Monday, January 19, 2009

Cortez: The Fishing Village of Manatee County

If you live in the Tampa area you might not have heard of Cortez. It's an old-time fishing village in the Gulf intracostal across from Bradenton Beach that's a real working fishing community complete with old fish boats that harvest everything from mullet to grouper for local restaurants.

I visited Cortez recently and met my Miami friends -- Recinda, her daughter Vega and Recinda's friend Monique -- in Cortez on Friday to explore the old fihsing village that was settled by North Carolina folks who lived on a southern section of the Outer Banks that would get pummelled by hurricanes.

I did a travel story on Cortez for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and snapped a few more photos for the story. One of the tourist draws is the Star Fish restaurant, run by the Bell family and one of the original settlers. We had lunch there and enjoyed the blackened grouper and fried calamari.

Pelicans love hanging out at the Star Fish restaurant.

The boatworks in Cortez date back to the time the community was settled. I met Roger Allen, a veteran sailor whp oversees the maritime museum in Cortez and has worked with Manatee County and local volunteers to keep the boat and fishing life alive in an area dominated by new shopping centers, apartment complexes and subdivisions.

They have old boats in Cortez that are named after my old girlfriends.

Volunteers are restoring old fishing boats.

Here's the old sailboard we'll be on Saturday for the annual smallcraft sailing expedition on the Manatee River near Bradenton.

There's the crew. We're on the Manatee River between Bradenton and Palmetto Saturday.

There's Roger Allen, our fearless leader.

After the sailing Saturday we visited the home of Turner and Nancy. Turner had a wonderful old sailboat and we had a potluck lunch on Turner's property before setting off. Afterwards, we checked out Nancy's amazing artwork. Nancy's artwork outside the house is amazing.

No comments: