Let’s take a break from passed out whores and drunken landlords shall we? And move on to other things happening here at the end of the world.
Yesterday I paid a visit to Kayak Kings for some much needed updates to the websites. When I got there, namely to Cow Key Marina, the place had been completely closed. Last month the marina was shut down by the owners and the manager who had run the place for a long time was forced to abdicate and sell off all his assets. Now the entire marina is deserted. No store, no bait, no fuel, and no use of the boat ramp. Kayak Kings remains in a holding pattern whilst new management continues negotiations to renovate or rebuild the marina.
BTW, if you are looking to book a trip with Kayak Kings, Off The Beaten Path Key West, or reserve a few nights on the house boat Free Spirit (not be confused with my old sailboat of the same name), give them a call at 305-896-9006 before you book anything. They are trying to work around the delay as best as they can and will do their best to help you get out on the water. Be patient. Good things are coming later.
Anyways, it’s a damn shame to see the old marina not being used. I’m sure the new people will put up something all fancy and shiny but it’s going to take a long time. They’ve already lost lobster season. And with the closing of the boat ramp, that leaves just two public ramps left in the Key West area: The ramp off 11th Street and Flagler, and the ramp out on US 1 as you come onto Stock Island. Neither are in particularly good shape nor do they have sufficient parking. And if you use the ramp at 11th Street be aware you will need to pass under a fairly low bridge where South Roosevelt Avenue crosses Rivera Canal. Check your charts for clearance.
In fact, all the marinas on Stock Island south of US 1 have been going through major changes as mentioned in this article in the Keynoter. There was the renovation and rebuild over at Stock Island Marina Village, then of course HWSNBN and his bullshit at my old marina, whom I will not sully this blog with a link because fuck him. Now, Cow Key Marina, and there will be more to follow.
All these changes, as mentioned in the article, and rumored throughout the boating community, have come about because of Cuba. Now that we are BFF’s with the commies to the south, everyone will be coming here as a jumping off point to sail, fly, or teleport down there just as soon as McDonalds and wallymart can put some stores in. If the people of Cuba thought the Castro regime was oppressive, wait until they get a load of life under the ‘murican corporate warlords. It ain’t gonna be pretty.
Back to Stock Island though. The island itself could use some cleaning up. Everything to the north of US 1 is part of the city of Key West. Everything to the south is county. Said south part right now is a mess. Dirty and run down neighborhoods, beat up old trailers and buildings, and lotsa crime. I lived out there ever since I moved here up until I sold the boat and moved into the luxury residence I have now. It was a pain in the ass to get anywhere as you had to go 3 miles into town to the nearest grocerteria. There are a few small stores out there but a run to the store involved a couple long bus rides or a dangerous bike ride. It’s one thing I don’t miss.
You could see the developers licking their chops at the thought of picking up all the relatively cheap land out there. Since they are out of the city all they have to deal with is the county when it comes time to bribe, bamboozle, and bullshit officials for building permits and other sexual favors. Development is going full speed ahead out there and nothing will stop it.
From the boating community point of view, which nobody gives a Norwegian rodent’s posterior about, except the boating community, all this redevelopment means less access to the waters around Key West, fewer available slips, and forget about live aboards. It’s off to the mooring field for them. Unless you have money. Lots and lots of money. All this marina redevelopment is being catered to the high end yacht owners, not the worthless great unwashed. We who are unworthy, are unwelcome.
It’s a damn shame to see an island so dependent on said boating community to turn it’s back on them. Ever since I came here it seems to be getting harder and harder to do any proper boating here. Ramps, slips, fuel docks, supplies, and options for repairs just seem to be getting more and more difficult to find. The waters around the Keys are absolutely ideal for small boaters. Shallow, relatively safe in rough weather, with lot’s of places to explore, dive, fish, and enjoy. It’s the getting to said waters which seems to be getting taken away in favor or corporate interests and those with money. The small boating industry has poured a lot of said money into the economy down here but it doesn’t seem to matter anymore.
Well, nothing I can do about it except bitch, which I’m pretty good at. As Cuba opens it will be a whole new look around here. Expect to see more bigger ferries, yachts capable of making the 90 mile crossing of the Florida Straits, and all the support those vessels will need. Those with the small vessels will be relegated to the mooring fields, transient slips, or pushed back up the island chain to Marathon and beyond. It’s a way of life which is quickly disappearing.