The Coastal Star

Along the Coast: A life lived on the water, from bamboo rod to billfish tournaments

Flip Traylor with a bonefish caught around Little Torch Key

in the Florida Keys. The photo dates to the 1960s.


INSET BELOW: Fishing has been a family affair; Flip's wife,

Barbara Traylor, poses with a sailfish caught at Walkers Cay, Bahamas.

Family photos

By Willie Howard

    Fishing around the Boynton Inlet helped Flip Traylor feed his family some 80 years ago, and the longtime Ocean Ridge resident still rises before dawn on fair-weather mornings to run his boat through the familiar narrow passage to the Atlantic Ocean.
    His introduction to fishing and the ocean started during the Great Depression, when young Flip and his friends fished with makeshift rods on the jetties at Boynton Inlet in hopes of bringing something home for their families to eat.
    His boyhood fishing rod was fashioned from a piece of bamboo, its wire line stripped from the windings of an electric motor.
Traylor remembers putting a steel rod on the end of his fishing pole and walking the jetty with a live fiddler crab in hand. He would scrape barnacles from the pilings with the metal pole. When a sheepshead would come up to eat the scrapings, he would drop down a fiddler crab on a hook and catch it.
    He and other boys dug clams from the little island they called the “sand bar” on the north side of the jetty — the island later named Beer Can Island, now known as Audubon Island.
    During the winter months, Traylor’s father gathered fresh oysters from the west side of the Intracoastal Waterway where the Palm Beach Yacht Center is located today.
    “We had no money, but we had fish, oysters, clams and sea turtles,” Traylor said during an April 28 reunion of aging Boynton Inlet fishermen at Ocean Inlet Park.

A youth of fishing and music
    Philip Bryan Traylor was born in a bridge tender’s house in Deerfield Beach where his father was working in July 1929 — three months before the stock market crash that led to the Great Depression.
    Traylor said he remembers fishing all day for sailor’s choice (pinfish) while he helped his father, Burt Traylor, build a dock at Inlet Village near Boynton Inlet.
    While walking home, Traylor and a friend sold the string of about 20 fish to a passing motorist for 25 cents. He offered the money to his father to help feed the family and was delighted when his dad let him keep it.
    If he caught pompano in his net, Traylor said, he sold the delicate, tasty fish. He and his family would eat moonfish instead.
    Traylor attended high school in Key West. He learned to play the drums and started playing in Key West bars at age 15. Seeing young Flip work in bars didn’t please his mother, who sent Traylor to a parochial school in Mount Vernon, Ga., for four years.
    “I thought I was in another world,” said Traylor, who still keeps a drum set in the garage of his home on North Harbour Drive.
    Traylor attended the University of Florida in the 1950s, but said he ran out of money and came back to Palm Beach County, where he returned to his roots as a fisherman by working on boats in the Boynton Inlet charter fleet.
    Traylor met his wife, Barbara, in the mid-1950s at the South Ocean Club, a live-music nightclub near Lake Worth Beach. They’ve been married for 58 years.

Boynton and the Caribbean
    One summer, a wealthy man asked Traylor to run his boat. He wound up working as a captain for the boat owner for 20 years — a job that led him to billfish tournaments in the Bahamas and inspired him to learn to fly a seaplane.
    After his wealthy employer died in the 1970s, Traylor became a real estate broker, selling resort property on the west side of the Turks and Caicos islands. The job allowed Traylor to capitalize on his skills as a seaplane pilot.
    Traylor continued to sell real estate until recently, when he allowed his license to lapse for health reasons. Barbara is now a retired certified public accountant who founded the Boynton Beach accounting firm Traylor, Gratton & Beaumont in 1974.
    The Traylors’ son, Greg, and granddaughter Ashton Krauss, live in Boynton Beach. Their daughter, Pamela Anwyll, lives in McLean, Va. They also have a great-grandson living in Boynton Beach.

Still greeting the day
    Traylor nourishes his thin frame with a feeding tube, his body ravaged by treatments for the skin cancer he has been fighting for decades.
    He keeps his boat, MLB (My Little Boat) behind his house and, with help from a younger man, runs it out the Boynton Inlet to fish on the ocean every day the weather permits.
    On fishing days, he often dresses in denim shorts, a loose shirt, floppy hat and weathered deck shoes.
    Traylor said he still enjoys seeing the sun rise up from the Atlantic Ocean when he heads out the inlet before dawn.
    “It’s different every day,” Traylor said of the sunrise. “It looks like a cocktail glass.”

Flip Traylor of Ocean Ridge grew up in Boynton Beach during the Great Depression.

At 85, he still enjoys fishing as often as possible on his boat, MLB

(My Little Boat), despite health problems related to skin cancer.

Willie Howard/The Coastal Star

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