Thursday, May 10, 2012


This is not about Laser sailing, but I have sailed a Laser in these waters.  The rowing in the rain part is about a few years ago, when I was working as an MD at the Key West VA Clinic.   They had recently moved into part of the Old Key West Navy Hospital in Key West and I lived on Stock Island next to the water.  The hospital was on the other side of Cow Key Channel about a ½ mile away. 

For a week I rowed over in my 16 foot St. Lawrence Skiff.  –(Thanks to the model boat folks for the picture of their model that is very similar to my boat.)  I would row into a little harbor and tie up to the dock at the enlisted men's barracks and walk a ¼ of a block to our offices.  I did that for a week just to be able to say I was the only doctor in the USA that rowed to work.  The Navy MDs  and the VA were just getting used to working in the same area, so after a week I drove my car over so my use of the little harbor would not become an issue.

One morning about 7:30 as I was rowing away from home and going west. I am looking east at some big black clouds coming from the east.  (Wind is KW mostly from the east—some Bermuda high thing.) OK, it is only about a half mile to row.  Go a little faster.   Now I am in Cow Key Channel and almost to the little harbor and the rain drops start to fall.   In the Keys the little thunder storms just rain hard for a few minutes and then move on-- and I am right by the bridge that goes from Stock Island over to Key West.   Row under the bridge.  Now it is raining pretty hard, but not on me.  I am under the bridge… only one problem, the tide is coming in and I have to keep rowing to stay under the bridge. 

OK, move over to the edge of the channel where the current is less.  Yes, but now I look over to the shore about 10 feet away --- 7 or 8 homeless folks sleeping under the bridge on the 15 feet of dry land under the bridge.  They are all asleep.  Some with the little pile of the only possessions they have in the world.

I meet these folks around town often.  Most have mental or just drug problems.  No problem, but you don’t want to have long conversations because it can get pretty weird.   I hope they keep sleeping.

So I keep rowing and they keep sleeping.  How long is all this going to go on?

It is still raining pretty hard and I notice the eddy behind one of the support posts and row into the eddy.  Now the eddy is holding me against the current and I just need to steer enough to stay in the eddy. 

My friends on shore begin to stir and the time is almost 8 AM.  Time for me to show up for work.  So I row out into the rain which is now letting up.  Into the harbor and tie up to the dock and over to the Clinic – only a little damp.

So rowing in the rain can be an extra adventure.  I recommend it.  Take something to bail with.  Forget the umbrella unless have a passenger or want to use it as a sail.  No, I changed my mind—take the umbrella.  Maybe an anchor for under the bridge?  Nice to have lunch along just in case.

Maybe you had a good adventure rowing in the rain.


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