Back country is the term we use to refer to the very shallow areas around Key West, vast areas where the water depth ranges from 5 feet to no feet at all. No feet? Yes, there are actually a lot of areas that are mere inches deep. These are the shoals that even the best navigators fear and constantly stress over. So how do we know where they are? Well, that comes from a lot of time spent cruising the back country and getting familiar with them. I often joke with my guests that I have spent a lot of time researching them, ie, running aground. I also say that I am a pro having taken a hands on approach at finding them rather than just theory, hahaha! Although this is true, there is also another way to learn the way. The safe way!
I’ll start by explaining as I do to my guests while on Charter. If you are born in Key West one of your nick names is a “Bubba”, but I explain this as a good thing. Locals are often heard saying to one another, “Hey Bubba!, whats happening Bubba?” its a friendly gesture among-est locals.
So it would stand to reason that these “Bubbas” would be experts at navigating the waters around Key West, having grown up here their entire lives. Well, this is where sticks come in. Throughout the years these locals, while out on the water cruising through dangerously shallow areas, would put sticks in the ocean floor next to shoals. They would then tell their Bubba friends to go to the right or left of the stick in some particular area. Over the years this has created a really cool, safe way to get around in the dangerous back country waters of the keys. It is true that you have to have a local tell you which side to go on because there is no specific regulations surrounding these sticks. Its simply a stick put in the ground to warn of a shoal. But, with this local insight, a very safe route can be taken to get you to some amazing sandbars, etc. And as you may have guest already, these sticks have been nicknamed “Bubba Sticks”.
The picture at the top of this page is one of my favorite. Although it didn’t last long after hurricane Irma. It has since been replaced with a much smaller stop sign. There is currently another one right next to it that is an Owl on top of a stick. Got to give them credit for creativity.
Hope you enjoyed this Log and thanks for reading!