I remember the specific day I lost my love for swimming in anything but a pool. I used to be a fish in the water, literally. As a child I loved to swim anywhere and everywhere — lakes, rivers, oceans. Then, at about 12 years old, I was at our family's camp in upstate New York. It was a beautiful day and I was playing in the water. Then, I saw "it." A giant snake slithered down the grass and right into the water. I went running out. I did return to the lake, but I swam to the other side of our dock and my foot touched a large snake-like object. I would later learn it was a pipe going to shore. However, my fear of snakes, sharks and anything living and moving in the water meant years of staying out of the lakes — and definitely out of the ocean.
Now, decades later, I find myself in Key West for my first visit. I was worried. There are so many great things to do in this wonderful place, but the some of the best activities are centered around the water. After some hesitation, I decided that an all-day sailing adventure — and ventured off on the BluQ.
The BluQ provides an amazing all-day aventure. First, the sails went up for a beautiful sail in 75 degree weather. The water around Key West is a beautiful blue-green — and you can see right to the bottom in many parts. After sailing and some banter with the welcoming crew and captain, we recieved a lesson in snorkeling. Yes, snorkeling. This meant not only would I be swimming off a boat in the ocean waters, but I would be gearing up to take a look at marine life just below my feet.
I asked many of my friends and some of the locals about sharks. I was told by some they lived here for years and never saw a one. Others said they are around, but they are harmless and scared of humans. I was still a bit terrified despite the reassurance.
The water was a "cool" 73 degrees to the locals. Being from the Northeast ocean waters of 73 is like a bath! As soon as I hit the water I was able to quickly become comfortable and master the snorkel gear. We headed off for the nearby Mangrove Reef. There were many types of fish just feet away — including some striking blue fish, and some yellow and black striped fish.
As we swam, several folks starting looking at "something." The something kept coming near me. I then realized I was swimming with the sharks — and I don't mean the business-kind back home in Philly. There was a four-foot Baracuda swimming around. My fear all of the sudden left and I soon would be trailing the shark with my underwater camera. Apparently a good photo opportunity for Facebook can cure your fears any day!
After the snorkeling adventure, we learned to kayak. I had never kayaked before and I thought it looked easy. It was quite a workout going against the tide coming from around Mangrove Island. Once reaching the island, we traveled through series of Mangrove threes with their intertwined roots.
After an afternoon of high adventure, we set sail again and enjoyed the great warm breeze and some sunbathing. In between the day's activities were fresh fruit, cookies and a delicious lunch. The captain tried out a new recipe on us — and the chicken, pesto, sun dried tomato sandwiches definitely hit the spot.
I brought an underwater camera to shoot the whole adventure. Once the pictures are developed, I will post them here and on Facebook. For now, enjoy the few shots from my phone and camera. And when you travel to Key West, make sure to set sail on the BluQ for a day you won't soon forget.