Trying to make ends meet in Key West

We’re making this up as we go along…

Makara in Key West

As you know, we are done with the major repairs on the boat. We have moved into a marina at great expense so that we can enjoy lots of water and air conditioning onboard. The credit card bills for all of the upgrade equipment have come due. The reality of the cost of living here in such a popular and beautiful place is currently upon us. We recently discovered that our original plan of renting rooms on AirBnB to pay for everything had a major flaw in it.

no airbnb

Since we are technically in a slip that is deemed by the city-owned marina as “transient” and not “commercial” it is a violation of city code to accept any payment for use of the boat while in this location. We were reported by another charter boat in the area for having an AirBnB listing. We are lucky that we didn’t get kicked out of the marina or fined for it. We had a discussion with the Marina Manager and have come to an understanding. No more earning money from this slip, which is fair. So, we have removed the boat’s listing. So much for making extra money that way. The Mexican vacation rentals are doing well, however, it is going to be slow season from September through November down there.

pile of paperworkGetting a commercial slip and trying to pay for it with charters requires a business license and a captain’s license. We don’t have either right now. We heard there is a very long waiting list (as much as 10 years and possibly longer) for those coveted commercial slips here in the Historic Seaport. We weren’t planning to stay in the area past January anyway. We don’t want to leave Key West in order to find a commercial slip in some other part of the Keys or Florida, so that’s not going to happen either.

It’s time to find a job around here.


Lindsay has been hired by Diver’s Direct in a retail position. That will definitely help her with something to do during the day, but it’s not going to pay her very much. In fact, if all we had was here paycheck, it wouldn’t even pay for the monthly slip rent. It would take about three weeks worth of pay to have your own apartment down here, but that’s another story. Being employed is a move in the right direction and will open her up to new contacts and opportunities around town. It also comes with free scuba diving trips. That’s a nice perk. She is also volunteering with the SPCA, which might help with networking, but it’s more about being around dogs, which makes her happy!

USCG Master Expired

I want to work as an “on-call” Captain on a local charter boat, but my USCG license expired. I missed the chance of an easy renewal process when that happened. I am in the process of taking the required classroom courses all over again. Luckily I can do that online. The next examination date was June 18th, so I got that out of the way. I had over 60 hours of study to get through before I could take the exams. So now it’s another situation of waiting.  The application process is supposed to take about a month before I get my document, so hopefully it will show up soon. I need that document before I can even ask to be hired to drive a boat around here. I should have started months ago!

waterfront brewery

My other idea to make money was to find a way into the Waterfront Brewery and prove my worth somehow. I have been networking for a couple weeks to carefully and ask the right people about volunteering there. The commute would be easy, since It is located at the head of our dock, a couple hundred feet away. It sounded like a fun idea and certainly would be convenient.

A couple of months ago, at a bar, my friend Mary Jo pointed out one of the partners of the brewery, Chris. I introduced myself to him and chatted back and forth with him for a couple of minutes. After emailing him and pitching the idea of volunteering, he immediately forwarded my info to the head Brewmaster, Justin, which was very cool of him. Unfortunately, Justin told me that volunteers are not allowed for liability reasons. He did tell me that he wasn’t busy today and to stop by to meet him. I just got back from that meeting. He mentioned that they are getting ready to expand the brewery with some more fermentation tanks in about 3 months. He recommended that I apply for work in the brewery / restaurant so that when the tanks come, he might need help in the brewery. The transition into the brewery would be easier if I was already employed there. I just filled out my first job application in many, many years. That was weird. We’ll see what happens!

So for us, it’s all about networking and persistently seeking out new opportunities. Staying positive also helps!