The Straits of Florida is a 110-mile sea passage between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean bordered on the northern side by the Florida Keys and the Florida Reef. In its waters, along the reef, and on desolate keys, thousands of men and women have died in shipwrecks, attacks by natives, sea battles, and pirate boardings. Few of their stories have survived, but those that have tell gripping tales of their struggles against the perils of the sea and the onslaughts of men. This book presents a selection of such stories during the age of sail from the time Spanish navigators discovered the Straits to the end of the Second Seminole War in 1842.
Excerpted from ships' logs, captains' diaries, court-martial transcripts, and newspaper accounts, the stories in this volume—a companion to The Florida Keys, Volume 1: A History of the Pioneers—will make you glad you live in a modern world. Read harrowing tales of the cruelty and torture inflicted on mariners at the hands of bloodthirsty pirates; of pistol and cannon battles between merchant ships and wayward privateers; and of the hardships endured by some of Florida's earliest settlers.
Sprinkled with hand-drawn illustrations, photographs, and maps depicting the lay of the land during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this book presents a scholarly, historically accurate account of life on the Keys and in the perilous Straits of Florida during the age of sail. An index and extensive bibliography are included.
John Viele is a retired naval officer and former submarine commander who now lives on Cudjoe Key, Florida. A lifelong interest in history and a deep love for the Florida Keys led him to research and write Keys history stories for local newspapers and magazines. He serves on the board of directors of the Key West Maritime Historical Society and is a frequent lecturer on Keys history.