The Disney 'Magic'.
Bill Richards anticipated some media being present when we made landfall at Key West. It was a big weekend for the town, as it was the 100th anniversary of Henry Flagler’s arrival in Key West on his recently completed railroad. Crowds and a parade were expected.
I was first off the beach at Boyd’s to get an early start so we could all arrive at about the same time. We were to land on the very west end of Key West, on the beach at Whitehead Spit, and on the grounds of Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. We landed right at the edge of the commercial channel into the port of Key West as the 964-foot, 83,000 ton Disney cruise ship “Magic” made landfall with her 2,700 passengers and 950 crew. The paddle from Stock Island to Key West had been 6.8 miles, making a total for the event of 114.9 miles.
Our landing on the beach at Ft. Zachary Taylor State Park, Key West.
What our group was doing from here varied. Some were taking time in Key West to take part in the festivities, and some were taking boats to the Dry Tortugas. Some, like myself, were determined to be out of town before our hulls got dry or the parade started. I was on the express for Oklahoma. I had registered for two photography courses at the local vocational school, and while I would miss the first class on Monday, I was determined to get home in time for the Wednesday class.
I got Ibi on the canoe cart and hauled her to my Dodge Ram, which had been patiently waiting here for the last week and a half. Once it was loaded, I loaned the canoe cart to Gus so he, Carl and Bill could get their boats off the beach and to the parking lot. Doug Alderson had left his car at Curry Hammock, so we also loaded his kayak on the Ram next to Ibi. There was a quick BBQ lunch, and I got a chance to say ’goodbye’ to a few of the folks. What can you do when you’ve shared an experience with such a large group? I felt quite inadequate in making an adequate farewell, so made my departure from those I could, and just hoped the others would know that I’d hope to see them again somewhere down stream.
As Doug and I pulled through the state park, the parade was forming in the field near the exit. What timing! There was just one more official act. We drove down Whitehead Street to the dead end to photograph the marker that identifies the southern-most point in the continental United States. Then it was pedal to the metal at 20mph as we left Key West. We made a quick stop to deliver Doug and his boat to his car at Curry Hammock State Park, and then it was north again. Doug was gracious enough to give me one of his other books to read to the grandkids, “The Ghostly Ghost Tour of St. Augustine and Other Tales from Florida’s Coast.“ I was trying to arrive back at Joe and Ruth Kliment’s at a reasonable hour in Punta Gorda.