Tuesday and Wednesday, October 16 & 17, 2002
returned to Deep Water Marina to find Kibon very content. DickClifton
had checked her daily, and we were happy to be back home. Even Lucky
appreciated returning to her spot on the counter. Pearce went in to check the
weather on Dick's computer which showed the conditions at each of the buoys in
the Gulf. The prediction was for the winds to be 15 to 20 knots and seas
for 3 to 4 feet. Since the rain was already down-pouring, we decided that
we could spend another day in port. We can't say enough good things about
Deep Water. The marina is a short bit up Scipio Creek off the busy channel, well
protected from any surge, but still an easy walk into town. Actually, we spent
two more days in port and had a chance to spend some time talking with Dick and
Nancy. Since Kay did not want to cross directly to Clearwater, Dick
suggested we continue along the ICW to Carrabelle and cross to Steinhatchee.
He had heard some bad information about the docks at Cedar Key, so he suggested
we then go on to Suwannee or Crystal River. We decided to think about the next
Since the weather in the Gulf was decidedly unfriendly, we felt lucky to
be able visit the town. Apalachicola was founded in 1831 as a port to ship cotton from
the plantations up river. After the Civil War (there are still those who call it The
War Of Northern Aggression), lumber replaced the cotton, the railroads
supplemented the ships, and the town grew into an important port along the
Panhandle Coast. By the time the lumber industry had cut all the pine trees, a third industry was growing.
Shrimp and oysters were being shipped to ports throughout the nation.
Today 90% of the oysters harvested in Florida and 10% of the entire nation’s
oysters come from the waters around Apalachicola.
Some of the buildings date from the early days.
Trinity Episcopal Church was founded in 1836.
It was built in three parts in White Plains, NY, shipped by schooner, and
assembled on the site in 1837. They
call it the “first prefabricated building” in Florida.
The Raney House was built by a businessman for his wife and children in
1838. The City purchased the house
in 1973 and it was recently restored. Trinity
Church and the Raney House have been placed on the National Register of Historic
Another home we visited was The Coombs House Inn where we met Estella Banta,
Resident Innkeeper. Estella gave us a guided tour of the inn which has been
restored and furnished in the late Victorian style.
St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church was organized in
1845. Unfortunately the original
“ornate wooden structure with elaborate stencil work” was replaced in 1929.
The First United Methodist Church, originally built in 1846, was
destroyed by the 1900 fire which also destroyed many other downtown buildings.
The Orman House, also known as Magnolia Hall, was built in 1838 of wood
cut to measure and shipped from New York. It
was recently purchased by the State of Florida and will become a museum.
Many of the other homes have been converted into bed and breakfasts or
other commercial buildings. When we
visited Apalachicola, it was after the summer season and before some of the
annual events that bring many tourists to town.
We were unable to visit the John Gorrie Museum because
it was closed, but it would be an interesting stop. Dr. Gorrie invented an ice machine in an attempt to keep his
yellow fever patients cool. It was
the basis for the ice industry and the development of air conditioning.
The coastline along the Panhandle from Mexico Beach
and Port St. Joe to St. Marks and Wakulla Springs has been called the Forgotten
Coast since the early 1990s when a Florida tourism group skipped the area
extending from Panama
City to Tallahassee in their promotional literature.
Two of the most beautiful and pristine beaches (and listed in the Top Ten
Beaches in the nation) are at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park and St. George
Island State Park. The towns are
proud that they have no parking meters, traffic jams, neon lights, and few
traffic lights. In Apalachicola, for instance, in many store advertisements,
directions are given as, "one block past the traffic light" or
"turn left at the traffic light." Makes it real easy when there's only
one traffic light in town, doesn't it?
Thursday, October 17, 2002
The weather was favorable for a crossing -- sunny, clear,
winds from the northeast at 5 to 10 and the seas were 1 to 2 feet. We got
diesel at Miller's Marine for $1.066 and headed into the Bay. Just as we
made the turn to head toward St. George Sound we heard Howard Burdick of Seaburds
calling Miller Marine. We turned around and headed back
to spend an hour catching up with where Jane and Howard had spent the weeks
since we last saw them. They planned to spend the next two nights in
Apalachicola and Carrabelle, but maybe we'll meet again in Tarpon Springs.
We headed back out to East Pass opposite Carrabelle. Pearce then ran the
10 meter depth line to Steinhatchee. We went up the River looking at
marinas. We went under the bridge and bumped something 30 feet past
it. We later heard that when the new bridge was built the old one was just
dropped in the water! There is a narrow channel through there, but you
have to be local to know it. We turned around, went back to a bend in the
river and anchored out of the channel. Pearce put out a small stern anchor so he
could set up the TV dish. Before we went to bed, he pulled that anchor so
we could swing in the wind that had come up. We swung onto a lump of
oysters and got hung up at low tide the next morning. Tide! Oh, yes, that thing that goes
up and down every day. We haven't seen much of that for so long we had
forgotten... Luckily it was coming in, so in an hour or so we were off the
Steinhatchee was a fishing village and its 1000 residents still depend on the
fishing industry. It is "beginning to wake up" and become a
tourist town according to one
local who moved here a few years ago and bought a marina. Gary Estes says
the property values have increased 400% and are still climbing. His Gulfstream
Motel and Marina is only two years old and is growing. It's not in the
guidebooks yet, but can be reached by phone at 352-498-8088 or VHF channel 9.
He has new docks with 15 feet of water, a restaurant, gas ($1.79) and diesel
($1.29), and a courtesy car. Steinhatchee has restaurants, a grocery store, gift shops,
a bank, a post office, and no traffic lights. Well worth the stopover,
Friday, October 18, 2002
As soon as the tide came up we headed back out into the
Gulf. The wind was a little stronger (10 to 15) and the waves a little
higher (2 to 3 feet). Pearce had bought some new lures and tried trolling
for a while. No luck, so he kicked Kibon up on a plane, and we headed for
Cedar Key. We had been told in Apalachicola that the people on the dock at
Cedar Key were unfriendly and stole things off the boats. Gary in
Steinhatchee said he hadn't heard any stories like that since he's been
here. We came into the dock which was full of fishermen. While no
one helped us with our lines, no one made any threatening motions either.
There were two boats here already and several more came in before evening.
There are two electrical hook-ups. One is on the end of the dock with 2 50
amp outlets, and there is a 15 amp outlet on the side of the restrooms.
The only water is in the restroom from the spigot under the sink. We tied
up, locked the boat just in case, and walked up the street next to the
dock. There are motels, restaurants, and gift shops on this street.
We met the dock master, "Baby" Stephens, when we came back after an early
dinner. He comes by the marina once a day to collect the fees: $3 for
boats under 26 feet, $5 for boats up to 40 feet, and $10 for boats over 40
feet. No charge for electricity. He told us that it is more
comfortable to be on the inside if the winds are from the south, but since the
prediction was for winds from the northeast we stayed on the outside. One
of the spots near the 50 amp outlet was occupied by a fishing boat that had loud
music and beer drinking occupants. We preferred to stay
him. By the way, Baby's grandfather called him Baby, and the name stuck --
he's a grandfather himself now.
Saturday, October 19, 2002
After all these months of traveling and seeing posters for
special events that have just happened or are scheduled in the weeks to come, we
found that Cedar Key's Seafood Festival was scheduled for this weekend. So
we stayed another day, and walked through the town visiting the craft and food
booths. We visited the Historical Society and found that the town was
established in 1845 by Augustus Steel on Atsena Otie, which is a derivation of
the Creek Indian name for Cedar Island. The area had already been a supply
depot in the 1830s. A railroad was built from Fernandina on the east coast
to the present site of Cedar Key. The dock and the adjacent street are
built on the old railroad foundations. The Faber Pencil Company and
Suwannee Lumber Mills were among the many businesses that flourished during the
second half of the nineteenth century. Fishing, oystering, boat building,
and tourists were industries that grew during that time. A hurricane in
1896 destroyed the pencil and lumber buildings on Atsena Otie, and the key was abandoned
and has since become a National Wildlife Refuge. Cedar Key became the
site for homes and industry.
Tourism is growing here as in many of the towns along this "Nature
Coast." Another industry that is growing is Shellfish
Aquaculture. This county produces the greatest number of hard clams in the
state. A record of 100 million harvested clams was established in
1997. Seed clams are protected from predators with cover nets and take
from 12 to 18 months to grow to harvest size. The favorable weather of
Florida produces clams more quickly than other eastern states. We tasted
some of these small succulent clams which were steamed at the Festival.
Although they needed no dip or topping, Pearce had had them served with marinara
and garlic bread last night. He declared they were very good, too.
Cedar Key has a grocery store with fresh meat and produce. It's a several
block walk from the dock -- a nice bicycle ride. Bicycles are a good way
to tour the Key, but there are also golf carts for rent. We saw a small
transit bus but forgot to ask where, when, or how much. We stopped at the
Island Hotel & Restaurant for lunch. It was constructed in 1859 from
seashell tabby. Perhaps because it is several blocks in town and does not
sit out on the docks, it has survived all the hurricanes that have come through
this area. We visited the many art galleries and were tempted by several
items. We can always come back by car when we decide what our wall space
is in the condo.
Sunday, October 20, 2002
The weather report in the Gulf is 4 knots of wind and seas less that 1
foot. Since we also see some showers and thunderstorms coming over from
Louisiana, we filled our water tank and left. We definitely recommend a
stop in Cedar Key. There's no apparent limit on a stay. Baby, the dock master,
was reluctant to take our money. He said the University students used to
leave their boats here for the winter, so the town had to impose some kind of
fee. They're happy to see people come in with money to spend.
We traveled 10 miles south and then drifted while Pearce fished. One of
the fishermen on the dock had given him a bag of shrimp last night, so Pearce
had to try it. He caught several fish (six) but he decided they really
needed to grow up. Then the coral started eating his line, so we took off
again. When we came into Cedar Key Friday night we bounced three times in
the Northwest Channel off Piney Point between buoys #17A/18 and #19/20. We
draw 4 and 1/2 feet. It was a falling-just-past-mid tide. When we
left Cedar Key we went out the Main Ship Channel to bouy #1 where Pearce headed
south 10 miles to the entrance to the channel into the Withlacoochee
River. We followed that for four miles and then cut across to the entrance
buoys for Crystal River while watching the depth sounder for shallower
areas. It is 20 miles from the entrance buoy #3 in the Gulf at the
Withlacoochee River to the head of the Crystal River in King's Bay. The
depth sounder briefly showed 3 feet under our keel, but it was usually 6 or more
We're tied up at Pete's Pier Marina, $25 a day, $100 a week. No size
differential. Gas is $1.79 and diesel is $1.25. We are very well
protected from winds if they should come up. There is a restaurant nearby,
and the town is somewhere. We didn't travel very far today because we
spent several hours bobbing gently in the Gulf, so if we decide to stay through
tomorrow, we'll look for the town. The guide book talks about
"spectacular caverns" where you can look down from the surface and see
"springs 60 feet under." We saw a boat that advertised Scuba
Manatee Dives. This is a winter haven for Manatees and there are many
restriction speed signs off the main channel. We've seen Dolphins out in
the bay, but no Manatees yet.
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