On a sultry autumn night, we set sail. As we clear the sea wall, one of the crew climbs up the ratlines to release the sails at the top of the mast. We glide across the waters of Key West harbor in search of dolphins. There are none to be found this night. The captain gives the order to come about, and the schooner gracefully turns around, heading out of the harbor into the channel and beyond. A guest takes over the helm. The captain weaves tales of days gone by; pirates, navy ships and the islands of the Florida Keys.
We are on board the Schooner Jolly II Rover. The only square rigged, topsail schooner in Key West, she is an 80-foot long replica of a coastal sailing ship from the 1800’s. Her owner, Bill Malone, brought her here from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. If you’re looking for a true sailing experience, this is the choice to make. The captain will let you help hoist the sails and steer the ship if you want. Or, you can just relax and enjoy.
Whether it’s a day sail, birthday party, sunset sail or educational cruise, the Jolly II Rover is a fun sailing experience for the whole family. Guests can bring their own food and drink on board (cold bottled water is provided), take pictures, go explore below deck and watch the captain fire a real cannon at ‘enemy’ ships as they pass by.
Wandering on deck, I asked several passengers their thoughts on their experience. Maggie and Wayne, from Maryland, said the sunset was gorgeous, the sail was relaxing and they definitely would do it again on their next visit to Key West. Jayna, from California, enjoyed the sunset, but like Wayne, would have liked a bit more wind in the sails. Sandy, from Texas, was celebrating her birthday. She felt the captain was informative and entertaining with his talk about pirates and the keys. She also said the sunset was beautiful.
One thing they offer is a Frequent Sailor Card that’s good for 30 days. Your first sail is full price, ($45.00) your second sail is $10 off and your third sail is free. If you are a local to Key West, they offer you a great $15 discount, encouraging you to sail with them and bring your friends when they come to town. Their prices are reasonable and the experience is one of a kind.
So, how can you take advantage of this great adventure?
Check out their website at http://www.schoonerjollyrover.com/
Buy tickets online at http://www.zerve.com/JollyRover or call 800/979-3370
Or call them at: 305/304-2235