BEACHES, HIGHRISES, MANSIONS, AND MEGAYACHTS

Post #45:  BEACHES, HIGHRISES, MANSIONS, & MEGAYACHTS – Day 293, February 21, 2015.  On Board:  Bob Hall, Audrey Hall, Carly Hall, Pat Coates, Paul Coates, Trish K, Jim K.

The Gold Coast – the Atlantic shore from Miami to Palm Beach – is a seemingly unbroken span of incredibly beautiful sand beaches, highrise condominiums of every design and description, beautiful mansions perched on the water’s edge, and sleek megayachts that confound the imagination. The barrier islands are home to the beaches, and the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) is the conduit that ties it all together.

We spent six days with seven of us aboard running from Miami to Palm Beach, with stops at Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Deerfield Beach, and the Palm Beach area. Here is our crew:

Our "Gang of Seven" - from left to right: Carly Hall, Trish K., Audrey Hall, Bob Hall, Pat Coates, Jim K, Paul in front

Our “Gang of Seven” – from left to right: Carly Hall, Trish K., Audrey Hall, Bob Hall, Pat Coates, Jim K, Paul in front

The boat is designed to sleep six when the dining area is converted to a bed, so with seven aboard, someone sleeps on the floor. I had the honor at times over the summer and fall, but Carly won out this time:

A cushy air mattress, a sleeping bag, and a pillow makes for a cozy night!

A cushy air mattress, a sleeping bag, and a pillow makes for a cozy night!

The ICW on the Gold Coast stretch from Miami to Palm Beach is unlike any other area we’ve seen – for nearly the entire 70 miles, the ICW is within seawalls on both sides and is fully developed, ranging from single family homes to older 70’s-style mid or low rise apartments/condominiums to magnificent highrise buildings lining both shores.  here are some images from the Gold Coast ICW:

The high rise buildings can be dated by the style of the architecture - each successive decade gats higher and more elegant.

The high rise buildings can be dated by the style of the architecture – each successive decade gats higher and more elegant.

Many, many houses of this style and size line segments of the ICW.

Many, many houses of this style and size line segments of the ICW.

No description needed -

They must have a big family….

This house was an aberration in terms of architecture - there are very few truly modern-style house along the way

This house was an aberration in terms of architecture – there are very few truly modern-style house along the way

We looked up this house on the internet - located in Deerfield Beach with the oceanfront beach in back and a dock for a megayacht in front, it is the most expensive house currently on the market in the entire USA. With 8 bedrooms and 13 baths, it can be had for a mere $139 million. Maybe the seller would take back a second mortgage....

We looked up this house on the internet – located in Deerfield Beach with the oceanfront beach in back and a dock for a megayacht in front, it is the most expensive house currently on the market in the entire USA. With 8 bedrooms and 13 baths, it can be had for a mere $139 million. Maybe the seller would take back a second mortgage….

Speaking of megayachts....we saw literally hundreds of them in various locations along this stretch.  Notice the helicopter on the rear landing pad....

Speaking of megayachts….we saw literally hundreds of them in various locations along this stretch. Notice the helicopter on the rear landing pad….

A hundred or more megayachts for sale at the Miami Boat Show

A hundred or more megayachts for sale at the Miami Boat Show

Our own little "megayacht" Bob Hall driving the Joint Adventure, which seemed big until we saw it next to al these real megayachts.  However, when docking in a tight slip with a current and a crosswind - the Joint Adventure still seems mighty big....

Our own little “megayacht” – Bob Hall driving the Joint Adventure, which seemed big until we saw it next to all these real megayachts. However, when docking in a tight slip with a current and a crosswind – the Joint Adventure still seems mighty big….

The other dominant feature of the Gold Coast ICW is the ubiquitous drawbridges - we must have passed through 50 bridges.  While we can pass under some, we required an opening from 20 or so of the bridges. Most are restricted to two openings per hour, so progress can be slow at times.

The other dominant feature of the Gold Coast ICW is the ubiquitous drawbridges – we must have passed through 50 of them. While we can pass under some, we required an opening from 25 or so of the bridges. Most are restricted to two openings per hour, so progress can be slow at times.

Bob & Audrey along the ICW

Bob & Audrey pose along the ICW while waiting for a bridge opening

Our first stop after leaving Miami was Hollywood, Florida, founded by a man named Joseph Young in the 1920’s. He originally named it Hollywood By the Sea – the “Hollywood” part because he planned to build a motion picture colony on the East Coast, patterned after Hollywood, California;  the “By the Sea” part to distinguish it from a similar venture called “Hollywood In the Hills” in New York.  Hollywood today is the 12th largest city in Florida and boasts fantastic beaches and perhaps the best boardwalk (along with Fort Lauderdale)for walking and biking with sand and waves on one side and restaurants, pubs, and shops on the other. Here are some images from our visit:

We parked our bikes on the edge of the paved "boardwalk" along the beach while we indulged in - you guessed it - ice cream!

We parked our bikes on the edge of the paved “boardwalk” along the beach while we indulged in – you guessed it – ice cream!

Letting the ice cream settle while we enjoy the scenery and the people-watching.  From left to right:  Bob, Audrey, & Carly Hall, Trish K.

Letting the ice cream settle while we enjoy the scenery and the people-watching. From left to right: Bob, Audrey, & Carly Hall, Trish K.

I couldn't resist a swim in the turquois water -

I couldn’t resist a swim in the turquois water – it may have felt a bit chilly when I first got in….

 

Our next stop was downtown Fort Lauderdale, about 2 miles up the New River. We experienced a special treat here – our good and longtime friends from our younger skiing days, Bruce & Gayleen Donadt, sold their house, their cars, and their worldly possessions three years ago and bought a 41′ sailboat. They live year-round on the SV Pearl, cruising the East coast and the Bahamas. They were headed south along the coast waiting for a favorable weather window to cross the Gulf Stream, and we, of course, are slowly heading north. So with a bit of planning, our paths crossed in Fort Lauderdale, and we headed up the New River where they were docked to spend a day and evening catching up and breaking bread together.  Here are some pictures:

Bruce & Gayleen aboard their home and their mode of transportation, the SV Pearl - she's a 41' Morgan with a 14' beam - very seaworthy. Gayleen had little sailing experience before they moved aboard, but her adventurous spirit and quick-learner ability has turned her into an "old salt", although she's actually quite young, like the rest of us...

Bruce & Gayleen aboard their home and their mode of transportation, the SV Pearl – she’s a 41′ Morgan with a 14′ beam – very seaworthy. Gayleen had little sailing experience before they moved aboard, but her adventurous spirit and quick-learning ability has turned her into an “old salt”, although she’s actually quite young, like the rest of us…

Getting a tour and reminiscing in the cockpit of the Pearl.

Getting a tour and reminiscing in the cockpit of the Pearl. From left to right:  Gayleen, Carly, Audrey, Bruce, Bob, Trish in front.

Bruce giving a tour of the main salon, the primary inside living space on the Pearl. The 14' beam creates a spacious and comfortable place to hang out.

Bruce giving a tour of the main salon, the primary inside living space on the Pearl. The 14′ beam creates a spacious and comfortable place to hang out.

After visiting the Pearl, we congregated later in the afternoon for Happy Hour aboard the Joint Adventure - Paul's brother Steve and his lovely bride Sue came down from Tampa to be with us as well.  Left to right: Carly, Gayleen, Steve Coates, Bob, Audrey, Bruce

After visiting the Pearl, we congregated later in the afternoon for Happy Hour aboard the Joint Adventure – Paul’s brother Steve and his lovely bride Sue came down from Tampa to be with us as well. Left to right: Carly, Gayleen, Steve Coates, Bob, Audrey, Bruce

From Happy Hour to dinner for 11- good food, good drinks, great company:  From left to right: Trish K. Sue Coates, Pat Coates, Bob Hall, Audrey Hall, Carly Hall, Gayleen Donadt, Bruce Donadt, Jim K, Paul Coates, Steve Coates.

From Happy Hour to dinner for 11 of us – good food, good drinks, great company: From left to right: Trish K. Sue Coates, Pat Coates, Bob Hall, Audrey Hall, Carly Hall, Gayleen Donadt, Bruce Donadt, Jim K, Paul Coates, Steve Coates.

Let's label this "Bad Hair Day".  Or perhaps "The Two Losers in the Hair Beautiful Contest".  Or maybe "My Long Lost Brother". Or maybe you can suggest a caption... Anyway, Roberto was the Owner of the Pirate restaurant where we had dinner and others couldn't resist documenting the resemblance....

Let’s label this picture “Bad Hair Day”. Or perhaps “The Two Losers in the Hair Beautiful Contest”. Or maybe “My Long Lost Brother”. Or maybe you can suggest a caption… Anyway, Roberto was the Owner of the Pirate restaurant where the 11 of us had dinner. Some in our group couldn’t resist documenting the resemblance, though I don’t see it….

The New River

Transiting the New River is a trip all its own – A significant current, narrow passages, plenty of boat traffic, and an abundance of draw bridges all add to the fun….

The New River

The New River through downtown Fort Lauderdale

From our dockage on the New River, we ran just 3 miles to a marina on the ICW, right next to Fort Lauderdale Beach – another of the great beaches and paved boardwalks along the sand.  Here are some pictures from our stay:

The beach is very active, with plenty of restaurants, shops, and pubs along the boardwalk and plenty of hotels and condominiums overlooking the beach.

The beach is very active, with plenty of restaurants, shops, and pubs along the great paved boardwalk and plenty of hotels and condominiums overlooking the beach.

Fort Lauderdale Beach at its best...

Fort Lauderdale Beach at its best…

Swimming amongst the waves -

Swimming amongst the waves – Pat, Audrey, and Jim K

Miami and Fort Lauderdale are Kings of the Cruise Ship industry - an enormous cruise ship leaving through the Fort Lauderdale inlet

Miami and Fort Lauderdale are Kings of the cruise ship industry – an enormous cruise ship leaving through the Fort Lauderdale inlet

While in Fort Lauderdale, we took the dingy out for a spin. We carry her on a davit, and it takes about 5-10 minutes to untie her and lower her into the water. There is a pulley on each end to facilitate the process. Carrying her on a davit allows us to leave the motor on the dingy so we don't have to lug it on and off and find a place to store it.

While in Fort Lauderdale, we took the dingy out for a spin. We carry her on a davit, and it takes about 5-10 minutes to untie her and lower her into the water. There is a pulley on each end to facilitate the process. Carrying her on a davit allows us to leave the motor on the dingy so we don’t have to lug it on and off and find a place to store it.

An interesting anecdote regarding Fort Lauderdale Beach. Up until the early 1960’s, Fort Lauderdale beach, like most beaches in the South, were segregated – blacks – called “Coloreds” back then – were prohibited from entering or using the beach. In 1954, the County had purchased an isolated section of the beach for Coloreds, promising to build a beach access, tables, restrooms, shelters, and fresh water at what became known as “Colored Beach”.  However, nothing was built, so on July 4, 1961, a group that started with 3 activists and 4 college students staged a “wade-in” at Fort Lauderdale beach as a protest. The group soon grew to over 200 African-Americans who staged a series of “wade-ins” during July & August of 1961. On August 12, 1961, the City of Fort Lauderdale filed suit in an attempt to stop the “wade-ins” and prevent the “Coloreds” from using the beach. A year later, the court denied the City’s request, issuing a decision which effectively desegregated the County’s beaches and marked a turning point in the struggle to desegregate all public facilities in Broward County. Two years later, desegregation, including “public accommodation”, became the law of the land when Lyndon Johnson, to the shock and disappointment of many of his former Southern colleagues in the Senate, forced passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

By the way, if you’re interested in this chapter of the struggle for civil rights and the Johnson legacy, an absolutely superb book is “The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson” by Robert Caro. It describes in fascinating detail the gut-wrenching transition from Kennedy to Johnson in the wake of Kennedy’s assassination, and Johnson’s decision and arm-twisting tactics to ultimately pass Kennedy’s civil rights bill – the controversial bill had been floundering in the Senate, and became known as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – the most important and sweeping civil rights law since the Emancipation Proclamation and passage of the 13th Amendment a hundred years earlier.

After two days in Fort Lauderdale, we ran about 15 miles to Deerfield Beach/Boca Raton and stayed at a restaurant/marina.  Here are some images:

Another beautiful beach, but without the long boardwalk for walking and biking along the edge

Another beautiful beach, but without the long boardwalk for walking and biking along the edge

A gentle reminder....

A gentle reminder….

Our final destination for this leg of the journey was the Palm Beach/West Palm Beach area, where the Joint Adventure is now. Here are some pictures:

We're

We’re actually docked at the Riviera Beach Municipal Marina, which is undergoing a complete re-make – they tore down the entire waterfront including the restaurant, and are building a new $350 million complex. In the meantime, they moved this elegant tour boat/restaurant into the marina where lunch and dinner are served on three levels, along with live music in the evenings.

The middle level of the dinner boat, with live music

The middle level of the dinner boat, with live music

This is a 1937 Burger that came into the marina shortly after we did - it is the oldest recreational Burger still in existence

This is a 1937 Burger that came into the marina shortly after we did – it is the oldest recreational Burger still in existence

An interesting name for a boat - not sure what this guy does for a living - does he have two professions?

An interesting name for a boat – not sure what this guy does for a living – does he have two professions?

OK, feel free to ignore this picture and explanation if you've heard enough about our toilet woes. But here goes:  We have continued to be plagued by problems with pumping out our holding tank, which finally came to a head (pun intended) on the day we ran to Palm Beach. So I somehow found the ONLY guy in the area that is willing to work on boat sanitation systems - not a pretty job. We ended up forcibly removing a panel on the top of the tank to discover that 12 years of "stuff" had reacted with the salt water that flushes the head to crystalize in the tank, finally blocking nearly all passage into the pump-out hose. YYAAYY!! A thorough cleaning, some acid treatment, reconstruction of the panel, and once and for all our toilet/holding tank problems are FINALLY behind us for good!  By the way, a tip for you boaters - I'm told that putting a cup of vinegar in the toilet once a month or so will prevent this from happening. Now I know...

OK, feel free to ignore this picture and explanation if you’ve heard enough about our toilet woes. But here goes: We have continued to be plagued by problems with pumping out our holding tank, which finally came to a head (pun intended) on the day we ran to Palm Beach. So I somehow found the ONLY guy in the area that is willing to work on boat sanitation systems – not a pretty job. We ended up forcibly removing a panel on the top of the tank to discover that 12 years of “stuff” had reacted with the salt water that flushes the head to crystalize and harden in the tank, finally blocking nearly all passage into the pump-out hose. YYAAYY!! A thorough cleaning, some acid treatment, reconstruction of the panel, and once and for all our toilet/holding tank problems are FINALLY behind us for good! By the way, a tip for you boaters – I’m told that putting a cup of vinegar in the toilet once a month or so will prevent this from happening. Now I know…

So the Joint Adventure is tucked in at Riviera Beach for a week or so, and we all came home to do a bit of skiing in Vermont.  Paul and I will return to the boat on March 2, and we hope to get a favorable weather window sometime the following week.  If we do, we plan to leave Florida behind and head due east, across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.  YIKES!!

 

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STILTSVILLE (AND MIAMI)

Post #44 – STILTSVILLE (AND MIAMI) – Day 284, February 11, 2015 – On board:  Paul, Hank, Jim K.

Talk about culture shock! For nearly a month we have been traveling along the Everglades, a deserted anchorage, the Florida Keys – often rural and rustic, always laid back and unhurried – “island time”.  Suddenly we’re docked in downtown Miami – highrises tower over the waterfront and everywhere there is hustle and bustle.  Not complaining, mind you, for Miami is a great and fun city – but things sure did change in a hurry!

Our 50 mile run from Key Largo was quite pleasant, and seeing the Miami skyline rise and grow on the horizon was very exciting:

The City of Miami skyline, approaching from the south in Biscayne Bay -

The City of Miami skyline, approaching from the south in Biscayne Bay –

As we approached Key Biscayne, we saw some houses standing by themselves out in the ocean, built on stilts. We decided to explore, and wound our way through a cluster of seven such houses, known as Stiltsville, with quite an interesting story. The first such house was apparently built in the early 30’s during Prohibition by a character named “Crawfish” Eddie as a gambling house, since gambling was legal at that time a mile or more offshore. He allegedly sold bait, beer, and crawfish chowder, the latter of which he made from crawfish he caught underneath his shack. Eddie’s fishing buddies and others constructed shacks on stilts as well in subsequent years, followed by the construction of several social and fishing clubs – all on stilts over a mile from land and accessible only by boat. In a February, 1941 issue, LIFE magazine featured an article about one such club, describing the Quarterdeck, an exclusive membership only club as a “…$100,000 play-palace equipped with bar, lounge, bridge deck, and dining room, …an extraordinary American community dedicated solely to sunlight, salt water, and the well-being of the human spirit.” At its peak in 1960, there were 27 structures in Stiltsville, when Hurricane Donna severely damaged the Quarterdeck and most of the houses. Some were rebuilt, however, and in 1962 a scam artist named Harry Church grounded a 150 foot yacht on the mudflats of Stitltsville and turned it into a social club called the Bikini Club in which drinks were free to women wearing bikinis, and which featured a sundeck for nude sunbathing and staterooms that could be rented, presumably by the hour. A few years later, the Florida Beverage Commission raided the Bikini Club and closed it down for selling liquor without a license. However, Hurricane Betsy in 1965, effectively destroyed the Bikini Club and again severely damaged most of the existing structures. Following Betsy, Florida decided to assert jurisdiction over Stitltsville, requiring lease payments, refusing to issue new Building Permits, and refusing to allow any structure which sustained more than 50% damage to be rebuilt. The leases expired in 1999 and required the owners to remove the structures at that time at the owners’ expense. However, in 1980, Congress expanded Biscayne National Park to include Stiltsville, so the United States Park Service now had control but agreed to honor the existing leases. Hurricane Andrew destroyed half of the 14 remaining structures in 1992, leaving just seven. As the 1999 deadline approached, the owners and several preservation groups attempted to list the remaining buildings on the National Register of Historic Places to keep them from being destroyed, but the applications were denied because the structures were not yet 50 years old. In 1998, 57 years after its first article, LIFE magazine featured another article about Stiltsville, this time describing the grassroots efforts to fight the federal government and save the buildings. Over 75,000 people signed a petition of support, and in 2000, the Park Service reversed its position and agreed to allow the houses to be preserved. Today the houses are vacant but are being maintained as the Park Service works with a non-profit Trust on a plan to preserve and utilize the remaining seven structures. Quite a story.

Here are some pictures of them:

In the open water

The stilt houses are built on a mud flat of shallow water more than a mile offshore, in the open ocean.

One of the stilt houses - notice the Miami skyline in the background -

One of the stilt houses – notice the Miami skyline in the background –

A more complex structure than the others

A more complex structure than the others

A simpler version -

A simpler version –

After meandering through Stiltsville, we ran along the coast of Biscayne Bay and ducked into an anchorage known as No Name Harbor adjacent to a state park:

Non Name Harbor on Key Biscayne - a wonderful anchorage!

Non Name Harbor on Key Biscayne – a wonderful, fully-protected anchorage with park facilities on the adjacent shore

A couple of the spectacular houses in Key Biscayne overlooking the water.  We looked for the ghost of Richard Nixon, but saw nothing...

A couple of the spectacular houses in Key Biscayne overlooking the water. We looked for the ghost of Richard Nixon, but saw nothing…

A couple other houses in Key Biscayne -

A couple other houses in Key Biscayne –

The twin cities of Miami and Miami Beach are vibrant, diverse cities with an incredible combination of cultures. Our week-long stay coincided with the set-up for the Miami Boat Show, so dockage space was difficult to find and we stayed two days each in four different places, each a unique experience. The first was the Miami Municipal Marina, immediately downtown, surrounded by highrise buildings and the “Bayside” marketplace featuring restaurants, shops, live music on the street, etc. We took several tours of the city to acclimate ourselves,  Here are some images:

Celebrating our arrival in Miami at a waterfront pub

Celebrating our arrival in Miami at a waterfront pub

This is a picture of a rendering of the future - Miami is intending to build a 1000 foot iconic tower to create an iconic image for the city - similar to the Needle in Seattle or the Arch in St. Louis. The marina in the foreground, which will remain, is where we docked for two of our nights in Miami. Construction is scheduled to start this Spring.

This is a picture of a rendering of the future – Miami is intending to build a 1000 foot tower to create an iconic image for the city – similar to the Needle in Seattle or the Arch in St. Louis. The marina where we docked the Joint Adventure for the first two days is in the foreground, and will remain when the tower is built. Construction is scheduled to start this Spring. The white dome in the bottom right is the American Airlines Arena where the Miami Heat play.

The original Miami Customs House, which for a time was the tallest building in Miami

The original Miami Customs House, now called the Freedom Tower, is the building where the government processed the Cuban refugees which have come to America since Castro took control.  Cubans refer to it as the Cuban Ellis Island. For a time, it was the tallest building in Miami

The Perez Art Museum at the waterfront in downtown Miami

The Perez Art Museum at the waterfront in downtown Miami

The original Miami Customs House, which for a time was the tallest building in Miami

The original Miami Customs House, now referred to as the Freedom Tower or the Cuban Ellis Island, served as the processing point for Cuban refugees entering the US after Castro seized control. For a time, it was the tallest building in Miami.

After two days in the Municipal Marina on the waterfront, all boats had to leave so they could set up for the Boat Show. We moved to a marina 1.5 miles up the Miami River. Here are some images:

Entering the mouth of the Miami River from Miami Harbor

Entering the mouth of the Miami River from Miami Harbor

The Miami River, navigable for about 7 miles or so, cuts through the heart of the city with highrises on both sides and bridges every couple of blocks. While it serves recreational traffic, the river is a major commercial waterway as well - fishing boats utilize the river to offload their catch, freighters offload goods, and several commercial boatyards line the river.

The Miami River, navigable for about 7 miles or so, cuts through the heart of the city with highrises on both sides and bridges every couple of blocks. While it serves recreational traffic, the river is a major commercial waterway as well – fishing boats utilize the river to offload their catch, freighters offload goods, and several commercial boatyards line the river.

The Joint Adventure docked on the river - notice the boat in front of us - we complained that they let such rif-raf share dock space with us....

The Joint Adventure docked on the river – notice the boat in front of us – we complained that they let such rif-raf share dock space with us….

One of life's strange coincidences - working with a Boston-based developer with whom we have worked closely for many years, Koningisor, Luciano, & Associates has done a fair amount of work in Miami, and the building in the picture immediately across the river from where we are docked is a building in which we managed the permitting and construction. There are four such buildings within sight from the bridge of the Joint Adventure at this dockage. We're very fortunate to have an extraordinary Florida construction expert, Grier Silverbach, work with us to oversee the construction of these buildings. Two more are currently underway.

One of life’s strange coincidences – working with a Boston-based developer with whom we have worked closely for many years, Koningisor, Luciano, & Associates has done a fair amount of work in Miami – the building in the picture immediately across the river from where we are docked is a building in which we managed the permitting and oversaw the construction. There are three such buildings within sight from the bridge of the Joint Adventure at this dockage. Two more are currently underway.

Miami is an incredibly diverse city, characterized by many ethnic neighborhoods from various parts of the Carribean, Central America, and South America.  Of course, Cubans dominate, since nearly 700,000 Cubans have emigrated to America, the vast majority to Miami, over the past three decades or so. The Cuban culture is pervasive throughout the City, but no more so than in Little Havana:  Here are some pictures:

An enormous map of Cuba dominates a small park in Little Havana

An enormous map of Cuba dominates a small park in Little Havana

This is a monument to those who lost their lives in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.  Older Cubans still fault America for the alleged failure to provide promised air support that was expected to help the overthrow of Castro to succeed.

This is a monument to Cubans who lost their lives in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Older Cubans still fault America for the alleged failure to provide promised air support that was expected to help the overthrow of Castro to succeed. Most Cuban-Americans with whom I spoke supported Obama’s decision to move toward normalizing relations with Cuba, though all were quick to point out that many, especially older Cuban-Americans, were adamantly opposed.

In the heart of Little Havana is Domino Park, a place where Cuban Americans gather at permanent tables to play dominos, seven days a week.

In the heart of Little Havana is Domino Park, a place where Cuban Americans gather at permanent tables to play dominos, seven days a week.

A Cuban band plays music while people dance in Dominos Park

A Cuban band plays music while people dance in Domino Park

A really cool Cuban restaurant/pub in Little Havana

A really cool Cuban restaurant/pub in Little Havana

He reminded me of Kermit, so I couldn't resist including a picture of him...I couldn't resist

He reminded me of Kermit, so I couldn’t resist including a picture of him.

Now THIS is great architecture that I can relate to...

Now THIS is great architecture that I can relate to…

Another unique and fascinating ethnic neighborhood in Miami is called Overtown. As Miami developed in the first half of the 1900’s, blacks were segregated to an area west of the railroad tracks which was originally called “Colored Town”, now called Overtown. Within Overtown is the Wynwood Art District which features incredible murals painted on buildings and walls throughout the district. I’ve truly never seen anything like it on such a scale. Following are a number of photos of just a few of the murals. The artwork speaks for itself, so I have provided only a few captions:

This is a two-story high building -

This is a two-story high building –

AAAM-Art1

AAAM-Art2

AAAM-Art3

AAAM-Art4

AAAM-Art5

AAAM-Art6

AAAM-Art7

AAAM-Art8

AAAM-Art9AAAM-Art10

This is actually an entire wall of real flowers

This is actually an entire wall of real flowers

AAAM-Art12

From our dockage on the Miami River, we were fortunate to arrange for dockage for two nights at the Coral Reef Yacht Club in Coconut Grove, an upscale area on the south side of Miami. Here are some images:

Hank driving on our way to Coconut Grove

Hank driving on our way to Coconut Grove

The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables was built in 1926 to cater to wealthy northerners during the winter months. The War Department took it over during World War 2 and converted it to a hospital, covering the original marble floors with government-issued linoleum. After the war, it was used as a VA hospital and campus of the University of Miami Medical School until 1968. After extensive renovations and restoration of its original finishes, it was again converted to a hotel, opening in 1987.

The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables was built in 1926 to cater to wealthy northerners during the winter months. The War Department took it over during World War 2 and converted it to a hospital, covering the original marble floors with government-issued linoleum. After the war, it was used as a VA hospital and campus of the University of Miami Medical School until 1968. After extensive renovations and restoration of its original finishes, it was again converted to a hotel, opening in 1987. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

The interior of the Biltmore hotel is spectacular -

The interior of the Biltmore hotel is spectacular –

Built from 1914-1923 by James Deering, founder of International Harvester, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens rivals the mansions of Newport. It was built to feel like a 1700's Italian villa, and the gardens cover acres with plantings and coral walls, arches, and sculptures.

Built from 1914-1923 by James Deering, founder of International Harvester, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens rivals the mansions of Newport. It was built to feel like a 1700’s Italian villa, and the gardens cover acres with plantings and coral walls, arches, and sculptures.

My friend and colleague from First Florida Builders, who built most of the apartment projects we worked on in Miami, was able to join us for a Happy Hour cocktail while we were in Coconut Grove

My friend and colleague from First Florida Builders, who built most of the apartment projects we worked on in Miami, was able to join us for a Happy Hour cocktail while we were in Coconut Grove

Our last stop in the Miami area was Miami Beach – built largely on fill over a mangrove swamp now some of the most expensive real estate in the country:

Ocean Avenue on Miami Beach

Ocean Avenue on Miami Beach

Much of the architecture in Miami Beach is art deco - Ocean Avenue is lined with restaurants, bars, and clubs.

Much of the architecture in Miami Beach is art deco – Ocean Avenue is lined with restaurants, bars, and clubs.

No description of Miami Beach would be complete without a picture of South Beach. Though it was a bit cool when I walked the beach, there were beautiful people galore - the beach lived up to its reputation.

No description of Miami Beach would be complete without a picture of South Beach. Though it was a bit cool when I walked the beach, there were beautiful people galore – the beach lived up to its reputation.

From Miami, we begin to slowly work our way in a northerly direction, though we’re going to leave the boat for a little over a week at the end of February to visit home, shovel some snow, and do some skiing.

 

 

 

 

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THE RAILROAD THAT DIED AT SEA

THE RAILROAD THAT DIED AT SEA – Post #43, Day 276, February 3, 2015 – On board”  Paul, Hank, Jim K

Henry Flagler was a man ahead of his time. Despite quitting school at the age of 14, he went on to co-found Standard Oil, to found Palm Beach, and to be considered the “father of Miami”. But he is best known for opening the east coast of Florida to tourism and development by building a railroad south from Jacksonville to Miami.  Before his railroad, the spectacular beaches along the Atlantic were difficult to get to and only sparsely inhabited. Flagler changed all that.

Henry Flagler first visited Florida when his wife became ill and her doctor recommended an extended visit to the warm climate. He stayed at a hotel in St. Augustine, and was so taken by the beaches and the winter climate that he began building luxury hotels along the Florida coast, including the first development in Palm Beach. However, when a hard frost hit Palm Beach but not Miami, he decided to extend his railroad to further south and build a hotel there as well. The rest is history. He had one more goal to accomplish near the end of his life, however, and that goal became an obsession. He decided to extend the railroad to Key West, 156 miles across islands, swamp, and open water, all infested with mosquitos and other insects. The longest open-water segment required a bridge 7 miles long. Concrete was chosen as the structure of the bridge to withstand the power of the sea during harsh winter storms. However, concrete at the time could not withstand the ravages of salt water, so a new salt-resistant concrete had to be developed before construction could begin. The new concrete that Flagler’s team researched and created revolutionized marine construction for many years thereafter. Work began in 1905, but hurricanes in 1906, 1909, and 1910 destroyed much of the railroad that had been built at the time and killed more than 100 workers. Still Flagler pressed on, accelerating the work so it could be completed before he died.  Finally, in 1912, seven years after the start of construction, the railroad was completed.  Flagler, by then blind, traveled in the first railroad car to make the trip from the mainland to Key West.  He told the welcoming crowd: “Now I can die happy. My dream is fulfilled”. The railroad had cost $1.31 billion in today’s dollars, all paid for by Flagler’s personal fortune. It was dubbed the “eighth Wonder of the World”.

In 1935, a massive hurricane destroyed 40 miles of the railroad. By that time, automobile travel was replacing railroad travel, so the State of Florida purchased the bridge. The state converted the old railroad bridges into the Overseas Highway, which opened in 1938, utilizing the undamaged portion of the bridges and building the highway on top of the railway. The bridge was substantially re-built again in its entirety in 1980. Without Flagler, there would be no highway access the Florida Keys  today.

At the risk of boring everyone with more pictures of bridges, this is a pretty special one so I couldn’t resist:

The original concrete arch railroad bridge. The new highway bridge can be seen adjacent to the old railroad bridge.

Not a very good picture, but this is a small portion of the original concrete-arch Seven Mile Bridge. The new highway bridge can be seen adjacent to the old railroad bridge.

The original concrete-arch railroad bridge with the new highway bridge next to it. Each span of the old bridge has a section removed at the highest span of the new bridge to allow tall boats to pass through. Each remaining section of the old bridge is now used as a fishing pier.

The original concrete-arch railroad bridge with the new highway bridge next to it. Each length of the old bridge has a section removed at the highest span of the new bridge to allow taller boats to pass through. Each remaining section of the old bridge is now used as a fishing pier.

One more interesting anecdote about Henry Flagler – his second wife had been institutionalized for mental illness for six years when Flagler used his political influence to persuade the Florida Legislature in 1901 to pass a law that made incurable insanity legal grounds for divorce;  he divorced his wife the following year. Flagler was the only person to be divorced under the law he instigated before it was repealed shortly thereafter.

After being spoiled by 7 days of calm, near-perfect weather in a row on our way from Fort Myers Beach to the Keys, we’re now in a pattern of windy weather. After 5 days in Key West, a one day weather window opened up and we ran 85 miles to Islamorada on Upper Matecumbe Key (I can’t pronounce them either). Islamorada consists of a narrow spit of land with commercial strip stores along Route 1 and a series of quaint and charming places to stay and open-air restaurants/tiki bars overlooking the bayside or the ocean side of the island. We stayed at one such place tucked in a small, protected harbor. Music is king here, and there was live music throughout the lunch period, the afternoon, and the evening every day. The highlights of our stay were a day of fishing with a guide and watching the Patriots from an open-air tiki bar win the Super Bowl;  here are some pictures:

We've seen all sorts of vessels on this trip, but this one was quite unique -

We’ve seen all sorts of vessels on this trip, but this one was quite unique –

Most marinas have finger piers that make it easy to get on and off the boat.  Not so at our dockage at Islamorada, with a fixed dock.  Because the dinghy hangs on davits and extends past the back of the boat, it becomes difficult to get on and off in this dockage configuration. Not a problem for my Dad, however!

Most marinas have finger piers that make it easy to get on and off the boat. Not so at our dockage at Islamorada, with a fixed dock. Because the dinghy hangs on davits and extends past the back of the boat, it becomes difficult to get on and off in this dockage configuration. Not a problem for my Dad, however!

Seems like a perfect combination to me....

Seems like a perfect combination to me….

The first order of business on our fishing trip was to catch live bait, which our guide Frank caught with a net.

The first order of business on our fishing trip was to catch live bait, which our guide Frank caught with a net.

Hank terrorizing the fish...

Hank terrorizing the fish…

YESSS!!  We caught mostly Mangrove Snapper, which are not large but are good eating - we caught about a dozon and a half, ranging in size from the legal limit of 8" to about a foot.

YESSS!! We caught mostly Mangrove Snapper, which are not large but are good eating – we caught about a dozen and a half, ranging in size from the legal limit of 8″ to about a foot.

This fish is called is a Jack - we caught one of these in addition to the Mangrove Snapper

This fish is called is a Jack – we caught one of these in addition to the Mangrove Snapper

This is Paul, holding up the one that got away...

This is Paul, holding up the one that got away…

Incredibly, this is a bird that  picked live baitfish right off the hook in the air as it was being cast - these birds are incredibly fast and accurate and persistent in their pursuit of food.

Incredibly, this is a bird picking a live baitfish right off the hook IN THE AIR AS IT WAS BEING CAST!  These birds are incredibly fast, accurate, and persistent in their pursuit of food.

This bird and 2 others during our trip got hooked while trying to eat the baitfish off our hook - one got hooked in the air and the other dove on the baitfish moments after it hit the water.  Frank reeled in both birds and was able to remove the hook without the birds being hurt.

This bird, now in the water, and 2 others during our trip got hooked while trying to eat the baitfish off our hook – one got hooked in the air and the others dove on the baitfish moments after it hit the water. Frank reeled in all three birds and was able to remove the hook without the birds being hurt.

A pelican catching the fish carcass being thrown into the water next to the fish cleaning station.

A pelican catching the fish carcass being thrown into the water next to the fish cleaning station.

Happy fishermen after a successful day of fishing - a total of six fresh fish dinners -

Happy fishermen after a successful day of fishing – a total of six fresh fish dinners –

Our next stop was Key Largo after a run of about 30 miles in sunny, 80 degree weather. We’re back in the Intracoastal Waterway on the Gulf side, which is more protected from east and south winds than the Hawk Channel on the Atlantic side. Here are some images from our stay in Key Largo:

Another strange looking boat, this one in Key Largo

Another strange looking boat, this one in Key Largo

 

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore....

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore….

Hardcore movie buffs may recognize this boat. Hint:  if you look closely, you might see Humphrey Bogart or Lauren Bacall.  Yes, it is the African Queen. It was built in England and was shipped to the Congo for use as a supply transportation boat on the Congo River, The film producers purchased the boat for use in the movie.  Afterwards, it ended up in the US and fell into disrepair until it was purchased in 1982 and refurbished. When the owner's health failed, it again languished and deteriorated until a local Key West couple leased it and spent $90,000 repairing it. It now goes out several times a day for 1 1/2 hour tours.  My Dad being a movie buff, we of course had to go!

Hardcore movie buffs may recognize this boat. Hint: if you look closely, you might see Humphrey Bogart or Lauren Bacall on the boat. Yes, it is the African Queen! It was built in England in 1912 and was shipped to the Congo where it was used as a supply transportation boat on the Congo River. The film producers purchased the boat for use in the movie. Afterwards, it ended up in the US and fell into disrepair until it was purchased in 1982 and refurbished. When the owner’s health failed, it again languished and deteriorated until a local Key West couple leased it and spent $90,000 repairing it. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The African Queen now goes out several times a day for 1 1/2 hour tours. My Dad being a movie buff, we of course had to go!

The African Queen is still steam powered - the steam boiler is in the center of the boat, and the steam engine is behind it, the workings fully exposed.

The African Queen is still steam powered – the steam boiler is in the center of the boat, and the steam engine is behind it, the workings fully exposed.

Hank sort of looks like Humphrey Bogart steering the African Queen....

Hank sort of looks like Humphrey Bogart steering the African Queen….

Our next stop will be Miami!

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