A Travellerspoint blog

January 2009

Blog Sign-Off

The blog quote for this entry is not from the logbook, but from Euripides, The Bacchae:

And the end men looked for cometh not,
And a path is there where no man thought

This will be the last blog entry. We have just found out that Carol's sister, Joan, has cancer, prognosis unknown at this time. Carol will head to Tallahassee tomorrow, Sunday, for a week or two. At some point, maybe in stages, we'll take the boat north to Brunswick, Ga. and leave it there for the duration. Brunswick is about the same distance from our house as Oriental, maybe a half hour more driving time, and is only about 4 hours to Tallahassee. A trip to Oriental would take too much of Carol's time away from Joan.

Carol will be spending all of her time with Joan, through whatever resolution may come. I'll pick up a car at the house and stay on the boat for a couple of months so that I can be nearby without actually being there. If circumstances allow, I might help a friend take her boat south to Florida.

Of course, everything could change, just like it already did.

Posted by sailziveli 07:47 Comments (0)

Still in Marathon #3

sunny 0 °F

The ad rem logbook quote for this blog entry is: Make voyages! Attempt them .... there's nothing else, Tennessee Williams.

Who says boating cannot be fun? Just motor to the dinghy dock. (This is the emptiest I've ever seen it.) Dinghy_Dock.jpgIn the City Marina there are spots for about 200 boats and all but about five or six are in the harbor on mooring balls. So, every time people want to get mail, take a shower, go out to eat, etc. they have to motor to the dingy dock, and there the fun begins. It is the adult equivalent of a kid going to the carnival and driving bumper cars. What could be better? The way is narrow, no one yields, ever; every one is in a hurry so smash-em-up happens and no one minds. The marina has a rule that dinghies have to travel at idle speed in the channel approaching the dingy mooring area, that means in the event about walking speed, 3 to 4 MPH. Boats carom off those already moored; crash into those trying to get out while they are trying to get in; if there's no space just bulldoze your way through and push between two other boats to get to the dock. Best of all, no one cares because no harm, no foul. The dinghies all have 16-in. air filled rubber tubes so they cannot do any damage to each other; if you "ram" a moored dingy, just ricochet and proceed until you hit another. There are no notes under the wipers with addresses and insurance policy numbers. It's all very civilized, a lot of fun and, occasionally, an interesting way to meet new people. However, don't ever bump another boat in the mooring field; those rules are very different.

Along the way and in the harbor we have met and seen many Canadian boats flying the red and white maple leaf; many also fly a pennant which, I assume, signifies Quebec since there are white fleur-de-lis on a blue field. These two are right behind us Canadian_Flags.jpgand there are six or seven more in our immediate mooring area; maybe we’re in a segregated Canadian ghetto. The folks have all been uniformly nice, although some were weak in English, French Quebec again. Regardless, it's hard not to admire their enterprise; whichever way they arrived in Marathon, it's a long trek from Canada. Although, we did meet one Canadian couple in St. Augustine that admitted to keeping their boat in Savannah, GA.

In the harbor all of the boats co-exist with all of the birds, and there are lots of birds: gulls, pelicans, cormorants, the odd duck and many others. There is no interaction between the birds and humans except for the occasional splatter of bird poop on the poop deck. The birds seem oblivious to the boats and people and there does not seem to have been any "learning" where the birds congregate for food as they might near shrimp boats or fish cleaning stations. For the past several mid-mornings there have been many birds, almost certainly more than 1,000, that soar and glide over about 1/2-mile of mangrove swamp. They break into loose groups, sometimes only a couple of hundred or more, recombine and then break up again. (This picture shows about a fraction of 1%) P1240086.jpgWhen they catch a thermal, the mass of the birds circling from low to high provides a sharp definition to the size and shape of the column of warm air. And then, they're gone. This had been fascinating to me so, one morning, I took out the binoculars to try to identify the birds. They have to be common, carrion eating buzzards. It just so unusual to see so many at once. Road kill might attract five or ten; it should take a beached whale to get this much attention. I probably won't enjoy the show as much again.

There is a strange tradition in the Keys that involves sundown; not drinking sundowners, that's to be expected during a good, or any, sunset. This is a noisy one that requires blowing conch horns at the appropriate time except that everyone seems to want to start early. By the time the sun actually sets all save the most leather-lunged have ceased their exertions and, probably, gone back to drinking. What inquiring minds want to know is how can there be so many of these obnoxious horns when harvesting conch in the Keys and, also, the Bahamas is prohibited and why would anyone want to do this anyway? And, by the way, the horns are really, really loud with a low frequency sound that carries very well across water.

We've been learning more about the dew point than I think is absolutely necessary, since I thought that I already knew enough about it. When we first got the boat it didn't seem possible that condensation at and below the water line could put much water into the bilge of the boat. We'd lift a floor board to see water and think that the boat's taking on water and we're going to sink right here at the dock; we never did. I hadn't thought this would be an issue in FL where the surface water temperatures are so much higher than in NC; wrong again! When we do our bilge inspection it's not unusual to pump out a gallon or two. What's new, or at least not previously noticed, are the inside surfaces of the boat. While things topside get dripping wet, on the inside they also pick up moisture, hard surfaces as well as cloth. I don't know a word to describe between dry and damp, but that's what happens until the sun heats up with a little breeze. It feels a lot like living in a sponge: a pervasive, not quite comfortable, sense of moisture all around.

Today is Sunday and the wind generator installation starts tomorrow morning. So, the great emptying began. The deck is covered with stuff Topsaide.jpgand we look a little like a derelict boat. When I started emptying the rear cabin, it's under Carol's purview, it struck me that she is a much more contemporary person than am I. Her storage methodology is based on chaos theory where chaos always triumphs and, therefore, order and discernable pattern are futile and pointless; there's just space and stuff to occupy the space. I learned the word shipshape in 1967 when I reported for duty on the USS Alacrity, MSO-520, to the deck force under the immediate tutelage of a 250-lb. black, cigar chewing, 2d class Boson’s Mate, named Nails (all absolutely true), who did not much like skinny, white college guys with smart mouths, always and ever a failing of mine. I immediately figured out two things: one, that Nails had a particular vision of the world on our ship and that his definition of shipshape was good enough for me and that although I really did not enjoy chipping, painting and cleaning haze gray, then the ubiquitous color of the United States Navy, I would do it effectively and quietly to Nails' vision; second, that I needed to get off the deck force as soon as possible, which I did, but it was not nearly soon enough for me. Anyway, it seems like the distance between 1967/Nails/shipshape and 2009/chaos theory/storage is a chasm that cannot be bridged, easily or ever, despite our 41 years of marriage.

Denise, when she's not snowed in at the house, has been most supportive of us while we're out playing. When we're at a place where we can get mail, she sorts through the growing pile of mail at the house and forwards stuff to us. In almost every package is a small treasure: an Economist magazine or two. Whether on the train, at my desk or in a comfortable chair at the house, my morning routine for decades has included three things: a news periodical, very strong Darjeeling tea and granola. The boat has been the first interruption of that pattern. It is wonderful to reenter the world of information and ideas, even if it's a brief sojourn. Carol has also learned a new trick: she goes to the nearby public library and "begs" old copies of the Wall Street Journal to which I have subscribed for +/- 25 years. Old in this case is about 48-hours, the boating equivalent of CNN Headline News. Grubbing from the library is not quite the same as wearing every piece of your clothing on your body and pushing the rest of your possessions about in a stolen K-Mart shopping basket with a broken wheel, but it's getting really close. Like the Temptations sang: Ain't Too Proud to Beg. All the papers read about the same anyway, regardless of origin.

At one point I tried to explain the boats in the mooring aligning to the wind. This picture shows the concept.Boats_in_a_Row.jpg

Posted by sailziveli 03:30 Comments (0)

Still in Marathon #2

The logbook quote for this blog entry is: I love to sail on forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts, Herman Melville, Moby Dick. Great quote but a little intimidating for rookies and it sounds a little like someone searching for merit badges for which we have no need or any interest. The Bahamas are reported to be pretty tame and there have not been any confirmed barbarian sightings there since Conan moved to Sacramento.

Having seen pictures and heard reports of snow and freezing cold from one end of NC to the other, I should not complain, but I will anyway. Yesterday it got down to 48 degrees and was in the low 60's during the day. Oh, horrors! What ever shall we do? On the other hand, Carol's insistence that we carry the sleeping bags and keep them even after I wanted to mail them home has been good; last night was a sleeping bag night, not to get into it, rather opening it up and using it as a blanket. The sleeping bags are goose down and I had imagined that in this humid atmosphere that they would have lost most of their warming loft. They may in fact have less loft, but this is not the Arctic, so they did OK. It is strange, though, in the early morning to be able to see your breath condensing in the cabin. Today will be the end all that for at least a week and it's back to gin and tonics before supper while watching the setting sun.

Regarding gin .... drinking seems to be a major component of sailboating's cultural mystique and I'm not sure that we've been doing enough to become members of the club. There is one person with whom we've visited and see around the marina that I have never seen without a glass of rum and coke in his hand ..... ever, even while driving his dingy. The books report that buying bottled liquor in the Bahamas costs less than buying cokes and beer and, probably, not too much more than buying water and diesel fuel. Maybe drinking a lot is a cost effective way of maintaining body hydration levels over there. Now, if there were only a way to get around that liver thing.

A phrase that has stuck in my mind from somewhere is: conservation society. It probably came from the recent 2-year long campaign season and sounds like a functional, but aspirational, oxymoron in a society where 2/3's of GDP comes from consumer spending. It does have a certain resonance on the boat though. It is pretty much the case that space limits the ability to acquire stuff in general and non-boat specific stuff in particular. We have come up with a sort of an axiom: the boat comes first, whether the resource at issue is time, money or space. There is always a place somewhere, somehow to store more motor oil or another cruising guide; it's the gold sequined, open-toed high heels that seem questionable, at least to a guy. All that being said, we now have a lot more stuff on the boat than when we left Oriental including the 5th anchor which we don't need and, now, the replacement hose for the engine cooling system as well as the spare parts for the O/B motor.

It is amazing how much solid waste we generate most of which comes from the packaging for food and drink. Coke cans, occasionally a Coors can and water bottles account for a lot of the bulk. It's hard to buy anything, from flags to flashlights, that does not come in a blister pack; these eat up tons of space. Disposal at a marina is not a problem; they all have dumpsters. And, most marinas have the facility to handle all of the by products from oil changes. In the out islands of the Bahamas disposal will almost certainly be a problem; we'll probably have to keep everything on board until we return to a populated port location.

An amazing truth will herein be revealed and blog readers should remember that they read it here first, before it hit the front page of the NY Times or the supermarket racks of the National Enquirer. Our small piece of fiberglass flotsam has an aspect which transcends even Roswell, NM or Area 51 for X-files eeriness: we have a black hole on board, and a unique one at that. In the far reaches of the universe the mass and the gravity of all other black holes dictate that they only pull things into themselves; ours, on occasion, also yields its treasure. We thought that we had been misplacing or losing small items such as flashlights and metal rules. The Eureka moment came the black hole simultaneously gave up both my wallet, claimed by gravity, not the sea as first thought, in Morehead City, and Carol's lost storm boot, the biggest item yet taken and physically too big too have been lost on such a small boat. The return of the wallet did us no good; Carol never lets me have any money and all the accounts and credit cards had long since been changed. Finding Carol's boot was good; she stayed warm and dry in a rain storm. One wonders if this black hole is sentient and can be propitiated; there are no virgins nearby that we can sacrifice but we might be able to gin up a Barbie doll. Maybe we could barter; I'm still missing a really good LED flashlight that I would give a lot to have back.

It's interesting how attuned to the boat we have become in the past two months. The boat has all sorts of noises not heard in a house or car; it also moves around a lot, but in predictable ways. We both notice when the boat "does something new." We have learned the hard way that any new sound should never, ever be ignored; there is almost always a penalty for having done so.

The single most frequent recreational activity on board is, of course, reading. Others might drink, but we read; P1230084.jpg Carol spends more time at it than do I, but we both do it a lot. It is, after all, an activity suited to small, confined spaces, i.e. our boat. With all the need to be frugal with space, books are not generally part of that discipline P1230083.jpg as my side of the V-berth shows. The good news is that we read, seemingly a dying art in today's world of text messages and Facebook postings. The bad news is what we read: mind candy with no nutritional value which may, in fact, be hazardous to mental health. Ludlum and Clancey are great; lots of absorbing pages with no particular point except to divert the mind. We actually do have some "good" books in the library. I have intended for years to read Faust, von Goethe, and have it on board. My mind, however, simply rebels at reading 400 pages in poetic meter; it took me until 2 years ago to read the Aeneid despite having read the Iliad and the Odyssey many times. It's that poetry thing. Carol similarly has a couple of aspirational books. The thing that feeds the mind candy habit is that many marinas have libraries where you swap books, taking one and leaving one. There are also used book stores galore and, here in Marathon, a Salvation Army Thrift Store that has even more of the same. I suppose in the islands there will be informal book swaps. When everything else has been read, desperation may drive me to von Goethe; until then more thrillers.

Posted by sailziveli 04:16 Comments (1)

Still in Marathon


Connie and Stan gave us a logbook to use to record the trip; and it is getting filled. Every few pages or so, there are quotes on travel. One that struck me, maybe because it was Helen Keller, my candidate for the most remarkable human being ever, is: Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

We finally decided to get the wind generator. As Carol said,"It's only money." The installation should start on 01/26/09, weather and other things permitting. If all goes well, maybe three days to install the unit and to rewire the solar panels, an effort to increase output by reducing the voltage drop though the old wires and corroding connectors. We were talking with Victoria, a friend who has a boat and who has cruised the south Pacific, and she reminded us of her definition of cruising: getting your boat worked on and repaired in exotic locations. Maybe Marathon is exotic after all.

The daunting thing is that to install the generator the three areas that have all of our storage, the rear cabin and the two lazarettes, will have to be completely emptied. My first thought was to wonder where it will all go; my second thought was not where it will go but where we will go when the areas are emptied. I just cannot imagine how we'll get it done, but we will because we have to.

This has been an interesting decision process, giving us a brief look into the lives of folks who never worked in a corporate office. The young man who will do the installation is a case in point.

He's probably in his mid thirties or so and lives with his wife and two children on their 56-ft. boat. At one time they had houses and cars but sold all that. His wife had been a teacher and is schooling the kids on the boat. He, more or less, "follows the fleet." The boats are south now and so is he; as the weather warms he'll work his way north as cruisers start to return to their home ports. Not withstanding the fact that we can't fix much of anything, this was not something that Carol and I would have considered in the late 60's and early 70's when we were setting out. Of course, the internet and cell phones, axiomatic to his enterprise, didn't exist then. http://www.transmarinepro.com/index.html

The other look, at a great remove, is the Canadian ex-pat who moved to Trinidad and decided to build a better mouse trap, in this case a wind generator. He now has, obviously, distribution in the US; my research on the internet indicated that boaters were very satisfied with his product. It's called the KISS wind generator for Keep It Simple Sailor. http://www.kissenergy.com/

On our last night in Key West, we met Amahl, our night visitor. This blue heron landed on our dingy and stayed there about 20 minutes through repeated flash exposures from the camera. Nothing camera shy about this bird. P1080062.jpg

On the way to Marathon from Key West we tried the new anchor. It must work pretty well; when it set, it set so hard that it seemed that the bow of the boat would come off. I finally found some information on anchoring technique; it confirmed what Mike had told me in Key West. As I was beginning to suspect, I have been doing just about everything just about exactly wrong.

That was an interesting anchorage. It took us about an hour to get from open water to where we anchored. In that time at the helm I never looked up; Carol was watching for other boats. All I looked at was the chartplotter and the depth sounder. There were only two navigation marks in two miles, or so, of shallow water and the book said that we would have to "sound" our way in. Did we ever! It worked OK, but I skipped 63 and 64 and went straight to 65.

We have a lot of printed resources on the boat, guides, charts, etc. So, when we're going someplace new, and every place is new to us, we have to prepare. You study the chart, drawn to scale, and the channel is 1/16-in. wide. And then comes reality! You're at the helm, looking over the bow at the navigation markers you just studied, and it slowly becomes clear that the chart was precisely right: the channel really is 1/16-in. wide and there's no way that you can possibly get the boat through there. That's when the flop sweat starts.

Yesterday, Friday, was a work day. We have developed an extensive checklist of things that we look at on a regular basis. These are things that we've picked up from reading manuals, books, talking to other people and having repairs done to the boat. Our theory, maybe more of a hope, is that if we pay attention to the basics such as fluids, filters, hoses, etc. then the chances of a motor failure go down; they're never zero, but a lower number seems better than a higher one.

I thought that we had a pretty good assortment of generic parts to maintain the boat, but the list keeps growing. I inspect the hoses for the cooling system. All of them have chaffing gear, really just another piece of hose over the active one. I noticed that one of the pieces of chaffing had just about worn through and the hose was next. After fixing that came the simple question: why don't we have lengths of replacement hose? And then, talking to Jay, came the issue of extra shear pins and, maybe, a propeller for the dingy motor. Some things are so obvious that they cannot be seen.

We've been doing some stuff with Sue & Jay. They asked us out to see a "surprise," which turned out to be very interesting. There is a store that sells bait & tackle, diving gear, has a marina, etc. The store also has a large salt water pond in front which is well stocked with native fish. At 4:00 pm the owner feeds the fish chunks of cut up wahoo and squid. In the pond were four tarpon, each at least 3-ft. long, some very big grouper, two nurse sharks, one moray eel and sundry smaller fish. It was fascinating to see the fish on the surface of the water competing for the food. None of the fish seemed very impressed with the nurse sharks which were 4/5-ft. long. Maybe the Jaws theme music would have added some suspense to the meal.

Today, Sunday, the four of us went to Key West to hear a singer Sue and Jay particularly enjoy. Lunch was at Margaritaville and the burgers were really good.P1180075.jpg That really was the table at which we ate, right in front of the stage. Some of the employees in the store were all atwitter because there had been a confirmed Jimmy Buffet sighting that morning.

Then on to the concert which was held in the garden of the oldest extant house in Key West, built in 1829. It has survived lots of hurricanes and several fires. The house is on Duval Street, the main tourist drag in Key West. The concert was actually in the garden behind the house and the garden was remarkable. You leave the noise and the traffic on Duval St. and enter an oasis of tranquility and greenery. This is the four of us again;P1180078_JPG.jpg the two cousins;P1180079_JPG.jpg and two red heads.P1180077_JPG.jpg

The singer, Fiona Molloy, concentrates on Irish music, she was born in Ireland after all, P1180082_JPG.jpgand also likes some American folk music. www.fionamolloy.com/home.html She sang for almost three solid hours: it was a great show and she has a wonderful voice. On a It's a Small World Note: we arrived well before the show started when Fiona was unloading and setting up. The four of us were near Fiona when she looked at Carol and said, "We met in the laundromat." Fiona and Carol had met and talked a couple of weeks earlier when we were in Key West and they were both washing clothes.

Posted by sailziveli 07:14 Comments (3)

Marathon Redux

Seeing Sue & Jay


After leaving Key West, it took us two days to get back to Marathon, FL, near where Sue and Jay stay on Ohio Key. Funny what a difference the wind makes. With the wind behind us it took about nine hours to get to Key West; against the wind, two days for the reverse trip.

However, we did sail both days for about a half day. Beating to windward and tacking is a lot of fun, and seems to capture an essence of sailing. It is also very hard physical work. Our autopilot is not an option in higher winds and the boat ride can be rough with the bow into the waves and the boat heeling over. When heading up the real reason many sailors seem take down the sails and turn on the motor is geometry. In a perfect Pythagorean world, if you could cut exact 45 degree turns, the boat has to travel 2 miles tacking to cover 1.4 miles of linear course. As a matter of practice on a well piloted boat it may work out to more like 2 miles to travel 1; we probably cannot even do that. A lot of fun but not too much accomplished.

We're staying in Boot Key Harbor, run by the city of Marathon. It's a mooring field with about 200 spots to park boats. Most are in use because there is some lousy weather coming through and everyone is looking for a sheltered mooring, which these are. It's a good enough facility which shopping a vigorous walk away. For a look at the area, connect to http://www.bootkeyharbor.com/BKHAerial.htm

We met some folks from Oriental that we didn't know the other day, and have also seen two other sets of people that we did know, also from Oriental; sailboating is a small world it seems.

On Sunday, 01/11/09 Jay invited me to go fishing along with a friend of his, Opie. Jay has about a 16-ft. aluminum boat that handled the three of us very well. We started fishing near one off the old railroad bridges. These are no longer in use and are, through deterioration from the salt and elements, becoming de facto man made reefs and great for fishing. We were catching a lot of fish, but not any that were keepers. Florida has many regulations about fishing and the best fish to eat, of course, have strict size limits; all of the good ones that we caught were under sized. So, we moved to a location more in the open water and, finally, started putting some fish into the cooler. All told, we caught 11 keepers, ranging from about 10-in. to 14-in. The fishing highlight of the day was at the very end. We were back by the bridge, trying to "use up" the last of our bait. Opie had a nice yellowtail on his line and was trying to get it into the boat. When the fish was about 5-ft. from the boat and we were thinking about reaching for the net to land it, along comes a 4/5-ft. shark that also wanted Opie's fish for supper. Opie yanked the fish out of the water and into the air; Jay grabbed the net and caught the fish in mid-air. Tinker to Evers to Chance. If only we had a video!

After Jay and Opie did the hard work of filleting the fish, they gave Carol and me most of the day's catch. We had the fish for dinner last night and the eating was really, really good. I'm not sure how the details will work out, but fishing for supper will be part of a routine in the Bahamas.

Being on the boat is different. At all times the boat demands a great deal of attention; there is always a list of things to do and the list always requires something or another to be purchased. So any project breaks down into three parts: one, schlepp around to try to get the necessary parts and pieces; two, make the repairs and, always, three, discover what other parts and pieces you need but don't have so you go back to step one. It's good to do these projects; it forces us to poke and probe into parts of the boat that do not normally attract attention. In the end, we better understand the boat.

The other aspect of the boat, particularly when the weather is calm and warm, is that it inspires an intense interest in doing absolutely nothing. Sitting about and looking at the horizon is an activity that can fully occupy the mind. This was our view on a lazy Saturday morning in Boot Key Harbor.Mangrove_S.._Harbor.jpg

On Tuesday evening a sailboat was coming into a mooring and ran hard aground. I felt a great deal of sympathy for the boat; we had been on the exact same shoal on 12/31/08, our first time into the harbor. Our keel is different and we were able to power our way off the shoal; this boat was unable to do that. So, five or six guys powered up their dingies and converged at the boat. After a few efforts that didn't work we got serious. One dingy took a halyard from the boat to tip over the boat, via the mast; this has the effect of making the draft shallower. When this was done all the other boats pushed on the other side. Amazingly, it worked and we able to push the boat into deeper water. An interesting example of a successful undirected, ad hoc team. The next day a huge motor vessel went aground near the same area. It was like the Ritz-Carlton except with a hull instead of a foundation. No sails .... so, no one came out to help.

The anticipated front arrived on Tuesday night, a little rain and a lot of wind. The temperature dropped to an unthinkable, bone chilling 58 degrees and we went back under the bunk to retrieve some of the winter wear that we had thought to have been packed away for good. I looked at Spring Creek's weather and there were special weather advisories about snow, more snow and black ice. That makes this seems seriously not too bad.

This is the first time that we have been around a lot of boats in close proximity. The various iterations of sailboats are amazing; sizes, colors, sails and rigging of every conceivable combination. And more interesting, so many dogs. Most of the dogs are poncey little things, lots of bark and not much else. However, some people have real dogs. We met two ladies that are cruising with two setters that weigh about 70-lb. each. I hadn't realized how much I miss having a dog. Wile E. may be a weenie but he's a dog and it's good to have a dog, even a red weenie dog. All dogs, including Wile E., understand faithful and loyal and all dogs talk exactly the right amount.

Carol and I have been talking about getting a wind generator. We've been living like "electrical" hermits in order to save power. The solar panels put out good energy but not enough to keep up with the refrigerator. The choices seem to be four: (1) stop using the refrigerator, an inconvenient idea; (2) run the engine a lot to keep the batteries charged, generally a bad idea; (3) buy a 150-lb generator for which we have no room, an impractical idea; (4) get a wind generator, maybe an OK idea.

If we get the generator, we'll end up here in Marathon until early/mid February. This would be OK since the mooring is cheap and the weather in the Bahamas gets better towards March. More to follow, the next time with pictures of the cousins and, maybe, trophy fish.

Posted by sailziveli 04:37 Comments (2)

Key West, FL

We arrived in Key West on New Year's day. In approximate terms we have covered 1,000 miles, probably a little more, of which about half were on the open water, i.e. the Atlantic Ocean, and the rest on the ICW.

Despite the many years that Carol and I lived in Florida, she had never been to Key West and I had been here only for a few hours at the airport in 1964. So, this is all be new to us.

We are staying in a mooring field managed by the Key West City Marina. Of all the places that we have stayed, this is the one we like the least. Skipping all of the details, if someone had not been kind enough to help us tie onto the mooring ball, we would not have been able to stay here. In most businesses you don't make it extra hard for customers to acquire/consume your product; this place is a notable exception. And, after a long ride to the dingy dock, it's a1/2-mile walk to the showers which have been unfavorably compared to those in a Cuban prison.

Line_Dancing_Pelicans.jpgWe saw these pelicans line dancing on our way from the marina office.

We have about a 1.5 mile ride to get to the dingy dock, a lot of that ride is on exposed, open water. Not a huge deal as long as the winds stay under 15 knots. Otherwise it gets very bouncy and riders get very wet. This stay has shown us that our current dingy solution, an 11-ft. inflatable boat with a 4-HP motor, is not great. When we bought the boat the instructions were that 4-HP was the maximum size that could be safely used. With one person in the boat it may go 8~10 MPH; with two people that drops to about 6~8 MPH. In most cases this is just a matter of inconvenience and a longer ride. However, if we hit areas with strong tidal flows, it may be hard to make safe progress against the current. And, we met a guy who has the exact boat and he has an 8-HP motor and seems to do just fine.

Key West is pretty much a tourist place and economy with Navy and a Coast Guard bases. It is a good place to be a tourist; however, nothing is free except one public restroom. All other activities cost, even state parks.

The area is beautiful with an interesting history. The housing stock is fairly old. I guess that all the land was "built out" by the late 70's or early 80's. What's interesting is that there are no McMansions anywhere to be seen. The city must have ordinances against tear-downs. I assume that you can remodel the interior of any house as long as you leave the exterior walls as they were. This has really maintained the charm of the place. Many of the houses are hard to see from the street; the foliage can be very thick and very beautiful.Mixed_Greens.jpgBeauganvilla_at_wall.jpg

The historic, old town is at the southwest part of the island as is the port area. This is where we have spent most of our time as do thousands of other visitors. On Tuesday, 01/06, we rented a motor scooter to be able to cover more ground; the island is too big to cover on foot. Scooters are ubiquitous down here; if we lived here, we would have one too.

We did a bunch of touristy stuff including: going to the southernmost point of land in the USA;Carol___Me..thpoint.jpg Carol was very taken with this sign which shows the southern terminus of US1;0Carol___US1.jpg bougainvillea are like weeds here;Carol_by_Beauganvilla.jpg we saw the Key West lighthouse.Key_West_Lighthouse.jpg

There is a Hemingway House on the island that I had wanted to visit; he is, after all, my favorite author. Not only is nothing free, everything is expensive; So, we found this portrait in a hotel on Duval St. It had to satisfy my Hemingway jones for the trip.Me_and_the_MAN_.jpg.

Banyan trees are common in south Florida; this is a fairly large one.Banyan_Tree.jpg I have no idea what type of tree this is but it is huge.Carol___Ea..er_Tree.jpg

Duval St. is, more or less, Key West's answer to Bourbon St., pubs, t-shirt shops and restaurants. In the middle block of Duval is a huge Episcopal ChurchEpiscopal_..n_Duval.jpg, probably much needed by the passers-by, but underutilized. One street over, Whitehead St. is a lovely old, store church with stained glass windows. Old_Church_Window.jpg

On Monday, 01/05, Sue and Jay, having settled in on Ohio Key, came down to Key West and we went out together. We saw and toasted the sundown, with clouds maybe a 4 on a scale of 10, and went to dinner on Duval St.

Last night, Tuesday, we had a reunion of sorts. Two friends from the Whittaker Pointe Marina are in Key West. in 2007 our three boats were within 100-ft. of each other. Now, over a year later, they are probably within 1-mile of each other, although at a 1,000-mile change in latitude.Whittaker_..Reunion.jpg Wayne and Michael are doing well and, after about a year in Key West, will probably be moving on to other places. But, it was great to visit old friends.

We are waiting for yet another anchor to be delivered. We have the boat for a year and a half and are now on our 7th anchor. The event in Ocracoke made a deep impression on me. And since anchors address safety and security, it's a reasonable place to waste money. We'll keep four on board; two recommended by the US Navy; one by LLoyd's of London; the other is generic. Step two is learning to use them well, individually and in pairs.

After the anchor arrives, probably Thursday, and I have watched the Florida game on Thursday night at the local VFW post, we'll head back east to visit Sue and Jay. We should be able to anchor near their RV park on Ohio Key. I hope Jay will take me fishing so that I can pick up some tips.

Posted by sailziveli 05:53 Comments (3)

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