One of the cool things about the town of Key West, is the seemingly endless parade of beautiful old homes. On our 2nd day in Key West, we decided to set out to wander up and down the streets and take them in. (8 miles! In flip flops!).
These homes have a lot of outdoor pineapple decor. As it happens, The Keys, and Key Largo in particular, was once known for it’s Pineapple Plantations (article linked there). In Key West, there was a Captain Baker in the 1800’s ( his article linked there) who had an interesting turn with the Pineapple business as well. It seems that the relatively short place that Pineapple plantations have in the history of the Keys, was permanently halted by a hurricane.
I feel kind of bad saying that I love old shipwrecks. Obviously I don’t love people having lost their lives in tragic events. But as people have spent a LOT of time digging into them, digging them up, and devoting entire museums to them, I’d say I’m not alone in this. I believe the correct term is Maritime Archaeology. Key West has quite a collection! Mel Fisher’s museum lists the following on their web page:
“The Mel Fisher Maritime Museum is a 501 (c) (3) accredited, not-for-profit organization existing to research, interpret, and exhibit the maritime history of Florida and the Caribbean in ways that increase knowledge, enrich the spirit, and stimulate inquiry.’
I like what they’re doing there. Although we chose not to take time to visit the museum this time, we had a very cool and fun “tour’, (by a salesperson who clearly enjoys the history as much as the rest of us) around Mel Fisher’s treasure’s shop (Google map link and Photos there) right on Duval Street. Among other things, the shop can sell you actual coins from the shipwreck Atocha. (Article about it there). We had a great time looking at the old coins, and later reading everything we could find about Mel Fisher, and the Atocha. Here’s the first paragraph from that article:
On September 4, 1622 the Tierra Firme flota of twenty-eight ships left Havana bound for Spain. With it was carried the wealth of an empire; Silver from Peru and Mexico, gold and emeralds from Colombia, pearls from Venezuela. Each ship carried its crew, soldiers, passengers, and all the necessary materials and provisions for a successful voyage. The following day, the fleet found itself being overtaken by a hurricane as it entered the Florida straits. By the morning of September 6th, eight of these vessels lay broken on the ocean floor, scattered from the Marquesas Keys to the Dry Tortugas. In them were the treasures of the Americas, and the untold stories of scores of Spanish sailors, soldiers, noblemen, and clergy.
Mel Fisher, is a Maritime Archaeologist who spent years and years searching for the wrecked vessels. He started his search in 1969, and went after it for sixteen years. In 1985 he hit the “mother load” and cashed in big time. We found a National Geographic documentary about him and his quest on YouTube (linked there); Atocha; quest for treasure. The story is really something!
After our 8 mile trek through town, we stopped at Two Friends Patio for late lunch and live music. Both were outstanding! We wanted to get back to do a little fishing off the pier at the Galleon Marina, so we headed back. We took our time, and got to enjoy a beautiful sunset on the water
- Side note – there are a lot of party boats around the waterfront boardwalk. It must have been spring break for some colleges in South Carolina in the first week of March because that’s the university swag I noticed most. We saw everything from loaded down catamaran’s with live bands on board to floating tiki bars, and almost all of them had loud, thumping island dance music
Shannon was after a Tarpon or a shark. He was prepared for both. First, we went after some bait.
If Shannon hadn’t pointed out this manatee I never would have seen it. It was the absolute highlight!
We caught some sharks alright. But they bit right through the line and we never actually got to haul them in. We ended the night in a lively conversation with a couple from New Jersey, who probably didn’t remember it the next day.
Key West was a fun place to visit. I don’t think we’d call it an adventure per se, but it was a fun experience. After the 2nd day, we were ready to find somewhere to sail! This meant we had to give up our slip at the Galleon Marina, and go back to the city marina and get the mast. We’d tentatively planned to find somewhere around Fort Lauderdale, but logistically we decided against it. We ended up spending a night near Orlando. The following day we came all the way back to Alabama to sail on Lake Guntersville. It was an excellent choice and I’ll tell you about it next!