The wind will shut off, stranger still you may even want to do something other than kite, maybe. Anyway, there are lots of options to pursue in the Keys. There's a new Keys Cable Park in Marathon, plan to do a write up on that soon. Also, there is a new boat tow hang gliding operation right in Whale Harbor, Islamorada. Was planning on shooting the boat tow operation today but put it off for better photo conditions.
Anyway, what else can you do down there? A good deal more than shows up in this article, these are just few ideas.
We decided to pack up the family and spend a couple of days in Islamorada recently. There was no wind, so I didn't even bring any kite gear. We were planning on boating on Saturday and kayaking on Sunday. I got in touch with long time friend Brad Lange of Islamorada Watersports and Sevensports about renting a boat. We hit the wreck of Eagle in 110 ft., Alligator Lighthouse, Conch Reef and an underwater habitat and Hen and Chicken's Reef by boat on Saturday. Then went out to the ghost town on Indian Key by kayak the next day to see what a major Indian raid and a lot of hurricanes left behind.
Whale Harbor home of the Islamorada Watersports Company in Islamorada, FL.
Brad set us up with a great 21 ft. Carolina skiff (above) rated for up to 16 passengers. I checked they actually say 16?! I figured with three of us including an active 2 year old baby girl (BG) and my eight month pregnant wife we should be well set up. Brad has a nice selection of open fishermen, pontoon boats, a ton of wave runners as well in rental from several locations on the island. You can find out more on his website but he offers water fun out the wazoo via:Boat Rentals and Charters
Private Fishing Charters on the Genesis
Snorkling, Waverunners Rentals / Tours
Kiteboarding Lessons and Camps
Wakeboarding Lessons and Camps
StandUp Paddleboarding Rentals / Tours
Kayak Rentals and Tours
Brad Lange and crew by our able vessel
Brad has organized a bunch of kiting competitions in Islamorada going as far back at 2002. Toby even made on in 2003 if memory serves. You'll find photo coverage of all of them on kiteforum. Shown above is part of the free style competition in 2009.
Whale Harbor the location of Islamorada Watersports Company and kite beach in Islamorada at Mile Marker 84 just over the bridge.
More rental vessels by the fuel dock. Brad can have boats delivered to local docks upon request. He has operations throughout the island.
Years of great times in Islamorada thanks to Sevensports and a lot of fun competitions.
For the first stop of the day I decided to go free diving on the Eagle, an artificial reef sunk in 110 ft. of water to the south.
It was easy to get around and find far flung spots from long and lat coordinates using my iPhone and a great ap, Navionics. It allows easy navigation and consumes little power too. It is a good idea to keep a weather eye out for shallows and carry a paper chart too. So many vessels have struck in these waters after all, from small craft to large ships going back centuries.
I was scooter free diving on the wreck. Unfortunately visibility was pretty low at around 30 to 40 ft.. It is a lot easier to drop on these things when you can see them from the surface. Helps the quality of the photography too, still you take what you can get. Don't attempt scooter free diving without proper free diving training, skill development and procedures. The SCUBA diving is pretty good throughout spots in the Keys along with shallower free diving, so still more options.
Passing through the break in the hull caused by a hurricane as shown in the figure above. There was a nice sized goliath grouper hanging around in the gap. The vessel although sunk as an artificial reef, ended up on its side.
I came up on a large goliath grouper tail first on the other side of the hole. It must use it as a bolt hole. For whatever reason I surprised it, creating one very pissed off jewfish. It popped its swim bladder twice and shook its head pretty vigorously.
Coming out the other side at around 100 ft. staring at the annoyed big fish. The really big ones supposedly have vacuumed up the odd diver. The parable of Jonah may have in fact dealt with such a gastric encounter by some interpretations.
A Goliath Grouper or Jewfish encountered in the Minnow Caves off Key Largo a while back. This fellow was docile despite being in a confined space with me in a cave.
Now we run south to anchor off the Alligator Reef Lighthouse. The lighthouse has marked shallows for the Florida Reef Tract four miles offshore to shipping since 1873. The light is 136 ft. high in sand covered rocky shallows.
A shot from the kite at last year's Pryde Group Americas dealer meeting in Islamorada. More from that excellent event at: http://www.fksa.org/showthread.php?t=10782
It contains an accommodation section for the lighthouse crew prior to 1963 when the light was automated. Who is up for weathering a Cat 5 hurricane in that white iron sardine box for personnel on this baby?
Anchoring up near the lighthouse, momma and baby go into to cool off.
I decided to checkout the area beneath the lighthouse. Tons of old iron pipes used in the structure of the lighthouse have been dropped there. I understand there used to be a bunch of old batteries down there too, no longer however.CONTINUED HERE