In 1988, Del Brown, Don Holland and I were crossing the five-mile-wide Boca Grande channel between the Marquesas and Boca Grande Key west of Key West when we were caught in a squall line. The wind increased from 10 to 45 knots in 30 seconds, and we found ourselves struggling to stay afloat and unable to risk moving 3 feet to grab the life preservers. An hour and a half later we reached the far side, and I asked how they both were doing. Del, who had been falling asleep (!) during the last mile, said only “Nice job, captain.” Don, who was still more than little alert, said, “I’m fine, but the comradery is getting a little thin.”
Comradery, indeed, is what is left when you distill the essence of many days on the water. That’s why events like the annual Poontangle in Big Pine Key, Florida, deserve special mention. As host Bob Brown, a former university professor (38 years) and sailing author turned Keys landmark puts it: “Friday is the official ‘happy hour,’ but folks get happy before that. Jim Johnson’s wife makes what her husband calls Roadkill Stew. It doesn’t sound like a summer happy hour dish, but it is scarfed up by the gallon. Saturday is ‘Tarpon Saturday.’ The yankees come in first, burned to a crisp, and others come in red faced a little later.” If you want to attend, though, you will need to make reservations by May 20 at www.aoot.com/poontangle.

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