The Best and Worst of Living on a Water Access Only Island

We were having drinks at a neighbors the other day and their son in law who was visiting them asked us what were some of the things that were better than we expected and what were some of the things that were worse than expected about living on Dog Island. I had to think about it a little. Of course, there is the obvious-the weather is much more pleasant in Florida than in Minnesota in the winter. Even on the days it got below freezing, the temperature was back up in the forties by the afternoon.

We bought a house on the bay side of the island. Despite being slightly jealous of our neighbors who have gulf front houses and ocean views, we decided our house would be safer on the bayside after seeing the wind damage, etc. that the houses on the gulf endure. That being said, one of the things that is better than expected is our view. We live at the end of a little canal and I can see the “yacht club” dock and past that, I can see all the way to the mainland. I sometimes feel like a fisherman’s wife looking out the window watching for my husband’s boat to come in.

Worse than I expected were the mosquitos and no see ums. Of course I knew there would be mosquitos, but I didn’t count on the no see ums and I didn’t realize how much they would get me down. In the north, I used to get a mild case of seasonal depression. In the south, I think I get biting bug depression. We have this big wraparound porch on our house that we don’t use except to grill because the bugs are just too bad. We took some steps to help with the problem by buying a bug zapper and buying some lightbulbs that are supposed to repel mosquitoes. The bug zapper seemed to help; the lightbulbs not so much. We sprayed some peppermint stuff that is also supposed to repel bugs. I’m not so sure that helped either. There are no fires allowed on the island so we don’t use our citronella tiki torches which have worked for me in the past. No matter what, you have to douse yourself in bug spray when you go outside unless it’s below 55 degrees or the wind is blowing more than 10 mph and even then they might find some way to get you in a sheltered spot.  We call the bug spray the Dog Island cologne.

Better than expected was the gulf view we have from our bedroom and our deck, but even better is that you can hear the waves when we open our windows in our bedroom at night. There is nothing better than the sound of the sea to help you sleep at night.

Worse than expected is how much my baby disliked her life jacket. I knew I would be nervous taking her in the boat and I probably wouldn’t like it, but I didn’t anticipate that she would cry whenever I put her life jacket on. We got her a new one and as she gets bigger, she is tolerating it better, but its still not a lot of fun to take her in the boat. After a little while though, she usually is rocked to sleep by the movement of the boat.

Better than expected was the bay crossings. I thought I would be exhausted at the end of a day in town and not want to go back on the boat, but I really don’t mind it. We often go back in the evening and it’s pleasant and we often see the sunset. There were a few times when we were doing something into the evening and I was nervous about going back at night in the dark, but Tim never worries and at this point can pretty much do the crossing in his sleep.

Worse than expected was how lonely I would feel. The kids go to school and Tim often stays in town to get work done on the boat or other errands. Like I said before, its not a lot of fun to take the baby in the boat so I only go if there is something I can help with and if the weather is calm. I don’t take the baby in the boat when its rough out. I spend my days taking care of the baby (which I love) and doing laundry and other housework, and now I write and work on the website. I think I need to find another hobby. I work out in the morning and then get on with my day. If I don’t go to town all week, I kind of run out of things to do or at least out of things I want to do. I go for walks sometimes, but there are not very many people on the island so I usually don’t run into anybody. I am pretty introverted and am good at being alone, but I do wish I had a little more social interaction out here.

Better than I expected is how in tune with nature I am. I pay attention to the tides and the wind and the waves and the phases of the moon and the sunrise and sunset (I see both almost every day). I notice the different birds at different times of the season and even different fish. We even have an alligator that hangs out in our canal who comes and goes depending on the water temperature. That’s something I just took for granted living in the city.

Overall, I can’t complain. After all, I live here.

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