15 May 2019

Just One Dance is bobbing lazily at anchor in Tarpon Basin, a spacious anchorage with good holding and wind protection from all directions, the early morning sun chasing last night’s dew off of our deck. Cindy and I are anchored off Key Largo, the northernmost of the “Real Florida Keys” (no one considers upscale high-falutin’ Key Biscayne a part of the infamously laid-back Florida Keys), our goal destination finally achieved after 3½ months.


Tarpon Basin Sunset

I decided to fast forward our blog to the current time rather than spend much time detailing our trip down the Florida coast (given how far behind I’ve gotten in my writing). We got out of the boatyard in Savannah after a week, our engine hold leak issues resolved and our leaky hatch fixed and began our now-familiar path down the Florida ICW.

We decided to spend this season in the Florida Keys for a couple of reasons. We had planned to tour the Keys our first sailing season but never made it passed Fort Lauderdale. We also needed good, cheap internet since Cindy was also working on an advanced nutrition certification and we needed good internet for that. Also, several fellow cruisers we had talked to had described the Florida Keys as “The Bahamas with Publix”; Publix, for the uninitiated, is a large southern grocery store chain.

On our trip down the Florida coast we spent a lovely week in St Augustine, docked at the municipal marina and enjoyed its walking-distance proximity to historic Old Town and its fine eateries. We kept on the move, only pausing for overnight stops before pushing on in our quest to get to warm weather and switch to shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops. We paused for a few days at Dinner Key Marina just south of Miami to address a couple of boat issues, do laundry, stock up on supplies and access the internet, staying on a mooring ball since the dock damage from Hurricane Irma still hadn’t been fixed. On March 11, we left Dinner Key and anchored off of Elliot Key, a beautiful nearly deserted island south of Key Biscayne and, on March 12, we finally dropped anchored off Key Largo.

Cindy, up the mast, fixing our loose VHF antenna at Dinner Key…

Largo had been one of our main destinations in the Keys this year. We visited Key Largo a few years back and fell in love with a particular restaurant called the Key Largo Conch House. This sweet little family-owned place sits back off the Overseas Highway, hidden behind lush green plants and beckoning the hungry traveler with an inviting wrap-around porch. We enjoyed their Eggs Benedict (crab cake version for Cindy, traditional for me) so much we ate here every morning.

We fired up our Tohatsu outboard and pointed our dinghy (we’re seriously liking the new 10-foot long flat-floored dinghy we got at the end of the last sailing season!) toward the hideous square concrete AT&T cell tower that looms high above Key Largo. Its ugly but it does make a good landmark. The Monroe County government building dinghy dock we are looking for is just to the right of this tower.

The Hideous Cell Tower…the dinghy dock is at the group of white buildings on the right

We tie up our dinghy, walk from the dock through the park and out through the Murray E. Nelson government building’s parking lot to find ourselves at the edge of a crazy-busy four-lane, divided median highway. A steady stream of cars and trucks whizzes passed, heading southward, deeper into the Florida Keys proper. Businesses line both sides of the highway, beckoning us to stop by and buy food, fuel, souvenirs and dollar flooring (seriously, how long can THAT last?). Overhead, airplanes drag banners behind them urging us to spend 15 minutes and save 15% on car insurance.

Jack and Max enjoy evening at Key Largo

This…is…sooo…not…like The Bahamas.