In 1948 a movie was made in the Florida Keys, staring Humphrey Bogart and Loren Bacall, called Key Largo. They say the two fell in love while filming in the Keys and songs have been written about their love affair. Once you walk on the beaches of Key Largo, you too will understand.
As I sat in my seat and looked out the plane’s window, I wondered what I would find in this place of romance, a destination I had yet to visit. We finally landed in Ft. Lauderdale, rented a car and started our 2 hour drive to the first island of the Florida Keys. Shelia and I reserved a waterfront cottage that I found online, recommended by my sailing club in Oxnard. The place…Key Lime Sailing Club, now this wasn’t a 5 Star resort nor was it a Hilton, but for Shelia and I, it was much more.
Once we arrived in Key Largo, we were to look for a landmark on the side of the road and turn down a dirt driveway. Just my kind of place, off the beaten path. We were greeted by the manager, Gloria, who made us feel right at home. She provided a tour of the resort, the “toys” and finally to our cottage the “Sailfish”. It was perfect, fully equipped with a kitchenette, private outdoor shower with six power heads (FUN), our own tiki hut, bbq, hammocks and water just steps away. The Sailfish cottage was very secluded and closest to the docks which supplied our toys for the week. What a view! This hideaway resort has it all, sailboats, paddle boats, kayaks, canoes, snorkeling gear, fishing poles and much more for your unlimited use, all included in the cost of your room.
To my surprise, Shelia made arrangements with the owner of Key Lime Sailing Club, Paul who provided a guitar. Our first night we sat under our tiki hut and I romanced my sweet bride-to-be with songs of romance and the islands. I tried my best to sing Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville” and “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere”, but for some unknown reason, it sounded more like Merle Haggard.
The next morning we were up at the crack of 10:00 am (HA). We couldn’t wait to go sailing! Shelia packed a picnic basket and an ice chest full of cold drinks while I met with our Host. Paul meets with everyone who plans to sail so he can quiz them on their knowledge and sailing experience before letting them out on the water. He is all about safety and wants to make sure you have the best time sailing. If you have never sailed or not too sure of yourself, Paul has great Captains on staff to give you sailing lessons. In just a short time, you will feel like your an OL’Salt!
I had sent ahead my resume of my sailing experience, so Paul and I had a short meeting, he provided charts and shared the best places to sail. I picked an island off shore about 10 miles and Paul said we would have the whole island to ourselves. This sounded like the perfect place for us! We loaded our 22ft Catalina, dropped the dock lines, hoisted our sails and we were off.
It wasn’t long and I had Shelia sailing like a seasoned sailor! As we sailed through the clear waters of the Keys, headed to our own private island, we both were giggling like kids at Disneyland for the first time! Just when we thought that it couldn’t get any better, a pod of Dolphins began to swim around us. Shelia grabbed her camera and began snapping away.
After about 20 min of watching these beautiful creatures, we continued onto our island.
What we found on our island was white sandy beaches and lots, and lots, of romance. As I looked at the beauty around us, I decided that this must have been Gods creation on his good day.
It was near the end of November, the weather was 88 degrees and the water 75 degrees, perfect! What more could you ask for? It was so different from the cold waters off the coast of California. Shelia and I spent more time in the water than on the beach.
After a day of frolicking and pretending I was Black Beard the Pirate searching for booty, (Arrrggg)…… we hoisted our sails and set our course for the little pink cottage on the beach. We looked forward to a romantic sunset dinner, a warm fire, and a bottle of wine to end a wonderful day.
We planned our next day of sailing as we sipped wine and watched the fire from the white sandy beach outside our cottage. Maybe we would sail to another island and take a mineral mud bath, or sail to the mangroves (hundreds of miles of overgrown waterways) and explore by kayaks or canoe. As we talked about our adventures of the day and the adventures to come over the next few days, I couldn’t help but think how much I was in love with this woman. She was (is) my best friend and in just a few days on a beach in Key West, she would become my Wife (stay tuned for that story).