Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Square Grouper


Cudjoe Key, Florida ( high 86, low 78)


It’s been stifling hot and humid the past few days, with no change in the foreseeable future.  This is the kind of weather that has us thinking of our RV lot in the north Georgia mountains, but we want one more good boating day first.

We also want to go back down to Key West for one more sunset celebration. 

The winds have picked up considerably, so boating has been out for the past few days.  We were actually glad because we were very tired from our 5 days in a row out on the reef.  We’re rested now though, so the wind can die down anytime!

I’m hoping to go back out to Looe Key Reef one more time to snorkel and take some pictures at the pretty little 7 foot spot.   Al is determined to find his expensive anchor, so we need the winds to die down for one last trip!  He was able to do a quick search for it the other day, but didn’t have any luck. I’m afraid it’s gone for good.

We are winding down our time here in our winter home on Summer Place.  :)   I’ve mentioned it before, but our Rv lot is actually on Summer Place.

We’ve been trying to get things ready to go, and plan to depart some time soon.  Al has rearranged our “deck box” so that we can store our bikes, scuba tanks, chairs and a few other items for the summer.  It’s getting a fresh coat of paint and hopefully no hurricanes will blow it down this summer.

Venture Out 611


One of our favorite restaurants here is called The Square Grouper.  It’s just a few blocks from our RV lot, so it’s pretty convenient.  They have wonderful food and a real chef to prepare them.  You can get everything from hamburgers, to things like yellowtail snapper with white clam sauce, or Brazilian shrimp soup.   They have wonderful lunch specials every day and we eat there often.  Too often!


They are also in the process of opening up a bar which will be called  My New Joint.  When I explain what a square grouper is, you will understand the significance of the name of the new bar.

For those of you that have never lived in Florida, you may never have heard of a square grouper.  Yes, there really is such a thing.  In the 1970’s and 80’s, they were a lot more common than they are now.

Here are a few pictures of actual square grouper that I found on the internet.


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No, that is not a fish.  A square grouper is a bale of either marijuana or cocaine.

We met a local at Springers Bar the other night.  She was quite a character and we’re hoping to see her again before we leave.  She told some wonderful stories of life here in the Keys.

Jeanne and her husband used to live on a sailboat and traveled between the Keys and the Bahamas.  She told stories of finding bales in the Bahamas, back in the 70’s.

They were young, it was a different time, and they and found it difficult to ignore this wonderful chance to get rich quick.  They grabbed the bales of marijuana and buried them all over the different Bahamian islands, but that is a far as they got and the bales are still there.  (yeah right)

One time, they found a drug plane that had crashed and there were bales of cocaine scattered all over.  No pilot in sight and they were on a deserted little island.  Temptation got to be too much, so they took some of the cocaine, stuffed it into scuba tanks, and buried the tanks all over the different islands.    A drug surveillance plane flew over and they assumed  it took a picture of the registration numbers on their boat.  They knew if they tried to come back into US waters, they would be boarded and searched, so they never brought the cocaine back (at least that’s what she told us). 

Sure enough, a few months later when they came back to the US, they were boarded and searched!  

She said back in “the day” square grouper” washed ashore quite often here in the Keys.   I asked if they were afraid to pick it up for fear of being killed by the drug dealers.  She said no, by the time it washed ashore, it was pretty much abandoned. 


The following is a story I found on the internet about what can happen if you find a square grouper.  This happened only two years ago.

Two brothers fishing in 200 feet of water off Fiesta Key found a package they believed to be a kilo of cocaine.

The brothers put the package in a bait well and kept fishing, but Kenneth Swindal told deputies he later saw his brother open it and snort whatever was inside.

About an hour and a half later, Thomas Swindal, 54, of Merritt Island, reportedly began to act strangely, running around the boat, throwing things into the water, including their means of communication, a cellphone and VHF radio.

He reportedly picked up knives, a pair of pliers and a gaff, and removed the engine cover, which fell overboard and sank. He then gaffed the engine and damaged it, leaving the boat adrift, according to Monroe County Sheriff's Office reports.

His brother reportedly threw all the sharp objects overboard, along with the package, which authorities did not recover. Kenneth Swindal then climbed on top of the boat and began signaling for help.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) responded to a nearby vessel's call for help and took both men ashore.

Paramedics took Thomas Swindal to Fishermen's Hospital.

He later was airlifted to South Miami Hospital, where he died. No charges were filed against the surviving brother.


Nowadays, we have the blimp which is also known as Fat Albert.  It which watches the waters for suspected drug activity.

it was grounded in this picture, but it’s usually in the air and tethered to the ground.


I’ve read that here in the Keys, you have a better chance of finding a square grouper, or a bag of cash, than you do of winning the lottery. 

I think I’ll continue to buy lottery tickets and ignore any square grouper that we may find.


  1. As those brothers found out that finding that Square Grouper was not the lottery anyone should find.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  2. Nice post, just goes to show how much of a drug habit some people in the US have. A sad commentary on our society.

    I spent many a day patrolling for boatloads of Square Grouper, lots of campfire stories about that.

  3. Very interesting. I have never heard of square bales. Hope Al finds his anchor. Are you up in the 90's? Whew, hope not. How nice to be able to move right up to the mountains to cool off. Do you stop at Quail Run or have you given up that spot?

    1. It's 86, but feels warmer.

      We will going back to Quail Run and spend some time with Mom before going to the mountains.

  4. You just never know what you will find out there or what could be in those packages.
    A hard lesson learned.
    Interesting story though.

  5. A very interesting story. Amazing the things that happen in the Keys :)

  6. I think I'm too 'square' to find a grouper. ;)

  7. Interesting. The keys are a world unto themselves.

  8. Interesting story about square grouper!! I grew up in Daytona but I must have left too young to know much about square grouper.


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