Good Sailing and Stiltsville
18 January 2012 | Tavernier Key
Beth / 69F at 7 am but warmed up!!
We set off from Dinner Key at 7:15 on Tuesday morning after listening to the weather and confirming that the seas would be gentle. Once across the Bay, our route out Biscayne Channel took us past some fascinating houses on stilts.
I thought Stiltsville would be a collection of ramshackle houses on stilts along the shoreline, but this was not what I expected at all. Rather than clinging to the shore, they cling to the flats on their long spindly legs and appear to be far off in the water, and while they looked skeletal from a distance, several of the buildings topping the stilts were quite modern. According to my favourite resource book (Managing the Waterway by Mark and Diana Doyle) the community began as a cluster of fishing shacks, evolving to clubs, getaways and homes. Initially, a fisherman would find a spot and build a structure but as time went on land ownership became an issue and legal battles ensued. After enduring countless hurricanes and storms, it's a wonder they are there at all, and it appears there is now an effort to have them placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The skyline of Miami in the background seemed such a contrast to these imaginative buildings scattered across the water. Passing by them in the early morning light was even more special.
We enjoyed a fabulous sail down Hawk Channel to Tavernier Key where we spent a calm night. The wind (NE to E 10-15 kn) stayed abeam most of the day and sea was composed of gentle swells instead of the roller coaster we've endured on some other days. It was the kind of day we could take turns going forward to read or take naps on the foredeck; the kind of day we could have a real lunch instead of a granola bar. (Shrimp wraps made with leftovers from last night's dinner); the kind of day that simply makes us glad to be on the water. With all sails out, we averaged 5.8 to 6 knots most of the day - just fine for Madcap. We thought about stopping at Rodrigues Key where there is a little more protection, but we wanted to get farther along and we couldn't make Channel Five before dark, so this was the next choice. Because the wind dropped right off to 5 kn or less, it was a fine stopping place but it would be no good if the wind was blowing. We are seeing for ourselves that the Keys offer few secure anchorages for 6 ft draft boats.
The sky was full of stars and the evening stayed warm so we enjoyed dinner in the cockpit instead of huddling in the cabin in our sweaters and socks!