Day 9-Feb. 9, 2018
We slept in the next day, as the 8.5 hours of sailing we had done yesterday had sapped us of our energy. When we awoke, the day was bright, but still incredibly windy, so we decided to make it a work day. Matt tinkered away with improving and cleaning the boat while I did my best to work on our videos and catch up on our blog. The best part of the day came when we were visited by a giant Sea Turtle, who slowly swam directly under our boat, chomping happily at the sea grass growing beneath.
Though we were still tired, we had also become incredibly stir-crazy, as it had been four days since we had set foot on land of any kind. We decided to start by taking a quick dinghy ride to a small mangrove rookery island, called Bamboo Key, located just about a half mile from our boat. Just as the sky began to take on an orange hue, we set off. Though there seemed to be no place to walk around, the key was lined with hundreds, possibly thousands, of birds settling in to roost. Cormorants, Ibis and Brown Pelicans sat on every branch and twig. The sounds of their honks and grunts traveled far across the water. As we motored past, we apparently got a little too close and the whole group took flight in one enormous burst of splashing feet and wings. When they flew, they flew as a huge group, making an elegant black mass that seemed to dance along the water.
From there, we headed for a beach nestled in the trees of Curry Hammock State Park. This small beach jutted out like a notch from the trail. Its tiny, mangrove laden cove lined a deep, blue hole that stood out in contrast among the shallow sea grasses that surrounded it. The beach itself seemed to be a shelf of rock, that suddenly dropped off into the deep, blue hole, making for a questionable ride in the semi-darkness. The nature trail that meandered into the brush beyond the beach is a small divergence along the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail. A 106 mile trail that runs along the entirety of the keys, following highway 1, from Key Largo to Key West. It's a bit patchy in places, but most of it is paved and popular with travelers looking for an alternative way to enjoy the keys besides seeing it from a drivers seat. For Matt and I, it made for a convenient way to walk and regain our land legs. Since it was nearing dark, we didn't spend long exploring the trail, but nonetheless enjoyed what the night brought to the keys. In this case, it was mostly fireflies, which danced along the trail and made our small patch of wilderness seem magical. It made for a nice transition after leaving the natural beauty and serenity of the 10,000 Islands.