Published on May 20th, 2020
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
Launched in 1988, Key West Race Week had seen the ebb and flow of the sport reach the southern extent of the continental United States, attracting international grand prix competition along with casual racing enthusiasts.
But the 2017 edition proved to be the end of the road, but nothing stops the memories of this iconic event, and one of the great memories for me was riding shotgun alongside photographer Sharon Green and her team, in part because she would hire Florida Keys sportfishing captain Mike Weinhofer and his 40-something-foot fuel burner.
Weinhofer didn’t know sailing but he was a pleasure to be with, and now fast forward to current times of lockdown to limit the COVID-19 spread, it comes as no surprise that he is now doing good for his hometown.
He has operated Key West Florida Fishing Charters for more than 30 years, and while he hasn’t had charter clients since the new coronavirus closed the Keys to visitors in March, he’s still fishing.
In the past six weeks, he and his crew have caught, filleted and distributed about 624 bags in the Keys, where the tourism industry employs half of the workforce.
“I started giving away free fish just to help out,” said Weinhofer. “You know, a lot of people are having a tough time right now.”
After a day on the water, he fillets the catch and texts people on his ‘request list’ to pick it up at his slip at Key West’s Charter Boat Row.
“The best part is when people send you pictures of the fish they’ve cooked, and the smiles and the happy faces,” Weinhofer said.
The program has received assistance from some of Weinhofer’s past charter clients, who have sent fuel money for his boat. Other local charter captains and guides have donated additional fish for distribution.
“This is a really big help to the whole community and for everybody here that’s hungry,” said Key West resident Liam O’Kelly as he picked up a bag of fish.
If you’d like to help out, or need a charter in Key West, click here.