Katie and Jessie had to leave today to get back to their boat that was waiting in Ft. Lauderdale. Louise has been sitting in a marina waiting on a part to get shipped in, and they were notified that the new ‘Shiny Thing’ which will replace their old ‘Rusty Thing’ had arrived, so we would be saying our ‘Goodbye’s’ once again. Although I wouldn’t mind making this a ritual, if it means we have to take a grueling vacation like this to come visit friends every few weeks, it would be one of those things in life I will have to put up with.
Don and Mary Ann had talked about going out on the water and showing us some different areas that they like to visit. One of them was Looe Key Marine Sanctuary, which is pronounced the same way our Motel is pronounced, even though they’re spelled differently.
We rented a boat from Big Pine Boat Rentals and loaded it up with Camera Gear and snorkeling equipment. Motoring out of the canal from the boat rentals, I instantly learned that you don’t pay attention to the channel markers as much as you pay attention to your look-out on the bow of the boat.
Don had me running the boat, as he stood up on the bow telling me where to avoid. Even staying in the channel markers, there were numerous times that the coral shelf would jut out into the channel where a unknowing boater could get their hull seriously scarred or worse yet, punctured.
Now I know why the guy at the Boat Rental place tilted up the motor and made every one of us come back and take note that this was a Brand New Prop. Something tells me Lots, and I meant LOTS of people return their boats with damaged hulls or torn off props.
Once out of the channel and into the open Atlantic, the water was glassy and turquoise blue. It’s amazing what that color does to your senses. We made our way to the mooring balls around the reef that attracts people to Looe Key, it’s not a Key in the sense that any of it is out of the water, but the entire coral shelf is submerged in about 20’30’ of crystal clear water. When we first pulled up, we were the only boat on the mooring field.
The girls both said they’d be fine just sitting in the boat, lounging in the warm sunshine, so Don and I suited up and went overboard snorkeling around taking in the beauty of the underwater world. Giant Barracuda’s, schools of various types of fish, and a 6′ Black Tip Shark were swimming all around me. When I first spotted the shark, my heart jumped as I let out a squeal through my snorkel. Then I remembered that sharks could sense fear, so I calmed myself down and just watched as it swam around the reef below me.
An hour or so later, my legs were burning from all this snorkeling and I climbed back in the boat. While sitting there in the boat as it slowly rolled up and down the waves that were rolling in, I lost my breakfast and fed the fishies all around the boat.
A little while later when Don came swimming back up to the boat, he asked “Which one of you was chumming the water? I could hear the fish frenzy from way over there!” He automatically thought it was Cindy because she had said that she always gets sea sick, but I told him it was me and that once I got sick, it instantly made the uneasy feeling go away.
With everyone back on the boat and the snorkeling gear stowed away, we headed from the Atlantic side of the Keys to what they refer to as the Backcountry. It was amazing the difference in weather from one side to the other. Over on the Atlantic side it was warm and calm, but as soon as we crossed under the bridge and into the backcountry, the wind picked up, the water was choppy and the temperature dropped about 15 degrees.
We tucked up onto a beach on a tiny island they told us used to have a Shrimp Manufacturing Plant on it, and walked around warming up in the protection of the trees. This island would be a super cool place for an evening bonfire or a secluded campsite.
Once we were warmed up, we headed back to the boat rental dock as it was getting late in the afternoon by this point. We took the calm canals back in and admired the beautiful boats, the eclectic houses along the water and just enjoyed our afternoon with good friends.
That evening would have us grilling up some juicy steaks and Key West Pinks (Giant Shrimp) on the BBQ Grill all washed down with good red wine and fantastic conversation.
Thanks Don and Mary Ann for such an enjoyable vacation and your amazing hospitality. I’m sure you’ll see us again soon.