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No Name Harbor and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

1-20-11
No Name Harbor…isn’t that a peculiar name? Wonder who thought of that name… someone with no imagination, apparently… my imagination wonders if a committee of people stalemated with a 50/50 vote on what to name the harbor, thus the name No Name Harbor. I think one side would have wanted it to be called Cape Florida Harbor and the other side, Bill Baggs Harbor; as Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Harbor would have been too much verbiage. La de dah, it is what it is, as amusing as it may seem to some of us…Even though Ponce de Leon named this area “Cape of Florida” in 1513, the park is named after Bill Baggs, the editor of The Miami News from 1957 to 1969, who remained adamant in the quest to obtain the 510 acres at the tip of Key Biscayne from it’s owner Mrs. Elena Santeiro Garcia to be used as a natural park and nature reserve instead of the alternative, real estate development.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Moored to the seawall at No Name Harbor

No Name Harbor is the first harbor south of Hurricane Harbor on Key Biscayne. The channel to the entrance is well marked and you can see the walking trails of the park to starboard as you come down the channel. Cape Florida Lighthouse can be seen towering above the palm trees in the distance. The ambience of the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park welcomes the seafarers and land lubbers alike. There is an extensive bulkhead where boaters can pump out there holding tanks for free, and also tie up for the day, making easy shore excursions, especially if you intend to ride your bikes on the lovely bike trails. The cost to moor your boat to the seawall is $2.00 for the day and boats cannot stay there overnight. The anchorage fee in No Name Harbor is $20.00. There are pay stations along the seawall and payment is by the honor system. Keeping your receipt allows access back into the park, if you choose to go outside the park for nearby shopping.

No Name Harbor, view from the outdoor shower and laundry

There is no fuel or water available to boaters in No Name Harbor.  There is a restaurant beside the anchorage and another restaurant in the park near the beach. There is a free outdoor “cold” shower at the restroom and laundry facility. Gary and I used the shower, wearing our swimsuits. The view from the shower of Biscayne Bay was phenomenal. Gary said, “Where else can you have this kind of view while taking a shower?” While we were leaving the shower, another couple came to use it and asked us if the water was still hot. We told them we guaranteed it was as hot as it was when we came. The laundry has one washer and one dryer, not always operational, according to the cruising guide.

Stiltsville on Biscayne Bay (7 houses look like dots in the distance)

Stiltsville Information Sign

We rode our bikes around the whole park. The walking trails were along the shoreline and the bike trails were further inside. No matter where we are, we prefer to be close to the water, so we used the walking trail instead of the bike trail, seeing bike tracks in the sand on the trail indicating others had done so as well. The first point of interest we came to on the trail was an informational sign regarding Stiltsville. The remaining seven houses, now owned by the park, can be seen in the distance on Biscayne Bay. These homes built on stilts, hover over the water miles away from the shore. It’s a strange sight to see. Hurricanes have wiped out many of the structures of Stiltsville. My comment to Gary was, “Why would they think hurricanes WOULDN’T wipe them out?” Yet, seven have somehow managed to stay erect since the years of Stiltsville’s conception in the 1930’s. When you look at the picture, the small dots in the distance are the houses.

Further on the trail, we found the piece de resistance of the park, the Cape Florida Lighthouse, circa 1825. The lighthouse suffered from disrepair until the State of Florida purchased it in 1966 and has since refurbished it to it’s original grandeur. There are a plethora of beautiful sights in the Bill Baggs Cape Florida Park , one of which we found coming from the beach side entrance to the lighthouse area. Delighting us beyond measure, we saw a stunning palm tree lined promenade, directing one’s captured attention to the lighthouse.

Cape Florida Lighthouse at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Palm tree lined promenade to Cape Florida Lighthouse

 

The trail from the lighthouse led us to the beach, where Gary enjoyed a swim before we had our picnic lunch. While we were eating, we noticed a couple taking pictures while holding a huge starfish. We joined them and took our turn at taking pictures of the pristine specimen. In all our scuba diving, we have never seen such a perfect starfish, or one as big as this one.

What a special experience!

Starfish at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Gary holding starfish

Making a complete loop around the park, we ended up back at No Name Harbor and went to the restaurant there to have a drink before unloading our picnic/beach items at White Swan. From there, we rode our bikes out of the park and 1 ½ miles to the Winn Dixie grocery store. (From the park entrance, it is three lights down, on the left, second floor.) As it turned out, it was the same Winn Dixie we had gone to when we moored at Crandon Park Marina last April. We were pleased to find out the trip is much shorter from No Name Harbor than it is from Crandon Park Marina. From now on, we will tie up at the seawall of No Name Harbor and go to the grocery store from there, instead of Crandon Park Marina. If you are a boater with no bicycle, there is a bus stop just outside the park entrance that can be used if you don’t want to walk the mile and a half. There also is a bus stop near the grocery store.

Manatee at No Name Harbor

On our way to the shower that afternoon, we noticed people taking pictures near the bulkhead. To our fascination we found they were taking pictures of a manatee feeding on the grasses growing on the pilings. When you see these docile mammals, you understand why they are commonly referred to as gentle giants. Manatees are on the endangered species list. Last winter, 2009/2010, it was reported 10 percent of the manatees in Florida died because the water was too cold. I remember our sadness when we heard the news, a mother sea cow and her baby were pulled out of the Indian River Lagoon near our marina, having died from the cold water. Also, some manatees are killed by boat propellers. Look closely at the picture and you will see a terrible scar on the top of the manatee. Though painfully damaged, this one was lucky.
 
 
By the time we left the seawall in the late afternoon, the anchorage was packed with boats. Even if we didn’t mind paying $20.00 to anchor, the harbor was too crowded to attempt a safe anchored night. We motored out of the harbor, past the entrance, and anchored near other anchored boats. However, the power boat wakes were more than what we wanted to tolerate after such a calm, peaceful day. So we motored the short way back to Hurricane Harbor and anchored in the harbor’s calm water just inside the entrance (away from the grating grated bridge) just before another beautiful sunset.

Sunset at Hurricane Harbor

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

One Comment

  1. Elsa Chomat says:

    Are pets allowed? Is the park open today?

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