gambling was legal. Although I didn’t read that gambling actually took place there, one imagines there was a reason “Crawfish” chose to be a mile away from shore.
Soon a few of “Crawfish’s” friends also built buildings on stilts. The area took on a life of its’ own and at is largest, around 1960, Stiltsville had 27 buildings!
Image taken from Google search.
Fairly early on, some clubs were built in Stiltsville including The Calvert Club whose members were from the Miami Beach Rod and Reel Club.
The most upscale club I read about was The Quarter Deck which was built in the 1940s. Membership for The Quarter Deck was by invitation only and required a membership fee of $150. The Quarter Deck became one of the most popular spots in Miami and I would wager the crowd was considered a bit ‘racy.’
An excerpt from an article about Stiltsville in a 1941 LIFE magazine read, “extraordinary American community dedicated solely to sunlight, salt water and the well-being of the human spirit.” The club was described as “a $100,000 play-palace equipped with bar, lounge, bridge deck, dining room and dock slips for yachts”.Stiltsville was immensely popular with the well connected and monied crowd in the 1940s and ’50s but the area was damaged by Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and other subsequent storms.
Fortunately before Stiltsville declined completely and the Florida government abolished the rights of owners to maintain the remaining buildings, a last ditch effort to save Stiltsville and claim it as historically significant succeeded.
Today Stiltsville is part of the Stiltsville Trust whose stated purpose it to preserve the seven buildings that remain of the area.
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Dawn at Sisters Creek Dock
While the beauty and variety of the ICW changes daily and is still captivating, I’m beginning to feel like I am back in school preparing book reports or history reports. I am far from a history scholar, yet every post while traveling the ICW could become a mini U.S. history lesson. This week instead of reviewing any history of the cities we visited, I am simply going to share some photos of the places we have seen this week.
Several Rally members joined us on a Red Train tour of the city
St. Augustine was founded 55 years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and is the oldest city in the U.S. Needless to say, a broad scope of history is available. We spent our first day touring the city on the Red Train which allows you to get on and off the tram at about 20 stops around St. Augustine. (Ok, a tiny bit of history. It’s hard to avoid.)
Flagler Hotel had electric lights four years before the White House!
Our day was filled with variety as we visited the pirate museum, a micro brewery, Flagler Hotel constructed in 1887 (and now part of Flagler College) and meandered through the pedestrian street filled with shops and restaurants.
Rather impressive doorway in Flagler College.
Flagler Hotel was the most impressive building I have seen on this trip. The architecture was interesting and such famous people were involved in its’ construction! The electrical system was installed by none other than Thomas Edison! If that isn’t impressive enough, the windows, in what was originally a ballroom and is now the college cafeteria, were created and installed by Louis C. Tiffany. In fact, Flagler College has the largest collection of Tiffany stain glass windows and was filmed by The Antiques Road Show in 2013. We were unable to go into the cafeteria to see the stain glass windows, dang it.
Sample time delighted Ron, Mindy, Frank and Tom.
Late afternoon several of us toured the St. Augustine Distillery. Specializing in whiskey, rum, vodka and gin, this small company ustilizes local ingredients and is housed in a historical building that was once an ice house. The tour was short and the guide animated and entertaining. I must admit, to me, the samples were aweful, but that might be because I don’t drink any of those spirits. 😉
A very clean pedestrian shopping area
Our final night in St. Augustine was also the final night for a couple of our Rally boats. In celebration, or was it tourture, the group went to a local kareokee bar. A few in the group demonstrated their considerable talent, while others shared more enthusiasm than vocal prowress. It was a very fun evening and a unique way to send off a few friends.
This barely touches what St. Augustine has to offer. It would be easy to spend a lot of time in St. Augustine.
Screened pool, must be Florida.
Back on the ICW, I really feel like I am in Florida because most of the pools are enclosed by screens. Florida was the first place I saw personal pools covered and screened. We have seen a lot of screened pools in the last week, so I know I am in Florida.
Stay between the red and green buoys!
Florida is, of course, full of waterways. Most of them are wide and look inviting, but actually they are often very shallow and have shoals that must be avoided. Fortunately the waterway is pretty well marked but following the buoys is not intuitive. In the picture above, the first two buoys are red and should be kept to starboard (right) but the third one is green and should be kept to port (left). It is disconcerting to look down a wide river but intentionally get this close to a beach. We did follow the path and, though the water was only a few feet deeper than our keel, we made it through without grounding.
BRIDGES! Thank you to Frank for having our mast shipped to Miami. We only thought we had seen bridges in other states. Florida accounts for two-thirds of the bridges on the whole ICW. If you don’t think worrying about bridges adds to a sailors stress, think again.
Many sailboats have masts that only fit under a fixed bridge at low tide so they have to study the height of each bridge and plan arriving at said bridge according to when the tide is low. Of course, these same boats have drafts of 4′-6.5′ which means they also have to be concerned about not running aground at low tide.
Add to this that many bridges are opening bridges and too low to pass under when closed, so they must time their approach to coincide with bridge schedules. For example, today we are traveling only 21 miles but we have six bridges to navigate…. yep, I am very thankful LIB has been mastless on this trip. We have affectionately referred to LIB as our “neutered cat.”
Thankfully nothing developed from this threatening weather anchored near Daytona.
We spent several days in Cocoa Village taking advantage of the quaint downtown area and long bike friendly roads along the waterfront. The city of Cocoa Village rolled out the red carpet for our Rally, arranging welcoming receptions, dinners, space center tours and much more. In a state where so many cities are shunning transient boaters, Cocoa Village welcomed us very warmly and is doing all they can to encourage boaters to stop and enjoy their waterfront.
Frank and I took advantage of Cocoa’s proximity to Orlando to go visit some of our friends there. I was lucky enough to have my visit to Orlando coincide with an annual lunch my tennis friends share. About 12 ladies gathered for lunch and I had a great time reconnecting with this fun loving, welcoming group.
We also met with our favoirite neighbors in Orlando. Thank you to the Mosley Family for squeezing us into your very busy schedule. It was a blast catching up and seeing how grown up the kids are!
Although the rest of the group chose to stay an extra night in Cocoa Village, Frank and I pressed on the Vero Beach. This popular stop is often referred to as Velcro Beach because many boaters stop here and end up staying for a very long time. We wanted to see why this town had earned the moniker.
Vero Beach anchorage from the bridge.
We had a great time exploring Vero Beach on our bikes. The town appears to be somewhat divided with the ocean area on the east side of the ICW and the main town on the west side. We spent a long day exploring both area from our bicycles.
One bonus was meeting with some folks we had known in Coppell. Bev and Bob had left Coppell years ago to, wait for it…. go sailing! Yep, they spent about 4 years traveling about on their sailboat before Velcro Beach caught them and they returned to land.
We apprecaited their time and the experience they shared.
Notice all of these moored boats are sharing a ball.
Velcro is such a small anchorage that the mooring balls placed by the marina are usually shared by several boats. This is the first time I have seen “assigned rafting” in a mooring field. Of course we have seen boats choose to share and anchor or mooring ball, but I had not seen a marina assign raft up buddies.
If anyone is wondering how Captain is fairing, she is QUITE comfortable on the boat these days. Before the ICW, she tended to get a little nervous while under motor, but after more than 1,000 StM, she has become very accustomed to the engine. In fact, we would say she is a little too comfortable as you can see from this picture taken while underway. (We did immediately call her down from the pulpit and put on her life jacket.)
Fun pics from this week:
LIB passing the StM 1,000 mark on our chart.
I liked the way the ferns grew on the trees in Velcro Beach