UPDATE: The “Bayside Banquet Hall” is no longer in operation and has been replaced by the “Swordfish Grill”. There is a new fishing charter operation at this location (www.affordablefishingcharter.com). For more details, see the recently revised N. E. Taylor Boatworks website (www.taylorboatworks.com)
N. E. Taylor Boatworks
In our last post, “Escape to Tahiti,” we began a theme about escaping from the cares of every day life. We continue that today with a look at the N. E. Taylor Boatworks in Cortez, Florida (4628 119th St. W., Cortez, Florida, 34215; 941-794-2802). This is where the big boats go, boats that are big enough to sail on the ocean.
According to their website, Taylor Boatworks, which was founded in 1928 “is located in the historical fishing village of Cortez, Florida, established in the 1800s, which is now a museum for the locals and invited guests. There are many original hand tools that were used to build the boats. The museum is still located on the waterfront, under the original home place of the N. E. Taylor family…John B. Banyas, owner of N. E. Taylor Boatworks is the great grandson of N. E. Taylor and the grandson of Leo M. Taylor, who was also a boat builder, with many of his boats still being used today.”
Their services include all the basics of any boatyard, plus refurbishing of boats (from the “bones” up as you can see below), hurricane storage, and underwater salvage and recovery. They’ve also extended beyond their huge boatyard operation, of which there are selected photographs here, to partner operations.
The Cortez Kitchen
One of those partners is the Cortez Kitchen. It’s located right on the same property as the Taylor Boatworks; here’s the Kitchen’s number in case you get lost (not difficult to do): 941-798-9404.
Every mention of the Cortez Kitchen online includes the word, “rustic.” Every one also says how good it is and how good their grouper sandwiches are. This blog post from Island Real Estate has the best review of the Cortez Kitchen I’ve found. It reports that, “They do offer live music usually on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. Just a great all around ‘old Florida’ bar setting.”
The Metromix listing for the Cortez Kitchen says they have $1 drafts and gives the hours! A good tip.
Cortez Bait & Seafood
The remaining establishment on the Taylor Boatworks grounds is the Cortez Bait & Seafood retail fish market (941-794-1547). Their bait includes thread herring, chum, sardines, and glass minnows. They also have food grade mullet and squid wings. Just a glance at their fish product page should make you ready to grab your fishing gear, and head for Cortez.
There’s a fun zoomable aerial photo of Cortez Bait & Seafood at marinas.com. There are a number of other Cortez aerial shots there to navigate as well. Lots of fun.
More Cortez resources
I covered Cortez before in Cortez, an 1880s Florida Fishing Village. Here’s a bit more history on the Cortez boat building scene from the Great Florida Gulf Coast Traditional Small Craft Association. They are, as their name indicates, only concerned with smaller craft. There are some beautiful boat restoration pictures on their site. I’m impressed with how many participants there are in their projects. Their main page gives information about the 4th Great Florida Gulf Coast Small Craft Festival.
The maritime museum in Cortez is highlighted, along with other attractions in Cortez at Cortez Village Historical Society who provide a PDF walking tour map for Cortez Village.
To finally “set the hook” in your desire to spend a day fishing, or even just sightseeing, in Cortez, go to the Manatee County EZ-fishfinder.com, that has tons of interesting boating and fishing videos and many pre-1940 pictures. It’s an excellent resource for planning a visit to Cortez.
Water is a powerful destressor. It doesn’t matter if we’re just sitting on the shore looking at it, sailing a dinghy, fishing off a pier, deep sea fishing, or cruising around the bay in a beautiful, classic Chris Craft like the one pictured below being restored in the Taylor Boatworks, the water has a way of calming our most subterranean anxieties.
I remember sleeping on my sister’s 37 foot O’Day sloop-rig. It had an aft cabin, center cockpit, a big center galley and salon, a big forward berth, and two heads…what a beauty (she talks about her boat on Lothlorien). The gentle rocking at night brought an unparalleled sleep–deep and restorative. I’m sure there is a one-to-one correlation between the gentle rocking of water and the 9 months we spend in the womb. If you’re stressed, get yourself to the water soon, even if only to its edge. Visit Cortez.
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