|Cigar man at Schooner Wharf Bar in Key West|
“We really don’t care what the rest of the world thinks of us.” - according to a local in Key West Florida.
Key West is the southern-most inhabited island of the Florida Keys, the last landfall before Cuba.
The islanders are a motley collection of interesting and friendly characters that live their lives in keeping with their rules, and to heck with the rest of the world.
What would happen if one of the protected cats ate a protected chicken?
Who would be fined? Or sued?
On our second evening in Key West we popped into the nearby Schooner Wharf Bar for a sunset beverage. We landed in the middle of a fund raising event, organized to assist a local woman who had lost everything in a house fire. Her friends circulated around the bar selling 50/50 raffle tickets, and silent auction items.
|Fund raiser at Schooner Wharf Bar Key West|
In the back room casino several Black Jack games were in progress. The volunteer dealers were a little unclear on the rules of the game, good naturedly allowing the card players to advise them when to take a “hit” or when to “stand pat”.
The event organizers also had a list of individual items contributors could pay for; items such as a toaster, or a microwave, or a coffee maker, or an item of lingerie. Since we had never met the recipient, Sheere, we opted to buy her a new coffee maker instead of a new bra. I’m sure she’d understand.
|Conch Tour Train Key West|
We also did the usual touristy things in Key West; enjoying the ninety-minute Conch Train tour of the historic downtown, shopping, eating, and drinking. Everywhere we went people were very friendly. For us, staying three nights in Key West was just about the perfect amount of time.
Turning north again, back in the direction of Miami, our next stop was at Sombrero Marina in Marathon.
|Marathon harbour - sunken and live aboard boats|
The entrance to the harbour at Marathon is a little unsettling. We motored past hundreds of anchored boats, in various states of disrepair, being used as live-aboards by retired or in some cases working people who cannot afford to purchase or rent in the Keys.
The cost of living in the Florida Keys seems to be a common complaint. Real estate values are astronomical, and wages about average.
|Local man and his dog heading home to a boat|
We were also told by various business owners that finding employees was extremely difficult. Workers could make considerably more money as a server in a bar or restaurant, as opposed to hourly wages in a store or a bank.
The locals like to mention that the Florida Keys have more bars per capita than any other part of Florida. I can’t confirm that – but judging by the number of highly visible drinking establishments it‘s probably true.
For our final two nights cruising the Keys, we stayed at the Postcard Inn Beach Resort and Marina on Isla Morada; home of the world-famous Tiki Bar and creators of the original Rum Runner drink. The entrance to the marina is clearly marked by buoys guiding boats through a shallow sandy area.
It’s a bit disconcerting to look a few feet to the starboard side (right side for you landlubbers) and see people standing in waist-deep water sipping a weekend libation or two.
On the port side of the boat (left) were numerous kite-surfers and para-gliders sliding across the shallows, enjoying the sunny weather. Inattention to charts and depth sounders in this area can get a skipper into a fine mess.
Fortunately we were paying attention and arrived unscathed at the docks, then went searching for the world-famous Rum Runner drinks.
On Sunday afternoon, sitting outside on the patio at Shula’s Restaurant and basking in eighty-five degrees (30 in Celsius) weather we watched a Seattle Seahawks football game.
In the meantime, in Canada and the continental USA, our friends and family were shivering in minus something-or-other weather.
With every news update as to flight delays, weather warnings, and traffic reports we would smile smugly – perhaps a little too smugly.
The next day we arrived back in Miami at the home berth for the boat. We celebrated the end to a fabulous experience; our family cruise through paradise. And then it was time for everyone to head back to their respective homes; unfortunately for some that meant heading north to Canada to celebrate the Christmas season with other family members.
A seven-hour flight delay, bad weather, a non-functioning house furnace, and heaps of snow caught up with them! It was the weather gods’ pay-back for our smug smiles. It’s a lesson. Never, ever, tempt the weather gods. Not even in paradise.
You might enjoy the Fox News video – Watter’s World Key West segment. http://video.foxnews.com/v/2916591454001/
As mentioned in the video, we also didn’t see any police presence in our three day visit to Key West. However, further north at Hawks Cay Resort we did see the Sherriff’s car parked outside every morning while the driver popped in for a fresh Starbucks coffee. Pretty laid back lifestyle.
Lynda & Lawrie