Two Floridians invited two sun-starved Connecticut girls to a weekend in the Florida Keys, and they were kind enough to humor us when we wanted to spend every single secondoutdoors in weather that the locals viewed as subarctic. What ensued? Girls (Boat) Trip, of course.
First, we found rental boat. The conditions weren’t ideal, and the boat’s owner was incredulous, “Are you sure you want to go boating today?”
I didn’t hesitate. “Temps in the 50s? Two foot waves? Yes!! I’ll be captain.” After boating in the late fall in Connecticut, I felt right at home.
I promised to bring the boat back in one piece . . . more on that later.
Before long, we found ourselves surrounded by beauty: bright blue water, seabirds wading along the shores, mangroves, and . . . toilet seats. That’s not a typo. We had found toilet seat cut, a dredged channel near Islamorada, marked by imaginatively decorated toilet seats hanging from poles. Apparently, locals with a sense of humor have been decorating the channel for over fifty years, and now it’s quite the tourist attraction (See http://www.allatsea.net/how-toilet-seat-cut-in-islamorada-came-to-be/). After clearing the cut, we cruised through mangrove-lined Tavernier Creek to the Atlantic side of the Keys before heading south toward Snake Creek, which would take us back to the Gulf side.
I must say that learning to boat on Carefree’s late-model Chaparral Suncoast 250s has spoiled me. After spending last summer on big boats with ample horsepower and stainless steel props, driving a 19’ boat with a 115-horsepower engine felt like trading in the Corvette for a golf cart. Then, a gauge started beeping and flashing “low battery,” the Bluetooth cut out, and the GPS started turning off and on, off and on. As we headed into Snake Creek, the engine sputtered and stopped. We were dead in the water.
Luckily, we ended up with a tow-boat, not a rowboat—they promptly came out to get us and, after an unsuccessful attempted jump-start, we were towed back to the dock. We had a cooler, snacks, and more time on the water, so all was well as we kicked back with a few drinks during the ride home.
Great seafood was another highlight of our trip. We ate at Marker 88, which is right on the water and features live music and seafood. Back in Ft. Lauderdale, I gorged on delicious stone crab claws, a Floridian wintertime delicacy, at Catfish Deweys. It wasn’t quite Girls Trip—there certainly weren’t any escapades involving zip lines or citrus fruit—but we had a blast. Boating & seafood & island hopping in a shiny white Mustang convertible was a welcome respite from the cold.