Homosassa River Weekend
May 21, 2022
By: Alan Schilk
For those of you who missed the May outing to the quaint village of Old Homosassa, our sincere condolences. A few Sunnyland members, however, made the trek to one of east-central Florida’s best-kept secrets and enjoyed a beautiful (although occasionally damp) weekend exploring the Homosassa River from its pristine, spring-fed origin to its final destination in the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, we enjoyed close encounters with numerous local Florida denizens, including ospreys (adults and fledglings), herons, egrets, manatees, porpoises, and…spider monkeys?
It’s true! Fifty yards from the waterfront Florida Cracker Riverside Resort, where a few Sunnyland members were able to book rooms, lies the famous―or infamous, depending on your ecological point of view―Monkey Island. This island was converted in the 1960s from a pile of rocks normally submerged at high tide into a more hospitable abode, to which spider monkeys were later added as a tourist draw. Apparently, a medical doctor originally captured a number of these monkeys and brought them to Florida for use in perfecting the polio vaccine. Ebony, Emily, and Ralph―descendants of these original primate pioneers―currently live on Monkey Island year-round in a luxurious house with central heating, are fed twice daily, and entertain visitors with their antics.
Sadly, there was a definite paucity of classic or antique boats on this trip as some attendees still had boats under restoration/construction and a few were currently boatless; nonetheless, a last-minute acquisition of a more modern―albeit wood-free―craft (horrors!) allowed the group to explore the river and gulf and make plans for a future Sunnyland rendezvous in this area. All agreed that the Homosassa River is a “must-see” for our chapter in the days to come.
After motoring from Monkey Island to the Gulf of Mexico and visiting with a small pod of porpoises that enjoyed frolicking in our wake, the group returned upriver and stopped at the Seagrass Resort Restaurant (previously the Marker 7 Restaurant, for those who’ve been there in days past) for lunch and libations. This was followed by a trip to the very headsprings of the Homosassa River, where the waters were gin-clear and still sheltered a small number of manatee stragglers that had yet to migrate west to the warm gulf.
Upon returning to our home dock, we split up to shop, nap, or continue our explorations of Old Homosassa and the Crystal River area. We finished off the perfect day with a light dinner at Crumps Landing, where the fellowship was as good as the beverages and an approaching storm lit the night skies seemingly just for our own entertainment.
As no boating trip is complete without a good breakfast, many members travelled to the Plantation Inn in Crystal River on Sunday morning for a final meal together and a brief Board of Directors meeting. All in all, this was a very relaxing and highly enjoyable rendezvous, despite the lack of wooden boats. Next time, let’s fill the Homosassa River with woodies and show the locals there are other beauties to be found besides those of a natural sort.