Not only do week have island schools participating in the Follow The Voyage-Share The Experience Program, we also have many cadets aboard the TS Kennedy who call islands home.
3/C Andrew Leshaw is a Marine Transportation major that lives in Key Biscayne, Florida, about 40 minutes from where the TS Kennedy is docked this weekend.
A key is formed on the surface of a coral reef. The word key comes from the Spanish word, cayo, which translates to small island.
This seems like the perfect time to invite Andrew to tell us about Key Biscaye.
“I grew up on the small island of Key Biscayne, a barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay. The island is 4 miles long and 2 miles wide, while the village of Key Biscayne is only 1.25 square miles. On the East side of the island, there are beaches spanning the whole length of the island. The west side is full of mangroves, sandbars, and natural coves. Then on the Northern and Southern sides, there are mangrove swamps and maritime hammocks, which was the majority of the ecosystem on the island. Growing up on Key Biscayne, there was always something you could be doing. I spent as much time as possible on or near the ocean.
A couple of cool things about living on an island was the weather. Small storms would form from either the east and get pushed over the tung of the ocean or from the west, building up over the everglades. Every time a storm was predicted to hit the island, that same storm that would cause mass flooding on the mainland was a small rain shower on the island. Later in life, I learned that it was due to the reefs surrounding our island. The vast reefs surrounding the island's east side are my favorite dive spots. I am talking about immense ecosystems of coral heads and the wildlife surrounding those reefs. With the island once owned by the Spanish Thrown, you can still find wooden or even concrete shipwrecks dating back to a time before. I used to spend hours on end diving down, looking for lost treasure. And to my young delight, the days I found a coin or ship's spike were the best!
Some of the challenges, however, of living on an island was the fact that there were only a certain number of activities you could do that were not based on the water. Looking back on my experiences, nowadays, I feel empty whenever I go to a beach and have a sense of grossness for the sand. Growing up, the beach was where my father took me to learn and pass the time. Now, whenever I see a beach, I can only remember all the fun I had on the island, an experience few can say they have had. However, the days I did not want to wear a bathing suit were the most difficult to entertain myself. I could not do many dry activities, and those days were spent running around, wishing I was on the mainland, in the city, or even in a shopping mall, exploring all the endless entertainment.
However, looking back at my childhood, the rewards and endless memories would outweigh the challenges three times over. This leads me to believe many of my family members knew I would find a way to stay connected to the ocean and my drive to explore and venture out past my roots.”