By Alyn Pruett
Spring is my favorite time in South Florida! By this time of year the weather tends toward more stable conditions yet it is not hot. It is the perfect time to enjoy The Barnacle. There is nothing like being there on a day when the air is fresh and the sky crystal blue.
Of course there are plenty of things happening at the Park to encourage repeat visits. Our monthly Moonlight Concerts and Old Time Dances are supplemented this season with Earth Day on April 21, Tea with Mr. Shakespeare on April 28, and Cars and Cigars on June 19. So there are events that will appeal to everyone in your family.
In addition to these events there are a lot of other exciting things going on. If you have been to the Park recently you know that our gift shop has opened in the Carriage House -- many thanks to Sweet Pea Ellman for her hard work in getting it all "ship shape" and ready for business. Please stop by and take a look – there are contemporary items as well as those of historical interest which make great gifts for any occasion. In particular look for the much-awaited reprint of The Forgotten Frontier by Arva Moore Parks.
Our Membership Committee has been updating and improving our membership structure, fees, and benefits. This important effort must be done periodically and is led by Joan Morris our outstanding Corresponding Secretary and Membership Committee Chair. Look for announcements regarding these changes in the coming months.
It is also important to let you know that the Board has begun updating our Strategic Plan. At a workshop held on January 26 the board reviewed the previous strategic plan and generated ideas for the update. Katrina Boler, our exceptional Park Manager, also participated and presented a list of various facility needs to consider as we plan for the future activities of The Society.
In closing I invite all our members and other friends of The Barnacle to attend the Commodore’s Birthday Party. This annual meeting is our most important fundraiser of the year. Please join me on Sunday April 7, enjoy a fantastic dinner and continue your support for our wonderful Park.
See you at The Barnacle!
A Walk in the Park
by Katrina A. Boler, Park Manager
The calendar says South Florida springtime; however, with a chill hanging in the night air, the weather hints a different tune. Days are gloriously bright as our hemisphere begins its tilt toward the sun. Wildlife in the park has been abundant, even surprising. The usual birds and squirrels flit about and on a couple of murky evenings as I walked down the pathway to enjoy dinner across the street I’ve met face to face with a new park visitor: a gray fox! The first night the fox stood at the edge of the hammock, the second night it was right in the middle of the pathway. Each time the fox gazed at me steadfastly, curiously, then turned and trotted into the woods as if to say "you may pass…life in the park goes on."
In the midst of our regular calendar of events, we thought we would expand Washington’s Birthday Regatta into an event-filled four days celebrating the origin of aquatic sports on Biscayne Bay, something for which Coconut Grove is well known. To make this happen, we set about building partnerships around the bay and village. This year also marks the 40th Anniversary of The Barnacle Historic State Park.
Visitors to the park and readers of The News Packet over the past few years have watched as the Marine Railway, damaged by Hurricane Wilma, was restored. We celebrated this accomplishment on February 21 with a reception and dedication thanking our Maritime Volunteers and The Barnacle Society for ensuring that the railway restoration was historically accurate and safe. Following the reception we showed Charlotte: A Wooden Boat Story, a documentary about the Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway on Martha’s Vineyard. This wonderful boatyard was established in 1980 to design, build, and maintain traditional wooden boats. Copies of this wooden-boat enthusiast’s delight are available in our new gift shop.
February 22, was close enough to a full moon and in the middle of Regatta Days so we planned a Regatta Moonlight concert featuring
Three Sheets to the Wind, the band with the perfect name to offer nautically-themed tunes for the occasion.
Rob Rogerson’s article offers details on Saturday’s Regatta and Sunday’s Mail Run. Reading it places one in the middle of it all. Regatta Days wound down on Sunday afternoon, with
Who in the Grove Do You Think You Are? historic character look-alike contest with such notables as Mary Barr Munroe, Miss Beasley, and Commodore Ralph Munroe attending straight from the 19th century, wandering among the guests. The finishing touch on the weekend was February’s Old-Time Dance where visitors danced away the night to tunes that the Commodore and friends would have loved during the original 1887 Washington’s Birthday Regatta.
With this quarter’s events behind us, we plan the spring/summer calendar, so watch the park’s website www.FloridaStateParks.org/TheBarnacle and the Society’s website www.TheBarnacle.org to learn what’s coming next at YOUR state park!
The Washington’s Birthday Regatta: It's a Grove Classic
by Rob Rogerson
It's not often that I return from the mailbox with any real good news, yet in January, I fairly skipped up my driveway in Jupiter with the much-anticipated 2013 Washington's Birthday Regatta notice of race. I phoned friends David Thorne and Roberto McGrath, the WBR crew of my 1986 Sea Pearl centerboard Cat/Ketch Anhinga. Both excitedly confirmed their participation marking this crew's fourth consecutive year in this historical maritime event. We are not the most skilled or knowledgeable regatta sailors but we dearly love traditional sailing using only oar and canvas. We also are smitten with the rich experience created by the staff of The Barnacle Historic State Park, The Barnacle Society, Coconut Grove Sailing Club and a wealth of other sponsors. Our first attempt as regatta crew at the WBR 2010 in my Marsh Hen Serpent was so memorable (for reasons both dry and wet) I was inspired to write that story which was printed in Small Craft Advisor # 67. Although I am not known for my writing (I am an Ocean Rescue Training Officer by profession), I find myself again inspired to give my account of this celebration of Biscayne Bay's nautical history that is such a large part of Ralph Munroe's legacy.
We left Jupiter at 7 a.m. for the 80-mile trip on Regatta morning with plenty of time to reach the public boat ramp, rig, and launch Anhinga and perhaps even do a quick test-sail before the 10:30 skippers’ meeting. We were in great spirits with Anhinga strapped to her trailer, loaded for adventure. The forecast called for highs in the mid-70s and 10-15k of southeast breeze. It doesn't get much better than that for me. I work in extreme conditions and sometimes play in them too, but this event is best held in "chamber of commerce" conditions.
David, Roberto, and I were traveling separately as I intended to stay the night for the "Mail Run" event on Sunday. They would return home after the Chowder Party. My girlfriend (and Mail Run crew) Amy has a dear friend, Annika, who keeps a sailboat at Dinner Key and we were lucky to be offered a berth and the use of two bicycles for the weekend! The trip south was going perfectly until we hit an I-95 slowdown in North Miami. A serious seven-car pile-up had the interstate closed completely and we realized this too late to exit quickly. This cost my hour-and-a-half buffer and it cost my crew, two miles behind, an additional hour .I knew the chances of our making the start of the Regatta, let alone the skippers’ meeting, were in serious trouble. I called The Barnacle letting them know and they said they would do everything possible to wait for us. I made it to the boat launch at 10:00 and possibly set a record for solo rig and launch of a Sea Pearl at a busy boat ramp (about 40 minutes) I hopped in Anhinga and laid to the oars as if I was in a rowing competition!
The kids at CGSC waiting to launch their Optis for a friendly race seemed impressed as I weaved through their mooring field at max rowing speed! Once around the corner there it was -- The Barnacle with its big green lawn and beautiful dock leading to the Commodore's Boathouse. When viewed from the water, it is always a lovely sight. On this day, the dock was lined with classic and classic-design sailing vessels of every shape, rig, and size: there were Bay Hens and Peep Hens; Bill Munroe's Bahamas Dinghy; several pretty designs I didn't recognize; and swaying gently at anchor just yards from the newly restored historical marine railway was the Commodore’s favorite boat, the timeless Egret. I quickly tied up Anhinga, making a beeline for the skippers’ meeting which is held next to the Carriage House, but not before I noticed Mike Chapman hard at work building a boat in the boathouse, chatting pleasantly with park visitors stopping to admire his craftsmanship. Although the skippers' meeting was adjourning as I arrived, it had been delayed as long as possible to accommodate Anhinga’s predicament. I recognized many familiar friendly faces from regattas past and was greeted warmly by park staff and the race committee. Ahhh…The Barnacle hospitality, you can't beat it! There was a breakfast buffet with many homemade baked delicacies made by volunteers. I was completing registration just as my crew arrived looking a bit stressed from the rigors of the road but, like me, they relaxed as soon as they set foot on the property.
At the urging of park staff, we grabbed a few of the tastiest-looking baked goods, said our thank yous, and hurried toward the dock. Most of the fleet had a good start on us as they sailed the mile or two out to the race committee boat, a beautiful Cheoy Lee ketch named Effortless owned by Alyn Pruett of CGSC and TBS, festooned with pennants. We knew we could gain ground on some of them and make it to the starting line on time. After a couple of clumsy tacks near shore, we picked up the breeze a couple hundred yards out and Anhinga took off in hot pursuit! Just in case some vessels couldn't make good time toward the start, the ever-cheerful and helpful Bob Deresz in his stout lobsterman's was nearby offering a tow. No worries though, the first race was delayed while the marks were being set and all were present for the start.
In a smart move to spice up the competition, this year's regatta was divided into two classes: under 15ft and 15ft and over, with the larger vessels being the first to start. We were having a blast trying to time the start just right when off went the horn, down came the flag, and we were off! The course was now filled with beautiful classic boats, their sails full and driving hard. Several other regattas were within view, all happening at the same time. What a sight! It was immediately clear that ours was going to be a race for second as a beautiful and fast Ensign 23 named Pat skippered by Richard Crisler of CGSC was superior to the rest of us in all aspects but we found ourselves in a great battle with Ken and Michele Gill in their Core Sound Mostly Harmless. They flat out-sailed us and we finished third but were grinning ear to ear. We got the better of them in the second race--I’m not sure why--they may have had a mechanical issue. In race three we felt like we had things dialed in pretty well and had settled in our usual spot in the wake of Pat when Bill Tenney aboard Egret steered a masterful course and handed us our proverbial hats! Nonetheless, we crossed the final finish line proudly running wing on wing, Anhinga’s signature point of sail.
After the Regatta, boats and crews drew long lazy lines making their ways back to The Barnacle dock, their moorings, or to the boat ramp. Once all lines were made fast, it was time for the Chowder Party and Awards! Amy arrived and we watched the sunset color the bay while park staff and volunteers set up a lavish spread with of course, a variety of spirits served beneath the shelter of the Micco pavilion overlooking the Boathouse and bay. The night was mild and the breeze remained fresh as laughter and good conversation filled the air. Park Manager Katrina Boler read the classic passage from The Commodore's Story outlining the events of the inaugural Washington's Birthday Regatta (always a crowd favorite). Awards were presented by Katrina and Alyn including several new awards for things like "most-improved captain" and "best-dressed crew". The good folks of the race committee, the many sponsors, and The Barnacle staff and volunteers all received appreciative cheers.
In what has become one of my favorite traditions, sailors were invited to give their impressions or tell a story of the day. Many of these tales brought the house to its knees. One such statement made by Bill Munroe, first place skipper of Bahamas Dingy Smithsonian (and I paraphrase) "adding a small boat division was a great idea because I was getting tired being beaten by that damned Palm Beach War Canoe" (a hilarious reference to my boat) The evening ended with cheers, toasts, handshakes all around and promises for next year. Amy and I bid a fond goodbye to David and Roberto and we headed back to Dinner Key and were gently rocked to sleep aboard Annika's 34ft Hunter sloop.
We woke to another gorgeous day and after some big boat window shopping at the dock we cycled into the Grove for breakfast. On the way back we ran into Annika's cousin Thomas, fresh off the plane from Sweden for an extended holiday, his first visit to the U.S. He enthusiastically accepted our invitation for the Mail Run. What better way to start a trip than to go for a sail! Our "Mail Run" would not be to Fowey's Rock to pick up mail from passing ships as Commodore Munroe had, but would be a symbolic sail to the middle of the bay for a raft-up and exchange of replica mail. We met Alyn and his guests at The Barnacle and after a few minutes chatting with Mike still hard at work on the skiff, we were underway on the bay. The forecast of 5k of SSW wind turned out to be 12k out of the SSE. so we once again had a rollicking sail as we traded tacks with Effortless, first south to Matheson Hammock and then northeast nearly to Key Biscayne and back to mid-bay where we met Egret. I'll never forget that sail with those two beautiful graceful vessels and their skilled captains. We rafted up at mid-bay and were invited aboard Effortless to share a picnic and then Egret for a tour.
As we were preparing to leave, Captain Pruett handed off the "mail" (a parcel of newspaper clippings from the 1890s) to Captain Tenney who promised to deliver them to all the good folks who reside on the bay. The wind had freshened to 15k so we cast off lines and all enjoyed one last ripper of a broad reach together. It had been an amazing weekend and we felt fortunate to have been a part of it. I am already recruiting my Palm Beach County sailing friends for next year’s Washington's Birthday Regatta Weekend – See you there!
The Barnacle Marine Railway renovation - Issue No. 3
History and Operations of the Railway
By Mike Chapman
The railway’s history is brief. Although it is unclear exactly when it was built, presumably it was the 1890s, and reasonable to surmise that with the arrival of the East Coast Railway, the hardware was available for its construction. It is unusual to see a railway elevated on pilings. Typical marine railways are constructed atop timbers directly on the ground. Perhaps the Commodore’s requirements were that the high tides reach far up the contour of the shoreline; the bay bottom and shoreline is unstable; this is necessary to gain elevation for access beneath the boat. Plus marine rails are works in progress and modified using available materials to accommodate various hull forms.
Our railway is somewhat puzzling because there was another railway built to the north of the boathouse directly on the ground and there is photo evidence that there was yet another to the south of the existing marine railway with two small Bolster wagons, timber on top. Presumably this southern rail was a link between boatyard and saw mill at the factory.
A typical procedure for hauling a boat consists of surveying the vessel with regard to length, beam, draft, weight and hull form – with this information the railway carriages are set up. Then adjusting the safety chain and spacing the carriages to a required distance. Next comes the adjustment the vessel support beams of the forward carriages. With the vessel in position, the carriage crossbeam should take the weight while the support beams hold the vessel upright. Securing lines are tied at the top of the support and guide arms. Finally the carriage assembly is attached to the winch at the upper end of the rail by wire rope.
Hauling begins at high tide. The carriage assemblies are winched down the rail to a calculated depth. The vessel is moved between the guideposts, forward to the support arms. With the securing lines, the vessel is centered over the carriages and tied in place. When the tide recedes, the vessel comes to rest on the crossbeams of carriage assemblies. As the tide continues to recede, adjustments are made to insure that the vessel is supported adequately. The winch then pulls the vessel up the rail. By design the winch was originally manpowered but through the years new technologies were employed including a car engine and an electric motor.
With the vessel at the upper end of the railway, the carriage is secured and sometimes additional support braces applied. Once repairs are complete, the vessel is winched down again at high tide. As the vessel becomes buoyant, lines are loosened and the vessel is maneuvered out and then able to sail free.
By Bill Tenney
Egret has been busy since the first of the year. Barnacle Society member, John Thomas, sailed on her twice, and Board president, Alyn Pruett, once. The Commodore’s great grandson, Charles Munroe, sailed on her once and then skippered her in the Washington’s Birthday Regatta. Also aboard for WBR were Volunteer John Embler, historian Arva Moore Parks, producer Mark Baker of WPBT2 and photographer Robin Hill who are working on a documentary on the Commodore’s photos with a "then and now" theme. The Commodore’s grandson, Charlie Munroe, with his power boat helped move Arva and the photographers to and from Egret.
John Embler recently oiled Egret’s rails with authentic materials supplied by Mike Chapman maintaining the integrity of our historic sharpie. With the dry rails now gleaming, Egret looks like a new boat.
Egret served as the floating platform of a luncheon party hosted by Ms. Ann Wettlaufer on a beautiful March day. She won the sail for two couples in the silent auction at last year’s Commodore’s Birthday Party.
The WBR was the venue for numerous other waterfront activities. Among them, an interesting boat building class in the Boathouse as Volunteer Mike Chapman progresses nicely with the construction of the boatyard skiff. Work continues on Wyannie Malone by volunteers Geoff Willerton, Alyn Pruett, and others.
In conclusion, we extend hearty congratulations to all of our sponsors and volunteers, and especially to Alyn Pruett, whose vision and hard work led to the "splashing" success of the four-day Washington’s Birthday Regatta.
Hot Chili, Cool Cars
By James Pate
On Sunday, March 10, The Barnacle hosted its Second Annual Hot Chili Cool Cars – a fundraiser for fire protection for the park. The event drew well over 500 visitors for a beautiful day full of vintage autos, good food, live music, and friendly competition. The chili cook-off was small and tightly contested amongst a handful of competitors. Judges Tom Falco, Richard Passman and award-winning Chef Mark D'Alessandro bestowed their award upon The Grove Spot for their classic rendition; while Barracuda Bar & Grill, took home the coveted People's Choice award, as well as the Best of the Best Award, a combination of the judges’ score and people’s votes. Of the numerous classic cars gracing the lawn, only one could come out on top. This year’s Coolest Car was Julio Lima's 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible; jet-black exterior, a cream white interior, with a pair of fuzzy dice hanging from the rear-view mirror, this all-American monster of Detroit steel garnered the most votes for 2013. Surprisingly however, it was only the second largest car there that Sunday, outsized by a 1937 Rolls Royce Phantom (the very same driven by notorious villain, Oddjob, in the film Goldfinger). The color of the Rolls was all too apropos, as it was close to that distinguishable shade of Kodak Yellow that graces Commodore Munroe's boathouse and home.
The atmosphere of the event was complimented further by Matt Anderson and his musical backdrop of classic rock covers, singing and strumming acoustic guitar. Anderson, a Grove local, had many heads bobbing and toes tapping whilst visitors milled about the park.
After this year’s successes, Hot Chili, Cool Cars 2014 is highly anticipated. The only sound to drown out the rumblings of classic engines will be the rumbling of hungry stomachs. Stay tuned for exciting changes in next year’s competition.
State Park Annual Entrance Passes Available for Purchase at The Barnacle
We’re happy to announce that The Barnacle now offers Florida State Park Annual Entrance Passes so our visitors don’t have to leave town to purchase their passes.
These Passes allow park entrance in lieu of the daily park admission fee and are honored at all Florida State Parks, except at Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, where they are valid for a 33 percent discount. Annual Entrance Passes do not waive special use fees charged for special events, camping, or activities such as boat tours, house tours, tubing, fishing piers, gardens admission, etc. Additional local fees may apply such as the Monroe County Surcharge.
The Individual Annual Entrance Pass, available for $60, is valid for the named cardholder only. The $120 Family Annual Entrance Pass is good for up to eight people in a group, except at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and Weeki Wachee Springs State Park where the family pass covers admission of up to two people. Additional guests to Homosassa Springs and Weeki Wachee may choose to purchase additional passes or pay the regular admission fee.
Passes are available for Individuals or Families and can be purchased in the Park Office. Currently the park is able to take only cash or checks but soon - very soon -the park can accommodate credit card purchases. So come visit us at The Barnacle and pick up your free Florida State Park Guide when you purchase your Annual Entrance Pass.