Well, I thought it would be nice to post some pics up on Key West and some thoughts on it.
We have been to Key West... three times? Four? It is an easy sail in from the north or south, and if coming from Marathon, you can take Hawk Channel all the way there. There are a few areas you need to keep an eye out for, but it is a really easy sail.
We started off with it blowing 20-25 sustained (behind us). Doesn't look like it in the pic, but we had some nice seas following us. Still was a nice run. We were over 7 knots with just the main! Here is my little man enjoying the ride:
The water in Key West and the trip there is pretty. THere are a few "green/murky areas", but most of what you see will look like this:
We ended up staying in Key West Bight. It is basically "downtown" Key West, right off Duval street. If you don't mind spending the money, that is where I would encourage anyone to stay. Everything is close by, including a West Marine, grocery store, hardware store (about as good as the West Marine), and of course many shops, restaurants, and bars.
Here is a pic over looking the wharf and our boat:
Key west is certainly a party town. Duval doesn't even really get going until about 9 or 10 pm at night. In fact, some of the bars don't even open until then! We hit most of the major bars, including: Hogs Breath, Durty Harrys, Irish Kevins, Margaritaville, and Sloppy Joes. THere were others too, but I don't remember them all. Of all the bars, our favorite was Irish Kevins. They have some great acts in there and that place is hopping.
There are a million Tshirt shops and other things. But our favorite was definitely Peppers. It is a huge shop made up of hot sauces!! They have a Cayenne Pepper hot sauce that is awesome! You can sit at their bar and try all the sauces out on chips... but just a word of warning, take water with you!!
Cool Kid Stuff
Well, this should go into the kid and not kid category. We went to Fort Zachary Taylor which is a great walk and history experience. It also has some great views over the water. It is interesting because you can see how the fort has changed over the years to accommodate the different times. It is not as nice as the Tortugas Fort (Jefferson), but certainly a good and cheap visit. There is a water fountain, but again, you will want to bring your own water.
Another really cool 'kid' trip, and maybe the best thing to do, is the Butterfly Conservatory. It is very close to the Southernmost Point, so another must see. Basically this is an indoor conservatory of butterflies, birds, and vegitation. Sounds weird, but it is first class (and air conditioned!!). The girls really love this stuff guys.
Of course, no writeup is complete without a quick peek at the other boats. This boat belongs to Henderson Motorsports I think... Jeff Gordon?? It has to be close to 200 feet long, and appropriately named Wheels. They wouldn't let me on board, even when I showed them Fatty. Oh well...
My overall impressions of Key West is that it has some of the most friendly people in the Keys. Everyone helps each other out and everyone is there to have fun. It isn't cheap though. I think the monthly rate where we were is $34/foot or $36 plus electricity. Our electricity ran $56/week. However, given how close it is to everything, and that you don't have to have a car, you can try to justify it. Of course, you can anchor out in the mooring field but that thing is seriously unprotected in a northern. Not to mention, they charge you $85/month to tie your tender up at the tender dock you see in the previous pic. THere is also stock Island, but now you are a good car ride or taxi or bus to get in. That is why we opted for Key West Bight (which isn't even the most expensive!!). You gotta have insurance too, btw.
We hung out with a lot of friends and ended up deep sea fishing (I caught a green moray eel!! haha!!), diving, snorkeling, and just hanging out. DHalf the time we had over a dozen people on our boat!!! We were cooking out and eating until we were sick!! Good friends from all over that we have met cruising.
THe water quality is pretty good for diving, but not as good as the Tortugas or even Marathon or Largo. Still worth doing. THere are some good sights to see and a lot of marine preservation so lots of fish. This is the kids and some other friends using a Hooklah (Brownie) off the back of Sea Mist. Pretty cool and the kids love it. It is a great way to introduce kids to diving in a controlled environment.
If anyone has any questions about the place, or getting in, let me know. I am no expert, but happy to help. Also, don't forget to buy your Conch Republic flag. Remember, you cannot fly it until your boat has been in Key West. You have to have the toasting celebration to keep tradition!!
See ya down here!!!