sunset we rendezvoused with
our friends Bob and Steve, who
roared up in their 19-footer.
They’d caught two large Spanish
mackerel. A feast to share! The
evening was calm and cool. Gary
and Steve spent the night in
sleeping bags in Moon’s cockpit.
On our last day, we fished
our hearts out … until Steve
tried to remove a hook from
a saltwater catfish. It twisted
and stuck a spine in his hand.
When I was growing up, a saltwater catfish was considered so
dangerous that my dad would
simply cut the line rather than
take a chance on getting hurt. With Steve’s
hand in an ice pack, we started the four-hour
run to Flamingo, the main boating area in
the Everglades National Park and, for us, the
end of the road. There, we’d hand Moon over
to two friends to sail for a week and return
See? I told you. Nothing much happened over the week. We didn’t have any
rough seas. Didn’t get into any trouble we
couldn’t get out of. It was just good times
with friends, hearty eating, great fishing, and
deep sleeping. It was a couple of close calls
that would make for good stories later. And
it was getting to check in on the spectacular
Everglades, to find with relief that not much
changed since the last time we were here.
It won’t always be like that. Lives change.
Precious places change. For now, we’re just
three guys looking forward to next year, our
Tom Dixon and his wife have lived on a houseboat in Miami for more than 40 years, and
sailed the waters of Biscayne Bay in sailboats
from 12 feet to their latest, a 45-foot sloop.
us tearing for the dinghy. We’d learned about
these little flying teeth the hard way, on past
trips, and knew to put Moon’s mosquito nets
on over all vents and hatches earlier in the
afternoon, and even to plug the small opening where the anchor passes belowdecks.
Otherwise, buddy, we’d have been way too
late by now.
After a cold-water shower using a water
bottle hung from the mast, we sat down for a
feast, made by yours truly – apple and raisin
salad, pasta with meat sauce, and banana nut
bread for dessert. Within an hour after dinner, our happy, sunburned crew was snoring.
What a great routine. Sunrise. Hot coffee.
Check the tides. Watch snowy-white egrets
and great blue herons fishing for breakfast on
the sandbars. Fiddle with a few boat chores.
Talk about raising the anchor. We were in
We spent the afternoon fishing from the
beach, shuffling our feet in the water to scare
away sleeping stingrays, watching dolphin
and tarpon chase baitfish in the entrance
to Lake Ingram, hanging out together and
solving the problems of the world. Before
NATIONAL PARK, A
WORLD HERITAGE SITE
FOR MOST OF ITS HISTORY, the Everglades’ massive rain-fed wet- lands, lakes, and rivers flowed
from just below Orlando, Florida, through
Lake Okeechobee, south to the tip of the
Florida peninsula, as well as east and
west toward the coasts, covering almost 3
million acres. Today, the Everglades ecosystem is less than half its original size;
1,800 miles of canals and dams break it
up, with water-control points and pump
stations built in the last century diverting
the natural flow of water to coastal towns
and cities in order to develop agriculture
and create residential development.
The Everglades is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and
home to numerous rare and endangered
species, such as the American crocodile,
the West Indian manatee, and Florida
panther, as well as thousands of unique
plants. Everglades National Park was
established in 1947 to conserve and protect the natural landscape. It includes
the southern one-fifth of the Everglades
ecosystem ( www.nps.gov/ever). Currently
the National Park Service is considering
changes to how boating in back country
waters of the park is managed. One proposal would expand the zones where only
propulsion by push poll, paddle, or electric trolling motor would be permitted to
cover 33 percent of park waters. Another
is a special permit that requires boaters to take an education course beyond
what the state already requires. While the
period for public input is now closed, you
can read formal comments from BoatU.S.
regarding the draft general management
plan for Everglades National Park at
Card Sound Bridge
Flamingo Lake Ingraham