The tide has turned.

Amazing news! For weeks I have been calling dockmasters and searching the internet for a place to keep our boat in the Key West area, without any luck. One of the marinas has actually closed by a developer for construction and another one is kicking people out so they can ask for higher rent from new customers. We were quoted the highest price we’d ever seen from them, and chartering was not allowed. With all of the new boats being driven out and on the search for a place to call home, I was coming up with “no availability” everywhere I looked between Key West and Marathon, which is an hour drive from here. Things were not looking good, so we moved into the City Mooring Field for August. I was serously looking into moving us to Marathon so we could start chartering up there, buy my heart wasn’t in it.

mooring field key west
Pros: Cheap access to Key West and a parking space Cons: Exposed to weather, must run generator for AC, sometimes bouncy and wet ride in dighy, NO CHARTERING ALLOWED, that means no AirBnB either.

After taking someone’s recommendation to walk the docks and ask around, as a last resort Lindsay and I got in the car and drove to a couple of marinas on Stock Island. After being told we didn’t even fit at the first one because are boat is too wide, we drove to the second one called Safe Harbour Marina. we walked around and got a feel for the place. It’s not fancy, quite the opposite and very “Keesie.” You know, driftwood signs, old styrofoam trap bouys string up in the restaurant, shrimp boats, trailor park, old men with ponytails. We’d been there before, but we were not looking at the marina.

hogfish-bar-grill-stock-island-key-west-florida-800x433

 

They describe themselves as being like “Old Key West.” We saw Mel Fisher’s treasure-hunting boat tied to the wall.

Mel Fisher's Treasure Boat

I met the dockmaster and started a conversation with him about how we couldn’t find a slip anywhere. He started thinking and told me to call back in three days, something might be opening up. When I did call him back, he said he knew of a privately-owned slip that he also manages, which is next to his marina on the outside of the basin. Someone just confirmed they were moving out of there and into another spot that opened up today. He didn’t know if our boat would fit but he had another spot for us, however it didn’t have electricity yet. He thought I wouldn’t be interested. I thought “LIKE HELL!” and told him I’d be right there to look at it. We really needed a place to put the boat while we do some travelling in September and October. I really wanted this to work.

Safe Harbour Marina Key West

 

I kind of guessed that we would fit, but couldn’t tell without getting in a small boat and actually measuring it. I told him if we fit we would definitely take it. Then I risked it all by asking about living aboard and doing charters from it. The risk would be that activities like this would be restricted and once he knew our plans, he would not rent to us. He said, “I’ve got people calling me and saying they can’t find a charter boat like yours to take them out snorkeling, you would do great business here.” I almost cried I was so exciting about hearing that. I asked him about availability beyond October, and he just shrugged and said, “yeah, sure.” This was a first-come-first-served boat slip that just opened up hours ago, and I was standing there in front of the dockmaster! We started talking about his vacation home in Costa Rica that he is going to list on AirBnb and he started showing me pictures. We talked about that for half an hour and shared some laughs. What a great landlord he would be! But Lindsay and I knew that had to confirm we fit and sign a contract or it’s going to someone else, he wouldn’t wait long.

Close enough to be called Key West, even though it's on Stock Island. Just a 10 minute drive to Duval Street.
Close enough to be called Key West, even though it’s on Stock Island. Just a 10 minute drive to Duval Street. Lots of fishing charter boats operate out of here.

 

Lindsay and I borrowed a dighy from a friend at a nearby marina and took some line to measure the distance between the newly driven pilings. WE FIT! We drove the dinghy into the marina and found the dockmaster, Dave. We paid our deposit and got a gate key. That’s it, we locked it in!

This is our spot, with a clear, deep channel to the coral reefs and Atlantic Ocean.
This is our spot, with direct access to the coral reefs and Atlantic Ocean.

 

We now have a COMMERCIAL BOAT SLIP starting next month. What a relief!