Leg 4: The Tiki Bar at Holiday Isle to Duck Key
When we chose our fourth card back at the Tiki Bar, I got the notion to tempt fate: Lorio and I picked our cards and then traded envelopes. Our poker destinies thus altered, it was back to the race.
For the final sprint to Duck Key, we're running on the outside, in the open ocean. It's a fairly flat day, but even the mild chop makes this a different experience from the protected western side of the Keys. We're not going to hit 120 mph on this leg. Even cruising at 70 mph is inviting some major impacts, because a calm day can still serve up the occasional wake or rogue swell. "It's like trying to drive a car 200 mph," Bud says, "and knowing that somewhere on the road, there's a bunch of potholes."
I roar out of the Holiday Isle and immediately head up onto a bridge into Upper Matecumbe Key. The wind seems to have picked up, and on the long causeways I see that the water isn't so smooth anymore, a hopeful sign.
The causeways are getting longer, and the bits of land are getting smaller. Out on the water there are now whitecaps, which have to be slowing down the boat -- but probably not as slow as I'm going, which is about 50 mph in a single-file line of cars.
As I cross the final bridge onto Duck Key, I spot the boat far off in the distance to the south. I see a sign for the resort just ahead on the left. It looks like the car might win a leg after all.
It takes about forty minutes to reach Duck Key, but we're not done. The approach to the marina includes a long no-wake zone, and our assigned slip is subject to both the wind and the current, which are fighting to toss us into the pilings -- imagine trying to parallel park in a spot six inches longer than your car while the road randomly moves a few feet to and fro. Fortunately, someone comes down to the dock to toss us a line. Unfortunately, that someone is Lorio, and the clock doesn't stop ticking until I set foot on land.