Fun With Water Toys

Trip Start Jan 15, 2009
Trip End Jan 28, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another early wake-up today as we have a full day of playing in the sun and water planned for ourselves. So the sunscreen got slathered on, we gathered up towels and camera and drove towards Mallory Square to hunt for one of the few precious free parking spots. We managed to snag one 3 blocks from the Square and hoofed it to the Sebago ticket booth where we got checked in for our next adventure.

Again, through ShoreTrips we booked the "Empowered in Key West" excursion operated by Sebago Watersports, 6 hours long, that included a catamaran sail, 1 hour snorkel stop, buffet lunch and water toy playtime - kayak, wave runner and parasail. What an awesome time we had!

We first sailed around the south point of the island to a coral marine sanctuary about 5 miles offshore for some snorkeling. The crew members did an awesome job of carefully instructing us on how to snorkel, to respect the fragile coral reef, what to expect, and mostly to relax and have fun. This was my 2nd attempt at snorkeling and I was determined to do better despite the waves, knowing the bottom was 10' down, and tucking away the tidbit that we may see jellyfish and sharks. Doh! And I keep hearing my Dad say "You...snorkel? You hated swimming lessons!"

So the catamaran took off and sailed around to the east side of Key West out about 12 miles and it was a beautiful day. I donned my life vest, flippers, fitted the mask and sat shivering along the front of the catamaran watching while the first brave soul slowly inch her way down the ladder to the chilly waves splashing up. There were plenty of shrieks and a few would-be snorkelers decided the water was too cold. I was starting to second guess myself but decided it was now or never. So I scooched down the ladder on my bottom as instructed, one rung at a time while the cold waves slapped me. Fighting the urge to climb back onboard, I eased myself in and grabbed one of the swimmers lines to get myself psyched up. After a few minutes of calm breathing and my mantra "You can do this -- just relax and float -- nothing to it", I let go and floated away. Hey! This wasn't too bad: relax, float, do a little scissor kick, let the arms dangle, and stick my face in the water.

Yep, there was some coral on the bottom waaay down there. I saw a few fish swim by. Every so often I'd look up to get a fix on where I was only to find the current had carried me out too far so I struggled to swim against the waves to get back to the appointed area under the watchful eye of the crew. Twice I heard "Snorkler, you're too far", only to be dismayed they meant me! At least I could be comforted by the fact that they wouldn't let me drift out to open ocean and end up on the shores of Cuba or something!

Too soon it was "Snorklers, come in" so I sawm back and scooched backwards up the ladder. Talk about cold! The wind raised all kinds of goosebumps on me as I wrapped up in my towel and huddled on a bench in the corner of the catamaran. Other snorkelers had better luck at seeing marine life than I did. I heard tales of a nurse shark and eel sightings. I had snapped a few photos underwater but they're not that exciting. Before our trip I had purchased an underwater bag to protect my camera and it worked great. Dicapac is the brand name and they sell different sizes for most camera types. For the $30 investment it was well worth it and it even protected my camera from the dust and mud on our ATV tour.

Back on the catamaran, we sailed to a spot about 2 1/2 miles northwest of the island and tied up to a barge for the water toy part of the day. Eight of us boarded the parasail boat and wouldn't you know...John & I were the first "volunteers" to go up. It was probably a good thing we were first as we didn't really know what to expect and what would happen. We each got hooked up in a harness, the colorful sail was unfurled and before I knew it we were sitting on our butts at the back edge of the boat hooked up to the sail. Suddenly the sail filled up, the line let out and we were yanked off the boat with a shriek. What a blast! The sail lifted us high but soon we found ourselves up to our knees in the cold salty water as the boat's captain dipped our "toes" in the water. In an instant we were sailing high again and the boat was far below us. All too soon we came floating back to the boat and passed the harnesses on to the next two thrill-seekers. Have I mentioned it was a blast? Even though I took some pictures as we were flying, I bought the CD of photos taken of us by the crew member just so I could prove we really did it.

The day passed quickly, our water play time was over and the captain set sail for Key West harbor. We were plenty worn out but with big smiles on our faces as we drove back to our home-away-from-home and called it a day.
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