These days, Burt ferries Hans, 8, and Kelly, 14, the half-mile to the 27th Avenue dinghy dock on the familys 15-foot Boston whaler, and then drives them by pickup truck to their schools, Coconut Grove Elementary and the Young Womens Preparatory Academy in Little Havana.
Though she appreciates her floating home, the romance of the live-aboard life is sometimes lost on Kelly, who bemoans the fact that she cant sneak out at night.
Union electrician Dave Montella, 50, and his girlfriend, Susan Criblez, 53, have been living in the anchorage for the past six years on her 31-foot Almond.
Dinner Key has been pretty good to me, says Montella, who also owns a 25-foot Catalina. But Criblez complains that the Miami Police Department marine patrol singles out boats in the anchorage for monthly vessel inspections.
As long as theyre on the mooring field, theyre not bothered, she said. Thats prejudice.
The couple also complains that theyve had trouble getting service from the citys sewage pump-out boat, but Miamis marinas manager, Stephen Bogner, says its available to anyone around the marina who calls to request the service, including those who live in the anchorage.
One thing the city will not provide to nonpaying anchorage residents is access to fresh water, issuing stern warnings to live-aboards for trying to fill gallon jugs at the marina. (The Korpelas fill 50-gallon drums at a friends waterfront house in Coral Gables.)
The younger anchorage residents include 27-year-old Brenda Marsh, a bartender at Vinos in the Grove. Marsh, who has an orchid tattoo on her left arm, moved onto her then-boyfriends boat in January 2011. She bought her own boat in November, recently sold her car and cant imagine living in Miami any other way.
Shrimp boat captain Aaron Comegys, who moved from the anchorage to the mooring field, sold his Sarasota house six years ago and bought a boat to live free and get rid of the stress in my life.
I thought I was gonna have a heart-attack or a stroke from all the bills I had and trying to live the mainstream life of having a credit card and a power bill and a phone bill and this and that, he says.
Many live-aboards say freedom is the main attraction of life on the water. But for some, to quote Janice Joplin, freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose.
Theres a good side and theres a bad side of the anchorage, Comegys says, though most of the bad is gone now.
Some of the boaters who anchor southwest of the mooring field in front of Peacock Park have crack or heroin habits, he says. They cant afford motors or gasoline for their dinghies so they anchor closer to shore. One of the boats he points out is covered in rubbish; another has no mast.
Sitting at a picnic table at the park, Coconut Grove native John Pohl is part of a group that calls itself citizens of the round table. They row their dinghies to the park to play cards, some of them surreptitiously sipping beers from brown paper bags.
Pohl calls the anchorage his front yard and Peacock Park the back yard.
When youre out there at night, looking up at the stars, the clouds, the weather, God you can feel it all out there, its peaceful, he says.
As far as drugs go among the live-aboards, some people do it, some people dont, says Pohl, who acknowledges shooting up cocaine when he lived in Texas and smoking crack after he returned to Miami.
We call it the stem-fast diet, he says, adding that his weight plummeted to 150 pounds before he quit the drug and regained 60 pounds.
Sure there are drugs down here, but drugs are everywhere.
Marinas manager Bogner says hes seen it all at the Dinner Key Marina: criminal behavior, alcoholism, mental illness, drug abuse. His employees occasionally find people passed out on the dinghy dock, he says.
For all of that, many relish the live-aboard life.
As Mark Raun, a retired cruiser making his way down the East Coast, puts it, Every day for me is a good day, and if its a bad day I just look ashore and say, Look at those poor [shmucks] over there going to Cubicle World.