Do you love days on the water but are averse to greasy sunscreen? If so, you have something in common with longtime offshore and backcountry fishing guide Randy Towe, who decided to do something about it.
Florida Keys Sun Wear, the Upper Matecumbe Key boutique that Towe, 49, opened earlier this year with his daughter Amanda, is dedicated to clothing with built-in sun protection.
"It's a way to protect yourself from the sun without having to put sunscreen all over your face," Towe said.
The shop, located at Mile Marker 83.3, just south of the old Coral Grill property, carries six different clothing brands with ultraviolet protection factors of 30 to 50. In comparison, ordinary white, cotton T-shirts have protection levels closer to five.
Made with lightweight synthetics such as nylon and Spandex for comfort in the heat, the products are typically either dyed or tightly woven to achieve their sun protection capabilities, said Amanda Towe, 19. The available brands include Ocean Rider, Guy Harvey and Mojo.
"These are things that are comfortable, they're fashionable," Randy Towe said. "You're going to wear a shirt anyway, why not wear something that will protect you from the sun?"
In addition to shirts and blouses, Florida Keys Sun Wear has several lines of sun-protection face guards. They range from $15 to $20 while shirts and blouses sell for $35 to $80.
Along with sunwear, the shop features everything from deck shoes and flip-flops to Guy Harvey shorts and fishing pants.
Women, too, have plenty to choose from, including dresses and handmade glass bead jewelry.
"We wanted items for women, so they don't have to sit in the car while their men shop," Amanda said.
Still, apparel isn't the only focus of Florida Keys Sun Wear. A second highlight is Towe's handmade fishing rods.
They include spinning rods, fly rods, trolling rods and specialty rods. Towe says their colors and patterns are often thought of as art.
"I've been referred to as the Millard Wells of custom fishing rods," he said, referring to the late Islamorada watercolorist.
You can buy a Towe rod from the Florida Keys Sun Wear retail floor, but passionate anglers will probably want one made to order. Towe says he can make everything on the rod to specifications, including flex and action as well as its length and grip.
"I try to tailor each one so that it fits and feels very good when you're holding it and fighting a fish," he said. Rods cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000.
Florida Keys Sun Wear is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 305-664-2786.