Marathon to Key Largo and the Ocean Reef Club

With the weather being what it was we decided to come in to Key Largo a day early and it was a good thing! The place was amazing and the wind only increased after we got there. We were very glad to be tied up and inside a quiet Marina. Here we are coming in the channel:

This is the pool area from a boat perspective as we were coming in. The channel brings you very very close to the edge.

Some kayakers were coming out as we were coming in. There was just enough room.

So, Ocean Reef Club... Best described as "over the top"!
The Chicago Blackhawks owner had his personal yacht there when we arrived. It is 120' long and has 2 dinghys up top - slapshot and hat trick. It was absolutely beautiful. And enormous!

Here is one view from where we are docked. All of those boats across are 100 feet or more.

This other side had some lovely sights as well. It's funny, in pictures they all look so much smaller than they do  in real life.

The docks here were fixed concrete docks, which if you think about it makes sense considering the storm potential in the keys. However, getting on and off a boat with the extra height of concrete docks can be a real challenge. See how high they are off the water line?

But these guys did it right... The piers were long enough that we could get off and on at our bow which is much higher than our stern. Last year we stayed at a marina in Miami and their side piers were too short for this and getting on/off was often terrible! Not so at Ocean Reef. As I said, they did everything right!

A couple of boats down they has 2 adorable Bichons that I have to show you.... They sat on the bow like this all day long.... SO cute!

Remember I said this place is "over the top"? Well, you can see what I mean. This is one of the 3 pools...

 

And the pool bar.....

And the beach volleyball and games area......

They also had a salt water lagoon with kayaks and paddle boats....

Naturally, the pool bar served lovely adult beverages like this rum punch...

The reason we came to the Ocean Reef Club was for a board meeting and other family "business" but we had lots of time for other fun activities as well. One morning a good portion of us went on a snorkeling adventure. The funny (kind-of) part of it was that it was FREEZING that morning. No exaggeration, there was heavy wind and it was really chilly. Did that stop us? NO!!!!! The water was warm and we brought every jacket and layer we could accumulate. The snorkeling people provided wet suits for all which helped enormously. Getting in the water was easy, it was getting out that killed us! This is what some of us looked like all bundled up....

By the way, the snorkeling was FABULOUS! Beautiful neon fish of many varieties, small barracuda, angel fish, apparently my son got lightly "inked" by a squid, so many beautiful things to see. It was really great snorkeling.

Here is our daughter Amy and her (almost sort-of) "cousin" Hathaway. In the background you can see our son, BJ, with the hoodie on.

Here is some more of the motley crew all bundled up for the ride back in.

One of the other days we had a survivor-style relay race activity which was such a hoot! One the first leg, we had to capture floating tennis balls at the salt water lagoon in kayaks, then in the golf carts zoom over to the tennis center and hit tennis balls at these buoy things to collect points (very hard!), then zoom off again to the playground for a basketball free throw contest, and finally zoom again to the mini-golf course to compete for the final team points. My team was pleased to take a second place, silver medal and all.

I am really sorry I did not take any pictures of this event for you to see. We were warned that it was to be potentially wet with the kayaks and all so I left my phone behind. Trust me, though -- it was SO MUCH FUN! The Ocean Reef activity department really knows their stuff.

Last but not least, we all shared a cache' of golf carts which we used in the relay activity above and to generally get around what is a very large property. One our last day we snagged this picture of two of the many young cousins on their family's cart.... Left is Pepper and right is Carol. They are first cousins. The other two, of course, are Bruce and I.

FYI- you think we were warm in those outfits ?....no, no no! I was going back to the boat to change and get my jacket!

It was our last day we were trying to pretend we were warm. It didn't work.....

The best surprise of this trip came on the last late afternoon just as we were walking back to the boat to shower and change for our last dinner out in this magnificent place. As we came around a corner, not looking forward, this young blond beauty exclaimed..."Mr. Stone?" As we turned to see who this was we realized it was VERONIKA! OMG, Veronika!!!! For those who don't know us, we hosted Veronika for a year as a foreign exchange student from Bulgaria in 2006/2007. Though our kids stay in touch occasionally with her through facebook etc... we had lost touch with her a while back. You know how that goes.... But, really what an AMAZING surprise!!! We knew she lives in Miami but never in a million years expected to run into her! We were pleased to meet her fiancee Philip as well. Here they are on the boat after we had a lovely time visiting.

Congrats Veronika, you have grown to be an amazing young woman!

The next morning came bright and early. Here we greeted the sunrise coming throught the Ocean Reef channel.

Next stop Fort Lauderdale... to sit and wait for the weather window to cross the gulfstream to the Bahamas.  We are so excited. Until next time...... please send warmer weather and calmer winds....please, pretty please?