Maritime history just offshore; boating guide for Tampa Bay, too
A piece of U.S. Navy history lies buried on the bottom of the Gulf of
Mexico northwest of Anna Maria Island.
The USS Narcissus,
an 82-foot-long Union tugboat, struck a sandbar just
north of the shipping channel leading into Tampa Bay
on Jan. 3, 1866, during a winter storm. The crew fought
to get the ship back to deep water, but the hull ruptured
and the ship exploded when seawater poured into the
boiler. All 29 members of the crew died.
It was one of
the single-worst disasters in naval history at the
time, according to Terry Tomalin with the St. Petersburg
at Egmont Key salvaged the ship’s armaments and
left the hulk to eventually settle into the sand. Waves
and currents slowly caused the ship to disappear, although
storms have periodically left the wreck partially uncovered
at times in the past 140 years.
the first mishap of the vessel. The 115-ton ship was
patrolling Mobile Bay in December 1864 when it struck
a mine that was seeded in the waters during the Civil
War. The blast lifted the hull from the water, but
the captain and crew were able to salvage the vessel
and get it to Pensacola for repairs. Almost two years
later, the ship set sail for New York to be decommissioned.
The winter storm
brought other plans into play for the Narcissus, though.
Boating guide to Tampa Bay
a new, beautiful guide to Tampa Bay available through
the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.
and angling guide to Tampa Bay" is printed on
waterproof paper and includes a very detailed and gorgeous
chart of the estuary, complete with public boat-ramp
locations, fishing piers, marinas and artificial reef
locations, including lat-long coordinates and material.
The chart covers from Tarpon Springs to Anna Maria
Island as well as all of the bays.
There are even
hot fishing spots identified on the chart and, for
the errant boater, marine towing operators with addresses
and phone numbers.
tide," according to the guide, "Tampa Bay,
Florida’s largest open-water estuary, stretches
398 square miles. Popular for sport and recreation,
the bay also supports one of the world’s most
productive natural systems. Estuaries like Tampa Bay,
where saltwater from the sea meets and mixes with freshwater
from rivers and uplands, are nurseries for young fish,
shrimp and crabs. More than 70 percent of all fish,
shellfish and crustaceans spend some critical stage
of their development in these nearshore waters, protected
from larger predators that swim the open sea.
abounds along the shores of Tampa Bay. As many as 40,000
pairs of birds — from the familiar brown pelican
to the colorful roseate spoonbill — nest in Tampa
Bay every year. Others, including sandpipers and white
pelicans, are seasonal visitors."
The guide also
offers information about seagrasses, mangroves, salt
marshes and oyster bars, and identifies their locations.
Even the lowly mud flat gets a mention:
around the bay’s fringe are exposed at low tide.
Although these flats are barren of visible vegetation,
they are teeming with life. Fiddler crabs, clams and
worms, which burrow in the mud, supply a veritable
feast for birds wading at low tide."
The free map
should be available at all of the Island’s city
halls and, shortly, at The Islander office.
Got gun locks?
Speaking of The
Islander office, we’ve still got a bunch
of free gun locks, compliments of the Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Please stop
by at 5404 Marina Drive and help yourself.
They make great
bike locks, too.
Landscape stormproofing made simple
old adage about the mighty tree breaking in the wind,
while the slender reed merely bent with the storm?
Well, a new book by a Florida author has lent some
specificity to just what those trees and reeds should
Landscaping to minimize wind damage in Florida" is
author Pamela Crawford’s advice to which plantings
can withstand a storm.
appears to be the pygmy date palm, or roebeleni. "It’s
the only tree I can find no data on ever going down
in a storm," Crawford told the Tampa Tribune.
Her book isn’t
a scientific treatise, but merely an assessment of
what trees were standing after the summer’s four
hurricanes hit the state. Crawford’s advice is
particularly valuable as homeowners begin to think
about what to replant after the four-storm devastation.
Other top trees
listed in her book to withstand the weather are Bald
cypress, Black ironwood, Crape myrtle, Date palm, Live
oak, Southern magnolia, Pindo palm, Sabal palm, Saw
palmetto, Senegal date palm and Thatch palm.
At the bottom
of the list of stormproof trees — or at the top
of the list of trees destined to topple in a storm — are
Australian pine, Cherry laurel, Drake elm, Laurel oak,
Melaleuca, Queen palm, Sand pine and Water oak.
has some shrub hints to weatherize your garden, such
as Arboricola, Blue daze, Bromeliad, Cardboard palm,
Croton, Crown of thorns, Hibiscus, Plumbago and Sea
book is just out and, at $29.95, should be available
at almost all bookstores.
One of Crawford’s "worst" trees
during storms are Laurel oaks, a tree that is very popular
with non-Island cities in streetscape plantings because
of its fast rate of growth.