There is no rush to weigh anchor this mornning. Our destination is Tavernier, located at the southern tip of Key Largo, a scant seven miles south of our anchorage at Rodriquez Key. We will dock Cutter Loose on a residential canal in Tavernier abutting the home of friends Brian and Joyce. Our arrival coincides with high tide. At the dock, we are greeted by Brendan, Stephan, Lance and Sarah who catch our docklines. We are promptly bestowed with gifts of fresh yellowtail and tuna filets, the results of yesterday’s fishing expedition.
While Brendan and friends return to the reef for more fishing and snorkeling, we settle in to our new surroundings. This neighborhood is a weekend destination for folks whose primary residence is located in or near Miami. People come to their homes in the Keys to escape the City. They fish the reefs by day. In the afternoon and evenings, they relax and party. The canal is the focal point of the neighborhood. Nearly every home is equipped with center console fishing boats docked on the canal. Neighbors meet and greet one another in the yards that abut the canal. Returning fishermen clean and filet their catch alongside their docks. There is commraderie amongst neighbors. Most of the residents are Hispanic. They barely notice that we are here.
The first thing we learn about our new surroundings is that there will be no need to use the stereo system aboard Cutter Loose during our stay. Music here is provided free of charge by neighborhood residents. One resident in particular seems to have been designated as the neighborhood DJ. His stereo system has sufficient power to entertain the entire canal. Frequently, neighbors express their support and appreciation for the Dj’s musical selections. But at other times, certain neighbors try in vain to compete with the DJ. Musical selections range from salsa to reggae to hip hop.
In truth, the DJ is not really a professional DJ. The home diagonally across the canal with the powerful stereo is the scene of a large family gathering where music and dancing are part of the celebration.
At dusk, the home fishing team returns with the catch of the day. They prepare a meal of fresh yellowtail with braised bok choy, the surplus of which is shared with and gratefully accepted by the crew of Cutter Loose. It is comforting to be nourished by these considerate young fish mongers here in Little Havana. We will remain in Tavernier for a few days to explore Key Largo.