2019-03-15 / Travel

A Wild Senior Trip

Part 8: Islamorada
By Warner M. Montgomery, Ph.D.

Ernest Hemingway, second from left, caught this record marlin off Islamorada in 1934. This picture was nailed on the wall in our motel room.Ernest Hemingway, second from left, caught this record marlin off Islamorada in 1934. This picture was nailed on the wall in our motel room.
It was a fast sail down the Florida Keys. And, silent, too. All four of us were too embarrassed to say anything.

At Islamorada, a sandbar-like island, Captain Tigner announced to his crew of weary sailors, “Swabbies, this is far enough. Let’s find a cheap motel and go fishing.”

Captain Tigner, an experienced angler, knew Islamorada was a fisherman’s paradise. The Gulf Stream flows close to shore creating a trash line where large game fish take shelter from sharks and rough weather. Sailfish, marlin, tarpon, bonefish, and tuna can be caught using normal tackle from a small boat.

Lee yearned to catch a prize sailfish. Kelly and Alex needed to make- up lost sleep. I hoped to meet Ernest Hemingway who once lived there. At dusk, we tied up our boat at a motel and got a room with four beds and a frig for $ 15 a night. Four attractive girls on the beach flirted with us, but Captain Tigner said, “Ignore them, swabbies. We came to fish not xxxx.”


Four attractive girls on the beach flirted with us. Four attractive girls on the beach flirted with us. None of us, not even Lee, were aware of the shipping lanes, the busiest parts of the sea next to the trash line. This is where ocean-going vessels travel close to the Atlantic coast to capitalize on winds and currents.

Neither did we know that whales and large ships have the right-of-way, and everyone else must stay out of the way. After a ship passes, shipping lanes can be 20 yards wide, 20 feet deep, treacherous enough to sink a 12- foot boat like ours. And if that weren’t enough, modern- day pirates prowl along the trash line waiting to rob small or disabled vessels. The excited sailors from Lake Murray were ignorant of what lay ahead.


We tied up our boat at a motel and got a room with four beds and a frig for $15 a night. We tied up our boat at a motel and got a room with four beds and a frig for $15 a night. Next Week: Dangerous Victory



We sailed from Miami (#1) to Islamorada (#2) hoping to eventually reach Key West (#3) We sailed from Miami (#1) to Islamorada (#2) hoping to eventually reach Key West (#3)

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