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Vol. 11, issuE 37, January 2012

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EstablishEd in 2001 FoundEr & Editor - Victoria Munt rogers 361-548-6804 • victoria@gulfscapes.coM PhotograPhy Editor - craig rogers 361-548-6804 • craig@gulfscapes.coM salEs - 361-548-6804 victoria.gulfscapes@gMail.coM

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$16.95 for one Year (4 issues) $28 for two Years (8 issues) $36 for three Years (12 issues) Mail subscription address changes to: gulfscapes, c/o address change, p.o. box 863, port aransas, tx 78373 or e-Mail to change@gulfscapes.coM vol. 11, issue 37, January 2012 gulfscapes Magazine is published by craig and victoria Munt rogers, p.o. box 863, port aransas, tx 78373. subscription price is $16.95 for a one year subscription in continental united states. unsolicited manuscripts without return postage will not be returned. postMaster,


send address changes to address above. disclaiMer: advertisements in this publication do not constitute an offer for sale in states where prohibited or restricted by law. copYright 2001-10 craig and victoria Munt rogers. no part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the ­6 | SPRING GULFSCAPES.COM

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to Pa n



ity Crooked Island

Just half an hour past Panama City, the pace settles back Mexico Beach

WindMark Beach

into your comfort zone. You’ve reached Mexico Beach, the secluded seaside village that’s kept generations of families coming back for our sugar-white beaches, waterfront restaurants, charming shops, spectacular fishing and affordable rentals.

Port St. Joe Cape San Blas

Gulf of Mexico


To plan your escape to paradise— refreshingly free of high-rise condos and crowds at every turn—call 888-723-2546. Or find things to do, lodging specials and our live beach cam at

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features 12



Carnival Magic

Photo courtesy of FL Bureau of Seafood & Aqua. Mkg.

It’s huge, gorgeous, and full of fun! The newest, biggest ship from Carnival makes its home on the Gulf Coast.


South Beach Wine and Food Festival

Liveaboards Living on a boat. It’s a Gulf Coast dream. Meet some fine folks who ditched their land locked homes in favor of a floating abode. Get inside information on the tricks of living aboard.


spring 2012

see page 70

Wave Gliders What do you get when you cross a surfboard with a set of venetian blinds? Game changer technology for scientific exploration of the Gulf.

Shipwreck Trail

Photo courtesy of Brustman Carrino PR


From Spanish galleons to modern warships, just off the Florida Keys lie numerous sunken ships that are easily accessible to divers and snorkelers. Now there’s a trail that allows adventurers to explore the wrecks and learn about their fascinating maritime history.


Mardi Gras 2012 We’re about to let the good times roll! It’s Mardi Gras celebration time on the Gulf. Here’s our guide to this year’s festivities, from Texas to Florida and all points in between.


Photo courtesy of the Monroe County Public Library


Above, – South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami. Cover, North Padre Island. Photo by Craig & Victoria Rogers

Cindy Bates brings us the latest Parrothead events & Trop Rock updates, page 58 10 16 18 54 56 62 72

publishers’ letter... See what’s new in this issue coastal currents... Updates from around the Gulf Coast new app... Follow the Blue Angels on your iPhone parade schedule... 2012 Gulf Coast Mardi Gras parade schedule fishing... Bob Shirley reviews fly fishing gear and gadgets seafood recipes... Get healthy eating freash seafood from Florida great food... Enjoy our Gulf Coast Delicious Dining guide selections GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING | 9


Wave Gliders

What do you get when you cross a surfboard with a set of venetian blinds? Game changer technology for scientific exploration of the Gulf.

contents 36

Keys Over-Sea Railroad

spring 2012


Happy 100th to the railroad that linked Key West to the mainland. The engineering marvel is celebrated with parties, museum displays and even a play.


Mississippi Blues Trail The Blues is more than a musical style; it’s a life long love affair with blistering guitars, juke joints and smokey lyrics. Mississippi has erected monuments to commemo rate sites of historic Blues significance.


Spiny Lobster & Stone Crab Yes, we have lobsters in the Gulf. And yes, you should eat them. Frequently. A couple pounds of stone crab claws and some drawn butter. Mmm. Gulf Coast manna!

On the Hook Fly fishing expert Bob Shirley suggests some New Year’s gifts for the fisherman who didn’t get everything he wanted from Santa.




Parrothead Perusals

South Beach Wine and Food Festival It’s back! The best wine and food festival in the country takes place in Miami Beach. Guy Fieri, Emeril, Rachael Ray and others cook up some great culinary events.

Interviews with bands who love to play for Parrotheads! And the passing of a long time Coral Reefer, Ralph MacDonald.


Yaga’s Chili Quest Chili and beer and horseshoes. It don’t get more Texan than that. Come join the celebration in Galveston!

experience the new hyatt regency clearwater beach resort & spa. Steps away from the powder white sands of Clearwater Beach, a brand new resort is bringing world-class style and amenities to the west coast of Florida. Book your next reservation and take advantage of our Special Local Event Rate by receiving 20% off daily rates. All guestrooms are suites with fully equipped kitchens featuring granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, private balconies and Gulf of Mexico views. The hotel also offers Sandava Spa, Shor American Seafood Grill, Camp Hyatt, Hyatt StayFit™ Gym, 20 air-conditioned pool cabanas and indoor & outdoor meeting space perfect for any business gathering or special event. For reservations, call 727 373 1234 or visit and reference offer code LOEVR. Hyatt. You’re More Than Welcome.


Offer valid through 12/31/12 at Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach. All hotel reservations are subject to availability and must be made in advance using offer code LOEVR. Offer is not valid with groups/conventions and may not be combined with other promotional offers. Rate is based on double occupancy and standard room accommodations. Room tax and resort fee not included. Additional guests may be subject to additional hotel charges. Additional charges apply to room type upgrades. Promotional blackout periods may apply due to seasonal periods or special events, and normal arrival/departure restrictions apply. Hyatt reserves the right to alter or withdraw this program at any time without notice. The trademarks Hyatt Hotels & Resorts® and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation. ©2011 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.

postcard from paradise

Fat Tuesday is February 21

“laissez les bons temps rouler!” It’s that special time of year! Mardi Gras! That uniquely Gulf Coast tradition that dates back 300 years. And that means it’s time for our annual Mardi Gras preview, where we’ll hit the highlights of the many, many celebrations. In addition to parades, Mardi Gras also is a large social event that is ongoing throughout the year. Members of Krewes and secret societies meet for charitable events, gala balls, coronation ceremonies, float building parties, and sometimes just for fun. It’s an integral part of our Gulf Coast culture. And a small minieconomy of its own! Each year it comes around during the lull in tourist season, like an old friend who’s in the money. We caught up with some old friends and made some new ones while preparing this issue. And making new friends is one of the great benefits to living aboard a boat. Anyone who has lived along the Gulf has wondered what it would be like to live on a ship. So we crawled around the docks and marinas of the Gulf Coast to interview folks who gave up living ashore for a house that floats. Our articles on these adventurous souls will give you insight into what it’s like to live aboard, full time. Speaking of a board, you live along the Gulf long enough and you think you’ve seen everything. Then something like the WaveGlider sneaks up on you and makes you say, “Huh?” The WaveGlider is a surfboard like device that is propelled by waves, invented by Silicon Valley computer guys. No motors, no sails. It carries scientific instruments into the ocean and can monitor them constantly for months on end without needing to come back to shore. And it’s got satellite communication so it’s constantly in contact with its operator, who steers the craft. Why is all this so important? Cost. To keep a ship and crew out in the Gulf for months is hugely expensive and really limits how much scientists can do. But the WaveGliders are significantly cheaper to operate, and they work 24/7. That means scientists can afford to do more monitoring and experiments in the Gulf. And they can talk to each other to coordinate their monitoring. New science. What will they think up next? How about a diving trail just for shipwrecks? The Florida Key’s Shipwreck Trail is a diver friendly adventure that stretches from Key Largo to Key West and offers snorkelers and scuba divers alike the chance to explore sunken ships. Some are Spanish Galleons, some are warships, some are cargo ships. All of them have a story to tell. It’s like being in an underwater museum. And since each serves as an artificial reef, it’s also like being in an underwater zoo. Among those shipwrecks crawl tasty and lucrative shellfish, namely the Caribbean spiny lobster and the stone crab. There’s nothing in the Gulf that tastes better than these two crustaceans, and nothing brings more money to a fisherman’s wallet quicker. Get to know these unusual critters, how they’re harvested, and most importantly, how to cook them. Yep, we’ve got lots of recipes. We hope we’ve got you ready to cook up some fun, since Mardi Gras will force itself on you anyway. There’s no sense in fighting the Mardi Gras spirit, so go grab some King Cake, yell for some beads, watch a parade, and “laissez les bons temps rouler!”




Magic Arrives in Galveston Tp left, The Magic at dock in Cozumel. Bottom left, Lobster and shrimp are mainstays on the menu in the Northern Lights Dining Room on the Magic. Bottom right, Guests aboard the Carnival Magic relax on Lido Deck by the main pool. The area also features Carnival's Seaside Theatre that shows movies and concert videos. Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines. Top right, The Atrium is a central meeting place on the Magic. Photo by Andy Newman of Carnival Cruise Lines.

The Carnival Magic, the newest, biggest ship in the Carnival line, arrived in its new home port of Galveston on Nov. 13. To celebrate, Carnival threw a dockside party featuring Grammy Award winning band Maroon 5. On the 14th, Magic left for her inaugural Gulf of Mexico journey, traveling to Cozumel, Mexico. To say the Magic is spectacular and elegant is an understatement. She’s 1004 feet long and carries 3690 guests. Entry into the Atrium is impressive, as the open area soars up nearly 10 floors, all lit by a carousel of changing color sconces, with glass elevators shuffling passengers from deck to deck. For fun, the ship offers SportsSquare, a fun and fitness area with basketball, miniature golf, ping pong, a rope course and exercise equipment. Entertainment can be found in the Red Frog Pub, a Caribbean inspired bistro with its own hand crafted beer, at the Play It Again Piano Bar, at the Hat Trick casino, at the poolside movie Theatre, or at the grand Showtime Theatre which features Vegas style shows. And of course one of the biggest draws of a cruise is the cuisine. Formal dining nights in the Northern Lights Dining Room create lasting memories of delicious dishes and crisp service. And for variety, the Magic offers two premium dining areas, the Cucina del Capitano, a family style Italian restaurant (don’t miss the Spaghetti Carbonara), and Prime Steakhouse (the presentation and atmosphere were dazzling, as was the Filet!). For a treat for coffee lovers, the espresso bar on deck 5 has the best coffee aboard. And some of the best desserts, too. The Red Frog Pub has food in addition to drinks. The food isn’t free, but at $2-$4 a dish, it’s close to free, and it’s worth every penny. Sliders and conch fritters are savory and can’t be found anywhere else on board. Another unique experience is the Play It Again piano bar. Everyone loves a good piano bar and Ron Pass puts on a great show. His repertoire ranges from show tunes to standards to rock-n-roll. And the interaction between Ron and head bartender Anton is a show unto itself. These guys work well together! Grab a couple of martinis to get yourself in tune, then


Insider Tips for Your Trip on the Magic • Get a bedroom with a balcony • Room service. At least once! • Martinis at Play It Again Piano Bar nightly– also has a good wine selection • Catch a movie at the Seaside Theatre • Treat yourself to Spaghetti Carbonara at the Cucina del Capitano • Order a filet at Prime Steakhouse • Make room in your luggage for the novelty drink holders-a monkey head, disco ball, puffer fish and more. Too fun! • Warm Chocolate Melting Cake in the Northern Lights Dining Room


• In Cozumel, take the Isla Pasion tour-3 hours of relaxing on a flour white beach with funky little beach bars serving Dos XX– watch out for the hungry raccoons. • Grab a slider or two at the Red Frog Pub • The fantail on deck 5 is the most likely place to find deserted • Waffles and caramelized bananas for breakfast by the Beach Pool on deck 10 • BBQ outside the Lanai on deck 5 on sea days • The Magic Show at Showtime Theatre • Ask for a map of the ship from the Guest Services desk - it fits in your pocket.

Warm Chocolate Melting Cake Recipe - the Magic’s signature dessert! 6 oz Dark Chocolate 6 oz butter 4 eggs at room temperature 6 oz sugar 2 oz flour Melt the chocolate and butter. Mix the eggs and sugar and whisk for a few minutes, then add flour. Add the egg mix to the melted chocolate and mix. Pour mix into a greased mold. Bake directly in the oven at 390 degrees F for 14 minutes. Serve with ice cream and fruit garnish. Recipe courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines.

get ready to sing along! For fans of games, trivia contests are held daily at Ocean Plaza on the 5th deck. Don’t expect some quick easy answers. These games are challenging with an extremely entertaining emcee. For a little exercise, the miniature golf offers nine holes of fun. The bean bag toss nearby is a safer substitute for horseshoes. If you like shuffleboard, the indoor kind, there’s a table in the Red Frog. Adults who don’t want to interact with kids have a haven onboard the Magic. Serenity is on the topmost deck, is open air, but isn’t open to minors. It offers a bar and several different types of cozy sitting/napping areas for couples. It’s popular, so you may have to wait for a prime umbrella-covered round couch. It’s worth it. Movie fans will get a kick out of the Seaside Theatre, at the Beach Pool on the 10th deck. Evenings bring movies of recent vintage to the huge screen above the pool. And yes, popcorn is available close by. Splendid views of the ocean are close by when you have a room with a balcony. The Magic offers oodles of rooms with balconies, which gives your cruise an entirely different experience. Sharing a private sunset and drink over the water is a treat we all deserve. In the upcoming year, the Magic will offer several destinations for its cruises. Ports of call include the Mayan Riviera at Costa Maya, Cozumel, Belize, Nassau, Key West, Jamaica and Grand Cayman. But who are we kidding? The destination is an afterthought. The thrill of the cruise is what makes this such an inspiring vacation, and the plethora of activities and entertainment aboard the Magic make IT the prime destination. Welcome to the Gulf Coast, Magic. Smooth sailing! Left, The Play it Again Piano Bar. Anton (bartender) makes a mean martini. GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING | 17

coastal currents

Grammy Winning Coral Reefer Passes Ralph MacDonald March 15, 1944 - Dec. 18, 2011 - Musical legend, and long time Coral Reefer, By Craig Rogers You can talk about his Grammy Awards, and you can talk about him writing songs that sold 10 million copies, and you can talk about all the music legends he recorded with, and yeah, that’s impressive. But what floored me, I mean absolutely floored me about Ralph MacDonald, and made me aware that he had more musical talent in his little finger than most pop stars have in their body, was one casual video from 1999. It’s included on Jimmy Buffett’s MiniMatinee DVD - a relaxed practice session on a house patio in St. Barths. The band is sitting around on patio furniture and Jimmy is working on the song “Knees of My Heart”. Peter Mayer is there to Jimmy’s right, and next to Peter on the couch is Ralph. Everyone has an instrument except Ralph. After they start playing the song, Ralph gets up and walks off the scene. In the background, you can see Ralph through a sliding glass door going into the house’s kitchen. Then he comes back and sits down... and starts playing the plastic bags he got from the kitchen! He’s playing percussion with plastic shopping bags you get at the grocery store! How can anyone make music from plastic bags!!?? No wait, there’s more. Evidently the plastic bags weren’t in the right key, cause Ralph shortly put them down in favor of a more refined instrument . . . two pieces of paper. Yep, he kept percussion by rubbing together two pieces of paper. And it worked. It was pure musical pulled-it-out-ofhis-ass brilliance. That’s really all you need to know about Ralph MacDonald. He was so talented and so creative he could make impromptu music with plastic bags and pieces of paper. It still makes me grin. Oh Ralph, I will miss you so. Thanks for the decades of making me happy through music. For those of you who are accolade inclined, here is a list of Ralph’s:

• 2 Grammy awards, one for performing and one for producing, for the song "Calypso Breakdown" on the BeeGees 'Saturday Night Fever' soundtrack. • Co-wrote the Roberta Flack song “Where Is The Love”, which sold 10 million copies. • Wrote the Grover Washington, Jr./Bill ­18 | SPRING GULFSCAPES.COM

Grammy winning Ralph MacDonald passed Dec. 18, 2011. MacDonald was a long time member of the Coral Reefer band.

Withers classic “Just The Two Of Us”. • Played for 10 years in Harry Belafonte’s Steel Band. • Recorded with music legends James Taylor, Billy Joel, Bette Midler, Diana Ross and Paul Simon. But for me, and many other Parrotheads, Ralph became known to us as the percussionist in Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band for the last 25 years or more. He will be missed. Florida’s Paradise Coast Lands Five Resorts on Condé Nast Traveler’s Top U.S. Resorts List

Florida’s Paradise Coast region that includes Naples, Marco Island and the Gulf Coast portion of the Everglades earned five spots on the annual list of Top U.S. Resorts compiled by Condé Nast Traveler magazine. The five resorts are: Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, La Playa Beach & Golf Resort Naples, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples , The RitzCarlton Golf Resort Naples and Marco

Beach Ocean Resort “The Paradise Coast’s resorts and hotels have for years set high standards for customer service satisfaction, which is reflected in this year’s showing of five properties in our region on Condé Nast Traveler’s Top 150 U.S. Mainland Resorts list,” said Jack Wert, executive director for the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB. For more information on visiting Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades – The Paradise Coast, call 1-800-688-3600 or for more info. Braman Winery Covered in New Book, Opens New Tasting Room Locations Braman Winery is covered in the new coffee-table book, Spectacular Wineries of Texas, which offers a first-class photographic tour of fabulous wineries and the people behind the wines. Spectacular Wineries of Texas (Signature Publishing Group, 2011) is the fifth book of a popular series that will be

expanded to other fruitful regions. The stunning 208-page volume with upward of 200 full-color images features a private tour of a broad spectrum of established, estate, and boutique wineries, including Braman Winery. Readers will discover the history, character, and delicious offerings of nearly 50 Texas vineyards and wineries—and even meet their hospitable owners. The book is equal parts unprecedented, long overdue, and absolutely exquisite. Its foreword is by Susan Auler, cofounder of the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, and the introduction is by Todd Staples, Texas Agriculture Commissioner. Throughout the vivid pages, wine collectors, aficionados, and those with a casual interest in wine will discover wine destinations just outside of major metropolitan areas like Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Lubbock. The book is filled with stunning photographs and interesting editorial about highly regarded wineries like Braman Winery in Refugio, TX. Owned by Joe Braman, Braman Winery is celebrated for its numerous award winning wines, extensive Texas family history and the commitment to making wines everyone can enjoy. For the most knowledgeable of wine lovers, newcomers to Texas wine country, and those planning vacations, destination tours, and special events, Spectacular Wineries of Texas will engage and enrich with its fine presentation of beautiful photography and enjoyable, well-researched editorial. Spectacular Wineries of Texas (ISBN 9780979265860) is distributed by IPG and available through Barnes & Noble,, and other chain and independent booksellers. ... and new locations The winery welcomes visitors for tastings and tours Thursday – Saturday from noon – 7pm at their new location, 102 E. Ymbacion, Refugio, TX. And coming soon is another location, at Somerset, on highway 359 in Fort Bend County. Drop in and have a glass! Mignon Faget: A Life in Art and Design Capitol Park Welcome Center Baton Rouge, LA

A major exhibition celebrating the life and work of noted Louisiana artist and jewelry designer Mignon Faget opened in November at the Capitol Park Welcome Center in Baton Rouge, LA. The exhibit features hundreds of objects including jewelry, prints, linoleum blocks, drawings, glassware

Wines by Braman Winery. Photo by Misty Doyle, Unique Images Photography.

and textiles and encompasses Faget's commercial work and commissioned pieces for Mardi Gras krewes, museums and numerous charitable organizations. Exhibit on display until Sat., Feb. 25, 2012, (225)219-1200

The oysters aren’t killed by the toxin, but they do store it in their tissue, so if a human eats one, he gets an unhealthy dose of the toxin. This is called neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, and although not fatal, causes nausea, vomiting, slurred speech and tingling in the extremities. Due to the red tide, Texas postponed the opening of oyster season, which was set to open in October and runs until April. According to authorities, unless Texas gets some appreciable rainfall to flush out the bloom, the entire Texas oyster season may be cancelled. First the oyster predator problem, now red

Louisiana artist Mignon Faget

Oyster Season Postponed in Texas If you caught the article in our last issue on oysters, you’ll recall that noted oyster expert Dr. Sammy Ray, of Texas A&M Galveston, warned that due to the drought, Texas oysters were in great peril. Dr. Ray explained that the oyster’s natural predators thrive in high salinity waters caused by lack of rainfall. Well, the drought is still plaguing Texas, but it turns out that the oyster predators weren’t the only nemesis facing the Texas oyster industry. Another problem, red tide, bloomed in October and is still blooming. What is red tide? It’s an algal bloom that releases a neurotoxin in seawater that accumulates in oysters. It also kills lots of fish.

Dr. Sammy Ray, of Texas A&M Galveston

tide. As we say in Texas about problems, “when it rains it pours.” Whoever made up that saying wasn’t in the middle of a drought. GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING | 19

Blue Angels’ App Released for iPhone & Android Smart Phones the Blue Angels and what it takes to ensure their continued success. he Naval Aviation Museum Foundation is excited to announce the release of the Blue Angels app. The Blue Angels Features include: •Show schedules with air show locations and links to air show web app is available for $1.99 from the iTunes app store and the pages (when available). Android Market. Net proceeds go to support the Naval Aviation •Full team roster (officer and enlisted) and bios. Museum Foundation, Inc. •All 37 demonstration maneuvers detailed with graphics, in-flight Strap in with the world-famous Blue Angels! The U.S. Navy footage and air show narration. Flight Demonstration Squadron travels the nation each year repre•Official photography and multimedia from the Blue Angels. senting the best of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Aviation, flying the •Blue Angels Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds for the latest news and state-of-the-art F/A-18 Hornet strike fighter and C-130 Hercules updates. “Fat Albert.” Showcasing the talent, teamwork and dedication of •Share your air show photos and comments with the Blues! today’s military professionals, the Blue Angels provide the American public with a small snapshot of the pride and heroism of the men and women deployed across the globe in defense of our freedom. The Visitor Center at Rockport-Fulton The Blue Angels mobile app is your go-to source for the latest news, schedules, team roster and information on the Blues and their mission. Learn the maneuvers, the aircraft, and the history through magnificent aerial video and photography, gaining a pilot’s-eye-view of the Blue Angels’ intense performances. Save air show dates to your calendar and follow the Blue Angels across the nation. With the Blue Angels mobile app, you become a part of the team as you get to know the personnel that make up


Information Central.



View from the Corpus Christi Municipal Marina, located downtown. 足22 | SPRING GULFSCAPES.COM

Li ve aboard

Boating– A Life st yle Af loat Anyone who has ever lived near the Gulf Coast has at one time or another entertained the following thought . . . Wouldn’t it be neat to live on a boat! With that thought in mind, we ventured down to the marinas, crawled around the docks and gathered information about this alluring lifestyle. We spoke to old salts, new salts and no salts. We looked at sailboats, houseboats and powerboats. What we came away with was a new understanding of, and a new respect for, those adventurous souls who live in houses that float. Let’s begin with inspiration. Why live on a boat? The range of answers goes from economics (it can be cheap, relatively speaking), to attitude (the calming effect of the sea), to entertainment (a built in community with lots of things nearby to do.) All good reasons. That’s the why. Now about the who. Who lives on a boat? “Well, they call it the bohemian lifestyle,” says Peter Davidson, Superintendent of the Corpus Christi Municipal Marina. “You know, most of them are very well educated. The majority of liveaboards here have college degrees. Many just got tired of the rat race. And it’s an inexpensive way of living in a prime location.” The prime location Davidson mentions isn’t just the water that surrounds the boat. Corpus Christi’s marina is smack dab in the middle of downtown, within easy walking distance of numerous restaurants, shops and entertainment venues. So is St. Petersburg’s Marina. Walt Miller, Manager for the Municipal Marina and Port of St. Petersburg, says, “We’re in the heart of the downtown area, right on the waterfront. The city has created parks along almost the entire waterfront. It’s a beautiful downtown waterfront. If you walk off your boat, you’re downtown. There’s hundreds of restaurants, museums, and tons of events. We have the Grand Prix race every year that goes right in front of the marina. We have Saturday morning market right across from the marina. The Tampa Bay Rays play major league baseball nearby. You can take a trolley or walk to the stadium. There’s so many things to do.” Finding the right marina is a key to enjoying a liveaboard life. So is finding the right boat. You’ll have to decide between sailboats, powerboats and houseboats. And some people even live on barges. Sailboats have less room than motorboats and houseboats, generally speaking, but they can be less expensive to purchase. And once you leave the dock for a cruise, you can’t beat the price of wind. Motorboats, especially trawlers, offer more room, but are pricier to purchase and operate. They’re usually very ocean-worthy and make for good cruising boats. Houseboats have the most room because they’re built as homes first, not boats. But they aren’t as good for taking out on the water. How big a boat do you need? “One with as big a living area as you can afford,” offers Davidson. Most liveaboard boats in his marina are between 35 and 45 feet, the same as in St. Petersburg. Miller says his mix of boats in liveaboard status is 60% sailboats, 40% powerboats. Once you decide on a boat, what can you expect from your new neighborhood? Both Miller and Davidson say the liveaboard community is very social and they help each other out. “It’s a tight knit community and they not only help each other out, they help the non-liveaboard boat owners by watching over their boats when they’re away, and they help the marina staff by keeping an eye out for problems and for trespassers,” said Davidson. Liveaboards often have impromptu dock parties, and marinas often organize holiday parties in the Boater’s Facilities. Most marinas offer amenities to their boaters. Some of the nicer marinas, like Corpus Christi and St. Pete, have erected Boaters Facilities, which house showers, bathrooms, GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING | 23

St. Petersburg Municipal Marina. Photo courtesy of city of St. Petersburg.

meeting rooms, computer rooms, TV rooms and more. Wi-Fi is also offered at many marinas. Larger, more modern marinas also offer free, or very cheap, pump out service. Boats have to contain their own waste water, which has to be pumped out occasionally. Thanks in large part to the Clean Marina Program, which is a joint Federal/State grant program, marinas get help in installing and maintaining proper pump out and waste water handling facilities. It’s a win-win for everyone. The marinas don’t have to worry about boaters polluting their waters with waste water discharge and the boaters get pump out service nearby and cheap. Some marinas also offer free contaminated bilge water pump out (water that accumulates in the bottom of a boat and must be removed) and free engine oil pump out. Some marinas offer stores with ship supplies. Some offer maintenance and repair facilities, such as hull cleaning. Davidson says that the hull of a boat needs to be cleaned every 12-18 months for liveaboard boats. The cost in the Corpus Christi Marina for hull cleaning is about $2000 for a 40 foot boat. Boats also require regular maintenance and repairs, just like a house. Count on those expenses to total 10% of the value of your boat per year. Of course, these marina amenities don’t come free. Liveaboards pay for slip rental for their boat based on a per linear foot charge. Liveaboard are also charge a liveaboard fee, and electrical hookups come with a charge also. Most marinas include some vehicle parking with the liveaboard fee, but it is usually limited to one or two cars. Corpus Christi charges $5.75 per linear foot for slip rental for one month (which totals $230 for a 40’ boat), plus a monthly ­24 | SPRING GULFSCAPES.COM

liveaboard fee of $82.50 (for two). Monthly utility charges for a 40’ boat are $30.05, which includes garbage, water, and up to 280 kilowatts of electricity usage. Electric usage over 280 kw is charged an additional fee. St. Petersburg charges $408.05 per month for residents for a 35-44’ boat, plus a liveaboard fee of $165.48. A local electric company handles electrical hookups and charges. Water and parking are included in the liveaboard fee. In addition to marina charges, a liveaboard boater may want to insure his boat. That’s not too expensive if you live up north, but in the hurricane zone, it gets pricey. Davidson says insurance runs about 10% of the value of your boat per year. Some marinas require you to carry insurance; others don’t. BoatUS is the largest boat insurer in the U.S. So much for the technical details. Now what about the fun? What are the unique benefits of living on a boat? “Not many people can say they are lulled to sleep every night by the sound of water lapping at their hull,” offered Davidson. And the sunsets and sunrises over the marinas are often spectacular. If you like to fish, many marinas let you fish right off your boat. In Texas, there are no personal property taxes on boats, just a yearly registration fee, so you avoid property taxes. The marinas we spoke with had little crime, probably because they also provided 24 hour security. What other things do you need to be happy living afloat? “The right spouse,” per Davidson. “Nine out of ten couples who spend an extended time together on a boat end up divorced,” he said. And this is from a man who has lived on the waterfront for 40

City of Fort Myers Yacht Basin.

years, so he’s seen his share of boating couples. “There’s nowhere to go. You can’t go hide in another room if you aren’t getting along,” Davidson explained. Davidson also said you can’t be a slob and live on a boat. “There isn’t enough room to be messy,” he said. That’s the one thing that separates people who can live on a boat from those that can’t: Stuff. You don’t have much storage space on a boat, so you have to get rid of a lot of your “Stuff ”. Boats are very confined, and marinas have very limited options to offer for storage. Most marinas only have “lockers” for rent on the docks, which are very small storage areas located on your slip. So “Stuff ” has to go. And once you manage to eliminate unnecessary stuff, if you buy some new stuff, you have to get rid of some of your old stuff. We’re talking seriously limited space for folks who are used to three bedrooms, a garage and an attic. That limited space also makes it difficult to have overnight guests. Depending on the size of the boat, you may or may not have an extra bedroom. Only guests who are comfortable with the idea of “cozy” should be invited overnight. And since we’re in the warm latitudes, any boat you plan on living aboard should have an air conditioner. Many liveaboards also rig up large tarps that keep the sun off their boat, which helps keep it cool. The sun beating down on the cabin of a boat in August makes it hard (and expensive) to keep things cool. Speaking of warm weather, we haven’t discussed our yearly hurricane season yet. Boaters are usually required to leave a marina if a storm threatens. You’ll have to find someplace else to stay; a

hotel or a friend/relative’s house. Yep, there are a lot of things to consider when contemplating a move aboard a house that floats. It’s pretty daunting to many. But to the few adventurous souls that take that plunge, the rewards are many. It’s been described as a liberating lifestyle, where you can always just pack up and sail away for a few days. It’s also a serene lifestyle, very laid back, with lots of relaxation. And the liveaboard community is warm and close, and there’s usually someone there offering to help you with whatever you need. Asked if people need prior boating experience before making the liveaboard move, Peter Davidson summed it up. “Naw. It’s like getting thrown in the deep end. You’re gonna learn real fast. And there are a lot of nice people on the dock who will show you the ropes, and they will welcome you with open arms. The liveaboard folks and sailors in general are just wonderful, nice people. We don’t have many mean, nasty people around. It’s like 99.9% nice, nice people. So no, you don’t need experience. Just find something suitable and move in and enjoy this wonderful lifestyle.” Boats commonly found in liveaboard communities: Sail - Hunter, Beneteau, and Catalina are mainstream boats. Like Chevys. A boat with an aft cabin is nice because the aft cabin is usually larger than other cabins. A Morgan 41 Out Island is a nice boat with an aft cabin and is wide with extra room. Power boats - trawlers are slow, sturdy boats well suited to living aboard. Manufacturers include Cape Dory, Grand Banks, Gulf Star. Houseboats - Holiday Mansion, Skipper Liner. GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING | 25

Lee and Sue Alcock, Ft. Myers Yacht Basin, Ft. Myers, FL, Sojourn Lee and Sue Alcock knew they wanted to be liveaboards. “We dreamed about living on a boat since we were in our 30’s,” said Lee, now 65. “We love being on the water, traveling by boat, seeing different parts of the U.S.,” gushed Sue. Their dreams became reality 9 years ago, when Lee retired and they moved from their small Illinois town to the City of Ft. Myers Yacht Basin. It wasn’t their first time around boats. They started with a 14’ boat, moved to an 18’, then a 21’ . . . and it kept going. The Mississippi River was only 45 minutes from them, so that’s where they did their early boating. Once they moved to Florida they graduated to a 41’ President trawler which they called home for 7 years, before moving up to a 47’ Tradewinds trawler two years ago. Why a trawler? “We didn’t know anything about sailboats, so that was out. We’re not houseboat kind of people - they don’t take the big water very well,” answered Lee. So their love of cruising focused them on trawlers, which are big, heavy boats that cruise well. Which is good, because Lee and Sue cruise often. “In 2003, we took a 6 month trip up the Mississippi through the river system. We’ve been around the tip of Florida and up to the Chesapeake. We’ve gone out to the Dry Tortugas and Ft. Jefferson twice. And down the Keys many times. And we go a lot to Pelican Bay which is only 45 miles from here and takes about four and a half hours,” Lee said. They often travel with other boats, and have a trip over to the Bahamas on their agenda. Having the right kind of boat for cruising is important. So is the upkeep and how you outfit the boat. There are certain amenities the Alcocks recommend for anyone contemplating a move aboard. “In the Gulf, you need A/C for the summer. And good electronics if you want to cruise - GPS, depth sounder, etc.,” warned Lee. They also suggested a full sized refrigerator and cooktop. And they like that their boat has better than average storage for pots and pans and for clothes. Good batteries are highly recommended, too. All those items make the boat more useable. The part of their boat that gets the most use is the aft deck. “Our aft deck is large. It’s enclosed. It has curtains you can roll up. It’s like our living room, our den, our lanai. We spend probably over half our time out there. We have a TV out there. A table to eat on. An icemaker and wet bar. We like it,” Lee said. ­26 | SPRING GULFSCAPES.COM

And while they may not like it, when it comes to maintenance the Lee’s don’t skimp. They keep their boat in cruising shape by having the bottom cleaned by a diver every two months. And when Top, The Sojourn, the Alcock's 47' needed, they have a Tradewinds trawler. Above, Lee & Sue bottom job (sanding Alcock next to their home/boat. and repainting the bottom with special paint that retards growth of barnacles and other sea critters). And they do it themselves. It’s hard work, but needed to keep the boat cutting through the water efficiently. Most of the Alcock’s cruising is done in the cooler months. Lee explained that, “During the summer, we don’t cruise because it’s so hot down here, and the mosquitoes will carry you away.” They usually manage two to three trips in October and November, then three to five in March through May. When they aren’t cruising, they’re enjoying the Ft. Myers marina. “We like the marina,” said Sue, “It’s right by downtown. We are able to enjoy all the amenities Ft. Myers has to offer by just walking downtown.” They walk to the bank, to their church, to the library, to get their hair cut, and to the many good restaurants in the area. Their social life at the marina has allowed them to develop some really, really close friends, said Lee. “Some are full time liveaboards like us, others are snowbirds who are only here four or five months out of the year,” he explained. “In the winter months, every night before sunset, we have cocktails and snacks on the dock. And the marina throws four or five parties a year with burgers and dogs.” The liveaboard life agrees with the Alcocks, who have been married for 43 years. They keep healthy by going to a health club three or four times a week. They have good friends close by. It’s a lifestyle they plan on keeping as long as they can. And they should. After all, they dreamed about it for 20 years. They should get to enjoy it for at least that long!

Wendy and Randy Bond, Corpus Christi Municipal Marina, TX, Bout-Time

Top, The Bout-Time, Randy and Wendy Bond's liveaboard houseboat. Bottom, Randy, middle with straw hat, and Wendy, second from left, got married aboard their houseboat, the Bout-Time. The pirate with the tricorner hat officiated the ceremony.

The Bonds live aboard the Bout-Time, a 1979 Cruise-A-Home 42 foot houseboat. After living in a marina in Washington for four years, they decided to head south to the Gulf and warmer climes. They’ve lived in the Corpus Christi Municipal Marina for just over a year, love the boating community there, and plan on staying a while. Randy and Wendy lived together for years before they decided to make the move to a floating home. Their decision to give up their big house was spurred in large part to get closer to their jobs. Traffic in Seattle, where they worked, was awful, said Randy. Commute times were killing them, and buying something close to downtown Seattle was too expensive. Although they had talked about buying a boat for two years, they hadn’t taken the plunge. The tipping point for Wendy came one day when she was stuck in rush

hour traffic for two hours. Again. It was time to move to aboard. And they did. Neither of them had much boating experience. They chose the houseboat because of its simplicity and the extra room. The boating community and its frequent gatherings fit the kind of lifestyle they desired. And they learned the tricks of living on a boat. Things like the smaller living space means you have to get rid of your ‘Stuff ’! Once you have room for all your stuff, if you buy more stuff you have to get rid of some of your old stuff. They also met some nice friends, took some nice trips aboard, and oh, yeah, they got married. On the boat, of course! By a pirate. Seriously. They have pictures. Although they liked Washington, the Bonds wanted to move further south, for better weather among other reasons. So they


The view down Ocean Drive in Corpus Christi, which runs next to the Marina.

loaded their boat on a trailer and had it trucked to Corpus Christi. They found South Texas to be a little different from the Pacific Northwest. Of course the winter weather was milder, so they no longer had to put up with long bouts of cold weather. But the hot Texas summer revealed one thing they were missing - air conditioning. It wasn’t needed in Washington, but after spending a few hot summer months trying to get by without it, they added one. Other than adding the A/C, life along the ­28 | SPRING GULFSCAPES.COM

waterfront is pretty much the same as it was up north. There’s still the great sense of community, where everyone helps each other out. And potluck cookouts on the dock are frequent and fun. The Bond’s hosted a Saturday night dock party recently for one of their neighboring boats, the Apothekerx, whose owner, Jim Clower, was departing the next morning to participate in the Harvest Moon regatta, an annual Galveston to Port Aransas sailboat race. Randy grilled burgers for the dozen or so that had gathered, and everyone

else brought side dishes and appetizers. Dogs and people mingled around the dock until after 11 p.m. The social contacts the Bonds have are a little different than in some marina communities. Rather than socializing mostly with other liveaboards, they find that they socialize more with the boaters on their dock, most of whom are not liveaboards, but are more weekend type visitors. It makes sense, as Wendy explains it, “It’s like living in a neighborhood on land. You do things with the people close

Top, A view from the Municipal Marina into downtown Corpus Christi. Left, Dogs and neighbors come out for a dock party hosted by Randy and Wendy Bond.

to you, on your street. We don’t do as much with other boaters who are on other docks. The people on our dock, we just see them more regularly and so we do more with them.” One of the reasons the Bonds see their dock neighbors is because they don’t take the Bout-Time out often. Houseboats aren’t well suited for the often choppy waters of Corpus Christi Bay, where 20 mph winds are the norm. Keeping the Bout-Time’s twin diesel engines supplied with plenty of fuel is also a pricey affair with current diesel prices. It also takes a few hours to secure everything for cruising, so the Bonds are content with staying tied up on their dock most of the time, next to their neighbors. The Bonds like seeing their neighbors, but they do say routine events, like taking out the garbage, can take longer than expected. “If we bump into a neighbor, we usually stop and talk, and we never know how long the conversation will last,” explained Wendy. “Sometimes taking out the garbage becomes a half hour ordeal.” That’s just part of the liveaboard appeal! GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING | 29

Dave and Laura Hamilton, Island Moorings Marina, Port Aransas, TX, Laura Lynn Dave Hamilton was born to live on a boat. Some folks take a plunge and start living aboard with no boating experience. Not Dave. He’s been around boats all his life, starting in his youth in California. And for the last few years he has run his own business taking yachts down to the southern Caribbean for overhauls and renovations. Big yachts. Not only does he sail the yachts down, he sets up the work, hires the craftsmen, and does some of the work himself. Dave knows every part of a yacht and can fix anything. So what else would you expect from someone with such experience and expertise? Of course he lives on a boat. Specifically, Dave and his wife Laura live on the Laura Lee, a 1981 51’ Irwin ketch, moored a few boats down from Harold and Marilyn Norby (see related article) in Island Moorings Marina. While Dave runs his boat business, Laura is an HR manager for APAC, a world-wide customer service company with a branch in Corpus Christ, which is about 20 miles from the marina. And while technically Dave runs his business, for the last three years it really has run him. When a customer contacts Dave to have his boat renovated, Dave takes the boat down south to Trinidad, Panama, Guyana, or elsewhere where he knows the boatyards and craftsmen. Dave stays there till the renovations are done. That means time away from home. And business has been good. “It’s been constant. I’ve been gone for three years!” Dave said. One vessel took a year and a half to renovate, keeping Dave occupied the whole time. But things have slowed down a little and now Dave’s looking forward to enjoying more time with his wife. He’s also started a yacht service company, Dave’s Yacht Service, doing underwater servicing for local boats, which involves propeller repair and bottom maintenance. He’s excited about it because it requires no travel. Laura is excited, too. This is the third boat Dave has lived on, but this time, “It was actually Laura’s idea to live aboard. She’s a salt. She pushed to live aboard. She won’t go back to a house.” Part of the reason is their boat. According to Dave, the Irwin is a great blend of cruiser and liveaboard. “She’s a heavy boat and is rigged for cruising. But she has lots of room. It’s the best of both worlds, really.” The roominess is courtesy of the center console and aft cabin. “The aft cabin is great. It’s really big. We’ve got a queen bed in there. And it’s not cramped. We’re not bumping elbows in there,” he explained. “A V berth, which is a forward cabin, just doesn’t have as much room as an aft cabin.” The center console allows room for the aft cabin. Another reason the Hamiltons will remain liveaboards is the friendliness of the marina and boating culture. “The marina community is phenomenal here. Boat people are more open and engaging. You don’t get a lot of people who want to hole up by themselves. We all have the same common interest, so there’s a bond, always something to talk about. But there are also all these different personalities that make things interesting,” Dave said. “And when you go to a different marina, there’s always a warm welcome. You find instant friends. ­30 | SPRING GULFSCAPES.COM

People are just more relaxed around the water. I call it aqua therapy. You also find that boaters are more do-ers. They’re a very adventurous people. Lots of people talk about doing exciting things. Boating people actually do them.” The liveaboard community at Island Moorings is close-knit. They have BBQ’s together on the marina patio on holidays. Dave brings an eight foot long smoker he has access to, and the marina supplies the meat. The patio has a propane grill for anyone to use, and the marina supplies the propane. Port Aransas is a small town but has several

Dave Hamilton aboard the Laura Lynn at Island Moorings Marina in Port Aransas, TX.

fun events, such as cookoffs and belt sander races. The marina residents often get together to field a team for the cookoffs and the marina stores the large cooking utensils they need. In addition to the community benefits, living aboard has other advantages. There are the daily sunsets on the water. There’s no lawn to mow. There are no property taxes. But there are sacrifices that come with living aboard. “You lose a lot of your privacy,” said Dave. “Neighbors are a lot closer than in a house. And unless you want to use the bathroom on your boat (which has to store all waste water in tanks to be pumped out later), you use

the public shower. You have to give up your garage, so you can’t have any projects ongoing, if you like to make or fix things yourself. Your car is exposed to the elements. Storage is always a problem, but you learn to minimize. And there is always maintenance that you need to do, and you can’t put it off. The ocean is a harsh environment and problems will get worse quickly if you put them off.” So is it worth it? Is it worth giving up storage space and some privacy? “When you’re on the water, you’re a whole different person. You’re more relaxed,” emphasized Dave. Aqua therapy. Relax . . . live longer. GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING | 31

Left, Ragnvald Rolle, the troll who sailed the Norby's abandoned boat from Tampico, Mexico to Galveston Bay. Right, Harold makes wine, even aboard ship. His Norwegian heritage shows through, even on the humorous label.

Harold and Marilyn Norby, Island Moorings Marina, Port Aransas, TX, Freebird was at the Island Moorings Marina in Port Aransas trying to set up interviews for the following day. The marina supervisor was helping by introducing me to some of the liveaboards. As I greeted Harold Norby, I asked innocently, “Will you be around here tomorrow so I can interview you?” His answer: “Hell son, I’m 86 years old. I never know if I’m going to be around tomorrow!” He was. And boy am I glad. Harold and his wife Marilyn have many exciting stories of their time together on the sea. And when I say many, I mean 58 years of marriage many. Far more stories than I can relate in this short article. Earlier this year, the Norbys made a lifestyle transition. They moved into the Freebird, a 40’ 1972 Morgan sailboat. “It’s a living boat, not a sailing boat,” Harold explained. They finally gave up their “sailing” boat, a 34’ President, for the roomier Morgan, signaling an end to their extended sailing adventures. More on those later. Although they have a new boat, they aren’t strangers to Island Moorings Marina. The couple has kept a boat at Island Moorings since 1989. And not just sailboats. “We lived on a houseboat here at Island Moorings,” Harold explained. “It was a beautiful old houseboat that we shouldn’t have gotten rid of. It was the party boat of the marina!” They’ve lived aboard off and on over the years, but plan to stick to the floating lifestyle from now on. “We tried living in a trailer park across from the marina, but we didn’t like it. So we went back to a boat,” said Harold. The Norbys are originally from up north. Harold is from North Dakota, while Marilyn is from Minnesota. Harold quips, “I picked her up in a welfare office!” Marilyn says they both worked there at the time. For years, they worked for La Quinta Inns in Texas, managing hotels. They moved often to different hotels, so they kept their home base on a boat in the Kemah, Texas area, south of Houston. Harold and Marilyn started boating while they lived up north in



Minnesota and then Nebraska. They both learned the ins and outs of boating, but Harold had a leg up, having had some prior experience. “I spent a lot of time on boats in WWII in the South Pacific,” said Harold, a veteran. In the Navy? “No, Army Air Corps. Never set foot in a plane, but I was on several boats!” Poor eyesight kept Harold out of airplanes and on the ground support crew. When they moved to Texas, they brought their boat with them. Each got their captains license, which allowed them to embark on several bluewater adventures. Those licenses came in handy when they decided to start a dolphin watch cruise business a few years ago. It was based out of Island Moorings and took people on two hours cruises. “We always saw dolphins,” said Marilyn, “but one day, a couple came aboard with a baby that had an ear infection. He cried the whole time. It was miserable. But once we got out in the channel, the dolphins were all over us. And they stood way out of the water to look in the boat. They were concerned for that baby!” And now for those bluewater adventures I mentioned. To gain experience, the Norby’s chartered boats in the British Virgin Islands. In 1989, they figured they were experienced enough, so they took off and sailed from San Diego to Tahiti. On a 30’ boat. That’s a mighty small boat on a mighty big ocean. To say they didn’t encounter much besides water is a huge understatement, said Harold. “We saw a piece of plastic off a cooler one day. That’s the only human thing we saw in 26 days.” But they saw dolphins. Marilyn says one morning she heard a strange noise while belowdecks. She went up top and saw they were in a pod of dolphins. “There were thousands of them! It was the most beautiful thing!” In 1993, they sailed to Guatemala. And stayed four years. Why Guatemala? Harold explained, “There’s a large cruising community there at the Rio Dulce. It’s a destination for cruisers. We stopped at Isla Mujeres on the way down, which is another destination. After we left Guatemala, we stopped in Honduras for a year. There’s a circuit you sail down there. It was the place to be for cruisers.”

While they were in the Bay Islands of the Honduras, their boat was blown onto a reef and started sinking. A local man came and helped them. They became friends and the Norby’s still have a photo of him hanging in their salon. “You never know who you’re going to meet when you go out on a boat,” said Harold. Like Russians. You don’t normally expect to meet a group of Russians while sailing around Tampico, Mexico, but Harold and two of his friends did. “This was back while the Cold War was still going on,” he explained. “But we lost our steering and couldn’t fix it. There was a ship coming, so I hailed it. And it was a big Russian ship headed to Tampico. The first mate spoke English. He said he would send over a boat with some men to try to help with repairs. Instead, he brought his ship over and put us right under the bow of his big ship on the windward side. Because of the waves, our mast began slamming into the side of his ship and broke our spreader, and our shrouds were all hanging. So we had to abandon ship. We climbed a rope ladder up to the deck and the captain came over to us. He reeked of vodka he was so drunk!” “We got to use the radio and hailed the Coast Guard in Corpus Christi, who diverted a Norwegian tanker coming up from South America. He came over and took us off the Russian ship.” “We had to just let my boat drift away. It

Harold and Marilyn in the salon of their 40' Morgan sailboat.

wasn’t repairable. But it floated into Galveston 11 days later. We have a little concrete figure that we keep on board that we’ve had for 40 years. It’s a troll that’s named Ragnvald Rolle. (Ragnvald is a Norwegian king legend, in honor of Harold’s Norwegian ancestry. Rolle is the last name of the gentleman who helped them get off the reef in Honduras.) We went to look at the boat and Ragnvald was still there. So we say a troll sailed our abandoned boat from Tampico to Galveston Bay!” With their bluewater adventures (probably) behind them, the Norbys are happy to be

aboard a floating home and can’t think of any disadvantages of the liveaboard life. But they can name many advantages. They say it is as cheap as anything, especially since houses near the water are so expensive. And Marilyn says, “You wake up feeling serene, hearing the birds and the fish.” But the main advantage is the community. “It’s more social,” emphasizes Harold. “People care about each other. Someone will be there to help you. And you meet neat people. You live in a small village. We have pot luck dinners up by the marina store.” According to the Norby’s, Island Mooring Marina has everything they need. Harold says, “The new restaurant at the marina, La Barataria, is great, we eat there a lot. And one of the guys who works there, James, did the wiring on our boat.” Just another example of the great sense of community in the liveaboard world. While the Norby’s agree that you don’t want too much “stuff ” on a boat, they haven’t found the space constrictions to be that big a problem. “I made wine on board this year,” proclaimed Harold. Hey, if you can make wine on board, you’re not having too much of a problem with space. As for advice to those considering moving onto a boat, Harold counsels that the most important thing is, “You have to love the water. That’s first and foremost.” And for anyone who may be a little paranoid about the boat sinking: “Get a good bilge pump!”

Famous Liveaboards... Travis McGee still inspires We were wondering whether any famous people were liveaboards. Well, we came up with two. Noah and Travis McGee. Since you’re probably familiar with Noah, here’s some info on the best known liveaboard in literary history. Travis McGee was the oversized, quixotic, “salvage consultant” featured in 21 novels by famed author John D. MacDonald. The first novel was released in 1964, and the last in 1984. McGee was a self proclaimed Florida beach bum, with the tanned hide and sandy hair to prove it. The novels are in the detective vein, but McGee isn’t a private detective or in law enforcement. Instead, he’s just a guy with some military experience who uses his intellect and size to recover things of value that can’t be retrieved through normal channels, i.e., the police or the courts. McGee would recover the valuable, keeping 50% for himself - his idea was that 50% of something was better than 100% of nothing. McGee lived on a 52’ barge-type houseboat called the Busted Flush, named after the hand he was holding when he won the boat in a poker game. The Flush was docked at slip F-18 in Bahia Mar Marina in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. It featured on oversized master bedroom and bath, a rarity on boats. Due to McGee’s line of (dangerous) work, the boat also had sensors to warn McGee if anyone entered.

Every so often, McGee would take the Bust Flush out for cruises, usually stocked with specially selected friends. He’d locate a good secluded spot, tie up the boat and enjoy his Boodles gin, music, swimming, cooking and fishing. It was a moveable feast. Over the years, the Flush became such a part of McGee that it figured large in several of the books. It was bombed, shot up and partially sunk. It was where McGee sought refuge and solace, where he kept his money, where he repaired damaged women. In 1986, Friends of Libraries U.S.A placed a Literary Landmark at Slip F-18 at Bahia Mar. It was the first such Landmark the group awarded. Never has there been a more revered boat slip and boat, and never has there been a more influential liveaboard. Travis McGee fans still miss him and the Bust Flush. GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING | 33

Riding a Wave of Information You should see what they’re doing with surfboards and venetian blinds these days! Just strap a few solar cells and some scientific instruments on a long board and you’ve got a hot new robotic technology start-up company. Perhaps I oversimplify. It isn’t quite that easy. It seems you’ll also need some computer scientists, mechanical engineers, software experts, satellite communications experts. Oh, and might as well throw in an astronaut for good measure. Seriously. That’s what’s happening at Liquid Robotics, a Sunnyvale, California company that started up in 2007. Their flagship product is the Wave Glider, and yes, it looks like a surfboard with a set of vene­34 | SPRING GULFSCAPES.COM

tian blinds attached. But it is actually a revolutionary new way to monitor our vast oceans, continually, for months at a time, at a fraction of the cost of doing so by ship. To start with, the basic platform of the Wave Glider is very similar to a surfboard. It’s 7 feet long and 2 feet wide. Attached to its bottom via an umbilical cord is a set of wings. It’s the wings that look like venetian blinds, but they’re actually the motor that propels the Wave Glider, using the motion of a wave to pull the Wave Glider along at about one and a half knots. A satellite uplink sends information to Liquid Robotics, telling the technicians the location and speed, so they can steer. The heart of the Wave Glider is those wings. They convert the up and down energy from a wave into forward thrust. Simple, cheap, and very low on maintenance. That means the Glider doesn’t need to refuel, so it can remain out in the ocean, constantly monitoring, for long periods of time. And what exactly does the Wave Glider monitor out there in the

sea? Whatever someone wants it to. “It’s basically a truck,” said Senior V.P. of Operations Graham Hive. “It is a robot designed to carry cargo.” And the cargo can be any kind of scientific instruments that will fit. To operate that cargo, the Glider uses solar cells, which provide power for its own computers and satellite communications, plus whatever scientific instruments are attached. NOAA has purchased Wave Gliders to measure the carbon dioxide content of the ocean to see how much CO2 is being absorbed. This is important to climate scientists. NOAA also uses the Gliders in their Pacific Tsunami Warning System. When BP had a small problem with an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Liquid Robotics provided four Wave Gliders to monitor hydrocarbons in the ocean water. The first one was launched near the Macondo Well site on Sept. 10, 2010 and they are still out there, monitoring. Hive says they spoke to BP shortly after the spill and BP said they needed help monitoring the hydrocarbons because they were short on ships - there were so many involved in removing oil. So the

Wave Gliders freed up ships to remove oil while the Gliders monitored the location of the drifting spill. In addition to being able to operate continuously for long periods, Wave Gliders do so at a fraction of the cost of a boat. A ship and crew can cost between $50,000 and $100,000 a day to operate. The Wave Gliders cost between $1000 and $3000 a day. That’s a heck of a big difference. The Wave Glider has also been used to track sea life with acoustic underwater monitoring sensors. That was actually the first envisioned use of the robot and the inspiration for its development. “The idea of the Wave Glider actually started when my brother (Roger, the founder and Chief Technology Officer) and dad were involved with the Jupiter Research Foundation in Hawaii that wanted to set up a series of underwater acoustic buoys to broadcast the songs of humpback whales in Hawaii over the internet,” Hine explained. “They were trying to figure out how to keep a buoy out there without mooring it. We weren’t exactly ocean engineering types. We were Silicon Valley types. We were

Opposite page, top, The wings are the engine that propels the Wave Glider, harnessing the power of each passing wave. Opposite page, bottom, Two Wave Gliders on deck, waiting for deployment. Below, The Wave Glider after launch from support ship.


used to figuring out how to build computer chips. So we came at it kind of sideways. My brother Roger is a mechanical and robotics engineer, and he and the people at Jupiter and my father came up with this idea (the wings) and tried it out in a fish tank and it worked. Then we tried it out in a swimming pool and it worked. Then we tried it in the ocean and it worked.” And that’s how the new technology was born. “It seems that since we came kind of sideways into the industry we were able to think far enough out of the box and came up with something new.” Their inexpensive monitoring ability has made the Wave Gliders attractive to the offshore oil industry in the Gulf. Liquid Robotics has rented space in Biloxi as a base for their Gulf operations, and it is looking to set up another base in Houma, Louisiana. They use local ships to help launch and recover the Gliders. “We’re sort of joining the Gulf community there. It’s been a good experience,” Hive said. One of the other uses of Gliders is to measure algal blooms in the water, a subject particularly touchy with Texas residents right now, since red tide has temporarily shut down the entire Texas oyster industry. The Gliders can be equipped with algae measuring devices and can report every two to three minutes, so the technicians guiding them can redirect them to follow an algal trail once it’s picked up, and document its toxicity. To further expand the uses of the Gliders, Liquid Robotics is sponsoring a contest, the PacX Challenge, in which scientists will submit proposed uses for data obtained from four Gliders which will be crossing the Pacific this winter. Two Gliders will traverse from Hawaii to Australia, and two others will go from Hawaii to Japan, all the while gathering and transmitting, in near real time, loads of sensor data. The scientist with the winning idea will get the use of a Wave Glider for six months, free. The plentitude of uses for Wave Gliders, and their potential to help explore our mostly unexplored oceans has attracted some Top, A Wave Gliders on deck. Middle, left, This is how the Wave Glider moves. It coasts down the waves. Middle, right, A Wave Glider can be equipped to monitor a vast array of sea conditions, much more cheaply and for longer periods that a manned boat. Bottom, The umbilical cord attaches the wings, which are deployed from 15 to 22 feet below the board.


impressive talent to Liquid Robotics. On Sept. 15, 2011, Edward T. Lu, NASA astronaut and renowned astrophysicist, joined Liquid Robotics as chief of innovative applications. And on Aug. 30, 2011, James Gosling, formerly of Google, joined the company as chief software architect. Mr. Gosling is best known as the developer of the Java programming language. Pretty impressive company. Those two ought to be helpful in solving any number of problems. And a question or two about potential problems came to mind, just from an unscientific, been around the Gulf Coast a while, common sense point of view. The first one was, how do the Gliders keep from getting run over by ships? “We’re in deeper water, away from shore usually, so we just try to stay out of the shipping lanes,� said Hive. “But you can only rely on the big-ocean, little-craft theory so much. We try to be highly visible and let the Coast Guard and mariners know we’re out there.� The Gliders won’t hurt a ship, but a ship could do some serious damage to a Glider. Solution? The Gliders can be equipped with high visibility flags, radar reflectors and lights. And they have an AIS receiver. What’s that? It’s a device on commercial vessels that constantly broadcasts the ship’s position, heading and speed so other vessels know where it is located and where it is going. A Glider with an AIS receiver can receive that information and relay it to the technician piloting the Glider, who then can turn the Glider away from the approaching ship. And what about vandalism? “That was one of my big worries at first,� confided Hive, “but it hasn’t happened. We got data readings from a Glider once that showed it had stopped and been handled, then released. Sensors on the Glider showed a ship was near it and we tracked the ship captain down through his company. He said he spotted it and steered to it to investigate, looked at it and wondered what in the world it was. He was happy to hear from us and have the mystery explained.� And of course, the big question. What about sharks? Hive says, “Yes, one was bitten by a shark. Sensor data showed the Glider bobble for unknown reasons. We didn’t know why until it was recovered. On the wings was a large, semi-circular scrape mark. Clearly a large shark. But the wings are made of GIO fiberglass epoxy and are very hard. They weren’t damaged at all. The shark may have lost some teeth, though.� That’s the toughest set of venetian blinds I’ve ever heard of. I see good things for Wave Gliders.

D iscover

Our Family of Wines



An undated photograph shows the Henry Flagler's Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad train on the Seven Mile Bridge near Marathon, FL. Photo courtesy of the Monroe County Public Library.

Keys ‘Railroad that Went to Sea’ to Mark 100th Anniversary A celebration honoring the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad, once lauded as the most unique railway in the world, is under way in the Florida Keys. Events are to culminate Jan. 22, 2012, exactly 100 years after the inaugural train rolled through the island chain and arrived at Key West. When the Over-Sea Railroad train made its first journey in 1912 it connected the previously isolated Florida Keys with the mainland and each other for the first time, forever changing the face of the island chain. Events commemorating the centennial year include a one-man performance by a re-enactor portraying railroad founder Henry Flagler, museum exhibitions, hobbyist train displays and historic recreations, a “family fun” day at the former railroad workers’ camp on Pigeon Key, a Keyswide kayak adventure following the railroad’s route, a presentation by noted railroad historian Seth Bramson, a period costume ball and a Key West community parade. The rail line was conceived by Standard Oil tycoon Flagler and construction began in 1905, motivated by an announcement that the Panama Canal would be built. Flagler thought Key West had the potential to be an important port and trade route with Cuba and Latin America, as well as a vital supply stop for ships entering or exiting the Panama Canal. The railroad’s track stretched more than 100 miles out over open water, requiring trailblazing construction techniques and herculean efforts. At several points in the construction process more than 4,000 men were working on the project, and Flagler gambled nearly all his wealth on the venture. Officially named the Florida East Coast Railway’s Key West Extension, the line became known as the Florida Keys Over-Sea ­38 | SPRING GULFSCAPES.COM

Railroad and was sometimes referred to as “the eighth wonder of the world.” The bridges and viaducts connecting the Keys, including the landmark Seven Mile Bridge at Marathon, were regarded as an engineering marvel. For more than two decades after the railroad’s 1912 completion it carried passengers to the Keys and Key West, affording them a breathtaking sense of steaming across the open ocean. The Over-Sea Railroad’s heyday ended abruptly when a portion of the line was destroyed in a 1935 hurricane. Less than three years later a narrow highway for automobiles replaced the tracks. Today many of the original railroad bridges still can be seen alongside the bridges that support the modern Florida Keys Overseas Highway, the contemporary connection from mainland Florida through the Keys. Other reminders of the historic railroad include Pigeon Key, a fiveacre island that lies beneath the Old Seven Mile Bridge at Marathon. A base camp for workers during construction of the original railroad bridge, the tiny island now features carefully restored structures and a museum dedicated to the railway and its builders. Visitors to Key West can view “Flagler’s Speedway to Sunshine,” an exhibition at the Key West Museum of Art & History at the Custom House. Elements include a re-created Florida East Coast railcar, a scale replica of a section of the Seven Mile Bridge, vintage footage of the journey from Pigeon Key to Key West, a film recounting Flagler’s story and the arrival of the first train, rare artifacts such as a conductor’s uniform and railroad worker’s tool chest, and memorabilia that brings alive the fascinating story of the railroad that went to sea. For Over-Sea Railroad centennial info


Florida’s Shipwreck Trail “Watched the men who rode you, Switch from sails to steam. And in your belly you hold the treasure few have ever seen, most of them dreams, most of them dreams.” Jimmy Buffett, A Pirate Looks at 40


here are estimated to be over a thousand ships wrecked off the Florida Keys. Most of these met untimely ends at the hands of hurricanes or mistakes by seaman. The low-lying Keys are a ship graveyard, made more dangerous, the legends say, by unscrupulous 19th century salvagers, who lit fires on shore to trick ships searching for a lighthouse onto the deadly reefs. Each of these shipwrecks is a time capsule, holding treasure measured in both monetary and historical value. Marine archaeologists have mapped and cataloged many of these wrecks; many more are still awaiting either discovery or scientific exploration. For divers and snorkelers, exploration of some of the more famous Keys wrecks is within easy reach, thanks to the Florida Shipwreck Trail, created by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in 1998. The Trail stretches from Key Largo to Key West and provides access to nine different wrecks, all marked with buoys, and all previously mapped by marine archaeologists. The wrecks vary from a 1733 Spanish galleon to an 1863 Maine bark to a 1962 Dutch freighter. Some have played a big part in history, some not so much. Some are here by chance, while others were intentionally scuttled to provide for new reef habitat. The diversity of the ships and their stories add to their allure. The history of the wrecks helps illuminate a unique part of our maritime heritage. The thoughts of where these ships had been, what they went through to end up here, and what cargo they carried to the seafloor all combine to create a mystical, magical place for sheer diving pleasure. “These are museums in the sea,” says Brenda Altmeier,


The crows nest of the USCG Duane lies at a depth of 60'.

Program Support Specialist with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The Sanctuary has a great website about the trail at In addition to documenting the history of the wrecks, the Sanctuary, with help from Indiana University and some individual volunteers, has prepared site maps for each wreck, so divers can plan ahead. According to Brenda, the wrecks aren’t just available to scuba divers. Several are shallow enough to also be accessible to snorkelers, such as the San Pedro, the Adelaide Baker and the North America. The condition of the wrecks varies, usually with its age. The San Pedro, for example, has the least amount of wreckage remaining since it is the oldest. The Duane, a more recent wreck, is the most intact. These wrecks all have a story to tell. Below is merely an introduction to each. To get their full stories, you’ll need to slip into the sea and visit them yourself.

USCG Duane The Duane came to her final resting place not by accident, but by design. After being decommissioned in 1985 as the oldest active military vessel, the Duane was scuttled as an artificial reef on November 27, 1987. Built in Philadelphia in 1936, the 327’ Duane was a Treasury Class Cutter. She served with the Atlantic Fleet during WWII, sinking the German U-boat U-77 and participating in four rescues at sea. She also served in the Vietnam War before converting to Coast Guard duty, where in 1980 she served as escort vessel for thousands of Cuban refugees during the Mariel Boatlift.

She is located one mile south of Molasses Reef off Key Largo, sitting upright, with her bottom at 120 feet, her crow’s nest at 60 feet, and the bridge at 70.

The San Pedro Friday the 13th wasn’t considered an unlucky day until the 1800’s. Too bad for the Spanish treasure fleet that left Havana on Friday the 13th, 1733. Here’s why, in the words of Spanish Naval Commissioner Don Alonso de Herrera, commander of that fleet: “On the 14th of July we discovered the islands of the Florida Keys. By 9:00 that night the wind began to rise out of the north. It continued to freshen to the point where we all knew a hurricane was imminent. We found ourselves close to the expressed Keys, with the wind and sea so strong we were unable to properly govern ourselves, and each new gust came upon us with renewed major force.” Shallow water, sailing ships, hurricane. Those three don’t play well together, so naturally the treasure fleet was wrecked. The San Pedro, a 287 ton, Dutch-built merchant vessel was one of those sunk. The Spanish were able to recover most of the 16,000 silver pesos and the load of Chinese porcelain on board, but there was still treasure to be

found when the San Pedro was re-discovered in the 1960’s. Today, she is the namesake of the San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park, located one mile south of Indian Key. She lies in 18 feet of water, where divers can view the ballast stones, along with red brick from the galley. Since many of her artifacts deteriorated with time, replica cannons and an anchor from another 1733 wreck were moved to the site and a bronze plaque was place there as well.

The Adelaide Baker Dark nights, reefs and sailing ships also don’t play well together, as the captain of the Adelaide Baker remembered, too late. The ship, built in 1863 in Bangor, Maine, was a 153’ long, copper clad, three mast wooden bark. On the night of January 28, 1889 she was bound for Savannah, Georgia with a load of lumber when she hit "Coffins Patches" Reef. Locals helped the crew unload the cargo, but the ship itself was lost. Her final resting place is in 20’ of water, four miles southeast of Duck Key. There are two areas of artifacts, named Cluster A and Cluster B. Cluster A is the initial spot of impact, and Cluster B was

The USCG Duane, then known as the USS Duane, in the North Atlantic during WWII.


sank while on the way to be sunk. You can’t make this stuff up. The Amesbury deserved better. She was built in 1943 as a destroyer escort and served her country valiantly, participating in 1944 in the Normandy invasion and then in 1945 in the South Pacific. Divers can find the Amesbury, also known as Alexander’s Wreck, in 25’ of water, five miles west of Key West. The bow and port side remains lie 200 yards south of the stern and starboard side. Artifacts include several different kinds of heavy guns, including a five-inch turret gun and 40mm anti-aircraft Bofors guns.

The Benwood

A diver uses a site map from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to explore the wreck of the North America. Photo by Brenda Altmeier, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

apparently left by salvagers who piled up unwanted debris. Cluster A contains granite ballast, the mizzen mast and a water tank. Cluster B has the 77’ main mast, the bilge pump and rigging.

USS Amesbury Sometimes nature has a sense of humor. In 1970, while she was being towed offshore to be sunk as an artificial reef, the Amesbury ran aground. Before she could be freed, a storm sunk her. Yes, the Amesbury ­42 | SPRING GULFSCAPES.COM

Sometimes being careful can be dangerous. On the night of April 9, 1942, the Benwood, a 360’ merchant marine freighter, was sailing from Tampa to Norfolk, Virginia, doing what every other ship at sea was doing - she was running with her lights out to avoid detection by Nazi U-boats, which were doing serious damage to U.S. shipping. While this strategy worked well to avoid U-boats, it didn’t work as well when it came to avoiding other U.S. ships. The Benwood’s bow struck the port side of the Robert C. Tuttle, which was also running blacked out in the same area. The Benwood began taking on water and her captain ran her aground before she could sink in deeper water. The Benwood was built in 1910 in England. She was a steam powered steel freighter, in the service of the Norwegian Shipping and Trade Mission. On her last voyage, she was carrying phosphate ore. The wreck of the Benwood lies between French Reef and Dixie Shoals, in the upper Keys, in water ranging from 25 to 45 feet. The bow is the most impressive feature, while the steel hull structure, minus the hull plates, is still mostly intact. Because of its shallow location and artifacts, the Benwood is one of the most popular dive sites in the Keys.

The Eagle On October 6, 1985, the Arron K, a Dutch built freighter hauling cardboard and newspaper between Miami and Venezuela, caught fire 125 miles south of Miami. Despite assistance from two Coast Guard cutters, the ship was badly damaged and retired from service. The Florida Keys Artificial Reef Association, with the assistance of Joe Teitelbaum, obtained the Arron K. and had her sunk, in dramatic explosive fashion, as an artificial reef. She was renamed the Eagle Tire Company, which was owned by Mr. Teitelbaum. The Eagle settled on her side in 110 feet of water, three miles northeast of Alligator Reef Light, off Islamorada. Her two masts, booms, cargo holds, rudder and propeller make her a very popular dive site, even after she was broken in half by Hurricane Georges in 1998.

The North America While traveling to Mobile from New York with a cargo of dry goods and furniture, the North America hit Delta Shoals, south of Marathon, and sank on November 25, 1842. For three days, locals helped Captain Hall salvage his cargo. The North America was a 130’, three mast ship built in Bath, Maine in 1833. Lying in only 14’ of water, the remains of the North America consist mostly of part of her wooden hull, which is filled with her ballast. Most of the other artifacts are buried beneath the constantly shifting sands and the turtlegrass, although cement barrels and copper spikes are visible. The wreck measures 112’ by 35’.

The Thunderbolt What do you name a ship purchased by an electric company to study the effects of lightning strikes on electrical fields? Thunderbolt, naturally. This 189’ ship was built in 1942 in West Virginia to serve as a minelayer for the Army Coastal Artillery Corps during WWII. Many years later, Florida Power and Light purchased her for the lightning research. She was intentionally sunk by The Florida Keys Artificial Reef Association on March 6, 1986. She lies south of Marathon in 120 feet of water. Sitting upright, her largest feature is the huge cable-handling drum on her large forecas-

Top, Scientist are still studying the remains of the City of Washington. Photo by Brenda Altmeier, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Middle, Due to its accessibility and artifacts, the Benwood is one of the most popular dives in the Keys. Photo by Brenda Altmeier, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Bottom, Plenty of artifacts still remain at the site of the 1889 wreck of the Adelaide Baker. Photo by Brenda Altmeier, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.


tle. Popular features include her observation deck at 75’, and her rudder and prop at 120’.

The City of Washington On February 15, 1898, the USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor, triggering the Spanish-American war. Moored close to the Maine that night was the City of Washington, which suffered damage from flying debris. The City of Washington assisted in rescuing the Maine’s survivors, securing its not-allthat-well-known place in history. She went on to serve as a troop ship during that war. A few years later, on July 10, 1917, the City of Washington, since converted to a barge, was being towed by a tug which ran aground. The City of Washington broke up on Elbow Reef and sank. Built in 1887 in Chester, Pennsylvania originally as a two-masted sailing vessel, the City of Washington was converted to a steam ship in 1889. She carried passengers between New York, Cuba, and Mexico until 1908. In 1911 she was converted to a coal barge. Lying east of Key Largo in 25 feet of water, the City of Washington’s steel hull is still visible, although it now consists mostly of the lower bilge. Ladders, part of the bow mast and portholes are found amid the wreckage.

Opposite page clockwise starting with top, The City of Washington, after her conversion to a steam ship. She was moored near the USS Maine when it was blown up in Havana Harbor in 1898. • The status of the City of Washington is monitored by staff from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo by Brenda Altmeier, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. • Maps are available of each site. • The City of Washington remains a popular dive attraction off Key Largo. Photo by Brenda Altmeier, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Top, Seventy years after it sank, the Benwood still provides a habitat for marine life, and a great dive location. Photo by Brenda Altmeier, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Middle,The Benwood was a 360' freighter, sunk in 1942 after colliding with another ship while operating at night with no lights to avoid detection by Nazi U-boats. Bottom, The Benwood may have met the end of its sailing life, but its remains have created a whole new undersea community. Photo by Brenda Altmeier, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.




Above, New Orleans Mardi Gras float riders toss trinkets to crowd. Below, Skulls and butterflies mix during Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Photos courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism.


Follow @MardiGrasGulf for Gulf Coast Mardi Gras info from around the Gulf.

Mardi Gras krewe tosses trinkets to crowd. Photo courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism.

New Orleans, the epicenter of Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday is February 21, 2012. That’s when Mardi Gras ends. Most people outside the Gulf Coast think of Mardi Gras as a one day celebration. Those of us who live near the Gulf of Mexico know it’s far more than one day. It is a season. And it officially begins after Twelfth Night, the 12th night of Christmas, on January 6. That’s when King Cake parties and Krewe and Society balls kick off. After that, things get rolling like a snowball headed downhill and culminate in the two weeks before Fat Tuesday, when the largest parades and parties are held. New Orleans is, of course, the epicenter of Mardi Gras. The social clubs that build floats and participate in parades are called Krewes. There are several different parade routes in New Orleans proper, and adjoining towns like Metairie and Slidell also have their own parades. The Phunny Phorty Phellows will parade on January 6 to kick things off, and the major parade season starts on Feb. 4. Best known New Orleans parades: Endymion – the only New Orleans parade to use a different parade route. It rolls through Mid-City and ends up Downtown. It

has a celebrity Grand Marshall. Bacchus - first parade to have a celebrity King – great list of past kings such as Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason, and Drew Brees. Zulu – the only African American krewe - they parade on Mardi Gras morning just prior to Rex. Their throws, Zulu Coconuts, are one of the most popular. Rex - The best known parade because Rex is considered “King of Carnival”. Proteus - uses old-style floats with wagon wheels. Orpheus - a krewe formed by Harry Connick, Jr. He often invites his musician friends to ride with him. Muses - an all female parade with lots of bling, glitz and attitude. Know for throwing decorated shoes! Cesar - one of the many krewes which parade in Metairie (Jefferson Parish). What makes them unique is that they are invited to replicate this parade in Disney World on Mardi Gras Day. The splash Mardi Gras makes in New Orleans ripples out across the Gulf Coast. Mardi Gras parties and parades can be found in just GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING | 49

Top, clockwise left to right, Spanish Town Mardi Gras parade passes in front of State Capitol in Baton Rouge. Photo courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism. Cajun Mardi Gras in Mamou. Photo courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism. Gulf Shores, Alabama celebrates Mardi Gras with a fish theme float. Photo by Ken Grimes, courtesy of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. Mobile Mardi Gras Parade. Photo by Tad Denson,, courtesy of Mobile Bay CVB. Barefoot Mardi Gras takes place on the beach in Corpus Christi. Kemah Yachty Gras.


about every town in Louisiana. Baton Rouge and Lake Charles have big events. For an alternative to the big town festivals, head to Cajun country, where smaller celebrations take place around the Courir du Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday run), a 19th century tradition where locals wear homemade costumes and ride horses around town gathering ingredients for gumbo. In the heart of Cajun Country, surrounding the city of Lafayette, Carnival custom revolves around Courir du Mardi Gras – the Fat Tuesday run. In small towns across south Louisiana, in a tradition that began in the early 19th century, local folk don homemade costumes and mount their horses for a ride around town to gather ingredients for gumbo. Their search, of course, ends with a party. It's BYOH. Bring your own horse. And BYOF. Bring your own fiddle music playing is a basic part of not only Cajun Mardi Gras, but of Cajun life. The oldest Mardi Gras celebration in America, and second largest, is in Mobile, Alabama. Since the 1700’s, Mobile has had one kind of Mardi Gras or another. It was here that Joe Cain, during the oppressive Reconstruction after the Civil War, dressed up as an Indian and started the modern Mardi Gras era. The social clubs in Mobile are called Secret Societies or Mystic Societies. And the secret part is real. It’s hard to get a member to admit to belonging to his Society. Mobile bills its Mardi Gras as the “family Mardi Gras”, highlighting the family friendly atmosphere they cultivate. Its parades start February 3, with the Condé Cavaliers, and ends on Fat Tuesday with six parades. It seems every town along the Mississippi coast has at least one parade. Biloxi and Gulfport have more than one, and so does Pass Christian. Biloxi’s biggest parades start at 1pm on Fat Tuesday, downtown; Gulfport’s starts at 5:30pm. Kemah, Texas has a lighted boat Mardi Gras Parade called Yachty Gras on Sat., Feb. 18. Corpus Christi, Texas has a Barefoot Mardi Gras parade right on the beach on Saturday, Feb. 18. The parade starts at noon, followed

King and Queen from Galveston Mardi Gras. Photo by Teresa Huckaby. Galveston has events Feb. 10-21, 2012.

by a party at 6pm with a zydeco band and Cajun food at the Padre Isles Country Club. Celebrations are also slated along the Alabama coast, with large events in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. If you’re in need of some Mardi Gras fun, just look toward the Gulf. There’s a parade for everyone. Mardi Gras. It’s not just for Fat Tuesday. Get in touch with the season!

bringing Mardi Gras to Pensacola Beach Jane Waters Cooper started Pensacola Beach’s Mardi Gras celebration in 1980. Since then, it’s progressed, shall we say. Mrs. Cooper’s daughter, Shelley Johnson, the publisher of the Island Times newspaper on Pensacola Beach, says, “During Mardi Gras, the island is at maximum capacity. The hotels are full. So come early and stay late.” The featured event on Pensacola Beach is the Krewe of Wrecks Parade. The Wrecks roll on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012 at 2 p.m. According to Ms. Johnson, the parade is family friendly and has an island attitude. That island-ness must touch a cord in many Mardi Gras-ers the parade is so popular that the Pensacola Beach police department had to limit the number of floats so they’d safely fit on the island. If you like kids, dogs or both, then the Kids and Kritter Parade is a must see. It is a walking parade open to all kids and dogs/others for a $5 entry fee. To accommodate the

shorter kid/dog legs, the parade route is a short one. Things get walking/barking at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012. Also on the Mardi Gras agenda is the Pensacola Beach Shoe Box Float contest. Kids and adults are invited to enter a miniature float made from a shoe box. The event is free and takes place at the Paradise Bar and Grill on Tuesday,  Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. Pensacola Beach also puts on the world’s largest free red beans and rice luncheon. It takes place Monday Feb. 20, at 11 a.m. in the Casino Beach parking lot. The beans and rice really are free, as is the jazz music and dancing under a tent. In the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, Pensacola Beach also has the required King Cake parties, a Moon Pie party, and the krewes’ coronations and balls. For more info on Pensacola Beach’s Mardi Gras, visit and

Jane Waters Cooper started Pensacola Beach’s Mardi Gras celebration in 1980.


Mardi Gras Pensacola

Feb. 17-19, 2012

Above, clockwise, Beads, masks and umbrellas . . . the holy trinity of Mardi Gras, Pensacola edition. Masks and costumes are the order of the day during Mardi Gras in Pensacola. Pensacola Mardi Gras float taken over by wild Indians. Pensacola's seafaring past is honored with this Mardi Gras float. Mardi Gras in Pensacola is a family affair. Photos courtesy of the Pensacola CVB.


Pensacola Mardi Gras Unmasked It’s Mardi Gras in Pensacola and time crowds by the thousands. the Pensacola Grand Mardi Gras Parade again to let the good times roll! Named for Jean Lafitte, “the Gentleman where dozens of floats take a turn bringing Brought to America by French explorer Pirate,” and one of the heroes of the Battle revelry to the streets of downtown. The party Pierre Le Money d’Iberville and celebrated in of New Orleans, this year the all-male Krewe begins early with the parade line-up, and the this country since 1703, Mardi Gras or parade, Pensacola’s most popular, kicks “Fat Tuesday” is the high point of weeks off at 2 p.m. Highlights include of celebration beginning after Christmas krewes such as the Krewe of Jesters, with Twelfth Night and ending with begun in 1946 and the oldest womenAsh Wednesday marking the beginning only krewe in Pensacola, the Order of of the 40 days of Lent. Zeus, the 300-strong Mayoki Indians, Mardi Gras is a time when anything the Krewe of Bayou Gypsies, the goes, and the streets are filled with gaily Krewe of Aphrodite, with its toga-clad decorated floats, the town is alive with revelers and five floats, the Krewe of masked revelers, and the cry “Laissez African Kings, and Krewe of African les bons temps rouler” fills the air. Queens. Celebrated in Pensacola since 1874, This grand parade promises tons of Mardi Gras this year is a three-day celeswag and blizzards of beads. It’s a bration, Feb. 17-19, that includes time to bring out the family and tune parades, masked balls, and the period of up the call of “Throw me something, Throwing goodies to the crowd during Pensacola's Mardi “merriment and abandon” the holiday mister!” Gras parade. Photo courtesy of Pensacola CVB. calls for. It all adds up to a grand time and a The fun starts Feb. 17 as the 250-memof Lafitte, decked out in traditional pirate grand take on Mardi Gras. So load up on ber Krewe of Lafitte rolls its lighted, 12-float costumes, will board pirate-ship floats to cel- doubloons, grab your beads and “go cups,” parade through the streets of downtown ebrate 58 years of making Mardi Gras histodon a mask, and bring the family so you Pensacola, kicking off a weekend of familyry in the Pensacola Bay Area. don’t miss a minute of “Mardi Gras style fun and festivities that brings out The fun continues Saturday, Feb. 18 with Madness” in Pensacola.


Above, left, In 2011, Galveston's Funky Uptown Umbrella Brigade set a world record for the largest choreographed umbrella dance in history with more than 500 participants. Photo by Kara Mullins. Mardi Gras on The Strand in Galveston. Photo by David Breish.

Mardi Gras! Galveston Feb. 10-21, 2012 On the western side of the Gulf, Galveston will celebrate its 101st Mardi Gras this year. The third largest celebration in the U.S. features parades on the two weekends before Fat Tuesday. Over 200,000 flock to Galveston for the festivities each year. Galveston has a thriving krewe community and hosts more than 50 gala events, ranging from large parties open to the public to swanky, invitation only balls. The San Luis Hotel and Resort hosts the annual San Luis Costume Contest, and the Tremont House and the Hotel Galvez host numerous black tie events. Parades follow a path down the Seawall or one that runs through the historic downtown district. The largest parade, the Knights of Momus Grand Night Parade, will start at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday the 18th at the Seawall, then meander downtown. Last year, the Funky Uptown Umbrella Brigade set a world record for the largest choreographed umbrella dance in history with more than 500 participants. The public is invited to join them as they’ll attempt to outdo themselves with an even larger performance at 8:30 p.m. on opening night, Friday, February 10, downtown. The Krewe da’ Yaga’s Parade follows the Umbrellas at 10 p.m. The Krewe of Barkus & Meoux pet parade is unleashed along the Seawall on Sunday, February 19, at 1 p.m., and followed by a children’s parade at 2 p.m. Kicking things off along the seawall will be the Mystic Krewe of Aquarius, who will be launching their 25th annual Mardi Gras Kick off Parade on Saturday, February 11 at 12:00 p.m. At 6 p.m. that evening, the Krewe of Gambrinus Parade rolls along the seawall sport-

ing 650,000 throws and a fireworks show. On opening night, Friday Feb. 10 at 5:00 p.m., Party Gras! Procession leads off a great evening. This walking procession will be lead by the Pizazz Dixie Jazz Brass Band, which will start from the M&M Restaurant. The Procession will bring Doug and Joan McLeod to the Tremont House where they will be honored with the George P. Mitchell Mardi Gras Award, presented to individuals who have been vital in the revival of Mardi Gras. At 7 p.m., the McLeods will be further honored in the George P. Mitchell Mardi Gras Parade, which salutes their service. On Saturday, February 11, downtown will be invaded by a golf cart parade, an Art Car parade and a nighttime, Glowing Art Car parade. Sunday, February 12, brings the Sunshine Kids Parade downtown at 1 p.m., followed by the Shriner’s Hospital for Children Parade at 3 p.m. At 8 p.m. on Friday, February 17, Krewe Babalu presents its 7th Annual “All Krewe Parade”, downtown, which is open to all Krewes. Following at 9 p.m. will be the Danny Weber Memorial Fire Truck Parade. The Z Krewe’s 18th Annual Z Processional invades downtown on Saturday, February 18 at 1 p.m. At 3 p.m. the Neauxs Krewe will bring a new parade downtown, the Houston Chronicle Parade, named for Houston’s largest newspaper. New parades are being added yearly, so check our website for new information.

Mardi Gras Vocabulary Builder Boeuf Gras (beuf grah) - French for “ fatted bull.” Since the Middle Ages, it has heralded the feasting and festivities that precede the fasting and penitence of Lent. The fatted bull was killed on Monday, and the crowds gorged themselves on their last meat, trying to consume it all before midnight, when Lent began. The Boeuf Gras is a traditional theme float in the Rex parade in New Orleans. Lundi Gras - French for “ Fat Monday,” it’ s the day before Mardi Gras, and the revelry intensifies after the weekend parades. Throws -Typically, plastic beads and cheap trinkets hurled by masked krewe members from passing floats. The usual suspects include beads (from plain round beads in Mardi Gras colors to light-up-and-flash crawfish and other swamp inhabitants), doubloons and plastic cups. However, depending on the parade, you could catch a rose, a stuffed animal, an Opheus (New Orleans krewe) virbloon (a virtual doubloon: a CD with video highlights of the previous year’ s parade footage), a plastic alligator, highly decorated shoes, Cracker Jacks, a rubber snake, a Zulu coconut (the New Orleans ­54 | SPRING GULFSCAPES.COM

Zulu krewe’ s tradition), spear, or a Moon Pie (graham cracker, marshmallow and chocolate or banana coating-prominent in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida – it’ s a Southern thing). It could be anything from a pedicure set to candy. Many krewes have signature throws that are unique to them. Ball, bal masque - A masked ball, where a krewe’ s court is presented to the club members. Old-line krewes throw decorous balls, often introducing debutante daughters of members. Attendance is by invitation only and limited to krewe members and their guests. A few newer krewes have refashioned the balls into bashes with celebrity guests and nationally recognized entertainment. Some are open to the public for the price of a ticket. Tableau - A scene enacted by masked krewe members at a Carnival ball. Staged before the dancing, it depicts the parade and/or ball’ s theme. Think of it as a short, short, one-act mime.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans! Clockwise, from top, hands reach for throws from a float. A Mardi Gras Indian celebrates. Mardi Gras float winds through town. Photos courtesy of Louisiana Office of Tourism.

Mardi Gras


Here’s a few of the more notable parades around the Gulf Coast.

new orleans feb. 16 - 6:30pm - Krewe of Muses, uptown feb 18 - 4:15pm - endymion, Mid-city feb 19 - 5:15pm - bacchus, uptown feb 20 - 5:15pm - proteus, uptown feb 20 - 6:00pm - orpheus, uptown feb 21 - 8am - Zulu, uptown feb 21 - 10am - rex, uptown

Mobile feb. 11 - 2:00pm - Mobile Mystics feb. 12 - 6:30pm - neptune's daughters feb. 12 - 7:00pm - order of isis feb. 18 - 6:00pm - Mystics of time feb. 19 - 2:30 pm - Joe cain feb. 21 - 1:00pm - King felix feb. 21 - 1:30pm - comic cowboys

galveston feb. 10 - 8:30pm - funky uptown umbrella brigade, downtown feb. 10 - 10:00pm - Krewe da’ Yaga’s parade, downtown feb. 11 - 12:00pm - Mystic Krewe of aquarius, seawall feb. 11 - 6:00pm - Krewe of gambrinus parade, seawall feb. 18 - 1:00pm - Z Krewe 18th Z processional, downtown feb. 18 - 6:30pm - Knights of Momus grand night parade. starts at 19th and seawall, goes downtown feb. 20 - 6:30pm - Mystic Krewe of aquarius 17th annual “fat tuesday” parade, downtown

Pensacola feb. 17 - 8pm - Krewe of lafitte feb. 18 - 2pm - grand Mardi gras parade

Pensacola beach feb. 19 - 2pm - Krewe of wrecks


Photos courtesy of the Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division

Mississippi Blues Trail Grab your car keys, Blues fans, we’re taking a road trip! The State of Mississippi has honored its legendary influence in the birth of the Blues by creating the Blues Trail, a series of markers that honor important places in the development of the Blues. The markers tell the stories of the men and women who were pioneers and giants in this classic American music genre. From city streets to juke joints to cotton fields to train depots to churches, the Trail markers memorialize the important contributions of the places, people and times that combined to make the Blues. Featured along the Trail, which runs from the farthest reaches of North Mississippi to the Gulf Coast, are B.B. King’s birthplace in Berclair, the legendary blues club the Blue Room in Vicksburg, and the cotton fields around Vance, where John Lee Hooker grew up. A Mecca for blues fans is Robert Johnson’s gravesite in Greenwood. Another is Tutwiler, the birthplace of the blues, where W.C. Handy, the father of the blues, first heard the blues style and made it his own. Markers also tell the tales of the Blues’ influence on other musicians, like Elvis, Ike Turner and Sam Cooke. Along the Gulf Coast are four markers. The first is 100 Men Hall in Bay St. Louis. The Hall was built in 1922 by the One Hundred Members’ Debating Benevolent Association. After the Civil War, many African American benevolent societies were formed to help bury the dead, care for the sick and foster social and economic unity. Over the years, the Hall was host to many legendary performers, including Etta James, Irma Thomas, Professor Longhair and Ernie K-Doe. The

Hall was slated to be torn down after Hurricane Katrina, but it was rescued by Jesse and Kerrie Loya, who restored it and now have it hosting live blues again. In Biloxi, the Trail marker for Biloxi Blues is on Main Street to mark the area of town where, during the days of segregation in the ’40’s and ’50’s, blacks were welcome in music venues. Numerous clubs and cafes offered blues, jazz and R&B. Biloxi’s music history began well before that, when influential New Orleans artists Jelly Roll Morton and Bill Johnson lived here. This year, Biloxi hosted the 20th Annual Gulf Coast Blues and Heritage Festival, which promotes and preserves the soul of Biloxi music. Blues and jazz are forever linked, especially in Pass Christian. Here, local sax player Captain John Handy delivered classic New Orleans jazz. His sax playing was so innovative that it inspired rhythm and blues pioneers Louis Jordan and Earl Bostic. Pass Christian was also home to some well known blues and jazz clubs, including the Dixie, the Savoy, and the P. C. Club. Not all the Trail markers commemorate events or people from decades ago. The Broadcasting the Blues marker in Gulfport acknowledges the site where Rip Daniels, a Gulfport native, launched the American Blues Network (ABN) in 2000. Via satellite and the Internet ( he carries modern and vintage blues to listeners around the world. To plan your Blues road trip, visit the official website of the Mississippi Blues Trail at GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING | 57



By BoB ShiRLey

Spring2012 Gift Suggestions for Fly Fishers Now that Christmas is over with, it’s a great time to show the fly fishermen in your life how much you appreciate them. Get them one of the gifts they wished they’d gotten for Christmas. Or get it for yourself. It’s never too late! Maybe you need some help selecting a gift. Well, we are here to help. I’m not going to do the obvious (rods and reels) even though they are the highest form of gift giving, but will try to help you think out of the box a bit. May I suggest a one or two day trip with a guide? This might be with a local expert whom you have always wanted to fish with, or it might be in combination with an extended weekend or even a weeklong trip to an exotic location with that special someone. Time by the pool comes to mind as do massages, snorkeling, gourmet dining, and long walks on the beach…..This is a beautiful and thoughtful gift as it kills many birds with only one stone! Of course there are innumerable other options if travel is not immediately possible. Some of my favorite gifts are bags; travel bags, gear bags, reel holding bags, wader bags, and boat bags. Several companies make great looking and functional equipment bags including Sage, Able, Patagonia, and even Plano. If you just do a computer search, you will be rewarded with hundreds of options designed to satisfy your every fishing need. Another great idea is a landing net. Please, make sure you suggest or buy a fish friendly mesh or rubber basket equipped net. Those knotted nylon nets scrape off the slime layer of netted fish. When that slime layer is removed, it’s like removing our outer layer of skin. Infection and parasites are no longer kept at bay by that first layer of protection. Nets today have handles that telescope, fold, or are made of beautiful woods laminated together for strength and beauty. Brodin in Montana and Fisknat in Washington make beautiful nets of various length and material as do many other makers. The fishing net is iconic and quickly becomes a prized possession if chosen well.

There are some truly great fly boxes out there, too. C&F Designs makes waterproof boxes for bonefish, permit, tarpon, trout, and are some of the best on the market due to their innovative design and functionality. Wheatley boxes from England are always a crowd pleaser, and many other manufacturers offer choices in size, composition material (plastic to silver), and floatability. One aspect of a favorite box might be “threaders” -stainless steel hoops to string on a group of flies, and then the hoop assists in threading the leader through the eye of the hook. Figure out if you want to be able to see the flies through the box or not. I usually don’t think of this early enough so I then must somehow mark the outside of the box to tell me what is inside the box. If you are feeling bold, you might suggest a new line you have been wanting to try. Rio Outbound comes to my mind after a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest. It has a big fat forward section and a really skinny running line section which makes it cast a l-o-n-g way. But hey, there are a lot of other options, too. There are sinking lines from intermediate (1-3 inches/second) to depth charge rates of several feet/second. We now can get well designed specialty lines for billfish, redfish, tarpon, bonefish, tarpon and more. There are sink tip lines with clear tips for spooky fish, short or long sink tips depending on your need or how they are to be used. I just saw that they even make a new floating line with a running line section guaranteed not to sink while you’re working the flats while wading. Now that’s cool. Don’t forget the tools of the trade. I like getting and giving knot tying tools, hook removing tools, fly tying tools and material (there is another whole article full of possibilities there), nippers for cutting leader material, and more such as hook sharpeners and leader straighteners. Every fisher needs a hat and the choices are again almost limitless.

Opposite page, bottom, left, Lumbar pack from Sage. Straps to waist and carries a lot of gear. Opposite page, top, A Sage boat bag. Top, Wheatley is celebrating its 150 year anniversary with this special commemorative edition fly box. Directly above, Rod and Reel cases from Sage. Below, Lady Wheatley fly box from Richard Wheatley, England. Wheatley produces some of the most elegant fly boxes in the world.

We haven’t discussed fishing shoes including flats boots or boots to protect you from the spines of rays, or sun proof clothing, or wading jackets and rain gear, either. Fishing shirts, quick drying pants and shorts, stripping gloves or sun proof gloves were not even mentioned earlier, and I forgot one of the most favorite and prized gifts – polarized sunglasses. I hope these brief suggestions help spur your thinking process. I know I forgot some very important and special gifts, though. Another important gift is a membership in an Organization like the Federation of Fly Fishers, Trout Unlimited, Coastal Conservation Association or any other organization which helps protect the resource, your right to fish, and which educates you to become a more responsible and capable fisher. Don’t forget to look into the local chapters and clubs of these fine organizations! Good fishing!


Column by Cindy Bates

Parrothead Perusals & Trop Rock Tales Not so long ago, it was Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. It was also not so long ago that I attended “Sharkstock,” a Trop Rock-infused weekend in Grapevine, Texas. Sharkstock is an annual event, first sponsored by the Cedar Creek Parrothead Club. It’s now a weekend chock full of Trop Rock music, sponsored by the Lone Star (DFW ) Parrothead Club. Remember that Parrotheads “party with a purpose,” and this weekend was no exception. Proceeds from raffles and silent auctions went to Soldiers’ Angels and the Alzheimer’s Association in the DFW area. I was fortunate to meet and interview all the featured Trop Rock musicians/groups and made many new friends. Let me introduce you to them! I quoted Brent Burns in the last column regarding the definition of Trop Rock music. Brent was a featured performer at Sharkstock and what a delightful, entertaining gentleman. He hails from L.A. (that’s Lower Alabama) and is a standout among Trop Rock performers. Long before Brent lived at the beach and began to write what he knew, he had early fame with a hit that spoke of the times: 1979’s “Cheaper Crude or No More Food!” In 1997 Brent released “Livin’ the Life” and has just finished his ninth album. Parrotheads are at least half of his audiences on the road and their loyalty showed in 2008, when he won the Trop Rock Entertainer of the Year award at the annual Trop Rock awards in Key West. If you happen to be in the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama area on a Monday night, don’t miss Brent at Lulu’s at Homeport Marina. He’s been a staple on Monday nights for over seven years. I had heard of Rob Mehl, but hadn’t heard this San Diego resident perform. Rob is a soft-spoken surfer who grew up in Hawaii. He loved listening to the old Hawaiian music - “talking stories” – and eventually found songwriting. Long ago, Jim Messina (Loggins and Messina) encouraged him to come hear Jimmy Buffett at a San Diego State University gig. The Parrotheads in San Diego found Rob a decade ago and he’s been in the Trop Rock circuit since then. To a man who went barefoot


until he was thirteen years old, Trop Rock isn’t about escapism. It’s Rob’s outlook on life and he applauds Parrotheads for their generosity. “We’ve been given to give away,” he told me with a smile. We’ll find out at Meeting of the Minds if one of his latest releases, “Waiting for Jimmy” wins a Trop Rock award. Dallas native Don Burke has been on the music scene for years. Playing Greenville Avenue venues long ago, he was “Toucan Don.” He has hosted the Baby Boomer Birthday Bash in Dallas for 22 years and many Texas performers have been showcased at that annual event. He still plays 95-100 shows a year and Parrotheads love him. He coined an early phrase for what we know now as Trop Rock…. “warm weather music.” Don has a vast knowledge of Texas music and great tales of Texas musicians. His hit, “Mo’s Backyard,” has been featured on radio stations worldwide. Dennis Davis didn’t move to Texas until 1991, but he knows what Texans like - his release “The Bridge Builder” has been nominated for Song of the Year by the Academy of Texas Music. His love of the beach and coast shines through his music. He got into “beach music” years ago when he met folks from Florida who introduced him to Buffett music. “Barefoot on the Beach,” his first CD, has been featured on Radio Margaritaville. His crisp, well-enunciated delivery speaks of the places he’d like to be. Parrotheads have opened many doors for him and according to Dennis, “it’s nice to have someone listening and singing along with your songs.” If you didn’t get to be at Meeting of the Minds in Key West to see Jimmy and the Parrots at the Casa Marina Hotel, try to see them in your hometown. What fabulous entertainers! Jimmy Maraventano decided in 1997 that music would be a great connection for him and his son, Jimmy, Jr. This New Jersey duo teamed up with music greats Lance Hyland Stark and Hal Selzer and soon, Jimmy and the Parrots were born. Yes, they cover Buffett hits, but also perform terrific renditions of other music and deliver super, high-energy fun. When Jimmy M. met Jimmy B. (that’s Buffett, you all!) in the 90’s, he says Buffett was unbelievably gracious. New Jersey Jimmy never realized at the time what effect Buffett and tropical music would have on his career. He enjoys the Parrothead nation because they work for good causes and playing a Parrothead venue is like “hanging out with friends.” I also attended “Wings Over Port A” in October, The Port Aransas Parrothead Club’s annual party/fundraiser. The money raised will go to the ARK – Animal Cindy Bates, Parrothead Extraordinaire! The coconut bra & hula skirt wearers have spoken, and we’ve listened! Those avid supporters of Jimmy Buffett, known as Parrotheads, asked for a regular columnist to keep them up to date on Parrothead happenings on the Gulf Coast. And we’ve found the perfect writer, Cindy Bates, whose Port Aransas home is a living memorial to all things Buffett, which is unquestionable proof of her Parrothead credentials. If it’s Parrothead related, Cindy will cover it. Email:

Top, left, Don Burke. Top, right, Brent Burns, recently named winner of the 2011 Trop Rock Music Association Entertainer of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. Bottom, Jerry Diaz performs on Bourbon St. at Pardi Gras in New Orleans.

Rehabilitation Keep, which rescues sea birds, turtles and other animals and nurses them back to health, to be released back into the wild. I was lucky enough to witness a sea turtle rescue a couple of weeks ago in Port Aransas and it was interesting and touching. “Wings” featured Jerry Diaz and Hannah’s Reef as the lead performers. Speaking of Port Aransas, it’s a big Winter Texan destination and on Thursday nights from January through March, you can help pack them in at Bernie’s to hear the “Port A Rockers.” This is a group of younger Winter Texans who play music from the 50’s and 60’s. Co-Owner of Bernie’s, Pete Smith, is thrilled that the group will start their third season at his club. At this point in their lives, the Rockers say they just want to have fun playing music, but on Thursday nights, Bernie’s is the place to be for locals and Winter Texans, alike. Squeeze onto the dance floor and cut a rug with the others if you’re in Port A. More tropical news to come, as I’ll be in Key West during Meeting of the Minds, meeting and talking to Trop Rock musicians. Until next time, keep it between the nautical beacons! Follow @TropRockBands for tropical entertainment info from around the Gulf. GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING | 61

Stone CRAB

Christmas comes early every year for crab-heads. That’s because Florida’s stone crab season opened Oct. 15. Around the first of October, visions of orange and black claws start dancing around like sugarplums in the heads of crab lovers, who can’t wait for the best tasting crab in the world to be readily available. Whether you catch your own, get them at a fish market, or dine on them at one of the many fine restaurants that serve them, stoners (as they are affectionately known) are a delicacy to be savored. Many say the meat tastes much like lobster. Others say it’s better. But most agree that fresh stone crab is among the very best tasting thing that comes out of the ocean. Getting stoners out of the ocean is a little different than for other seafood. For the uninitiated, stone crabs are not harvested whole. Only the claws are taken; the rest of the crab is thrown back into the water, where it will regrow its claws to legal harvesting size in 12-18 months. In Florida and Louisiana, both the large crusher claw and the smaller pincher claw can be harvested. Texas only allows the right claw to be taken. Why the right one? Because most stone crabs are right handed, meaning the large crusher claw is on the right. Those claws are part of a large economic engine in Florida. While stone crabs are found throughout the Gulf of Mexico, ninety-nine percent of the stoners we eat are harvested in Florida, mainly in the Keys. John Easley, marketing development representative with the Florida Department of Seafood and Aquaculture, says stone crabs are one of the most valuable seafood crops in Florida, with a dockside value of $23.6 million landed in 2010. That’s 2.5 million pounds of claws. To catch these valuable crustaceans, commercial fishermen set out a long series of crab

traps, referred to as crab pots. The pots are made of wood or plastic and are cage-like with an opening to allow the crabs in, but which makes it hard for them to get out. And what do the crabbers use for bait? According to Easley, the most popular bait is . . . wait for it . . . pigs’ feet! No one knows why they prefer pigs’ feet. It’s one of the great mysteries of the universe. The crabbers pull the traps up into their boat and reach in and remove the crabs. Did I mention that those crusher claws can break an oyster’s shell? Imagine what they could do ­62 | SPRING GULFSCAPES.COM

to your finger. So how do they remove the crabs from the trap? Very carefully of course. Actually, according to Ryan Gandy, crustacean research biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, getting a safe grip on a stoner isn’t as hard as it sounds. The technique, as Gandy describes it, is to quickly grab the crab’s back two legs with the tips of your fingers, then quickly move your hands up to grab each claw. Sounds like something that requires practice. “You should wear gloves,” adds Gandy. The next part is a little different. To

remove the claw, do you use a knife or special scissors? No. You pull the claws off. Literally. It isn’t as gross as it sounds. Crabs can voluntarily jettison one of their legs to escape from a predator, or if it gets caught in something. Its body will naturally seal the opening where the leg used to be, and the claw will regrow. If you do it right. “You have to break the leg off where it enters the body,” Gandy counseled. “You do one claw at a time. Grab one claw in each hand, move one of your thumbs down to where the elbow would be if it had one, and with that

hand push forward and down without twisting the leg. The crab will release that claw.” Voila! Gandy certainly ought to know a lot about stone crab. He grew up in Florida catching stoners as a kid and still catches his own, although unlike most other folks, he doesn’t even use a trap. He walks out into crab habitat and feels around for them, grabs them and removes their claws. You just feel around for them and grab them? “Yes,” said Gandy. Why don’t they pinch you? “A stone crab’s initial reaction is not to attack. It is in its little mud hole, sideways usually, and it

just tries to hunker down. A blue crab will raise its claws to grab you. A stone crab will just kind of try to get away.” So now that we can correctly remove a stone crab claw, what do we do with it? The commercial fishermen don’t put them on ice; they put their claws in a bucket of salt water and take them back to the dock, where they are quickly boiled in salty water. If you put the claws on ice or in fresh water before boiling, the meat sticks to the inside of the claws and is harder to remove. If you catch your own, after you boil

them, they’re ready to eat. South Florida natives don’t bother with a crab cracker; they use the back side of a heavy spoon to whack the claw. This breaks the claw just enough so its shell can be removed. There are two popular ways to eat stone crabs; serve them warm and dip the claws in butter, or serve them cold and dip them in a mustard sauce. For purists, however, the taste of stone crab claws is so tasty that they don’t want anything taking away from or overpowering the sweet, succulent meat. For those purist, there is only one way to eat stone crab . . . au naturel. GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING | 63

1/4 cup soy sauce 1 clove Florida garlic, minced 1 teaspoon cornstarch 1/2 cup butter, softened 1 teaspoon curry powder Crack claws and remove shell and movable pincer, leaving the meat attached to the remaining pincer. Set aside. in a medium sauce- pan combine marmalade, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic and cornstarch; mix well. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce is clear and thickened. Reduce heat and keep warm. in a large sauté pan, melt butter on medium heat; stir in curry powder. Add stone crab claws; turn to coat with curry butter. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until claws are heated through. Serve with hot marmalade sauce. yield: 4 servings. Nutritional Value Per Serving (4 medium claws with marmalade sauce): Calories 346, Calories From Fat 202, Total fat 23g, Saturated Fat 14g, Trans Fatty Acid 0.68g, Cholesterol 105mg, Total Carbohydrate 22g, Protein 17g, Omega-3 Fatty Acid 0.09g.

Mango Marinated Stone Crab Claws 3 pounds cooked medium Florida stone crab claws 2 cups ripe Florida mango, cut into 1/2 inch cubes 3 tablespoons Florida cilantro, finely chopped 2 Florida jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced 4 tablespoons Florida lime juice 1 tablespoon light brown sugar Florida salad greens Crack claws and remove shell and movable pincer, leaving the meat attached to the remaining pincer. Place in a single layer in a shallow dish. To make salsa marinade, combine mango, cilantro, peppers, lime juice and sugar in a mixing bowl. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice and/or brown sugar as needed. Spoon the salsa mixture over the meaty part of crab claws. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 2 hours. Serve claws on a bed of salad greens with mango salsa as an appetizer. yield: 4 servings. Nutritional Value Per Serving (4 medium claws with salsa): Calories 132, Calories From Fat 3, Total Fat 0.29g, Saturated Fat 0.06g, Trans Fatty Acid 0, Cholesterol 45g, Total Carbohydrates 19g, Protein 60g, Omega 3 Fatty Acid 0.08g

Curried Stone Crab Claws with Hot Marmalade Sauce 3 pounds cooked medium Florida stone crab claws 1/3 cup orange marmalade 1/4 cup Florida lime juice


Honey Tangerine Stone Crab Claws with Hearts of Palm Salad 3 pounds cooked medium Florida stone crab claws 1/2 cup Florida sugar 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar 1/4 cup Florida honey 1/2 cup Florida tangerine juice 8 hearts of palm, fresh or canned 1/4 cup red onions, thinly sliced 1/4 cup Florida red bell peppers, roasted, thinly sliced 1/4 cup Florida yellow bell peppers, roasted, thinly sliced 2 medium Florida tangerines, peeled and sectioned 1/4 cup fresh Florida tarragon leaves, chopped 2 cups fresh Florida spinach, finely chopped 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar 1 tablespoon fresh Florida parsley, finely chopped Crack claws and remove shell and movable pincer, leaving the meat attached to the remaining pincer. Set aside. in a small saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, honey and tangerine juice. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened to syrup. Remove from heat, cool and set aside. Slice hearts of palm into thin strips. in a bowl, combine the hearts of palm, onions, peppers, tangerine segments, tarragon and spinach. Dress salad with olive oil and vinegar; toss until moistened. Serve salad in the center of each plate with stone crab claws arranged around the edge. Drizzle the honey tangerine sauce over all and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve extra honey tangerine sauce on the side. yield: 4 servings.

Nutritional Value Per Serving (4 medium claws with salad): Calories 499, Calories From Fat 247, Total Fat 29g, Saturated Fat 4g, Trans Fatty Acid 0g, Cholesterol 190mg, Total Carbohydrate 51g, Protein 15g, Omega-3 Fatty Acid 0.05g

Stone Crab Claws with Spicy Golden Mustard Sauce 3 pounds cooked medium Florida stone crab claws 2 tablespoons dry mustard 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon half and half Crack claws; remove shell and movable pincer leaving meat attached to the remaining pincer. Set aside. Combine mustard, mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce; blend slowly for 3 minutes. Add small amounts of half and half until mixture has a creamy consistency. Serve claws with mustard sauce on the side. Note: Sauce can be refrigerated up to 5 days. yield: 4 servings. Nutritional Value Per Serving (4 medium claws with mustard sauce) Calories 668, Calories From Fat 598, Total Fat 62g, Saturated Fat 10g, Trans Fatty Acid 0g, Cholesterol 76mg, Total Carbohydrate 1g, Protein 15g, Omega-3 Fatty Acid 0.06g.

Stone Crab Claws Miami 3 pounds cooked medium Florida stone crab claws 1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup extra-dry vermouth 2 tablespoons Florida lemon juice 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon white pepper Crack claws and remove shell and movable pincer, leaving the meat attached to the remaining pincer. heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add stone crab claws and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until heated through, turning claws frequently. Turn heat to high; add vermouth, lemon juice, salt and pepper to pan. Cook 1 minute more, spooning vermouth sauce over claws. Serve claws hot or cold as an appetizer or entrée. yield: 8 appetizers or 4 entrées. Nutritional Value Per Serving (4 medium claws): Calories 205, Calories From Fat 121, Total fat 14g, Saturated Fat 2g, Trans Fatty Acid 0g, Cholesterol 45mg, Total Carbohydrate 3g, Protein 15g, Omega-3 Fatty Acid 0.05g

Recipes and photos courtesy of Florida Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture Marketing,

Stone Crab 101 There are two kinds of species in the Gulf. One is native to South Florida, known commonly as the Florida Stone Crab, which is found from around Tampa down to the Keys. This is the most commercially caught stone crab. The other is known as the Gulf Stone Crab, and is found from Pensacola west to Texas. There is a section of the Gulf from Tampa to Pensacola where the two species interbreed and produce a hybrid. Stone crabs like to live near hard structures, like the limestone found around south Florida. That’s why there are so many of them there. In the western Gulf, they can be found in smaller numbers, and usually around structure that is hard, like jetties and oyster beds. The stone crab’s predators are turtles, Uncooked stone crab claw. big conchs, goliath grouper and man. When the crabs are still young, they are eaten by sheepshead, redfish and octopi. Octopi will actually enter the crab traps and feed on the crabs, frustrating crabbers. Oysters, snails, sea anemones, barnacles, conch, clams and other crabs are food to the stone crab. Stone crabs prefer living offshore over bays, due to salinity. When salinity increases due to lack of rain, stone crabs will come into the bays and eat oysters. It takes female stone crabs two years to mature enough to reproduce. They spawn from late spring to early fall. The female carries the eggs on her shell bottom and because of how it looks, is referred to as a sponge female, which cannot be harvested. The life span of a male stone crab is seven years; females eight. Stone crabs have ten legs, eight for walking and swimming, two for their claws. Stoners for Non-Floridians Don’t live in Florida? No worries! Florida stone crabs are available via mail-order. There are several crab houses that will pack your crabs in ice and overnight them to you. You can even order online. And while most of the commercially caught stone crabs are from Florida, that doesn’t mean the other four Gulf Coast states can’t produce locally caught, fresh stoners. In Corpus Christi, for instance, Charlie Alegria, owner of Morgan Street Seafood Market, has fresh stoners on Thursday and Friday. He supplies a local restaurant, Water Street Seafood Company, who has added stone crab claws to its menu to gage interest. So far, interest is high. And nearby Port Aransas Seafood also has fresh stoners for its customers. Other seafood wholesalers around the coast may supply them - give your local seafood market a call. Cooking Your Own Stone Crab Ryan Gandy, from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, has caught and cooked his own stone crabs for years. His recipe is simple. Put on Freshly caught stone crab. a pot of boiling water large enough to comfortably hold your claws, with room for some movement. Add salt to the water, about the same amount you’d put in pasta. Bring the pot to a boil, but don’t make it a really hot boil. Just enough to keep the water bubbling. Let the claws boil for 12-14 minutes. If smaller claws start floating during boiling, cut some time off your boil, down to 10-12 minutes. After the claws are boiled, dump out the boiled water and fill the pot with fresh, cool water to cool the claws down. Then give them an ice bath by dumping them in a large container of ice and water. Leave them there till they aren’t warm anymore. This stops the cooking process; otherwise they keep cooking in the shell. They are now ready to eat! You can either serve them chilled, or warm them in the oven. Try dipping the claws in mustard sauce or drawn butter, or get a little more creative with these tasty recipes.

Gulf Lobster?

Yes, we have them. Yes, you should eat them. Sunken Treasure in the Keys The Caribbean


Some things just exude extravagance. And lobster has to be right there at the top of the extravagance chart, suggesting swanky New York restaurants, little black dresses, and chilled champagne. And while that ambiance presents a wonderfully attractive romantic setting, lobster doesn’t have to be served fancy. It doesn’t even have to be done on the East Coast, since we have our own species of lobster lurking right in our own backyard. Meet the Caribbean Spiny Lobster, Gulf Coast resident and frequent visitor to our dinner plates. Yes, you can get all dolled up and find spiny lobster in upscale Gulf Coast restaurants, especially in Florida. But you can also enjoy that sweet crustacean in classic southern fashion - hot off the BBQ grill. And this tasty critter is also a big economic engine in south Florida, where most of the spiny lobsters in the Gulf are harvested. John Easley, marketing development representative with the Florida Department of Seafood and Aquaculture, says, “Lobster is the second highest per pound catch in Florida. Last year they brought an average dockside price of $6.15 a pound. And 5.6 million pounds were landed.” That’s a lot of lobsters. Even though there are tons of lobsters caught in Florida, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program lists Florida-caught spiny lobsters as a “Best Choice”, which means the fishery is sustainable, not overfished. So for those of us concerned with supporting sustainable seafood, lobster up!

Catching lobster in Florida isn’t hard, but it is hard work. The legal season for Florida spiny lobsters is from Aug. 6 to March 31. Recreational fishermen usually catch lobsters by diving and spearing them. Commercial fishermen use traps, similar to stone crab traps, which are wooden or plastic crates with a hole for lobster entry. The traps are baited, and the lobsters come in, but can’t get out. Mr. Easley explains that, “The preferred bait is a live, undersized lobster, called a ‘short.’ The ‘short’ is put in the trap behind a wire mesh so the other lobsters can’t get to him. He just attracts other lobsters. And when a couple of lobsters get in the trap, other lobsters see them and wonder what’s in the trap and just naturally want to go see what’s going on. There was research done on different kinds of bait, all the way from punching holes in cans of catfood, to cowhide, to fish heads, and the ‘shorts‘ by far caught more.” Lobster traps are weighted down with a piece of concrete, so they don’t float away. The wooden traps are put out a week before the season opens to allow the traps to soak. Dry wooden traps, when first submerged, release bubbles that scare lobsters away. Lobster fishermen put out their traps, and attach them to long lines that have buoys. After leaving the baited traps out, they recover them by boat, using a winch to bring the traps aboard where the lobsters are removed, the trap is rebaited, and then put back in the water. “These guys that have been doing it a long time, they dump them, bait them and throw them right back in the water before you can blink, almost,” said Easley. “Production goes way down when there’s a full moon and calm water,” continued Easley. “The lobsters don’t move much because they are easier for predators to see. So they stay holed up. And around Christmas, a lot of spiny lobster fishermen bring in their lobster traps and go back out as stone crab fishermen.” Even during the summer off-season, when they aren’t being trapped, lobsters impact the Keys. “You can drive through the Keys,” says Easley, “and in certain areas you can see the traps stacked. It looks like a city of spiny lobster traps. And all summer long, you hear nail guns going off where they’re fixing traps and putting traps together. Everybody’s got them a little hut built with their own decorations from wherever they’re from. Their compressor is running and they’re nailing traps back together.” As the summer preparations lead up to the August season, the tension among lobsters starts to rise. They get fidgety and nervous; they think they’re being watched. Lobsters have always been paranoid. Probably because they were abandoned when they were babies. We confirmed this theory with John Hunt, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Lobsters have an unusual life cycle. The female lobster releases her eggs and they become larva. Larval lobsters stay in the larval stage a very long time, in the order of six months. That’s unusual. In other fish species the larval life span is considerably shorter. And what that allows them to do is disperse very widely because they can float along on the ocean currents. So it’s just as likely that a lobster that spawns in Florida is providing larva up to North Carolina, while a lobster that spawns on the southern shore of Cuba is providing larva for the Gulf of Mexico.” Just as we suspected. Abandoned as children. What else do we know about the lobster, other than they have a troubled childhood? Mr. Hunt was kind enough to explain. “The proper name is the Caribbean Spiny Lobster. That’s because it lives throughout the Caribbean, from the coast of South America, up to Bermuda, as far east as Barbados and west all the way to Texas and Mexico. The largest population of Florida lobster is in the Keys. But spiny lobsters are found all over the Gulf, near oil rigs, off Pensacola, at the Flower Gardens (National Marine Sanctuary off Texas), down to

Predators of spiny lobsters include triggerfish, snapper, turtles, groupers, and octopus. Lobsters live on the ocean bottom, so they eat bottom dwelling organisms such as clams, snails, and urchins. Lobster spawn 2-3 times a summer, each time releasing up to a couple hundred thousand eggs.

Mexico. But you aren’t likely to find them in estuaries. They don’t like bays.” Hunt went on to explain that the larval lobster will become a juvenile lobster, and after one to one and a half years, will grow to legal size. The juvenile lobsters live near shore in shallow water, but as they get older, they migrate to deeper water. Their migrations can be very dramatic due to behavior called “cueing.” When the adult lobsters decide to migrate, they do so in long single file lines called cues. The cues can contain over 50 lobsters. They walk in line out to deeper water, sometimes many miles. During daylight hours, the lobsters hide out in crevices and rocks, sometimes alone, sometimes in groups of 20 or more. They gather in groups because their primary defense is their spines (which is where they get their name). The spines are sharp, bone-like projections which can give you a good sharp poke. The lobsters have spines all over their bodies, but according to Hunt, “Their primary defense against predators is their long antenna, which also have spines on them. Imagine you are a grouper and meet a large group of lobsters waving their spiny antenna at you. You’re gonna think twice before trying to eat them.” Divers trying to grab lobsters for dinner risk feeling the pain of being slapped with those spiny antenna. Fortunately, the spines are not poisonous, just sharp and painful. And our spiny lobsters don’t have claws, unlike the Atlantic lobsters with their huge red snappers. Getting slapped with a spiny antenna sounds less painful than getting pinched with big claws. Of course, even if you catch your own spiny lobsters, a little poke isn’t much to endure for such a succulent, sweet tasting dinner. And sitting around the BBQ grill, cooking up the day’s catch of lobster gives you plenty of time to show off your scars. It may not be as romantic as eating lobster by candlelight in an upscale restaurant, but battle scars are battle scars and make for good southern-style storytelling. Just don’t get carried away with your fish tale; no one’s going to believe a cut from a lobster antenna is a shark bite. Trust me. I tried. GULFSCAPES.COM SPRING | 67

Photos and recipes courtesy of Florida Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture Marketing, Above, Lobster Bisque.

Lobster Bisque 1 1/2 pounds cooked Florida spiny lobster meat 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 medium Florida onion, finely chopped 1 rib Florida celery, finely chopped 1 Florida carrot, finely chopped 1 Florida tomato, finely chopped 6 cloves Florida garlic, chopped 2 tablespoons fresh Florida tarragon leaves, chopped 2 tablespoons fresh Florida thyme leaves, chopped 1 bay leaf 8 black peppercorns 1/2 cup brandy 1/2 cup dry sherry 4 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice 1/4 cup tomato paste 1/2 cup heavy cream 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch 2 tablespoons water salt and pepper to taste Slice cooked lobster meat into medallions, reserving a few slices for garnish. Coarsely chop remaining slices; cover and chill. in a 6-quart stock pot, sauté the vegetables, garlic, herbs, and peppercorns in oil over medium high heat until soft. Add the brandy and sherry; simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add the fish stock and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Strain the stock into a large saucepan; discard remaining solids. Add tomato paste and simmer for 10 minutes until stock is reduced to 3 cups of liq­68 | SPRING GULFSCAPES.COM

uid. Stir in cream and simmer for additional 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl and whisk into bisque. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring, until slightly thickened. Add chopped lobster meat and simmer until lobster meat is heated through. Add salt and pepper. Serve garnished with reserved lobster medallions. yield: 6 servings. Nutritional Value Per Serving: Calories 345, Calories From Fat 125, Total Fat 14g, Saturated Fat 6g, Trans Fatty Acid 0.22, Cholesterol 111mg, Total Carbohydrate 14g, Protein 26g, Omega 3 Fatty Acid 0.58g

Grilled Spiny Lobster Tail 1/2 cup butter, softened 1/4 cup olive oil 2 large Florida shallots, peeled and quartered 4 large Florida garlic cloves, peeled and halved 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper salt & black pepper, freshly ground 4 whole Florida spiny lobster, split in half lengthwise Combine first 6 ingredients in processor and blend until almost smooth. Spread 1 heaping teaspoon seasoned butter over each lobster tail. in a small saucepan melt remaining seasoned butter; keep warm. Grill lobster tails, shell side down, 6 minutes. Turn over and grill until meat is just opaque in center, about 2 minutes. Serve with melted butter. yield: 4 servings. Nutritional Value Per Serving: Calories 210, Calories From Fat 30, Total Fat 4g, Saturated Fat 0g, Trans Fatty Acid 0, Cholesterol 285mg, Total Carbohydrates 3g, Protein 43g, Omega 3 Fatty Acid 0.45g

Creamy Lobster Medallions with Wild Rice

Steamed Lobster 2 1-pound whole uncooked Florida lobsters, fresh or frozen 3 tablespoons salt clarified butter Thaw lobsters if frozen. in a 6-quart saucepan, bring 3 quarts of water and salt to a boil. Place lobsters in boiling water; cover and return to boiling point. Reduce heat; simmer 12-15 minutes. Larger lobsters will take a little more cooking time. Drain; rinse with cold water for 1-2 minutes. Split and clean lobsters. Serve with clarified butter. yield: 2 servings. Nutritional Value Per Serving: Calories 210, Calories From Fat 30, Total Fat 4g, Saturated Fat 0g, Cholesterol 285mg, Total Carbohydrate 2g, Protein 43g

Spiny Lobster, Avocado, and Grapefruit Salad 2 teaspoons shallots, finely chopped 2 tablespoons fresh Florida lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon table salt 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 1/2 cups Florida spiny lobster meat, cooked and chilled 2 cups Florida baby arugula 1 ripe Florida avocado half, peeled and sliced 1 pink Florida grapefruit, peeled and sectioned sea salt to taste Combine shallots, lemon juice, and salt in a small bowl. Add oil in a stream, whisking to blend. Set aside. Slice cooked lobster meat into 1/2-inch-thick medallions. Arrange arugula, avocado slices, lobster slices and grapefruit sections on 2 salad plates; drizzle with shallotlemon dressing. Add sea salt to taste and serve. yield: 2 servings. Nutritional Value Per Serving: Calories 714, Calories From Fat 307, Total Fat 34g, Saturated Fat 5g, Trans Fatty Acid 0, Cholesterol 238mg, Total Carbohydrate 28g, Protein 73g, Omega 3 Fatty Acid 1.56g

Creamy Lobster Medallions with Wild Rice 1 1/2 cups wild rice, uncooked 2 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup Florida carrots, chopped 1/2 cup Florida celery, chopped 1 cup Florida green onion, chopped 1 10 1/2-ounce can cream of shrimp soup 1/2 cup sherry 1/4 cup butter hot pepper sauce to taste salt and pepper to taste 1 1/2pounds Florida lobster meat, cooked and sliced

Lobster Carambola Citrus Salad 1 cup Florida orange juice 2 tablespoons Florida honey 1/4 cup canola oil 1 teaspoon salt 4 medium Florida carambolas (star fruit), sliced 1 cup Florida orange sections 1 cup Florida pink grapefruit sections 1 pound Florida cooked lobster tail meat, sliced 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained Florida salad greens, chilled For dressing, bring orange juice to a boil in a saucepan, reducing liquid by 1/2. Cool in a small bowl. Whisk in the orange juice, honey, oil and salt. Set aside. on individual plates, arrange carambola slices, orange and grapefruit sections, lobster and black beans on salad greens. Drizzle with orange salad dressing and serve. yield: 4 servings. Nutritional Value Per Serving: Calories 377, Calories From Fat 144, Total Fat 16g, Saturated Fat 2g, Trans Fatty Acid 0, Cholesterol 64mg, Total Carbohydrate 35g, Protein 24g, Omega 3 Fatty Acid 1.68g

Prepare wild rice per package instructions. While rice is cooking, melt butter in a large saucepan and sauté the carrots, celery and green onion for 3 or 4 minutes. Stir sautéed vegetables into cooked wild rice. Set aside. Combine soup, sherry, butter, and seasonings in a double boiler and heat thoroughly. if sauce gets too thick, add more sherry. Add lobster meat and stir until heated through. on individual plates, arrange lobster slices on wild rice and spoon sauce over. Serve remaining sauce separately. yield: 6 servings.

Grilled Florida Lobster Surf and Turf with Shallot Butter 1/2 cup butter, softened 1/4 cup olive oil 2 large shallots, peeled and quartered 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 6 6-ounce beef filets 3 uncooked whole lobster tails, cut in half lengthwise Combine first 6 ingredients in processor and blend until almost smooth. Spread 1 heaping teaspoon seasoned butter over each side of each steak and over each lobster half. in a small saucepan melt remaining seasoned butter; keep warm. heat the grill to mediumhigh heat and grill steaks 4 minutes per side or to desired doneness. Grill lobster tails, shell side down, 5 minutes. Turn over and grill until meat is just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Transfer steaks and lobster to plates. Serve with warm seasoned butter. yield: 6 servings.

Nutritional Value Per Serving: Calories 481, Calories From Fat 144, Total Fat 16g, Saturated Fat 9g, Trans Fatty Acid 0.34g, Cholesterol 129mg, Total Carbohydrate 47g, Protein 35g, Omega 3 Fatty Acid 0.72g

Nutritional Value Per Serving: Calories 659, Calories From Fat 305, Total Fat 34g, Saturated Fat 18g, Trans Fatty Acid 1g, Cholesterol 304mg, Total Carbohydrate 6g, Protein 82g, Omega 3 Fatty Acid 0g



Incorporate Florida Seafood in your plan to get healthy in the New Year! every year 40% of Americans make a New year’s resolution to lose weight. of those, less than half are still successfully dieting after six months. Seafood is a great way to tackle both weight loss issues and health issues that many Americans encounter today. Studies have shown that people that eat fish and shellfish on a regular basis are healthier than those who don’t. Seafood is a source of many health benefits including maintaining good eyesight, managing Type 2 Diabetes, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as reducing the risk of many types of cancers. The fatty acids found in fish, omega 3’s, concentrate in the eye and retina and are very important for visual function. omega 3s can also contribute to the health of brain tissue and may reduce the risk of many types of cancers by 30-50%, especially oral, colon, breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. Type 2 Diabetes is rapidly increasing among

Americans and is more common in people who are overweight and inactive. Unfortunately, once diabetes has developed, heart disease is more likely to follow. Research has shown that eating fish every other week reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing blood clots and inflammation and improves blood vessel elasticity. it also lowers blood pressure and helps manage blood sugar levels. So, the next time you visit your local supermarket or retail store, think about the health benefits of choosing Florida Seafood for your meal and incorporating it into your plan to get healthy in the New year. in addition to being delicious, it’s an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and proteins and is low in cholesterol and fat. Need some recipes or a buying guide for Florida Seafood? Visit www.fl-seafood for hundreds of Fresh From Florida Seafood recipes and to find out where to buy it fresh!


Is Your Mouth Watering Yet? South Beach Wine & Food Festival February 23 – 26, 2012 Miami Beach, FL •


Above, Ice sculpting at the "Let Them Eat Cake" event. • Opposite page, clockwise from top, Guy Fieri shows the audience how to cook pizza on stones on a grill at the Whole Foods Grand Tasting Village. • Emeril grabs a glass of champagne. • The "Let Them Eat Cake" event, hosted by Martha Stewart. • Goodies at the "Let Them Eat Cake" party. • Chef Marc Murphy at the Burger Bash. • Rachael Ray at the Amstel Light Burger Bash.

t’s time to get ready for the culinary event of the year! The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE kicks off on Feb. 23 and runs for four days along the beautiful shores of Miami Beach. This is the 11th year for the SOBE Wine and Food Fest, which promises to be even better than last year’s 10th Anniversary extravaganza. Joining the festivities this year are Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri, Rachael Ray, Anthony Bourdain, Charlie Trotter, Andrew Zimmern, and Michael Schwartz. The Grand Events for 2012 kick off with Moët Hennessy's The Q presented by Allen Brothers, sponsored by Miami magazine, which brings together the best BBQ chefs from across the nation preparing their signature dishes on grills and in smokers. Emeril and Fieri are the hosts of what certainly will be a wild and crazy party. Gulf Coast area chefs that will be cooking are Dean Fearing of Fearings in Dallas, Christopher Hastings of the Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, AL, Chris Lilly from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, AL, Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbeque in Taylor, TX, and Stephen Stryjewski from Cochon in New Orleans. Ms. Ray again will oversee the Amstel Light Burger Bash presented by Allen Brothers, which will showcase dozens of burger creations from the country’s most talented chefs.

Also, the 2012 Tribute Dinner presented by Bank of America keeps its long-standing tradition of honoring the world’s greatest wine and culinary talent by paying tribute to esteemed Chef Charlie Trotter and celebrated winemaker Piero Antinori. Other events include the Food Network presents The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Late Night Bites, an event based of the hit primetime series; the Fontainebleau Miami Beach presents Wine Spectator's Best of the Best sponsored by Bank of America; and Party: Impossible featuring Epicure Gourmet Market hosted by Robert Irvine. Festival Founder and Director Lee Brian Schrager was pleased to unveil the program for the 2012 Festival, which benefits the Florida International University (FIU) Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and the Southern Wine & Spirits Beverage Management Center. Schrager, who also serves as Vice President of Corporate Communications & National Events at Southern Wine & Spirits of America, which hosts the Festival, says, “I believe the 2012 program features a number of fresh and exciting changes as well as those events that have become fanfavorites over the years." Tickets are going fast, so grab yours soon. You won’t want to miss this spectacular culinary affair. Follow Gulfscapes live at @SOBEwine2012



Spring2012 spotlights

Above, Tacky Jack’s in Orange Beach, AL. Tacky Jacks has so much fun to pass around, they have two locations on the Alabama coast, both set on the backwater. Great spots to socialize while satiating your appetite for ample portions of yummy food. Flat-screen TVs in the bar area at the Orange Beach location make a festive hangout for watching sports.


D D the gulf


Places along the Gulf Coast that Make You Smile!

Nominate your favorite restaurants & bars ... Follow @GulfFood for Gulf Coast Restaurant info from around the Gulf.


Alabama Felix's Fish Camp Grill, 1530 Battleship Pkwy., Spanish Ft., AL,, 251-626-6710. We’re addicted to the fried crab claws. Noja, 6 North Jackson Street, Mobile, AL 36602,, 251-433-0377. Wild Sea Scallops appetizer and the Ginger Donut dessert are must haves. Catch of the Day is always excellent. The Trellis Room, The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel and Spa, 26 North Royal Street, Mobile, AL 36602, 251-338-5493. An elegant experience is always on the menu at Mobile’s only AAA Four Diamond rated restaurant. Indulge in sophisticated, contemporary décor amidst the historic hotel and “chef-inspired” cuisine with a Northern Italian influence. The menu changes often, but a dish like caramelized day boat scallops with wild mushroom risotto is just one example of the delicious offerings. TRUE, 9 Du Rhu Drive, Suite 201, Mobile, AL, 36608,, 251-344-3334. The menu changes, so check before you go. We loved the tuna appetizer and the grouper almondine. Wintzell's Oyster House, 605 Dauphin St., Mobile, AL 36602,, (251)432.4605. Renowned for offering oysters “fried, stewed or nude,” this Mobile hallmark started in 1938 and now has a location in Orange Beach, too. Order the Oyster Sampler and have it all—Oysters Monterey, Oysters Bienville, Oysters Rockefeller and Wintzell’s famous grilled oysters. Guy Harvey's Island Grill, 4851 Wharf Pkwy Ste 116, Orange Beach, AL 36561,, (251)224-8180. The perfect place to ogle, but you won’t be leering at bikini bodies. You’ll be gawking at boats—big boats. This restaurant’s outside seating offers a straight-shot look at The Wharf’s marina. Of course, a diverse menu and the adjacent museum and retail shop showcasing the works of famed fisherman artist Guy Harvey are a big draw, too. Tacky Jacks Tavern & Grill, 27206 Safe Harbor Dr, Orange Beach, AL 36561,, (251) 981-4144. Tacky Jacks has so much fun to pass around, they have two locations on the Alabama coast, both set on the backwater. Great spots to socialize while satiating your appetite for ample portions of yummy food. Flat-screen TVs in the bar area at the Orange Beach location make a festive hangout for watching fall football games. Cobalt The Restaurant, 28099 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL, 36561,, (251) 923-5300. Nibble on tasty jumbo BBQ shrimp or crab-stuffed baby portabellas and watch the boats float by. The restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows frame a picturesque vista of the bay and Perdido Pass. The water wall and touch tank full of live fish at the entrance will keep you entertained if you (somehow) become bored by the view. Cosmo's Restaurant & Bar, 25753 Canal Road, Orange Beach, AL, 36561,, (251) 948-9663. The easy-going atmosphere has a neighborhood pub vibe that makes everyone feel welcome. A guy strumming guitar and outdoor seating on a large deck are reason enough to visit, but the spectacular sushi pushes this place to the top of the list. Voyagers, 27200 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL 35661, 251-981-9811. Inside the Perdido Beach Resort, Voyagers is a classic fine dining establishment. Staying true to its philosophy of using only the freshest local ingredients, Voyagers consistently serves authentic tastes of the area’s bounty. Reservations are highly recommended. Villaggio Grille, 4790 Wharf Parkway, Orange Beach, AL 36561,, (251) 224-6510. The bone-in pork chop, the hanger steak and the seafood lasagna are wonderful. Wolf Bay Lodge, 26619 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL 36561,, 251-987-5129. Wolf Bay Lodge is still serving up heaping helpings of seafood and steaks. This local treasure keeps things casual, and at lunchtime, Wolf Bay’s sensational salad bar is not to be missed. If you just got off one of the fishing charters stationed at the marina, Wolf Bay will clean and

cook your catch for you. Sunset Cork Room, 225 E. 16th Ave., Gulf Shores, AL, 36542,, (251) 967-4773. The 8 oz filet with Zinfandel Reduction, smoked Gouda Grits, and coconut rum creme brulee. Mmmmm. Gulf Shores Steamer, 124 West 1st Ave., Gulf Shores, AL,, 251-948-6344. If you want to eat your fill but avoid the extra calories that come with fried foods, this is the place for you, dishing up piles of steamed seafood. True foodies will appreciate the unadulterated flavors of Royal Red shrimp, crab and fish that come through thanks to the simple steaming. King Neptune’s, 1137 Gulf Shores Parkway, Gulf Shores, AL 36542,, 251-968-5464. Eat like a local at King Neptune’s, one of Gulf Shores’ oldest and most popular restaurants. After just one spoonful of the creamy, flavorful corn and crab bisque, you won’t notice the lack of designer décor or the tight squeezes in the tiny space. Try favorites like bacon-wrapped stuffed shrimp or the tart and tangy West Indies Salad.

Chef Ian Schnoebelen produces a dinner menu that isn’t the standard New Orleans style, combining several different influences, from Italian to Vietnamese to French. The menu is changed daily, so variety abounds. Try the Gulf Shrimp with coconut broth, baby bok choy, pickled shimeji mushrooms, basil coulis, and fried ginger. Commander's Palace, 1403 Washington Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130,, (504) 899-8221. One of the Legends. Training ground for Emeril and Paul Prudhomme. Try the pecan crusted gulf fish, tasso shrimp in pepper jelly, creme brulee, and bread pudding. Galatoire's, 209 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, LA 70112,, (504) 525-2021. Another Legend. Friday afternoons are a tradition. As is the shrimp remoulade, poisson meuniere amandine, and banana bread pudding. Bayona, 430 Dauphine Street, New Orleans, LA 70112,, (504) 525-4455. Chef Susan Spicer’s nationally acclaimed, French Quarter cozy restaurant always offers unique and delicious dining. Sit on the patio for incredible ambience. Menu changes regularly, so there’s always something new to try. Garlic soup and duck are favorites. Try the Stormy Morning cocktail for a new flavor treat.

Mikee’s Seafood Restaurant, 2nd Avenue, East 1st Street, Gulf Shores, AL,, 251-948-6452. Mikee’s calls itself “a place for seafood.” It may be THE place for seafood. Try the grilled triggerfish or Captain Ed’s Sautéed Scallops. Family friendly, too.

August, 301 Tchoupitoulas Street, New Orleans, LA 70130,, (504) 299-9777. Contemporary French done by Chef John Besh. His signature restaurant. Try the pork three ways or any fish dish. Always an impressive culinary exhibition.

The Gumbo Shack, 212 & 1/2 Fairhope Ave., Fairhope, AL 36532,, (251) 928-4100. This is the way God meant us to eat gumbo. Try the red beans and rice, too. Music is offered some nights and makes this a great experience.

Antoine’s, 713 Rue Saint Louis, New Orleans, LA 70130,, 504-581-4422. The oldest restaurant in New Orleans, was founded in 1840 and operated continuously ever since. Oysters Rockefeller was invented here.

Pirate’s Cove, 6664 County Road 95, Elberta, AL 36530,, 251-987-1224. Bring a friend. We mean a four-legged one. In fact, if you arrive at Pirate’s Cove Marina without a dog in tow, you may be in the minority. Hordes of people and their pets congregate on the deck adjacent to the marina, sipping Bushwhackers (a thick, chocolaty milkshake/cocktail) while waiting for their “cheeseburger in paradise.” A tiny kitchen turns out burgers that are legendary.

Tujague's, 823 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA 70116,, 504-525-8676. Second oldest restaurant in New Orleans, has been around 150 years. Exellent bar. House specialty is boiled brisket with creole sauce.

Mississippi The Blow Fly Inn, 1201 Washington Ave., Gulfport, MS 39507,, (228) 896-9812. Hard to pick a favorite out of all this wonderful Southern food. We recommend Seafood Fra`Diablo, Shrimp and Grits, whole fried flounder, She-Crab Bisque and Fried Green Tomatoes. BR Prime, 875 Beach Blvd., Biloxi, MS, 39530,, (228) 386-7737. Lobster mashed potatoes and Stone Crab Claws . . . two great tastes that go great together! Darwell's Cafe, 127 E. First St., Long Beach, MS 39560,, (228) 868-8946. Known for its crawfish etouffee. Located just a short stroll from the beach. Maisano's By The Glass Wine Bar & Bistro, 1634 Bienville Blvd., Ocean Springs, MS, 39564,, (228) 8727144. Great selection of wines by the glass, so you can explore. Nice cheese plates , really good pork tenderloin and amaretto cheese cake. Salute Italian, 1712 15th St., Gulfport, MS 39501,, (228) 864-2500. Go with the shrimp and grits or the amberjack supreme. The Shed, 7501 Highway 57 , Ocean Springs, MS, 39565,, (228) 875-9590. The (Original) Shed BBQ & Blues Joint is not so much a restaurant, but an experience. Regular customers called ShedHeds are invited to bring their collected junk. It spruces up the place, which was a ramshackle shack to begin with. You can’t argue with success. Southeast Louisiana Iris, 321 N Peters St., New Orleans, LA 70130,, (504) 299-3944. Specialty cocktails are works of art, and

Broussard's, 819 Conti St., New Orleans, LA,, 504-581-3866. Legendary courtyard. Known for Veal Broussard, Pompano Napoleon, Crabmeat Broussard’s and Salmon Jean Lafitte. Arnaud's, 813 Bienville St., New Orleans, LA 70112,, 504-239-8892. Arnaud’s has been around for 90 years. Offers Dixieland Jazz in the Jazz Bistro. Signature dish is Shrimp Arnuad, marinated in a tangy Creole Remoulade Sauce. Acme Oyster House, 724 Iberville Street, New Orleans, LA 70130,, (504) 522-5973. Grilled oysters rule! Just watching them on the grill is a treat. Sazerac Restaurant & Bar, 123 Baronne Street, New Orleans, LA 70112,, (504) 648-1200. At the Roosevelt. Recommended: Blackened calamari, creole gumbo and crisy red snapper. Ralph’s on the Park, 900 City Park Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70119,, (504) 488-1000. BBQ gulf shrimp. Can’t be beat. Jamila's Mediterranean Tunisian Cuisine, 7808 Maple Street, New Orleans, LA 70118, (504) 866-4366. Crawfish bisque, amberjack and live belly dancing on Saturday night. Fun! Cochon Butcher, 930 Tchoupitoulas, New Orleans, LA 70130,, 504-588-PORK. A Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski sandwich counter/butcher shop/wine bar. Old school; they make their own cured meats and sausages. Pork Belly with mint & cucumbers sandwich rocks. Don’t miss the mac & cheese. K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, 416 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70130,, (504) 596-2530. Legend. Trust me. Blackened twin beef tenders with debris and garlic mashed potatoes, finish with the Custard Marie creme brulee. Perfect. His creation of blackened redfish was so popular, the redfish population was overfished and is now regulated.


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Brennan’s, 417 Royal St, New Orleans, LA,, (504) 525-9711. Another Legend. Always start with turtle soup, and always end with Bananas Foster. Anything in between is just a bonus. Emeril’s, 800 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130,, 504-528-9393. Bam! This is where it all began. Andouille Crusted Drum, Saffron-Chili Dusted Jumbo Shrimp, or the Cast Iron Roasted Filet of Beef. Emeril's Delmonico, 1300 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70130,, 504-525-4937. Yes, another Legend. Steaks are great, but try the fried sausage stuffed olives for something unusual and tasty. And I have a rule that if Bananas Foster is on the menu, order it. Central Grocery Company, 923 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116, (504) 523-1620. Originator of the classic NOLA muffuletta sandwich. Dooky Chase, 2301 Orleans Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70119, (504) 821-0600. Yet another Legend. Gumbo z'herbes on Holy Thursday is a major tradition. So is the fried chicken and bread pudding. Willie Mae’s Scotch House, 2401 Saint Ann Street, New Orleans, LA 70119, (504) 822-9503. Fried chicken. That’s all you need to know. Fried chicken.

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Drago's, 2 Poydras Street, New Orleans, LA 70130,, (504) 584-3911. Don’t even think about leaving here without Charbroiled Oysters. Camellia Grill, 626 South Carrollton Avenue, New Orleans, LA,, (504) 309-2679. One of Jimmy Buffett’s inspirations for “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” Get the burger, get the onion rings, get a milkshake, then watch them drop your piece of pecan pie in a pool of butter on the grill to warm it. Take the St. Charles Trolley to get to this classic southern diner. Tracey's, 2604 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130,, (504) 899-2054. Gravy fries and roast beef po-boy. Sammy's Food Service & Deli, 3000 Elysian Fields, New Orleans, LA 70122,, (504) 947-0675. Try the garlic stuffed roast beef po-boy. Louie and the Red Head Lady, 1851 Florida Street, Mandeville, LA 70448,, (985) 626-8101. Fried green tomatoes, crab cakes and red velvet cake. L. A. Pines Cafe, 1061 Robert Blvd, Slidell, LA 70458,, (985) 641-6196. Great for breakfast. Burgers are good and the fudge pie is addicting. Port of Call, 838 Esplanade Ave., New Orleans, LA 70116,, (504) 523-0120. Huge burgers served with baked potatoes. Don’t even think about asking for fries. Try Neptune’s Monsoon for a great boat drink. Gautreau's, 1728 Soniat St., New Orleans, LA 70115,, (504) 899-7397. Another nationally acclaimed restaurant, Gautreau’s is a classy establishment with an elegant feel. Chef Sue Zemanick and owners Rebecca and Patrick Singley create a memorable dining experience. Sautéed tripletail is a Gulf Coast treat. Herbsaint, 701 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, LA 70130,, (504) 524-4114. Donald Link, cajun chef extraordinaire, continues to amaze at his flagship restaurant, with offerings like Louisiana Shrimp and Grits with tasso and okra, and Kurobuta Pork Belly with crispy eggplant and grilled date relish. Big Al's Seafood, 1377 W Tunnel Blvd, Houma, LA 70360,, 985-876-4030. Big Al does boiled crawfish right. It’s cajun cooking at it’s simple best.


Joey K's, 3001 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115,, (504) 891-0997. Red beans and rice is the star. Rocky & Carlo's, 613 W. St. Bernard Hwy., Chalmette, LA 70043, 504-279-8323. Classic Italian. Mac and cheese is legendary in taste and in serving size. It comes with red gravy, which in New Orleans means tomato sauce. Great wop salad. Beausoleil, 7731 Jefferson Hwy, Baton Rouge, LA 70809,, (225) 926-1172. Chef Nathan Gresham, formerly of Galatoire’s Bistro, rolls out a menu heavy on local products. Give these dishes a try: Seafood salad with blue crab, Louisiana shrimp, & avocado with a white remoulade; Hand-made gnocchi with bacon, peas & a roasted garlic cream sauce; & Grilled shrimp, truffled risotto and andouille gravy. Juban's Restaurant, 3739 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA, 70808,, (225) 346-8422. Soft shell crab, gumbo, bread pudding, pecan pie, and the Two Birds entree are all winners. Galatoire's Bistro, 17451 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA, 70810,, (225) 753-4864. The western branch of the legendary New Orleans restaurant is a little more laid back than the queen. And dishes are little edgier. Shrimp Rémoulade, Poisson Meunière Amandine and Lyonnaise Potatoes are classics. Southwest Louisiana Tsunami, 412 Jefferson Street, Lafayette, LA 70501,, (337) 234-3474. Try the Chirashi and the Chilean Sea Bass. After the Big Tuna Roll, of course. Steamboat Bill's on the Lake, 1004 North Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles, LA 70601,, (337) 494-1070. Boudin Balls and Crawfish Pistolette are favorites. Renee’s Cafe and Boutique, 1 Lakeshore Dr # 555, Lake Charles, LA 70629,, (337) 439-6916. Good lunch spot, with daily specials. Southern Spice, 3901 Ryan Street, Lake Charles, LA 70605,, (337) 474-6065. Family style home cooking. Try the Spice Special Po-Boy.

Pat's of Henderson, 1500 Siebarth Drive, Lake Charles, LA 70615,, (337) 439-6618. If you’re ready for a lot of good food, order the Jambalaya, Crawfish Pie and File Gumbo. If you’re just ordinary hungry, order gumbo.

Coastal Bend Texas Yardarm Restaurant, 4310 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78411, (361) 855-8157. Try the oysters rockefeller, snapper capers, sauteed grouper and creme brulee.

Bay Area Texas Bryan's 797, 797 N. Fifth St., Beaumont, TX, 77701,, (409) 832-3900. Shrimp Luis is a nice twist.

La Playa, 222 Beach Ave., Port Aransas, TX 78373, 361-749-0022. Casual Mexican seafood dining. Shrimp and crab enchiladas, fish tacos with purple cabbage slaw, a top shelf margarita and flan for dessert. Wonderful! But bring cash, no credit cards!

Luigi's, 2328 Strand Rear Street, Galveston, TX 77550,, (409) 763-6500. Northern Italian. Gaido's, 3828 Seawall Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77550,, (409) 762-9625. Seafood heaven. Snapper Wade, Brook’s gumbo and the fried shrimp can’t be beat.

Venetian Hot Plate, 232 Beach St, Port Aransas, TX 78373,, (361) 749-7617. Linda, the owner, is from Italy and brought spectacular recipes with her, like the Penne alla Bolognese. Fettuccine ai gamberetti is a spicy shrimp dish with bacon. Fresh fish is offered daily.

Mosquito Cafe, 628 14th Street, Galveston, TX 77550,, (409) 763-1010. Great omelets and sandwiches. Fresh seafood, too. Just opened a bakery next door called PattyCakes.

Roosevelt’s, 200 East Cotter Avenue, Port Aransas, TX 78373-5124,, (361) 749-1540. Can’t go wrong with panseared snapper with shrimp and ricotta ravioli or the Caribbean char drum.

Olympia Grill, 21st & Harborside, Galveston, TX 77550,, (409) 765-0021. Loved the sautéed red snapper fillet.

Liberty Hall, 103 East Cotter Avenue, Port Aransas, TX 78373, (361) 749-1660. The best place for burgers and sushi! Shrimp and grits are delicious.

Rudy & Paco, 2028 Post office St, Galveston, TX 77553,, (409) 762-3696. The Filete de Pargo Parrilla (grilled fresh filet of red snapper topped with cilantro cream sauce) is excellent! So is the Crab Bisque!

Tango Tea Room, 505 South Water St # 545, Corpus Christi, TX 78401,, (361) 883-9123. More than just tea. Good food, mostly vegetarian, like Black Bean Chipotle Chili, Tango Garden Salad and the Mediterranean Sampler. A great tea menu, too, as you would expect.

Saltwater Grill, 2017 Post Office St., Galveston, TX 77550,, (409)762-3474. Sounds weird, I know, but the Southern BBQ Red Snapper rocks! Shearn's, Seven Hope Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77554,, (409)741-8484. Go on Thursday evening. That’s when they get in fresh tuna. Get the sesame encrusted ahi. T-Bone Tom's Steakhouse, 707 Highway 146, Kemah, TX 77565,, (281) 334-2133. Gotta try the Armadillo Eggs, fried jalapenos stuffed with brisket. Yummy.

Cheryl’s By the Bay, 112 S Fulton Beach Rd, Fulton, TX 78382,, (361) 790-9626. Great brunch. Eggs benedict and beignets. For dinner try St. Peter’s fish. Moondog Seaside Eatery, 100 Casterline Dr., Fulton TX, 78358, (361) 729-6200. Fish tacos, brisket nachos, waffle fries and giant draft beers, right on the water. Hu-Dats, Broadway & S Fulton Beach Rd, Fulton, TX 78382, (361) 790-7621. The original restaurant with the best Pho.


Yaga's 3rd Annual Chili Quest and Beer Fest January 20-21, 2012 • Saengerfest Park, Downtown, Galveston, TX

t don’t get any more Texas than chili and beer. And if you throw in some washer pitchin’, jalapeno eatin’, and live music, you’ve got one heck of a Texas hoedown. And that’s exactly what’s happening in Galveston at Yaga’s Chili Quest and Beer Fest. This is Yaga’s third year to sponsor the Quest Fest, which has gotten bigger and better each year. The Fest is located in and around Saengerfest Park, located at the corner of Tremont and Strand in the historic downtown district. The official start to the event is on Friday, when cooks and sponsors will have a party from 8-10pm. The public events start on Saturday the 21st, when chili cooks will be lined up along the streets, which will be closed to vehicles. Anyone attending can purchase tickets that let them sample the chilis of their choice. The chili cooking teams will be participating in three categories: “Good Ol’ Chili” which is regular chili without weird stuff, “Exotic Chili” which has weird stuff (non-standard meat, like venison, hog, rattlesnake), and the “Showmanship” category for the most egregiously dressed team. Did I say egregious? I meant colorful. The costumes can get pretty out there, in a good way. That’s the chili part of the event. The beer part starts on Saturday, too. Numerous beers will be available for tasting, including hard to find brews, and some which are only available at the Quest Fest. For the gastronomic warriors out there, the jalapeno eating contest is a must. Watching the G-warriors is always entertaining, as you never know who is going to burst into painful tears first. No wagering please. If destroying your stomach lining isn’t your idea of competition, try the washer pitching contest instead. Horseshoes are good and fine, but washing pitching is more real Texan. Washer pitching started in Texas during the Great Depression, when horseshoes were in short supply because people were too broke to feed their horses. They say it tastes like chicken. If those contests aren’t your style, try the Chili Pepper Quick Step 5K Fun Run on the Seawall on Saturday. And after all that running, stop by and watch the Margarita Pour-Off downtown. Last year’s pour off featured some really tasty variations on the standard Margarita. If you’re quick, you can get a taste. And of course, it isn’t a real Texas festival without live music. The stage will be set up in Saengerfest Park, with plenty of sitting and standing space available. Music starts at 1pm. Of course, there will be food vendors (again, not a real festival without funnel cake), as well as arts and crafts booths. So put on your boots, grab your hat and mosey on down Galveston way. It’s gonna be a real Texas-style Quest Fest.


Top, Cooking chili on the street. Middle, left, Oh yeah, the Margarita Pour Off! Middle, right, Jalapeno eating contest. Bottom, Yaga's Beer Fest features unique and hard to find brews. ­78 | SPRING GULFSCAPES.COM


Water Street Seafood Co., 309 North Water St., Corpus Christi, TX,, 361-882-8683. Their grill imparts a perfect flavor to seafood. They recently tried out locally caught stone crab on the menu, which is excellent. We’d love to see it on the menu full time. Glow, 1815 Broadway, Rockport, TX 78382,, (361) 727-2644. Glow is a tiny rustic bistro created by Karey B. Johnson. Guests can enjoy lunch, dinner or brunch in the dining room, at the bar or on the deck overlooking Little Bay. If you enjoy Bloody Marys (they have 10 kinds) or fresh Sashimi grade fish or buttermilk fried chicken -visit Glow .. it's a little hard to find (behind Ledbetter's), but worth the trip! South Texas Scampi’s, 206 W Aries Dr, South Padre Island, TX 78597,, (956) 761-1755. The Oysters Rockefeller is one of the best ever. And you can’t beat the sunsets on the balcony. Worth the trip. Wanna Wanna, 5100 Gulf Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX 78597,, (956) 761-7677. Oyster sandwich is great. Marcello's Italian Restaurant, 110 North Tarnava Street, Port Isabel, TX 78578,, (956) 943-7611. Flounder Fillet La George and Four Way Shrimp are tasty. Louie's Backyard, 2305 Laguna Boulevard, S Padre Island, TX 78597,, (956) 761-6406. Just ask for the catch of the day, mesquite grilled. Palm Street Pier Bar & Grill, 204 W Palm St, South Padre Island, TX 78597,, (956) 772-7256. The Captain Morgan Shrimp has won the World Championship Shrimp Cook-off.

Sea Ranch Restaurant, 1 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX 78597,, (956) 761-1314. Try the red snapper or fried shrimp.

Cote d'Azur, 11224 Tamiami Trl N , Naples, FL 34110,, (239) 597-8867. Hard to choose between the fresh fish and the duck. Both excellent.

Southwest Florida Arturo's, 844 Bald Eagle Dr, Marco Island, FL, 34145,, (239) 642-0550 - Try the Penne A La Vodka.

The Dock Restaurant at Crayton Cove, 845 12th Avenue South, Naples FL 34102,, (239)263-9940. Great waterfront view. Caribbean and Latin style fresh fish. Bring your dog for Yappy Hour, Tuesdays from 5-6:30 on the patio.

Baleen, LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, 9891 Gulf Shore Dr., Naples, FL 34108,, (239) 598-5707. Waterfront dining with choice of seating in an indoor epicurean enclave or a barefoot beach table. At night there is an intimate beach fire pit with extensive wine-by-the-glass offerings. Bleu Provence, 1234 Eighth St. S., Naples, FL, 34102,, (239) 261-8239. Excellent wine list. Duck confit, mussels and cold tomato soup are memorable. Blue Heaven, 729 Thomas St., Key West, FL, 33040,, (305) 296-8666. Eat outside. Lobster Benedict, jerk chicken, BBQ shrimp, key lime pie, key lime pie martini. Can’t go wrong. B.O.'s Fish Wagon, 801 Caroline Street, Key West, FL,, (305) 294-9272. It’s a dive and it’s great! Conch Fritters, soft shell crab sandwich with key lime mayonnaise. Cafe Marquesa, 600 Fleming Street , Key West, FL 33040,, (305) 292-1919. Rack of lamb is house specialty. Try the Grilled Shrimp Martini with Habañero Chili Melon Sorbet & Salsa. Camille's Restaurant, 1202 Simonton Street, Key West, FL 33040,, (305) 296-4811. Great breakfast. Eggs Benedict is their signature, and omelets are great. French Toast with Godiva white chocolate sauce tastes as good as it sounds.

El Siboney, 900 Catherine Street, Key West, FL 33040,, (305) 296-4184. Cuban cuisine. Paella is tasty and full of seafood, pork and chicken. Minimum order is for two people, and it takes an hour. Relax and enjoy the wait. Grand Café Key West, 314 Duval St., Key West, FL, 33040,, (305) 292-4740. Great wine list. Slow paced, great for tourist watching. Fine conch fritters. Fettuccini with Key West Shrimp. The Grill, 280 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, FL, 34108,, (239) 598-6644. Try the Colorado Rack of Lamb and the molten chocolate cake. Hot Tin Roof, Zero Duval St., Key West, FL, 33040,, (305) 296-7701. Must haves: the Hot Tin Tini, a pineapple infused vodka martini; caramelized Mahi-Mahi. Louie’s Backyard, 700 Waddell Ave., Key West, FL,, (305) 294-1061. The romantic views of the sunset and the food are excellent, try the yellowfin tuna with wasabi. But have heard complaints about the host. Follow @GulfFood for Gulf Coast Restaurant info from around the Gulf.

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Looking for a great fried oyster sandwich with a fantastic beach view - try South Padre Island’s Wanna Wanna, 5100 Gulf Boulevard, South Padre Island, TX 78597,, (956) 761-7677.


Turtle Kraals Restaurant & Bar, 231 Margaret St., Key West, FL 33040,, (305) 294-2640. Great view of the Seaport. Can’t go wrong with the stone crab claws and spiny lobster tails. Good pulled pork. Great raw bar, too. Central Florida Alpine Steakhouse, 4520 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34231,, (941) 922-3797. Old fashioned meat market, deli and restaurant. Famous for their TurDucKen. Beach Bistro, 6600 Gulf Dr., Holmes Beach, FL,, (941)778-6444. Gorgeous, upscale Gulf front dining. Wine list is wonderful. Known for the Floribbean Grouper and Lobstercargots. A culinary treat. Bern's Steak House, 1208 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL,, 813-251-2421- Bern’s is a legend. Just the half million bottles of fine wine in their cellar is enough to vault it into fame, but add on their 19 varieties of caviar, steaks that are cut to your requested thickness, a cheese cave, a separate dessert room, and ... well, you get the picture. Go for the Châteaubriand and finish with the Banana Cheese Pie. Bijou Café, 1287 First St., Sarasota, FL,, (941)366-8111. Wonderful cafe in the downtown Theatre & Arts district. Seasonal menu based on local availability. Filet Mignon and the daily fish are excellent, as is the shrimp and crab bisque. Bob Heilman's Beachcomber Restaurant, 447 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach, FL, 33767,, (727) 4424144. Old school classy elegance, a la Rat Pack. Complete with piano player. The Back-to-the-Farm chicken is a classic. Try the bronzed gulf shrimp and filet mignon with bearnaise sauce. Cafe Ponte, 13505 Icot Blvd., Clearwater, FL,, (727)538-5768. Signature dishes are Potato Encrusted Sea Bass and Filet Mignon. Gotta try the 100 to 150 years old Grand Marnier at the zigzag bar. Pumpkin curry crab bisque and filet mignon with duo of sauce are very good. Columbia, 2117 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa, FL,, (813)248-4961. Great history behind this 100 year old Spanish restaurant. Don’t miss the sangria, the 1905 salad and the flamenco dancing. For purists, try the El Floridita Daiquiri, Hemingway’s favorite. Crow's Nest Marina Restaurant & Tavern, 1968 Tarpon Center Dr, Venice, FL 34285,, (941) 484-9551. Great view of marina. Grouper is good, as is the stone crab. Donatello, 232 North Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL,, (813) 875-6660. Traditional Italian. Excellent pasta and veal. Euphemia Haye, 5540 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key, FL,, (941)383-3633. House specialties are the Pistachio-Crusted Snapper and the Sweet and Spicy Shrimp. And there’s a separate dessert room. Really. Go for the bananas foster. Keegan's Seafood Grille, 1519 Gulf Blvd, Indian Rocks Beach, FL 33785,, (727) 596-2477. Blackened Grouper sandwich, key lime pie with Ritz cracker crust, she-crab soup and stone crabs. Mise en Place, 442 West Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33606,, (813) 254-5373. Fried Green Tomato salad with jumbo lump crab and Zahtar grilled tuna. The tasting menus are always good. Palm Court Italian Grill, TradeWinds Island Grand, 5500 Gulf Blvd, St. Pete Beach, FL 33706,, (727)367-6461. Don’t miss the spicy pork gnocchi or the chocolate creme brulee. Shula’s Steak House, 4860 W. Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33609,, (813) 286-4366. Shula’s offers a 48oz


porterhouse. That’s how serious their steaks are. But try the lobster mash potatoes and the crab mac and cheese, too. And for breakfast, you gotta try the lobster sausage. Skipper's Smokehouse, 910 Skipper Road, Tampa, FL 33613,, (813) 971-0666. Known for its fiery hot wings and grouper sandwich. And great live music. Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish, 1350 Pasadena Ave, South Pasadena, FL 33707, (727) 381-7931. Smoked mullet and potato salad. Can’t go wrong. Northwest Florida Atlas Oyster House, 600 Barracks St., Pensacola, FL, 32502,, (850) 470-0003. Try the grilled oysters, Volcano Chicken sandwich and key lime pie. Bud & Alley's, 2236 E. County Hwy. 30A, Seaside, FL 32459 ,, (850) 231-5900. Great view from the rooftop bar. Try the hummus, crab cakes and Key Lime Martini. Café Thirty-A, 3899 E. Scenic Hwy. 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL,, (850) 231-2166. Excellent seafood. Maine Lobster in Paradise-mac and cheese with crawfish-is wonderful, as is the Banana Beignets. Capt. Anderson's Restaurant & Waterfront Market, 5551 N. Lagoon Drive, Panama City Beach, FL, 32408,, (850) 234-2225. The Grouper Imperial is a great dish. Firefly, 535 R. Jackson Blvd., Panama City Beach, FL, 32407,, (850) 249-3359. If it’s good enough for the President of the United States, it’s good enough for us. Very romantic, with a great bar. She-crab soup, Black and White Crusted Ahi Tuna, and white chocolate creme brulee. The Fish House, 600 Barracks St., Pensacola, FL, 32502,, (850) 470-0003. Gotta have the famous Grits a Ya Ya. Also excellent are the blackened mahi, wasabi crusted tuna, and key lime pie. Fish Out of Water, WaterColor Inn, 34 Goldenrod Cir., Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459,, (850) 534-5050. Atmosphere, they got it. Great views of the Gulf. If you can pry yourself away from the scenery, try the raw bar for good local eats, like Apalachicola Bay oysters. Grouper cheeks are yummy, too. The Flora-Bama, 17401 Perdido Key Drive, Pensacola, FL 32507,, 850-482-0611. The Flora-Bama’s Oyster Bar & Grill is technically in Florida, but your kid could easily throw one of its delectable fried pickles over into Alabama. It is a downright dive, but that’s a huge part of its appeal. You will find delicious versions of seafood shack standards like fried shrimp, oyster po’ boys and fried crab claws. And sitting just steps from the surf, it’s the best deal you’ll find on the beach. Island Room Restaurant at Cedar Cove, Cedar Cove Beach & Yacht Club, 10 Second St., Cedar Key, FL 32625,, (352) 543-6520. Don’t miss the crab bisque and the local clams casino. Grouper picatta is very good. Jackson's Steakhouse, 400 S. Palafox St., Pensacola, FL 32502 ,, (850)469-9898. What a stellar wine list to compliment the veal chops. The Marlin Grill, 9100 Baytowne Wharf Blvd., Sandestin, FL, 32550,, (850)351-1990. They do wonderful pan sauteed grouper, grilled mahi-mahi and Godiva creme brulee Seagar's Restaurant, 4000 Sandestin Blvd. South, Destin, FL, 32550,, (850) 622-1500. Upscale dining with great wine list. Go with the Steak Diane - flambeed at tableside. Verandas Wine Bar & Bistro, 76 Market St., Apalachicola, FL, 32320,, (850) 653-3210. Try the lobster bisque and the fried local oysters. Great wine selection.

Gulfscapes Magazine Spring 2012  

Gulf Coast Magazine for beach travel, coastal lifestyle, seafood recipes and Gulf Coast Mardi Gras. Gulfscapes Magazine is a publication for...