Last Leg – Miami to Key West

The northwestern shore of Key Largo is fairly undeveloped.  Paddling from our anchorage, we can barely read the No Trespassing sign, so instead of exploring the island, we take turns trying to grab the spiny lobsters all over the rocks.  They have no pinchers but it is creepy as hell to grab a giant saltwater cockroach and the shell was sharp enough to draw blood on my left hand.  The sky becomes too dark to see anymore, so we paddle back.

This smoky blue image is the best we can capture the bio-luminescence.  Steve and I are the brownish blurs and we are kicking our feet to make the water glow.  It looks like you are a character on the video game Mortal Kombat, on fire, under water. 

Downtown Key Largo is only 15 miles from us, and we find a dock early in the afternoon.  After running some errands at the Post Office and grabbing a Frosty from Wendy’s, I meet Steve and Sascha, and we get food for the rest of the trip.  Not much excitement on Key Largo except for the beautiful water and skies.
The first inlet leads us back into the ocean to finish the journey.  Sailing through the night is productive as the wind takes us almost entirely home.  There are lots of reefs around the Keys, so we drop anchor in a sandy patch and snorkel around for a couple hours.  We try to find the strangest thing around the boat and Steve comes up with a huge conch.  It is decided that we are not going to cook the conch and we head West.

like a snorkel boss

Sascha’s GoPro is awesome.  I want one.

DIRECTION

The last 3 months, we have been going approximately south.  First due south along the coast of New Jersey, (had to briefly backtrack North when we switched to the ICW), then southwest, south, southeast, south, you get the picture.  When we rounded Jupiter Beach and the coast of FL starts curing west.  When you get close to Key West, you are traveling straight into the setting sun.  The anchorage is on the western side of the island, so after passing the pushpin, we make for due North.  The first time since we were in the Delaware Bay.
HOME

Well, kind of.  Anchored next to the Coast Guard station, we decide it is too far to paddle and pull out the outlawed motor.  If you don’t remember why it was outlawed, I’m just gonna say it has too much power. 

Key West is pretty wild and it doesn’t take 15 minutes to get scooped up by 4 drunk Russian chicks and taken to a rooftop bar called The Garden of Eden.  The first thing we see when we walk into the bar is a butt-naked old dude.  This is a clothing optional bar with lots of naked old people and one ballsy young dude that just doesn’t fit in.  The Russians are a little too hammered and decide to take the cab home.  Good idea.  We wander around for another hour checking out some bars, meet folks, and wind up stumbling into a drag show.  The first night it really lives up to it’s reputation.  There are more bars per capita in Key West than anywhere else in the country, so they say.  I haven’t done the math.

Yeti roosterTheirsOurs

I feel like death in the morning and Steve is unable to move.  Sascha and I go to town to visit more streets, galleries, and the beach.  Around 4PM, we take a nap in “America’s Number One Park”, which is the size of half a tennis court.  I finally feel normal again.  We proceed to check out street chickens, galleries, cool trees, and I go to the beach while Sascha picks up post cards.  We get back to the boat after dark, Steve is still in the same position.  The ice cold Gatorade brings him back to life and we stay up all night talking about politics, religion, the future, and all that stuff.  What if hiving happens in our subconscious and that is why our gut has feelings about people and situations?

The dinghy motor isn’t doing all that great.  A gear in the throttle linkage is frozen, and after we brake it loose, there was still a lot of friction, which ultimately leads to me breaking a gear tooth.  So we disconnect the link to the carburetor and zip-tie a toothbrush for our new throttle lever.  We had an open end wrench, but kept getting electrocuted.  There was also a gas leak due to brittle hoses.  With the newly ghetto rigged dinghy we head to shore for Sascha’s last day.

Big pushpin – check.  Key lime pie – check.  Chocolate dipped, frozen key lime pie on a stick – check.  Fries and drinks at Wendy’s and we make our way back to the boat.
Sascha and I get up pretty early and head to shore.  He is going to hitchhike back up to New York.  Glad we got to hang out with him.  Can’t believe it’s been a week.
THE GAMES
Sailing.  Living on the edge.  You encounter intense, unique obstacles on a very frequent basis.  Sometimes you are concerned with the idea that you might not reach our destination.  You might not get through the night.  The game in this scenario is doing whatever it takes to get it done
.
Once you are settled (or in our case, too broke to go on), there is a ninja-like psychological transition that takes place.  The automated human response to the new living situation is to get more and more comfortable.  But this is not a game at all.  The reason I believe this to be true is that there is no excitement.  Or very little, which makes it a bad game.  The real game associated with this change is to again make yourself uncomfortableand strive for a new goal.  Instead of working hard to stay alive (a reasonable goal), Steve is working hard to upgrade the boat.  He was going to get an apartment and get settled and finally realized the notion bummed him out.  Instead, he’s gonna work and save and upgrade the boat so he can sail to Belize.  That’s the game.  Gotta keep playing the game.
WHAT’S NEXT?
The combined 9 months (6 in NY and 3 since) of living on Silent Runnerhave been awesome.  I’m ready for a little break, though.  I’m going back to Jupiter in a few days to meet with Jeff and follow through with a plan we discussed in Teepee Town back in January when I met him.  We are gonna take his van to San Diego.  I’ll be coming through Savannah next weekend, so give me a ring if you want to grab a drink.  In closing, I decided to quote someone who knew much more about living than I could ever hope to learn.  The most badass chick ever: Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt. 
”The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – E. R.

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