Monday, February 13, 2012

Florida Keys Challenge - 3

To review from Day 2, our first day on the water, it was an 18.6 mile paddle from John Pennekamp State Park, to Harry Harris Park on  Tavernier for lunch, and on to Coconut Grove Resort on Windley Key.  Each is marked by the three icons on the map.

1 is departure from Coconut Grove Resort, 2 is the lunch stop at Indian Key,
and 3 is our stop at BSA Sea Base Camp.

As we broke camp in the morning, the wind continued 20-25 mph. with small craft warnings. We would carry the wind over our starboard quarters in waves that ran from ripples to one foot in the shallows, but ran 1-2 feet in deeper water. I encountered one area of opposing wind and current where we had solid 3-footers for a short distance. From Coconut Grove Resort, we paddled past the rest of Windley Key, which at 18-ft. is the highest island in the chain. Most of the keys are only 10-ft. above sea level. We then passed Islamorada and Upper Matecumbe Keys, to finish the 7.1 mile paddle to Indian Key. All of Indian Key’s shoreline is razor-sharp limestone. It was necessary to round the island to find the only landing spot. It is north of the pier, which is maintained by the park service. Only a couple kayaks could land in the limestone-fringed shallows at a time, so most were carried further ashore over the sharp rocks, and some preferred to wade along the shore and tie their boats to the mangroves.
By 1835, the start of the Second Seminole War of attrition had begun to push the Seminoles deeper into the Everglades. In fear of attacks of reprisal from the Indians, inhabitants had fled the Keys except for Key West and the 11-acre Indian Key. A community was maintained there to assist in the salvage of vessels wrecked on the Keys, and a Dr. Henry Perrine, a botanist, settled there with his wife and three children, to study native plants. An unscrupulous Capt. Jacob Housman squatted on the island and built a hotel, blacksmith and carpentry shops, warehouse, store, post office, bar, even a billiard
The landing on Indian Key.

hall and bowling alley, and added a courthouse once he managed to get Indian Key named the county seat for Dade County. Things went sour with the Seminoles when Chief Chekika learned of a contract that Housman had proposed to the federal government whereby he agreed to capture and kill Indians in the Keys for $200 a head. Chekika swore revenge on Housman, but also sought the weapons and ammunition in Housman’s warehouse for future raids.

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