By Greg Nicoll and John Armstrong

A couple of Galley Guys on yet another culinary adventure…

Galley Guys Greg and JohnGalley Guys Greg Nicoll and John Armstrong enjoying the Classic Margarita at Jimmy Buffet’s first Margaritaville Bar

The Galley Guys had a plan - get out of Toronto, jump on a boat, sail to Cuba, then wine and dine on some great Cuban cuisine. However, just before boarding the plane, we were informed of some technical problems with our boat charter. The Cuban part of our trip was just not going to happen, bummer. OK, let’s turn lemons into lemonade!

The closest we could get to Cuba was some 90-plus miles north in Key West, Florida, a most unusual and entertaining town. On the road from Miami down to Key West we started to have some serious reservations about the quality of time and facilities we would enjoy when we reached our destination. All along Highway 1 were piles and piles of rubbish, decimated trailers, fractures of boats, trailer homes, beat up appliances, personal items, and vegetation from fallen trees and bushes. The devastation from Hurricane Irma could be seen everywhere, especially around Key Largo, Marathon, and Isamorada. But on our arrival in Key West, we were surprised to see very little destruction and debris from the brutal hurricane, which had inflicted its wrath on much of the Caribbean and Florida Keys.

THe Killer Hogfish SandwichGalley Guys Greg Nicoll and John Armstrong getting ready to dine on “The Killer” Hogfish Sandwich

The base for our stay in the Florida Keys was a very new and modern Smart Development called Stock Island Marina Village, and we stayed aboard a Fountaine Pagot Saba 50. Stock Island is adjacent to Key West and was formally the last undeveloped deep port Marina on the East Coast of the United States. These 42 acres of recycled property were built to promote social and economic progress on this tiny island adjacent to Key West.

When speaking to the locals, we learned about a conscious effort to improve both the terrestrial and aquatic ecological status of the area. The Marina is an attractive jump-off base for people travelling to Cuba and beyond. In our travels, we have encountered some marinas that need updating, but this recently built and well-maintained facility includes the Perry Hotel - with its restaurants, pool and dockside bar, and all the amenities that would make for an enjoyable stay - plus hourly shuttles into downtown Key West.

Conch RepublicKey West, also referred to as the “Conch Republic,” has a laid-back way of keeping track of the weather

Inquisitiveness is one of the most important attributes one can have when travelling to new locations. Never be afraid to ask a question or seek directions. We always find good-natured people who are eager to answer most questions. A young lady named Natalie (I hope this helps her career) at the Enterprise car rental in Miami, when asked where to go in Key West, immediately took out a pad of paper and wrote down “Hogfish,” as a must-go place for dinner.

The local expression goes like this: If you don’t know it exists, you probably won’t find it. You will only find this hidden gem with a tip from a local. It may take a little time and a GPS to find the Hogfish Bar and Grill, as it is tucked back in Safe Harbour away from the pretensions and the hype of the more touristy areas. Highly recommended are the freshest Key West Pink Shrimp you can buy, as the shrimp boats dock just adjacent to the restaurant. The relaxed atmosphere takes you back in time to a working harbour before all the nightlife, cruise ships, and carnivals took over Key West. The panoramic views and outdoor dining are offered to the patrons who are mostly true locals except for a few adventurous outsiders.

Now for the specialty of the house: The Hogfish Sandwich.

SunsetHogfish (lachnolaimus maximus) is a species of wrasse native to the Western Atlantic Ocean and including the Gulf of Mexico. This species can be found around reefs - and there are plenty of reefs just off Key West. The Hogfish is characterized by a large, laterally compressed body and an elongated, pig-like snout, which is used to search for crustaceans buried in the sediment and is how this fish acquired its name. The Hogfish is very difficult to catch with a hook, so almost all the catching is done by spearing or netting. To maintain healthy stocks, the Hogfish are protected by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. As the Hogfish are seasonal in nature and caught on demand, they're not always readily available at the restaurant. At the Hogfish Restaurant there are no substitutes - fresh Hogfish or nothing.

Make sure when ordering to choose “The Killer,” a Hogfish sandwich with a six- to seven-ounce filet of tender moist white fish, either grilled or blackened, with melted Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion on a Cuban bun with jalapeno fries.

The crowds meet every night at Mallory Square to hear the music, enjoy the buskers and cheer the sunsets

It seems strange that after a trip to the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys we are still thinking about a Hogfish sandwich, but maybe that's just part of being a Galley Guy. We can also talk about the colourful nature and history of Key West, the amazing sunsets we enjoyed from Mallory Square, tipping back margaritas at Jimmy Buffett's first Margaritaville bar, the Hemingway House, and the most interesting collection of individuals who come out at night on Duvall Street.

However, we’re still dreaming about sailing to Cuba now that we are back home in Hogtown.

 

Related Articles

Destinations

  • Prev
Ah Canadian simplicity at its finest; small town, big marina. Little Hilton Beach (population ...
Vancouver-based Big Blue Yacht Charters Worldwide owner Emma Murdoch explains that luxury crewed ...
In the 1920s, a small cove in Canoe Bay was used as a shipping point and safe-haven for rum runners ...
Here’s an update from Caroline Swann with some news for the adventurous types who may be heading to ...
The New Glasgow marina is located about six miles up the East River of Pictou in the heart of the ...
The British Virgins took a huge hit last fall from Irma. Boats were stranded on the shore by the ...
Located about half way between Shediac and the Miramichi on New Brunswick’s Acadian Coast, the town ...
Suddenly the once forsaken city of Hamilton, Ontario is booming for at least two good reasons.
The Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA) invites all sailors to join a cruising rally from the ...
Long popular with New England and St. John area boaters, Passamaquoddy Bay is too often overlooked ...

CYOB Destinations: We Visit the Hilton Beach Marina

Hilton BeachBy Amelia Morris

Ah Canadian simplicity at its finest; small town, big marina. Little Hilton Beach (population 200!), which I am lucky enough to call my cottage country, is located on the north-east coast of St. Joseph Island. The Hilton Beach Marina is one of the largest and most major ports of call in the Western North Channel. It also has a long and rich history dating back to the 1850’s.

I spoke with Marina Manager, Laura McRae and got the full scoop on what goes on in this inconspicuous but busy marina.

Read more about Hilton Beach Marina....

 

 

 

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...
One often asks of a winning achievement or a fabulous design, could it have possibly been done ...
The latest new model from Cruisers Yachts is the Cantius 42 and this yacht made its debut in the ...
The Sabre 45 Salon Express is new for 2017, making its debut at the Fort Lauderdale International ...
Jeanneau’s newest NC model is the NC 33, and it’s an exciting and innovative inboard cruiser ...
The Four Winns H290OB combines two of the most popular new big boat trends to come up with a great ...
Commodore’s Boats is a full service shipyard with over 50 years of generational history and ...

 

Scarab 255 Open

Scarab 255 OpenBy Andy Adams and John Armstrong

You can imagine,at the GroupeBeneteau dealer meeting in Michigan last fall where all the Four Winns, Scarab, Wellcraft, and Glastrondealers had come to see the latest new models, the docks were lined up with gleaming brand-new boats to show the dealers and media – and they certainly put on a show! But for me, the Scarab 255 Open was an immediate stand out. This is a boat that breaks new ground and brings fresh thinking and interpretation of the boating experience to a wide range of buyers.

We had a quick look around but the test drives would have to wait until the next day.

Read more about the Scarab 255 Open....

 

 

 

 

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Nothing stops a vacation faster than a problem with the fresh water system – be it leaks, smells, ...
CYOB readers often ask questions about their boats and system. For this issue, I’ve answered a ...
Modern marine engines run at very high temperatures and rely on a few methods to keep their ...
Pyrotechnic distress flares have been around for decades, while electronic strobe distress flares ...
In the early spring, just after launch, with the hustle and bustle of engine checks, antifouling, ...
All engines, including marine engines (inboards, outboards and stern drives) have many moving parts ...
Most of us don’t give a second thought to our sacrificial anodes – those curious knobs of raw metal ...
I once heard an argument at a yacht club. Two old salts, patiently itching to let go lines and ...
In this time of boat show afterglow, many boaters are counting the days until launch. 
This one-day course consists of both theory and practical demonstration sessions, is designed to ...

Marine Products

  • Prev
Stripping the antifouling paint from the bottom of a boat is physically demanding and is one of the ...
The 2019 Ultimate Sailing Calendar highlights the drama and excitement of blue-water sailing, as ...
Weather nerds and boaters of all stripes will be absorbed by Bruce Kemp’s account of the monstrous ...
Canada Rope promises that its new Night Saver Rope will illuminate at night and act as a reference ...
Take a look as a 68-foot yacht docks itself in between two Volvo Ocean 65 sailing yachts at the ...
Industry Firsts Include Direct Injection and Integrated Electric Steering System
Verviers, Belgium, 18 May 2018 — Mercury Marine, the world leader in marine propulsion technology, ...
Again, we return to the beginning. We started this column with a look at marine navigation for ...
Ga-Oh (spirit of the winds in Algonquin) creates bags and other items from re-purposed sails.
The 2018 Northwest Boat Travel Guide just arrived. This time of the year is the perfect time for ...