|Lawrie and Richard Grierson - set to cast off in Miami|
Yes, I know, we usually write about living on Isla Mujeres in Mexico.
However, right now we are aboard a 56-foot Carver yacht, slowly cruising through the Florida Keys with family members. It’s another type of paradise.
A few years ago on our first, and very short visit, to the Keys we drove from Fort Lauderdale south to Key West. It was an interesting but extremely long day driving to Key West and back again to our hotel in Fort Lauderdale, returning around eleven at night. At first impression the Florida Keys from the highway route appears to be a long line of restaurants, gift stores, strip malls and forty-two bridges connecting the forty-three inhabited islands.
|Linda Grierson and Lynda in Key Largo|
Our second time around, cruising in a yacht, we were able to enjoy more of the 1700 verdant islands that compose the Florida Keys archipelago.
Our first port of call, quirky Key Largo, was the background location for the 1948 movie starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Edward G. Robinson. (At this point of few of our readers will say: Who? No worries. The movie was before your time!)
The town of Key Largo originally had the rather unimaginative name of Rock Harbor. In 1952 after the film's success, pressure from local businesses resulted in a name change to Key Largo.
|Pilot House Marina in Key Largo|
Threading our way through narrow waterways we slowly eased into our berth at the Pilot House Marina.
It was a fun placed to tie-up for two nights with the nearby Tiki Bar Restaurant a good place to enjoy dinner and live music.
Walking up and down the streets that dead-end at the navigation canals gave us a good overview for this fishing-based community. Many homes have work boats docked in front of the house.
|Lobster traps (pots) and buoys|
There were several areas – yards - stacked high with heavy wooden lobster traps, a few nets, colourful buoys, and anchor odds and ends. Each fishing company has their own colour of buoys to identify their traps.
In the shallow waters between the reef and the mainland are thousands of buoys, marking the locations of the lobster traps.
All those lobsters …. waiting to be eaten!
|Entrance to Hawks Cay Marina & Resort|
Our next stop was Hawks Cay Marina on Duck Cay. It’s a beautiful location with one major drawback. The entrance! The channel is narrow, with a swift current, and features a jagged pile of rocks at the confluence of two waterways. A sharp turn to starboard is required to enter the passage that leads to Hawks Cay Marina.
Cruising along the front of the resort - past swimming pools, restaurants and bars - we finally reached the berth designated for our boat. At this point the water was very shallow even at high tide, with our props kicking up sand and weeds as we docked the boat.
|Lawrie cruising around Hawks Cay|
Hawks Cay is beautiful, if somewhat constricted between the highway and the ocean. We arrived at the beginning of the Thanksgiving weekend and the resort hummed with families; children everywhere. The employees do a great job entertaining the young ones with cardboard boat races, crafts, and games.
Early one morning at Hawks Cay I walked up to Highway #1 and chatted with a couple who were fishing off one of the many highway bridges.
|Locals fishing off the bridge at Hawks Cay|
“How far to Marathon?” I inquired, thinking I might walk south to the next community on the map.
The man looked at my sandals and said: “An hour, or two, in those shoes. Or if you were had real shoes it would be an hour.”
Okay, then. Guess I’ll go back to the boat instead.
|Coming into the harbour at Key West|
The next morning we headed out to Key West, planning to spend at least three nights at the Galleon Marina. As we slowly cruised into the harbour at Key West we encountered a cruise ship, several working boats, sailing boats, plus dozens of tour boats. Lit by Christmas decorations the harbour is active and interesting with marine traffic coming and going all day and into the early evening. We enjoy people watching in an active location; there is always so much to look at.
|One of the grand old houses in Key West|
Our first week in the paradise of the Florida Keys is done. We are looking forward to the second week of adventures!
Lynda & Lawrie