New Exhibition Captures Key West Liveaboard Boating Community


Principal West photographer Mark Hedden has long been inquisitive about the folks dwelling on boats near Key West’s shores, nicknamed the “liveaboards.” In 2017 Mark was offered a Knight Arts Challenge Grant to file the lives of this network.

The end result is an exhibition “On the Hook,” on the show now at The Studios of Key West. Mark spoke with WLRN’s Luis Hernandez approximately what leads humans to stay on the water, the risks they faced from Hurricane Irma, and his revel in documenting them.


WLRN: How do you outline what it means to stay on the hook?

Hedden: You realize we are an island; we are surrounded by water. And there is continually a boating community of the threshold of Key West. I suggest as long as there’s been a Key West, there may be people dwelling on boats around it. And one of the massive problems in Key West is lower-priced housing, and it’s virtually that. But it is also a type of a more adventurous way to live for quite a few humans.

How did your technique them? How did you convince them to permit you to switch your camera on them?

Well, quite cautiously. This is Florida, the land of “Stand Your Ground,” and I’m not sure how that applies to water. However, I went about it pretty cautiously. At a few points, I realized you can honestly knock on people’s boats. But that took me more than one month to determine out. And usually, I would go round from boat to ship and look for humans on deck and strike up a communique with them and subsequently ask if I ought to take their photo. Ninety 5 percentage of them stated sure. I mean, it could seem like a forbidden network, but it is no longer.

Hold on, knock on boats? Please assist me in understanding the way you do this.

You form of power your boat very slowly up to their ship, and also you knock on their hull. And wish they listen to it, or their dog hears it.

You photographed a mother and daughter who live on a boat and the daughter sincerely, she’s spent her whole existence on it.

And that takes place — I’ve recognized a group of children who’ve grown up that way. They tend to be thoroughly adjusted children that you may throw into any situation, and they may be quality. But this is Pascal; she’s a Montessori trainer down right here, which I mean in a small city, it really is kind of like being a celeb. And you recognize, she’s spent twenty years out there raising her daughter, and she and her parents are not together anymore.

And what prompted her to try this, to have that kind of way of life?

It changed into immediately up affordability for her. You know Key West, it’s Manhattan rents for real estate, and it’s tough to earn that kind of money. So I mean, it is how some humans make it, but it’s also just absolutely lovely available.

How a few of the people you ran into [said] it’s approximately the affordability and it is just cheaper to live on a ship?

Yeah, I suggest [for] a few humans that affordability is a need. Some people are not trying to spend that cash on hiring. You know, paying it on the possibility to travel or things like that. I photographed a girl named Sathya; she works at Blue Heaven, one of the incredible restaurants in Key West. Her complete component is she wants to be able to tour while she’s prepared. And so she’s were given this boat, she’s were given it all constant up, and she’s a form of just seeking out the following port subsequently.

There are rules on wherein you could park your boat. Help us understand in which those folks honestly park their boats and where they’re dwelling.

Well, some of them are dictated with the aid of the military. Some of them are prescribed by way of private property, and some are dictated by nature. The water must be thick enough that your boat’s no longer going to drag or run aground while the tide is going down. But if it is too thick, you’re subject to quite a big tidal float. So there is that.

There’s an extended area known as Fleming Key attached to Key West, and it’s a big military base. It’s an ammo dump, and those just generally tend to periodically preserve their boats up close to it. And then the Navy has to go out and essentially brush anybody back and get them to anchor similarly out. So consequently, the human beings who have longevity obtainable tend to be the ones who’re toward the island.