An Everglades Escape

Day Two: Shifting Winds

We arose with the dawn and quickly loaded our canoe after a morning repast. We wanted to avoid the afternoon winds, which can run from 10 to 15 knots. Small craft advisories are not uncommon.

Now, Florida Bay was as smooth as glass. Cape Sable lay off to our right. On shore began a stretch of more than 20 miles of uninterrupted natural beach, by far the largest preserved stretch of ocean front property in the mainland Southeast. The Cape Sable beach slopes up from the ocean then back down to a mosaic of tropical trees such as gumbo-limbo and Jamaican dogwood, along with Spanish bayonet. The Cape was not always so desolate. In times past it was home to Federal forts, Cuban fishing settlements, and a coconut plantation. Before that the Calusa Indians roamed southwest Florida from the Keys up to the Caloosahatchee River.

Regi and I rounded the Cape and began our northward journey in earnest. To our pleasant surprise the winds had shifted from the north to the east, keeping the ocean flat and allowing for rapid paddling. However, we frequently stopped for beachcombing on the alluring shoreline.

At Middle Cape, currents often merge and fish gather to chase minnows. I stood on the very point of the Cape and cast, tossing my gold spoon into the moving water. Not surprisingly I pulled out a Jack Crevalle on the first cast. The best places to fish in the Everglades are generally where water is moving, when tides are changing. It works like this: in moving water small minnows cannot swim as rapidly as bigger fish, giving the bigger fish an advantage.

We pressed on beyond Middle Cape, even though we had already paddled for miles. The sun was heading down by the time we pulled into Northwest Cape. The two of us made camp near some palm trees, and watched the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico. We had pressed going around the Cape, to avoid getting caught in big winds. Canoes have been swamped out here. Sea kayakers can fare much better. Do not go around the Cape unless you have a favorable wind forecast.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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