Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Two in One: A Perfect October Sunset! Plus Great Fishing on the Gulf!

Cooler October weather, beautiful sunsets, and fishing on the Gulf at Dekle Beach go hand in hand. Though I haven't had the time, unfortunately, to get out onto the open Gulf waters this month (not yet anyway) to enjoy the wonderful fishing that abounds here, my friends all tell me that the Redfish and Trout are biting like crazy, BIG ONES! October is always a good fishing month for some reason, and there are still two weeks left. I'll be out there; I'm working on a plan now. If you want to catch fish, now's a great time to do it. Personally, even when the fish aren't biting my hook anyway, I still enjoy basking in the serenity and beauty of the Gulf flats. There just isn't anyplace like it. If you would like to find a place where you can just relax and get away from it all, look up Keaton Beach or Dekle Beach, and plan a visit to check it out. You'll be glad you did! For more information on the area and/or properties for sale, go to http://www.gulfbreezerealestate.net/.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Fall & Fish Frenzy

With a hint of Fall in the air, the weather is perfect for outdoor activities. Last weekend, my husband, Larry, and I took a walk down the privately owned quarter-mile long dock at Dekle Beach. We watched hundreds, if not thousands, of little fingerling mullet swimming in the shallow waters along the dock. An old Bull Redfish was also enjoying hanging out by the dock and, apparently, had his fill of the little fingerlings. The Red was lazily moving about, then would rest in one spot for a long time. He didn't appear to be hungry because when he was still, little fish would swim right past his mouth, and he wouldn't budge. The old Red was way too big to be a legal catch, and we enjoyed watching him as he reigned supreme over all the other fish in the shallow Gulf waters on that glorious sunny afternoon.

For coastal homes in the area, check out my website at www.gulfbreezerealestate.net.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Summer Report

This has been a wonderful summer for the Taylor County Beaches. No hurricanes (knock on wood) and a plentiful scallop season have brought many visitors to the beaches revitalizing interest in our area. There are lots of properties on the market at all the beaches, including Keaton Beach, Dekle Beach, Ezell Beach, Cedar Island and Dark Island. For people that don't want the expense of waterfront properties, one-to-five acre lots abound within five miles of the coast. This is a great time for buyers that have been considering purchasing property. There are so many choices to select from, interest rates are still low, and because it is a buyer's market, properties are much more negotiable these days. To view available properties, visit our website at http://www.gulfbreezerealestate.net/.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Scallops Aplenty!

There is a bumper crop of scallops this year along the coast of Keaton Beach and Dekle Beach. Lots of boats line the shoreline in search of the sweet bay scallops. If you haven't yet made the trip, just come on down, launch your boat at the Keaton Beach Public Boat Ramp or marina, and anchor up where you see groups of boats just off the coast. At low tide, you can find the scallops in waist deep water. Just bend over and pick them up if you don't have snorkeling gear or don't want to snorkel. The water is clear and the scallops are easy to find. Be sure and have an active salt water license though, as you will likely get checked by the marine patrol. Follow safe boating habits and stay close to your boat when in the water. Fly your diver's flag so other boaters will know someone is in the water. When moving your boat in an area where others are scalloping, drive slowly and keep your eyes on the water around you to make sure you see any divers that have strayed too far from their boats. Bring your family or friends along and experience one of the greatest saltwater pleasures that our Nature Coast has to offer. Happy diving!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Scallop Season is Here!

Scallop Season begins July 1 and runs through September 10. Keaton Beach and Dekle Beach are popular areas for harvesting scallops, which during normal seasons can be found in abundance in the shallow grass flats along the coast. Snorkeling and diving for scallops is a fun activity for the entire family. Your scalloping equipment should include a mask, snorkel, fins or wading shoes, and a mesh bag to hold your scallops. The limit is 2 gallons per person and 10 gallons per boat of whole scallops in the shell; or 1 pint per person and 1/2 gallon per boat of scallop meat. Take appropriately-sized containers on the boat so you can measure your harvest. If you don't want to dive deep, it's best to do your scalloping during lower tides. There will be lots of boats in the water, so always fly your dive flag (required) to let other boaters know there are people in the water. And be on the lookout for divers when you are operating your boat. Always use safe boating habits. Also, use precautions when cleaning your scallops on the boat. Be sure to go out to deeper water away from the scalloping crowd. Please don't throw the shells back into the water in an area where people are in the water, as the refuse can attract fish, thus sharks. To clean scallops, you will need a scallop knife especially designed for cleaning scallops; or you can use a teaspoon. Hold the deeper side of the scallop in your palm with the shallow side up. Insert the knife or teaspoon into the slit at one side near the hinged part of the shell. Pry the shell slightly apart and scrape the scallop muscle loose from inside the top shell. Open it all the way and remove the guts, then scrape the scallop from the bottom shell. There are a multitude of scallop recipes from linguini alfredo, to white lasagne, to baked in a half shell w/butter & parmesan, to broiled, or simply fried. These sweet morsels are, without a doubt, my very favorite seafood to prepare. So have fun this summer and experience the fun and adventure of snorkeling and diving for delicious bay scallops. Enjoy Scallop Season at Keaton Beach!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Keaton Beach Gaining Popularity

Keaton Beach was spotlighted in two magazines this month, Florida Sportsman and Premier Monthly, a real estate publication. Florida Sportsman (pgs. 58-64) focuses on fishing, of course, and commented that "Keaton Beach is noted for the size and abundance of its spotted seatrout." I can attest to that, as seldom do we go out fishing and not come back with more than enough trout for dinner. Ever tried "trout amandine"? Also known as "trout with almond sauce." Mmmmm! Love redfish? Blackened, grilled, broiled, fried, anyway you like it... Only problem is a one-per-person limit; so then you move on to hook something else. Other catches might include cobia, seabass, Spanish mackerel and bluefish. And July 1 brings Scallop Season which runs through September 10. My next blog entry will feature the pleasures and fundamentals of "scalloping." Whether you enjoy fishing, scalloping, snorkeling, diving, or simply pleasure boating, set your sails for the calm Gulf waters of Keaton Beach. It'll be good for your soul!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Magnolia Bay Update

Magnolia Bay Marina & Resort has altered its development plans because of ongoing challenges in obtaining necessary permits from state and federal authorities to build the marina and two-mile channel through the Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserve. Rather than continuing the time-consuming push for the marina at this point, Magnolia Bay is switching its focus to the development of its golf course, which was intended to come later into the project. Reports indicate that current development plans will continue to include a hotel, restaurant and single-family housing along with the golf course. Permit applications for the marina have not been withdrawn.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Miami Beach & Keaton Beach - Apples & Oranges

A quote from my last blog entry: "I could write a book on the differences in Miami Beach and Keaton Beach, both beautiful places in their own rights, and both at different ends of the spectrum in all aspects of coastal living in Florida. " However, I will instead offer a short list of the attributes of both of these wonderful places, and you can decide which most appeals to your fantasy of coastal living in Florida.

Miami Beach is for the person that loves: the big city; cell phones; high-rise condos and stuccoed homes with Spanish tile roofs; a multi-ethnic population; shopping; more shopping; nights out on the town with all its clubs, glitz and glamour; the finest in dining; spotting famous people; attending multi-cultural events and both college and professional ballgames; the Atlantic Ocean; watersports; fishing; walking along miles of sandy beaches and teak boardwalks; swimming in deep bluegreen waters with rolling waves; and admiring beautiful bodies in thong swimsuits -- and who doesn't mind: congested traffic; honking horns; six lane highways; toll-booths; lots of traffic lights; walking your dog on a leash three times a day to go potty; avoiding doggie poop beside the sidewalks when you enter or exit your car; envying beautiful bodies in thong swimsuits; topless sunbathers; getting lost in an unfamiliar area of the city; and difficulty finding someone that speaks your language.

Keaton Beach is for the person that loves: a small town atmosphere; easily recognizing the geographic distinctions from one small beach community to the next; quiet, rural living; stilt homes with metal roofs; eating at the local hotdog stand; watching gorgeous sunrises and sunsets; attending high school football games; gossiping with your neighbors; a place where everyone speaks the same language; the Gulf of Mexico's saltwater flats and marsh grasses; spotting eagles and many species of waterfowl; watersports; fishing; scalloping; crabbing; throwing a castnet to catch mullet; watching children safely swim in the shallow though not so blue waters; taking your boat to the sandbar to swim in crystal clear bluegreen waters -- and who doesn't mind: driving 20 miles to dine in a real restaurant or shop at a Super Wal-Mart; driving 70 miles to shop at a mall; the lack of cell phone service at the beach; walking the entire length of the public beach in less than a minute; walking up the stairs to your stilt home; and taking your boat to the sandbar to swim in the crystal clear bluegreen waters.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Little Life in the Big City!

May brought some excitement, adventure, and an opportunity to reflect on the big city life vs. small community life in vastly different coastal areas of Florida.

The birth of my daughter's first child took me to Miami Beach for a couple of weeks, where I witnessed firsthand the birth of little Jonah at Baptist Hospital. My daughter and her husband, a student doctor, allowed both of us moms (grandmoms) to be in the delivery room to participate in the birth of our first grandchild. What an extraordinary experience that was for all of us.

I always enjoy visiting Miami Beach, but this special visit placed me in the car on several occasions in heavy traffic, sometimes on excursions to the grocery store or to find particular items that were needed for everyday household use. I might even consider moving to Miami, but the congestion and traffic gives me pause. I could write a book on the differences in Miami Beach and Keaton Beach, both beautiful places in their own rights, and both at opposite ends of the spectrum in all aspects of coastal living in Florida. I will discuss those differences in a later blog entry.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bald Eagles at Dekle Beach

As my husband and I were relaxing on our deck, one of the magestic Bald Eagles frequently seen at Dekle Beach just soared along the canal with a flock of small birds chasing close behind. They first flew across the sawgrass marsh, and as the Eagle lit in a cedar tree, the little birds began bombarding him likely to dissuade him from finding their nests. The huge Eagle, slightly annoyed, continued his flight and landed on the long dock extending into the Gulf, frightening away all the seagulls that like to rest there. It was quite amusing watching the smaller birds harrassing the Eagle while the seagulls gave it all the space it wanted. OK, I have to go now. My husband just finished cooking the fresh catch of mullet he caught a couple of hours ago. Dinner is calling. It doesn't get any better than this!

Permitting Update on Magnolia Bay

The $700 million Magnolia Bay Marina & Resort project continues to face some challenges, as the property owner, Dr. J. Crayton Pruitt, and developer, Chuck Olsen, press forward with the development plans. In addition to a marina and 100' wide channel, the plans include the building of condos, a hotel, a helicopter landing pad, a public aquarium, a marine science lab, and commercial space for shopping and restaurants. The state and federal permitting agencies are requiring further modifications to the current plans before the permits will be granted. The developer is working on changes that he feels will allow the project to to be approved.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

An April Day at Keaton Beach

Today, as I drove around Keaton Beach, I marveled at the overflow from the parking lot at the Public Boat Ramp and the Keaton Beach Marina. A number of vehicles with boat trailers were parked in long lines alongside the road waiting for their owners to return from a sunny, though breezy, day of fishing. As I drove down to the tiny spit of land that we lovingly call our beach, I noticed that it was also somewhat packed with young people enjoying the sun and water even on this April day well before the hot rays of Summer warm the Gulf. This was an unusually busy day for this time of year. The overflow of boat trailers is more frequent during Scallop Season, July 1 through Labor Day in September, when visitors from all around come to harvest the succulent mollusks. If you have never dined on bay scallops, you are missing a real treat. And half the fun is diving for them on the sandy bottoms and among the seagrasses of the coastal flats. That is one of the special activities I love in this wonderful county I call home!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Blue Grass Festival

The 5th Annual Florida State Blue Grass Festival was held in Perry this weekend, April 6-7. The Festival featured The Grascals, who were named IBMA's "Entertainers of the Year" in 2006. Other entertainers on hand to perform included Bits of Grass, Sweetwater Special, Melissa King & Phatgrass, US Navy Band Country Current, Wilson Family, Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, Bluegrass Parlor Band, Still House Band, Deep Creek Bluegrass, Ryan Holiday, Swinging Bridge, Tallahassee Fiddlers, and Ernie Evans & Southern Lite. In addition to the musical performances, visitors from across the Southeast attending the Festival also enjoyed arts & crafts, food concessions and a chili cook-off.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Magnolia Bay Marina and Resort

The Magnolia Bay Marina and Resort project, still in the permitting stages, continues to receive the blessings of Taylor County government. The Board of County Commissioners has agreed to abandon a portion of the right-of-way along Dekle Beach Road at the request of the project developers. A 100-ft. wide deep water channel will run beside the road from the new marina to the Gulf, replacing a small stream that currently runs through a manmade ditch dug years ago to build the road. A six-lane boat ramp and 400 parking spaces at the marina will be deeded to the county by Dr. J. Crayton Pruitt, owner of the project.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Interest in Area

With the holidays behind us and Spring on the way, folks are looking for their own special getaways again. Therefore, we are seeing a real upturn in interest in this area after the Fall & Winter slowdown. The recent busy hurricane seasons in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico held some people at bay for awhile, but the past year was scare-free. We haven't seen any serious storm damage in Taylor County since 1993, and that was the fluke no-name storm that came from the west and went all the way up the east coast of the U.S. Interest rates are still good and property prices have gone down, so this is a good time to buy.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

General Information about the Area

Perry is the county seat of Taylor County, which is located in The Big Bend of Florida. The coastal communities of Keaton Beach, Dekle Beach, Ezell Beach, Cedar Island and Dark Island are located on the Gulf Coast, often referred to as Taylor County's "Nature Coast." The Taylor County Beaches are about 18 miles south of Perry. Steinhatchee, a riverside community, is located about 18 miles further south of The Beaches on CR 361, referred to as the "Scenic Coastal Loop." Though Taylor County's coastline is the longest of any county in the State, the majority of of the coast (85-90%) is undeveloped and owned by the State of Florida.

The county is largely rural with approximately 21,000 residents. Visitors find a safe peaceful environment in this friendly, laid-back county with its old historic downtown buildings and quaint little coastal communities. Special attractions, activities and events include the Florida Forest Festival with the World's Largest Free Fish Fry in October of each year; the annual Florida State Blue Grass Festival in April; scalloping in the shallow Gulf flats from July 1 through the first week of September each year; year-round saltwater and freshwater fishing in the rivers, streams and Gulf; and vast acres of natural woodlands for the hunting enthusiast.

The City of Perry is beginning to see some revitalization, with the purchase and renovation of some of the old historic buildings, bringing much-needed new business to the downtown district; commercial development along the major highways; and plans for new residential subdivisions underway.

Development is also planned at the coast adjacent to Dekle Beach, which is to include a 25-acre marina (purportedly the largest marina on the Gulf between the Florida cities of Destin and Tampa), restaurants, hotels, shopping, condos, single-family homes, a heliport, golf course, and more. Permitting for the marina is expected to be complete in December of 2008. There is quite a bit of controversy over this proposed development, with proponents and opponents attending County Commission meetings on a regular basis to debate the merits of the huge project because of the perceived environmental impact on the seagrasses in the area.

This is one of the last developing areas of the state; thus, property prices here are good values compared to most other parts of the state. Property prices in the county and at the coast rose dramatically over the past three years, as they did elsewhere in the state and across the country. However, because of the recent real estate market downturn, prices have dropped accordingly as they have elsewhere. Most customers from out of town, particularly from South Florida, comment that property prices here are excellent values compared to prices for comparable properties further south.