Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Newfound Harbor Living Aboard

If in your walks along the shore of a particular Key you come across a small inoffensive dinghy lashed to a rock or a root you might be in the presence of the elusive back country liveaboard.The back country liveaboard is a reclusive mammal, sidling on the fringes of society, though frequently not discernible as that different to the unsuspecting eye. A dog walk on the shore may reveal boats at anchor on the horizon but that doesn't necessarily mean human liveaboards are in the vicinity. Frequently mistaken for bums or moochers liveaboards are a hardy self reliant species, so much so they usually avoid regimented life ashore and revel in the hardships of life afloat that less sturdy creatures feel they cannot do without. However poverty is frequently one component of life afloat and as such the craft used as homes frequently lack style and amenity.The thing is, the inshore waters of the Florida Keys are not terribly rough as a general rule, the temperatures are mild year round and the occasional hurricane can be ignored until the very last minute. If one's home is wrecked the loss need not be insurmountable as more such craft are to be found all over the place, some would say unfortunately.
It's important to note that a person who lives on a boat at anchor, on an official mooring or in a marina may very well not be an actual mariner. The act of living afloat does not of itself confer the ability to move the vessel from one place to another, and in fact a vessel used as a home normally becomes a stagnant hole in the water as immobile as a mangrove. And it is not completely surprising to find that many of these vessel actually lack any form of propulsion, such that if they do need to move they are unable. Admiral Lord Nelson is said to have remarked that "men and ships rot in port," advocating an active life under sail for both.
It became a problem too that boats left at anchor in this bay broke loose and sailboats, pushed into the overhead wires at the head of Newfound Harbor had a tendency to short out electrical current between Big Pine and Key West, the mast's tapping plunging the Lower keys into momentary darkness. So much so they have banned sailboats from anchoring in this area.

I suppose any one who has not joined the tribe for any length of time might think it romantic to live thus, that view may be tempered the next time a storm blows through with wind and rain and visibility next to nothing and waves smashing the beach and that would be the time one has to row ashore and get in the car or on the bicycle to get to work.


Garythetourist said...

Wow...what a great essay. Great photog., great text. Good job. Thank you.

RichardM said...

Hmmm. I've always thought that there was a time limit and a fee for staying at a mooring. Maybe it was just at the places I've stayed (someone else owned the boat).

Interesting post....

Conchscooter said...

Key West and Marathon provide city moorings for less then $300 I think.
Anchoring out is free except you have to figure where you can land. Where you dump your trash (conscientiously) and where you can pick up water and carry it back to your boat.

Chuck and the Pheebs said...

Ahh - the Key West hovelcrafts.

I especially like Fat Bald Naked Guy (FBNG) living on the sunken houseboat sans windows in Cow Key Channel.

It's fun to take someone kayaking past this sight; make a comment about the boat, and FBNG appears magically on cue.

Conchscooter said...

They are a hardy bunch in Big Pine.