Day 260, January 6, 2013 (Islamorada, FL): We have only gone 40 miles north through the Hawk Channel. That is outside—sort of—but inside Florida Reef. Even though the wind was fairly brisk out of the east and the current against us seas were 2-3 with the occasional 4 on the nose.

The Keys continue not to disappoint unless one is searching for plush ashore. You won’t find it. Every place is a resort to someone—mostly the same ageing businesses and accommodations vying for the passersby. Whether it is a street performer in Key West or street people selling crude art or Ernest Hemingway’s home behind barbed  wire there is a certain atmosphere of the edge between bloom or blight. Uncollected trash is always a downer. Then there are carnival attrations like this person flying a water jet.

The water side is another story. Apart from the minefields of crab and lobster pots, the water is crystal clear. On a calm day the depths are deceiving. In the channel the depths are rarely more than 25 feet, sand and coral rock. Outside the channel the shoals build rapidly and grounding is not just sand. So we are learning to “read the water.” The pale lime green is shallow but the dark blue is not always deep.

The marinas aren’t much different. If the land side hasn’t jaded me I would say that many of the marinas are trailer parks on the water. Snowbirds live on boats that may not move, or not far anyway, from season to season.

We are marking time a little waiting for friends who got hung up in the  intemperate “winter” of North Florida and dawdling our way to Miami from whence we will fly north for a weekend to an occasion in New Jersey. Otherwise, if we had actually chosen to do the Keys we would have done it gunkholing rather that the floating trailer parks.