We finally made it to the Keys! Woo Hoo! Not sure why, but in all our travels down and around the Caribbean, we’ve never been here before. I guess we thought since it was still the US, it wasn’t exotic enough.
We left Miami / Biscayne Bay Wednesday morning and man, was I happy to put Miami, and the crappy previous two days, behind us. Not saying anything against Miami – I’m hoping we have a better outlook when we return to provision before we shoot across to the Bahamas. But this time, it was no bueno, as they say.
We took the Hawk Channel to the Keys, which cuts in between the keys and the barrier reef, so the water was nice and calm despite the 30mph gusts. A much more comfortable ride than what we would’ve had on the other side of the reef out in the deep ocean. Looking at the GPS, the channel looked so small… we were expecting it to be a hairy ride with us dodging reefs the whole time. Come to find out it’s super wide with good depths, and the only thing we had to dodge were the thousands of fishing buoys littering the cut. Wow talk about overfishing. No wonder the price of lobster is so high. We took turns alternating between navigating at the helm and up at the bow spotting lobster traps.
We made it to Key Largo by 4:30 Wednesday night and anchored in 6ft of sand off of off Rodrigez Cay. You could see right down to the bottom. It was the first time, ever, that I could see the anchor chain lying perfectly on the floor below. Matt grabbed his snorkel gear and dunked his head in to check out what he could see, but unfortunately it was only sand and sea grass. He had been dying to use it ever since we left, so I think just that quick head dunk satisfied him enough to say he did it.
We decided against dingying to shore since the wind was blowing pretty good and it didn’t look like there was much going on in town anyway. It’s so hard to tell from the boat if where we were at, was “town” anyway. It had the highest concentration of houses and marinas, so we’re assuming it was. Instead we hung out on the boat, marveled at how pretty the water was and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
As we were enjoying the beautiful sunset above, another catamaran came over and started to anchor about 100ft in front of us. Seriously? There is an entire freakin’ ocean out there and you want to get all up on us like that? You could see how far away we are from our closest neighbor in the picture above…. this is considered a respectable distance, as opposed to these yahoos that anchored so close, that I could practically see what they’re having for dinner.
The next morning we pulled anchor and headed down to Marathon Key. It was Thanksgiving and we were sorta bummed that we weren’t in Key West yet. We decided that since we missed our deadline of Thanksgiving in Key West, might as well stay and extra day in Marathon to relax and do a little exploring.
We grabbed a mooring ball and headed into the marina to take a shower and get cleaned up a bit before heading into town in hopes of finding a restaurant that was serving Thanksgiving dinner. This has been, by far the biggest mooring field we’ve ever encountered. There were hundreds of boats out there, many of which looked like they’ve been there a long, long time judging by the amount of barnacles and growth they had growing on the bottoms of their boats.
As we approached the marina lawn, we saw that the cruisers were having their own potluck Thanksgiving. And these were a different type of cruiser that we haven’t seen before. Sort of like a hippie commune of transients that had made it this far years ago and never left. So far we’ve mostly encountered the retired cruisers who head to the tropics each winter (the “white hairs” as we like to call them). Here, it was like a beatnik community of people all ages, roaming around drinking beer and acting like they’ve lived here forever. It was like the movie Wanderlust. One guy even had a parrot on his shoulder. Like, a real live huge colorful parrot. It was strange. We felt like such Yuppies.
We found a place right across the street and had our Thanksgiving dinner, came back and called our families, and went to bed feeling a bit homesick.
We woke up the next morning we were hanging at the boat, a little disappointed that Marathon wasn’t the happening place that we had hoped for and wondered what the heck we were actually doing. We’ve had some pretty long days that have left us tired, restless, and questioning if we really love this whole sailing thing. So far it seems like it’s been more of a grind than paradise. Don’t get me wrong, it has been fun, just not as fun as we were expecting it to be right off the bat. We spend more time sailing past places than we do exploring them. But this is our fault, so we’re going to slow it down here in the Keys and not rush as much.
Determined to get out of our funk, we headed to a place called Sparky’s Landing, a restaurant and fishing bar that Matt’s Uncle Richard had recommended. This place was awesome. We had a great time sitting at the bar and talking to the locals, telling them our story and hearing theirs. It was great to find life again. It was starting to feel like our boat was our jail and we hadn’t had any communication with anyone else in so long. Tough for two people who were used to being pretty social on a regular basis. I think we were going thru withdrawal.
The marina was a neat little place. Definitely a strong sense of cruiser community, although aside from the big gathering on Thanksgiving, we really didn’t see too many other people out while we were their. I wonder where they all go?
Headed out to Key West where we’re hoping to find the life that we’ve been looking for since we left Charleston a month ago. I have a feeling being there for a bit will invigorate us again before we leave it all behind for the Bahamas.