Nov 122014

It just seems that the rich will never be satisfied with what they got.  They always want more.  One of the few old timey marinas here on Stock Island has fallen prey to a new owner.  The Hurricane Hole marina located right on the corner of the Cow Key bridge and channel on US 1 is now under new ownership.  The person who bought it is NOT he who shall not be named, but a person who owns another marina up the road near Big Pine.  Said person has also purchased the Wharf on Summerland Key about a week ago.

When I was talking to some neighbors about this someone spoke up and said, ‘Well, I hope nothing changes there.”  But we all know better, don’t we?

Hurricane Hole is a pretty good approximation of what you would expect a small Keys type marina to look like.  Older wooden docks that have weathered many a storm.  An open air tiki bar and restaurant that serves local fresh seafood.  When you are eating you may have a chicken, cat or a dog walking around your table.  A line of charter fishing boats at the docks, each with a sign naming their business.  Along the road are a half dozen colorful small sheds, each housing something different.  One is the main office for Lazy Dog, one of the biggest paddle sports companies on the island.  There is a kayak shop, boat storage, fuel dock, and jet ski rentals.  Given it’s location right beside US 1, you can’t miss it coming in or out of Key West, so it’s a very busy place with hundreds of people coming in and out just about every day.  The grounds are unpaved with lots of palm trees and mangroves.  There are old signs all over the place.  The buildings are wood construction.  In other words, old Keys style.  So what does anyone want to bet that the new owner will tear the whole thing down and start over again?

I’m guessing, and this is a purely gut feeling based on personal experience and my special take on the Keys, that said new owner has plans drawn up to create a sterile, cookie cutter, gated and exclusive waterside resort.  Complete with shoddy 1950’s army barracks styling, non native landscaping, fancy new docks, and a major increase in rent for the current business owners.  In fact, I’m willing to bet that most of those businesses that run out of the current marina will be gone in a year or two.  Replaced by cronies of the new owner.

I suspect he will now have a mini chain of marinas across the lower Keys that will all look the same.  Homogenized, dull, and boring with no Keys character left in them.  That seems to be the way things are going down here.  As individual owners of Key’s businesses and properties retire, die, or get offered large bags of cash for their places, they gladly leave with no concern about who is taking over.  Those who buy these properties turn them into corporate worker hives with strict codes on how things will be run.  Uniformed and underpaid staff, unlimited amounts of paperwork, bureaucracy, and a cold, emotionaless mode of service.  A wallymart of marinas.  The people who build these unimaginative places care not about island traditions, custom, nor attitudes.  These monstrosities are all designed to make as much profits with as little investment as possible.  Tourists who come to these sorts of resorts will herded in and out like cattle.  Oh, you’ll see the old Keys in the advertising.  Plenty of sunset pictures, happy smiling people catching fish, enjoying drinks and dinner in climate controlled restaurants that now truck in their food, rather than spend extra money to buy from the locals.  And there will be no more chickens, cats, or dogs around your table.  Lodgings will go from individual rooms, each with that special flair, to barracks with identical floor plans and furniture.  The activities will all have a sameness to them.  The captains, guides, and staff will all be required to work from a script, never deviating nor adding in their own special take or talent.  It will be a corporate world, if it ain’t already.

I may be wrong about all this.  The person buying up all these properties may well have the best interests of the Keys in mind.  Perhaps he is buying them to preserve said properties….just kidding.  You know as well as I do what’s going to happen.  Hurricane Hole will be a vastly different place in a few years.  And another piece of the what the Keys used to be will gone forever.

It’s a corporate world now.  Individual business owners are a dying breed, not just here but all over the country.  Go try to open a business someplace and see how many flaming hoops you will need to jump through.  The corporations own the government.  They can dictate policy to stifle innovation and stamp out competition.  It ain’t fair but that is the way it is.  You can join the hive, or downsize and live off the grid.  Which is what I have chosen.

My days of corporate worker beeness are long gone.  I would not even make it through an interview for one of those jobs and if by some chance I did get hired, I wouldn’t last a day.  No paycheck, no amount of “benefits”, no fake promises of promotion or advancement will ever get me to return to that life.  I may well starve and lose everything.  But I will still be more better than slugging it out in the trenches for some faceless corporation.

If you are reading this blog, I suspect you may feel the same way.  Well, WAKE THE FUCK UP!  Get out of the rat race and start living a life again. Yes, you will sacrifice some monetary and material wealth.  So what.  You can’t take that big screen tv with you if you are backpacking across Europe.  What good is a new car with payments going to do for you if you are sailing around the Caribbean?  You can’t stop the corporate takeover of this country.  That has happened already.  But you don’t have to play the game.

The promises that corporate ‘Merica make are fake.  They promote an ideal life that no longer exists.  You are nothing but a consumer to them.  Useful only for spending your money.  The easiest way to fight back is don’t spend your money, or at least be damn choosy about where you do spend it.  If you are coming to the Keys for whatever reasons, seek out the few remaining old Key’s businesses.  There are still a few.  The backwater restaurants, the one off B & B’s, the specialty shops that don’t have that nasty corporate smell to them.  Seek them out here and wherever else you may find yourself.  Enjoy them while you can because someday in the not too distant future, they will all be gone.  And we will be living in one giant wallymart.

Capt. Fritter

  2 Responses to “Living Aboard: Another Marina Gets Bought Up…”

  1. so sad what is happening to the heart and soul of the keys.
    they’ve done it all over colorado.
    took small picturesque villages and turned them into hollywood “quaint” exorbitantly expensive places to ski.
    sad especially for those like you … appreciators of the true history and charms of the place.
    wishing i were a totally RICH widow instead of just a widow.
    i’d buy it all anonymously … but only for preserving it. not changing it into wallyworld.

  2. Hurricane Hole was where I had my first meal in Key West, a late dinner following a long-delayed flight. We walked over the bridge and ate on the deck. It made such a nice impression and started my quest to move there. (Still working on that one).