My 20-something daughter and I took the day-long Key West excursion offered by Danger Charter over the Labor Day weekend. This was an excellent way to get to know the waters around Key West. Our captain, Wendy, let us know at the outset that the clouds we saw early in the morning wouldn't necessarily bode ill for the trip. And sure enough, Wendy and her first mate Kayla were able to guide the 60-foot two-masted schooner safely and quickly out of the harbor and into clear water. These are sailors who know what they're doing, and do it very well. We snorkeled in an area populated by many fish - we spotted a nurse shark and a porcupine puff fish among many colorful breeds near a coral reef that no large boat could get anywhere near. The ten of us explored the reef without being rushed or feeling like we were lost in a crowd. On board, we had fresh fruit and soft drinks, chips and salsa, and (after snorkeling) there was beer and wine with an excellent lunch that included locally sourced tuna salad and delicatessen sandwiches. We spent the afternoon kayaking in a secluded bay, where we saw another nurse shark, young and older stingrays, and beautiful commorants taking off and landing in a bay that I think few people ever see. Throughout this part of the excursion, Kayla pointed out features of the ecosystem and the history of the islands that made it clear how much she loved the islands and knew of its features. Throughout the trip, Captain Wendy pointed out what was going on around us, as she skillfully piloted this beautiful schooner through the eight hours of the excursion. I looked at other excursions before choosing Danger, particularly those operated by the Fury line. I saw the crowds boarding the Fury excursion, and was really glad we selected Danger instead of Fury. Our trip was intimate without being intrusive, it took us to places no large vessel like the ones Fury uses could go to, and we were fed and cared for in ways that no large operation could rival. (There was even a tube of sunblock tied to the main mast, in case we ran out of our own lotion.) An outstanding crew, and an outstanding value. One suggestion: spray-on sun block makes the deck pretty slippery, so you might want to bring lotion rather than aerosol sun block, and bring a towel.
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