Rum, spirits, music, sun, and food: the Key West Bacchanalia celebrates summer with all five. The festival pours out tastes of Puerto Rican rum cocktails and other select drinks, which guests sip while watching celebrity chefs whip up savory cuisine in the handheld form of burgers and barbecue. A portion of the event's proceeds benefit the Darrell Gwynn Foundation, an organization supporting individuals with paralysis.
To call the restoration of the High Tide a labor of love would be to greatly devalue the definition of "labor." The 33-foot sloop remained on land for almost a year and a half as a team, mostly volunteers, returned the 1978-construction vessel to like-new status. Now, with Captain Seth at its open cockpit, the High Tide dips its fiberglass hull back into the waters of Key West, unfurls its sails, and embarks for the horizon. Whether on trips to admire the sunset, snorkel in the Gulf of Mexico, or test a new brand of motion sickness medication, the sailboat provides noiseless passage, save for the flap of canvas on the breeze.
It’s not an energy drink, a crimson bovine, or even a particularly misguided spelling of “bread bowl.” Rather, the Red Bull is a 26-foot-long, cherry-red Nordic tugboat, and it provides a unique way to rub metaphorical elbows with the Florida Key's aquatic wildlife and sea birds. Clients can charter the boat for a historic tour of the harbor, and get a watery glimpse at the seaport, Mallory Square, and the Sand Key lighthouse. Or, they can commission Captain Bob and his crew to chauffeur them on dolphin-spotting excursions. The Red Bull is also available for fishing trips, and is equipped with a state-of-the-art fish finder.
On many windy, sun-drenched days in the Florida Keys, an electric catamaran flying the colors of the America Sailing & Diving Club can be seen escorting revelers across ocean waves. Formed in 1973, the club brings together boat owners as well as nonowners who can set sail on the club’s fleet of sailboats that range in size from 22 feet to 44 feet, each designed to keep the club’s carbon footprint to a minimum. The club also offers courses that teach landlubbers basic sailing techniques, such as knot-tying skills so they needn’t fear that their loose engagement ring will fall overboard.
Captain Alfons of ParaWest Parasailing knows the sky over Cayo Hueso almost as well as he knows its waters. For more than 10 years the Coast Guard–licensed captain has sent passengers into the crystal blue above the horizon, and dipped them into the crystal blue below. Although single and tandem rides begin and end on the dryness of the vessel, the captain and his CPR-trained crew dip riders into the water upon request. They also equip their participants with safety tips before takeoff, including such sage wisdom as "don't fly with scissors."
The hum of an engine melds with the howling wind as the 34-foot powerboat slices through the waters around Key West like an orange and blue bullet. At the helm, the captain shares his knowledge of the island’s notable sights and history, skirting the shoreline around the scenic Southernmost Point, Sunset Key and Mallory Square. Riders often spot local sea life frolicking in the tropically teal waters of the Caribbean, such as dolphins jumping or clown fish squirting unsuspecting minnows in the face with jets of air from prank lapel flowers.