With a big Kestrel team visiting Miami from around our USA, UK and Caribbean island offices, everyone enjoyed a great night out at Casablanca on the Miami River.
The Sarah Express was being towed up to Antillean Marine Terminal. The Cuban Babun Family Company has been serving the Dominican Republic and Haiti since the 1960’s. The vessel is named for Antillean’s Matriarch and CEO, Sarah Babun.
The Miami River has a navigable draft of about 5 meters able to handle up to 150 teu coasters. There is no turning basin and ships are towed fore and aft by very skilled tug operators. We saw plenty of large yachts cruising and things can get tight while passing.
The River provided a shallow channel from the Everglades used by Tequesta Indians , leading out to Biscayne Bay.
In the 1970’s the “River” handled roughly $3 billion in foreign trade a year. Today most of the cargo traffic is made with west African flagged coasters calling out-ports in Haiti. The lower part of the industrial river is in an advancing stage of commercial development for apartments , dining and shopping.
It’s stone crab season and one can see the fishing boats and terminals loaded with traps.
There are numerous marinas and yacht repair docks. During WW2 there were several yards making patrol torpedo (PT) boats and those who remember Miami Vice TV show may still recognize where many of the scenes were shot.
Steve Keats started his career on this river in 1977. Back in the day those who were in the non union shipping industry were called “River Rats” by union workers at the Port of Miami.
Steve says, “ The Lines I worked for gave me unbelievable hands on experience across the spectrum of shipping . I would never trade the opportunities I was given”.