>About a month ago good friends from our yacht club, Port and Kathy invited Brenda and me to visit them in Grassy Key Florida, a long drive out into the Keys and about 40 miles short of Key West. Port is a retired architech and high end home builder in CT. About 20 years ago they purchased some land in the Keys and spend about 4 days a month here enjoying the great weather. Well, here we are visiting a wonderful warm place, with 80 degree water and air temperature to match. Not bad as we have had snow twice in NJ already. Forgive this post as it has much of nothing to do with boating. Well, perhaps it does as we are surrounded by water.
It is such a treat to be here and enjoy a really amazing place on the warm Gulf when it’s so cold at home in New Jersey.
We came down late on Saturday night, landed in Ft Lauderdale and drove 2 1/2 hours south arriving at their home shortly after midnight. Imagine our reaction as the lights came on revealing this magical place. This is a view of the entrance area as viewed from the stairs leading up to our room.
A view of our room looking out on to the water.
A view of our room. Below is an area storage and is left unoccupied in the event of high water during a storm.
The main house in the center with two story bungalows on both sides. The building furthest to the right is for the caretaker. For 10 hours of work a week the caretaker couple can live here rent free. I understand that when Port runs an ad looking for help he gets over 100 responses and an amazing cross section of humanity, much of which is from the bottom 5%. The current couple that watch over the place have been here for three years and beyond looking after the place don’t seem to do much. I can relate to that as the environment certainly would lull anyone into a stupor after a few weeks. No such thing as a New York minute. It’s more about manana.
A view in the late afternoon of the main living room area. It’s on the ground floor and is surruounded on all sides by sliding glass doors. This shot doesn’t begin to do justice to the view. In fact, you can only see a single home from here. There are other homes on the street but Port designed it so that the view is totally private. The compound sits on about two developed acres with nearly 20 more of undeveloped area that he has bought over the years to ensure that he will not have to worry about someone messing up his view. Across the water are mangroves so there will never be any development there either within view. Not bad at all. A number of years ago a hurricane swept the lower living area clean and removed all of the furniture and doors as water and wind ran through. What a mess that must have been with 14 sets of double sliding doors smashed to bits. Those doors make for an amazing view of mangroves to the south a clear view of the Gulf to the west and a beautiful view of Florida Keys woodlands to the east. To the east is the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf Stream. Because the water is so warm there is a perpetual row of big cumulus clouds across the horizon marking the Stream.
All of the living areas are connected by wood walkways. These connect you with the driveway, each building and down to the dock. The water isn’t that clear with about 10 ft visibility. There are some fish but mostly snapper and barracuda.
Hard to believe that it’s December. Imagine the sunset over the mangroves.
Because the water is so shallow, the dock goes out over 100 yards. Yes, it’s really that narrow. Port calls it a “one drink dock”, meaning that you can’t walk on it if you have had more than one drink. No kidding. Their home is so secluded behind the trees that you can hardly see it. It blends in to the environment very well.
Lot’s of local color with loads of heron, egrets and of course, Pelicans.
Being so far south and west in the Keys puts us very close to the Gulf Stream with it’s 85 degree waters bathing the region with warm air keeping it very warm, even in the winter. Just a few hundred miles north in Miami it’s not quite as tropical.
While not as appealing as the Bahammas for cruising, this area is very popular with long term liveaboards. Some of the boats in the harbors don’t look like they have moved much for a long time. In the market it’s immediately obvious who is on their boat full time and who is on a week’s holiday. Perhaps it’s about personal hygiene, perhaps the fact that they don’t wear shoes in the supermarket but it’s certainly about all tattoos.
Today, Monday we hope to go on a dive boat out to the reef about 6 miles out east just on the edge of the Gulf Stream for some snorkeling. The guide told me yesterday that visibility is 50 feet. I understand that the Bahamas are twice that. Hard to imagine.