Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jewfish Creek Boaters

I came across this article in the I hope they keep the old feel of the Keys. We quite often launch our boat out of Gilbets and/or Marley's so we see these guys all the time.

"Jewfish Creek Boaters
Free Press Staff
KEY LARGO — The boat anchorage on the west side of Jewfish Creek is a mixed bag of boating vacationers, a source of local affordable housing and a quick stopover for world travelers.
More than that, it is a close-knit community that offers the freedom of being able to move on at will.
But leaving is the last thing some of the 30 or so live-aboards have in mind. Besides being a safe hurricane hole, the proximity of welcoming resorts on both sides of the creek, where dinghy dockage and warm showers are available at a nominal cost, make it that much more attractive to boaters.

The Anchorage Resort and Yacht Club sits on the south bank of Jewfish Creek, near the boat anchorage behind it. The resort's president, Robert Cummings, says the only complaint he hears from tenants is about whirring of generators, an energy source for several of the anchored boats.
The owners of Gilberts Resort on the north side and Marley's Bayside Grill Restaurant on the south side of the creek provide boat slips, showers and a parking space for those living on the hook. Slips at Marleys cost $140 a month.
Reinhard Schaupp and his wife Karina are the owners. He says they want to cultivate the seafaring tradition.
"Live-aboards are what the Keys are all about," he said. "We are building a new resort, but we want to keep the old Keys style. This is what people come here for."
In the morning shadow of the 65-foot-high Jewfish Creek Bridge, boats swing on their anchors as the aroma of coffee fills the air, followed by workers rowing or motoring their dinghies ashore.
Kim and Georgette Duncan live aboard a 55-foot Cross trimaran sailboat, "Calypso Poet." The 50-something couple owns and operates a custom marine canvas and sail repair shop located at mile marker 103.
"This is a safe anchorage," Georgette said. "The mangroves in Key Largo make excellent hurricane holes."
They gather with other boaters and land friends at the outdoor bar at Gilberts, even though Kim, an electronics whiz, has given up alcohol.
"This is a great bar and restaurant," Kim said. "The fishing is great and this is a great spot to run into your old sailing friends."
Georgette describes the area as a "thoroughfare for boaters" who stop here on their way to the Bahamas and elsewhere.
They have befriended a retired couple with homes in Baja, Mexico, and on the shores of Lake Sinclair in Georgia.
George and Karen Musson are spending a second winter on their modern houseboat in a private slip at Gilberts. George is a retired corporate executive and Karen is a published novelist.
On a recent late afternoon they head for their boat with cocktails in hand.
"We love it here at Gilberts," George said.
"It's so relaxed here. It's so 'on,'" Karen added. "The neighbors are wonderful. People are so helpful."
Like many of the boating residents here — whether on the hook or snugged into a private boat slip — they do a lot of fishing.
"We had been having our lines snapped by big fish so we upgraded from 12-pound test to 40-pound test line," George said while relaxing on the fantail of their houseboat. "We had no idea what kind of fish we had been missing, when, lo and behold, she caught a big tarpon."
Karen said she loves being in the Keys.
"I wish the year was longer, so we could spend more time here," she said.
George was mildly surprised by the local live-aboard demographic.
"There's still a lot of hippies down here," he said.
Maybe he was referring to Brian Taylor, a 40-ish refugee from Bloomington, Ill. Taylor lives in a rented houseboat out on the hook. One evening last week, he was enjoying a few sunset beers with a knot of men at the end of the dock.
"Where else can you live and be so close to nature?" he offered.
Indeed, that's a main attraction for most boaters here.
"I have a swimming pool around me and I don't have to cut the lawn," said retired railroad engineer Mike Gallagher. The Green Bay native lives aboard an anchored 38-foot 1965 Chris Craft motor yacht. "The sunset is right there in my backyard."
Gallagher has spent 10 years on the hook. His biggest concern is the careless — and often clueless — boater who anchors improperly or roars through the anchorage. He told of one boater who had no previous boating experience when he cruised into the anchorage a few months back.
"I questioned him when he threw out a small anchor. It didn't look like it would hold in any wind. He told me that he knew what he was doing and to mind my own business," Gallagher recalled. "That night he slipped anchor and drifted into the mangroves. I had to knock on his hull to wake him."

Lisa Lardinos, 47, a Wisconsin native who has lived in the mountains of Montana and Wyoming, resides in a houseboat named, "Little House on the Water." Even though she has lived on the water for almost three years, she says she still can't sleep through the night.
"I can't seem to sleep for more than two hours at a time," she said. "I don't worry about my boat. I worry about someone crashing into me in the night, and there are so many abandoned boats out there."
She also complains about boaters who race through Jewfish Creek.
"There should be more boater education," Lardinos said. "People rip through here and throw a wake. They don't seem to understand what they're doing."
But she is adapting to her home at sea level.
"I have no mortgage, and if I don't like my neighbors I can move," she said. "When I was in the mountains I had the same feeling of freedom. They are both wide open, beautiful and there's plenty of space between neighbors."
Boat dwellers must have an independent streak, Lardinos said.
"You're 100 percent self-reliant living on the hook," she said. "If your electricity goes out, you can't call Florida Power & Light. If you don't have water, you can't call the Aqueduct."
But it is a lifestyle she loves.
"It's the most beautiful thing you can imagine walking up in the morning," she said. "It's peaceful, quiet and serene. The only thing I'd change would be to put a few mountains over by the sunset."
The Duncans agree that living at anchorage is special.
"We meet a lot of people here. Boating people are the most considerate," Georgette said.
"It's a humble life," added husband Kim. "

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