Great Loop: Gilbert’s Bar

Days 6-7: January 23-24, 2023

Ok, Ok… Not that kinda bar. Well, what then? Gilbert’s Bar was named for the nasty pirate Don Pedro Gilbert, ARRR! So, what’s this post about then? Close to Gilbert’s Bar is the last remaining House of Refuge. Back in the day the area of Florida between Miami and Daytona had a population in the range of 300 people. If you had a shipwreck on a reef or got caught in a hurricane, you could probably get to shore…at which point you would find no water and die a horrible death of dehydration and bug bites. If you did find water, it was full of bacteria, and you would get dysentery. This sounds like the outcomes of the Oregon Trail game.

To combat sailors dying, a major commercial issue, the US government built 10 houses of refuge along the Atlantic coast of Florida. If you survived a shipwreck, you would go to shore and find signs that pointed you to nearest house, which should be no further than 10-13 miles. Upon arrival at the refuge house, you would be provided food, water, and basic first aid. That would last you until the next supply ship passed and you could be transported back to civilization. The houses were stocked with enough supplies to last 25 survivors for 10 days. Each house had a keeper, like the lighthouse keepers of old. They led solitary lives with their sole purpose each day to walk the beaches daily looking for shipwrecks.

In 1915, the House of Refuge was converted into a coast guard station and used during WWII for spotting German submarines. The building is the oldest structure in the county and purchased by the city to be maintained as a historical site. One of the mottos of the rescue boat personal was “You have to go out, you don’t have to come back.” Beyond looking for enemy ships during the war, the station also worked on combating rum runners during the time of prohibition. A local area legend was Bill Macoy. The “Real” Macoy as they say around here!

Next to the House of Refuge is Ross Witham Beach. Mr. Witham was known for his work with turtles, and he had hatcheries next to the House of Refuge for many years.

We finished up the tourist outing by walking down to the Bathtub Reef Beach. It was a cool beach area that has shallow water out to a reef. Since we were there around low tide, it allowed us to see more see life and the birdies pecking around.

On the boating side, we anchored in Seminole Shores close to the ritzy neighborhood of Sailfish Point. The anchorage was interesting as it had very strong current. What’s strong? Well, if you jumped in the water, you were 30 feet away before you came above the water. Boris, Michael, and I did a little swimming behind the boat by holding on to dock lines. The current was almost strong enough you could get up on water skies. Almost! The other issue with the anchorage was the wind. It seemed like it was opposite of the current most the time. Therefore, the boat wanted to go multiple ways at once. We ended up putting out drogue anchors behind the boat. That kept us from swinging back and forth in the wind.

Day 6 Trip Details:
No voyage

Day 7 Trip Details:
Seminole Shores, US to Hell Gate, US
Time: 3 h 5 m (12:19 to 15:25)
Distance: 15.27 nm