Soaking it all up in the Sponge Capital of America
With dockage among downtown boutiques, Greek restaurants and the sponging fleet, Tarpon Springs, on Florida’s west coast, is delightfully unusual in a state that’s been succumbing to condominiums and other non-marine waterfront development.
Along Dodecanese Boulevard, you’ll wend your way through dried, sorted sponges piled on the sidewalk. At the Sponge Docks, fishermen in rubber boots tromp on mesh bags of wet sponges, squeezing out any organic residue. Lines of drying sponges hang from boats’ rigging. Shops are nearly bursting with yellow, finger, flower pot and wool sponges. Their tough, resilient skeletons compress easily, absorb up to 25 times their weight in water and can be quickly wrung dry.
In-the-know boaters on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway or Gulf of Mexico seek out Tarpon Springs, the unique Greek sponging port on Florida’s west coast. East of Anclote Key, a 3-mile, well-marked dredged channel follows the Anclote River to the city.
Rounding the Horn is more than a sea passage. It is one of life’s passages, venturing out onto the Drake Passage — 650 kilometers of cold, gray, unforgiving seascape — and sailing around legendary Cape Horn, the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago.
Photos by Onne van der Wal
Salty, seaworthy and strong, Wanderbird is a 90-foot North Sea fishing trawler that Capts. Rick and Karen Miles have fitted out for adventurous but comfortable passagemaking to places that invite exploration. Retrofitted with an auxiliary ketch sailing rig and finished below in wood in the classic style of a 1940s yacht, Nova Scotia-based Wanderbird ranges from the turquoise waters of the Spanish Caribbean to Maine to the icy North Atlantic waters of Canada’s maritime provinces and Greenland.
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