Friday, April 3, 2020

Key West - Renovations

Renovation Time! No access for five months!
The city marina is old. The other marinas have passed it by in the measure of facilities for boaters. The showers were ancient and toilets were few. Finally, the city decided a renovation was in order and started on the project this week for the city marina showers and heads. When I asked how long it would take, the dockmaster just smiled and said it's due to be done by August - but in Key West we always double the number of days to get anything done. I said I was familiar with that from the time I spent in the Caribbean, it's called "island time" which does not equal our time, it's always longer, much longer.

A very odd view of the dinghy dock at Key West, where is everybody?
Hopefully, we're out of here by the time it's finished but that means we have to send our laundry out to be done since the laundry is part of the upgrading project. We tried that for the first time this past Thursday and it worked out better than I expected. Okay, I thought, we can handle passing the laundry bag to the guy on the dock and getting it back about two hours later, good service, plus it keeps us out of crowds. The clothes come back clean and pressed, not hard to take.

As you would expect, the dinghy dock is not at all crowded anymore. You want a dock, no problem, just motor right up (but pay the monthly fee). We're up to 38 cases here in Monroe County, higher than I wanted but better than most anywhere else for the same population.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Key West - Osprey Harassment

He's about to take off! 
We occasionally get a bird perched on top of our mast. It provides a magnificent view, I guess, of the surrounding territory. The trouble is that they tend to "let go" from that perch and I have to clean it up.

In the air!
Given that, I encourage the bird to move, in this case, an Osprey. I'mi sure he was surveying this domain for food from his high perch. I was not keen on that idea due to past experience with what's left. So I pounded on the shrouds but it had no effect. I tried the halyards, same result. Then I went forward and pulled back and forth on the furled jib and that did the trick, off he flew.

There he goes!
Dennis, the one that runs the Breezin charter was near and he took photos of the event which I've included in tonight's blog. The last entry is a video of the Osprey flying away. They truly are beautiful birds but you really do not want them at the top of your mast.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Key West - A Zoom Family Get Together

Here you see the Zoom app on our iPad with each attendee getting a screen with audio
We expanded our Family Get-Togethers to twice a week. After discovering Zoom (app for Apple, Android, or PC products), we've enjoyed the last meeting so much that we'll have two meetings a week now. Everybody gets a box on the screen with audio so everyone can hear and see everyone else. It works without a hitch and best of all, it's completely free.

So today we had my daughter and her two kids in Pennsylvania, Philip and Monique and their three kids in Connecticut, Shirley and Raechel in Indiana, with us in Key West. The connections were flawless and we all had a good time seeing each other. It's no substitute for in-person meetings but it's a big step up from just texting.

I'll end with a flower, I mean, do you really want to see more virus news?
Florida just declared a statewide stay at home directive for the next 30 days so we have to sit tight until things ease up. Our county has 27 cases but the daily increase is now down to 1 or 2 a day, much less than last week. That helped, no doubt, by the blockage of US 1 where only residents of the Keys are allowed in. Over the weekend, the police turned away almost 1000 cars, that's got to help slow down the spread.

Our only concern is the hurricane season coming up, we really need to get out of the Keys before then, the middle of July at least.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Key West - Walks in the shade and alleyways

Eaton Street Seafood Market still has takeout but no eating outside
We always go out for a walk in the morning before the heat of the day. In this day and age of social distancing, the walks are somewhat modified. We were headed away from the docks and as we walked on the sidewalk, we saw one person headed our way. As he got closer, he stepped out into the street (there's no traffic!) and walked by. When I looked back, he had returned to the sidewalk. He had maintained the requisite 6 ft easily and then some.

It's becoming a common occurrence on our walks. We even do it. We saw a man walking a dog towards us so we crossed over the street with Hoolie on the other sidewalk and continued on, it's become second nature. When standing in line at the bakery shop, the people stand 6 ft apart. It looks a little strange but as time goes on, it looks less strange every day. Such as the times.

Schooner America 2.0 is locked up tight, waiting for the virus to subside
We use Winn Dixie's home delivery today to get groceries. Our "shopper" identified herself via IM and we chatted back and forth as she looked at our list and tried to find the items we had specified. It's in real-time. She couldn't find a few of the items and even said the bagged salad I had listed didn't look so good. I told her to buy what looked best and to substitute similar items for other things on the list if they didn't have them in the store.

When she was done, she texted me when she was leaving so I met her at the end of the dock and loaded the cart. The cost by the month was $15 and there was no extra delivery charge above that if the total of the groceries was above $35, we easily passed that hurdle. However, I did give her a good tip. We are really loaded up on boneless chicken breasts. It's like a universal meat and there are a zillion recipes for dinner with chicken breasts.

We continue to bide our time, watching the news occasionally, we can't take the news all day, just in small doses. The route into Key West is still blocked and they are turning away hundreds of cars with people that are not residents of the Keys. As one person said, we are the nation's largest gated community. The virus ought to die out if the people that have it are isolated and no new cases are allowed in. We'll see.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Key West - Statues as art?

A nice addition to any yard, I can see it in my front yard now...
Key West is home to a number of would-be artists. They try to make their own mark, some are good, some are something other. As I was walking around the harbor walk, I sampled a few of the local tries.

On the other hand, it's hard to picture this anywhere - but Schooner Wharf
Several are by the Marker Hotel and one was by someone associated with Schooner Wharf. Our custom continues to walk in the shade since the sun is so hot at this latitude.

By the Marker Hotel
The statues make an interesting diversion along the way. I don't think I would want to buy one for New York but in Key West, it's fine, I guess.

Waterfront decoration
We continue to press on. The governor of Virginia just announced a stay at home order carrying through until June 10th! That is seriously impacting our plans since we wanted to be at Stingray Point Boat Works at least by June. We normally get there by May 15th but with the delay, we were hoping for a June arrival.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Key West - Wyland, birdhouses, yellow flowers

Wyland's art on the wall as well walk in the morning
There is an artist that paints sea scenes all over the world, Wyland and he has a mural in Key West too (see photo). His murals are all over the world and he periodically renews the paints as they fade with age. We see this one every morning when we go out for a walk. We will occasionally walk down Duval Street to see him at work when he's in town.

If one is good, why not eight?
We took our usual walk on the shady side of the street and Ann took photos for use in her paintings. We've fallen into a routine of Ann taking an art class from Great Courses that's free if you have a library card from any public library. You can download Kanopy as an app to your smart TV or Roku or Amazon Firestick and take any of the Great Courses for free. It's a great way to learn a new skill. All the courses are taught by college professors or leaders in their field and are professionally done, highly recommended.

I liked the illumination from the back
For some people, one birdhouse is not enough but then some seem to go overboard! At least there's no shortage of housing down here for birds. While Ann takes a Great Courses study, I just catch up on all the SiFi titles I've missed over the last two years. Altered Carbon is one I'm into now, a great series while Ann takes the How to Draw from a professor at Washington State University.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Key West - What do the charters do when there are no tourists?

What to do all day if you have no business?
We've been here 10 years and we've known Dennis for the same length of time. He runs a sailboat charter called Breezin that takes tourists out for a sail three times a day when there business. He has a five-star rating on TripAdvisor with 208 reviews where every single one is the highest possible rating of "Excellent". So what does Dennis do now that there are no tourists to take out for a sail, well just look at the photo. He's been in Key West doing this for the last l7 years, he's not hurting.

Nice beach, no people allowed
The beaches are closed for the most part. We have such wonderful weather and yet the beaches are closed. It's all for the best, I guess. Key West can be isolated by cutting off entry via US1 so it should be a test case of how to control an outbreak. If you can't stop it here, you can't stop it anywhere. So far, we have 19 cases of the virus, most travel related but not all. We'll see how it goes. At this rate, it may be June before we head north although we're hoping for a much earlier date. It all depends on how things progress. At any rate, we feel very safe here, not so much on the way north.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Key West - Places with Takeout - The Dirty Pig

It's nice inside with a large area for the Blues band and plenty of seating
Restaurants come and go in Key West. Some stay around longer than others but new ones are always popping up. A welcomed addition is The Dirty Pig which is a barbeque restaurant serving North Carolina style BBQ. They are located in a place that must attract the local residents in order to be successful since they are off the main drag. They specialize in Blues music and they attract a crowd.

The most important part of the restaurant is the BBQ cooker which starts up at 6:00 am every day.
However, like everywhere else in Key West, they are currently only doing takeout. Well, actually, almost all restaurants are closed, only a few are continuing to do takeout and The Dirty Pig is one of them. They have a number of trophies on display from awards they've won in touring competition. From what I've had (before the shutdown), the awards are well deserved.

It will be cook's night off Saturday or Sunday and we'll take a plate of BBQ over to Fleetwing and dine looking out over the water in 77F weather. We are quite isolated but well situated, it's just wait and see what happens. US1 was closed off today which only furthers the isolation. No boats are allowed into the Keys so we ought to have a very controlled environment which ought to be a good thing. We're biding our time.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Key West - Bien and takeout

Bien - A common theme, order at the counter - take out
If you want to eat out, take out is the only option. However, the choice of restaurants is very limited, only a few offer takeout. For most restaurants, especially the upscale ones, there's not enough business to justify staying open. Bien is the second-highest-rated restaurant in Key West. It always comes out near the top in all rankings. It used to be a gas station but it was converted into a restaurant of the highest quality food.

They never did have much of a seating area - but the food made up for it
They have remained in business to offer take out and we'll be partaking of their Caribbean menu over the next few weeks. You can no longer eat outside due to the town restrictions but we'll take it to the cockpit of Fleetwing and have a feast.

For those that thought you would get away without a flower photo - think again! These are all over one side of Bienh
The US1 roadblock goes into effect on Friday. No one is allowed in except residents. The coronavirus total now stands at 12 for Monroe County which includes Key West. I expect a few more cases before things level off. At least there are no more people coming in.

As you would expect, the weather is stunning for going north but we won't be able to take advantage of the favorable winds. Here we sit until things settle down, hopefully by the end of April. We have our fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Key West - A virus free zone, again - I like flowers!

I remember these from two years ago, stunning in person
The virus news is never-ending so we took our antivirus walk this afternoon and admired the flowers of Key West, it amuses us - maybe not our readers so much - but that's how it goes. This time of the year, we plan our walks so we're in the shade most of the time. The air temperature may be in the high 70s but when you're in the sun, it feels like 100.

A very popular flower in Key West, it's all over
Unfortunately, when we walk in the afternoon, the sun aligns with the streets. You're in the shade on one street but when you turn the corner, the sun is directly on you, no shade. Now, if only we could have convinced the city planners to rotate the streets about 45 degrees, then that would suit us just fine for our walks.

The old standby - by BOs Fishwagon across the street. They have been blooming for at least 10 years. 
I don't know the names of any of the flowers, if they're pretty to look at, I'll snap a photo. It takes our mind off the virus news. If you really want local virus news, just Google the local newspaper.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Key West - Diver Day, closing up, Cuban Coffee Queen closes

Peak activity time in Key West
Normally this time of the month we would be getting ready to leave Key West to start our trek north. I had scheduled a diver to clean the bottom and replace the zinc but since we were not leaving until much later, I just had him replace the zinc. Somewhat to my surprise, the zinc was less than half consumed! I attribute that to the zinc fish I put overboard and attach to the shrouds that supplements the zinc on the prop. The zinc used to be completely gone without the overboard zinc.

The Marker Hotel - boarding up the garage (it has no other doors)
I walked Hoolie around tonight and images of Key West look like a scene out of On The Beach, completely deserted. The Marker Hotel was putting up plywood to cover the entrance to their garage, I guess that means they plan on being closed for a while.

A most sad photo
The Cuban Coffee Queen was not open at all, much to our surprise. I thought that since it was take-out food, it would be open all the time but that is not the case. Maybe there just was not enough business to justify staying open. BO's Fishwagon looked open but there was only cook around and nobody was ordering fish sandwiches. I'm sure Key West will recover but it's going to take a while and nobody knows when this current crisis will end. Ann continues to paint and I work on my Facebook page. It's a good thing we have excellent internet.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Key West - Palm trees, seagulls, and beautiful weather

He was rather bold
The seagulls are getting a little bolder. Normally, they do not mix with the pelicans who reign supreme. With the thinning out of the crowds and the attendant drop-offs in handouts, there are fewer pelicans which is a boon for seagulls. Still, it's not seagull heaven, just a few more around.

I've become fond of palm trees
We are still in the dry season in Key West. We haven't had rain for more than a couple of weeks. The palm trees don't seem to mind and I think they have their own beauty in the spread of the leaves against a blue sky background.

We now have a clear view of the horizon given that the big boats ahead of us are all gone. 
The crowds are all gone now and we're a day into our 14 day stay at home time period. Key West is not very big. If people can just isolate for 14 days, the virus will play out and go away. However, anybody coming into the Keys can bring in a fresh infection. Given that Key West's economy is based on tourism, that's a tough thing to prevent - or sell to the local businesses that depend upon tourists for their livelihood. They are giving it a try, we'll see how it goes.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Key West - Closing Down

Schooner Wharf only has takeout - no music

Today was the day when all the tourists had to leave. Key West is a ghost town. The restaurants had to close but could stay open for takeout if they wanted to. At first, many restaurants did stay open for that but gradually they closed when no customers showed up. The restaurants charged the same prices for take out as for a sit-down meal, not many people wanted that bargain.

The windjammers are losing business big time
Anyway, as of 6:00 pm, all the tourists were to be gone and no more were to come in. I can still see flights arrive, they fly near the marina. Supposedly, there are no tourists on board, just locals. Walking around the harbor gives you an eerie feeling, like a scene out of "On the Beach".

Normally jammed with people, not anymore
We walk Hoolie three times a day but do not touch anything. I think someone could make a fortune selling 20 second timers you start with your elbow. We certainly practice that procedure enough during the day.

Still we have sunsets - but Mallory Square is closed
We also discovered the app Zoom. It runs on your tablet, smartphone, or PC. It's super simple to set up and you can form a meeting and invite your friends or family to join. Everybody can see and hear everybody else. It's a great way to keep in touch in these times of social distancing, especially since we're so far south here in Key West and our families are up north. Day to day, it's great weather but it's hard to relax with all the news.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Key West - Manatees and a fish catch

Aww, how cute
All short term visitors are to leave by Sunday afternoon at 6:00 pm. That doesn't include us since we have a long term (greater than 28 days) lease on our slip. It's eerie to walk down streets that used to be full of people to find them now empty. They were telling people on moorings that they had to leave if their lease was less then 28 days. I can't imagine where they would go, all the Keys are closed just like Key West, it's the same county mandate.

Nevertheless, the manatees are still here and we saw a mother and her calf this afternoon. They were just in front of Fleetwing, not moving very much, just lazing around. The calf kept very close to its mother.

The captain was very happy
On the way back, we saw a fishing boat pull in with a nice catch. I don't know the type of fish but the captain seemed very satisfied with what he had! Somebody will have good eating tonight.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Key West - Social Isolation in a Sailboat

Social Distancing in a sailboat
How do you practice social isolation in a sailboat? First, you clear out boats on either side and in front. Then you get the ones off your aft end to leave. That leaves you with a buffer zone of 20 to 30 feet in all directions. Now, the cockpit is already 40 feet away from the dock since we're bow in so all of that makes for a pretty good isolation situation.

Social Distancing - Marina style - step up to the window but don't come in
Apparently, that's not enough for the commissioner of Monroe County who is directing all nonresidents to leave by Sunday, including those at a marina with the sole exception of those with a long term lease. Since we have already paid up through 4/26, I would think we would be able to stay but nothing is certain in these times anymore. We will find out more tomorrow.

About how we feel - prickly, unwanted, etc.
Meanwhile, we went grocery shopping this morning at the local store which is halfway between a supermarket and a 7/11. They had a huge 18 wheeler parked out front dispensing boxes and boxes of groceries. We shopped in the store and got everything we came for except orange juice. We are good for about a month before we need another big grocery trip.

Of course, in the middle of all this, the weather is glorious. Now that all the tourists have gone, the weather couldn't be better with no rain and temps in the 70s. We'll see what tomorrow brings on how the nonresident rules apply to us with our "long term lease".

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Key West - At the end of the island chain

There's a plant that looks like a tree with these blossoms this time of the year. 
We're at the end of the road from Miami, mile zero. As far as you can get and still be connected by a road. Surrounded by water, the temperature is moderated so it's never very cold in the winter which promotes tropical plants that you won't see anywhere else in the US.

You can keep them out, they invade through the fence.
Our walking tour this afternoon included a nearby alley with lots of plantings with photo opportunities. I don't know the names of any of the plants and flowers but I do enjoy just admiring the beauty. The temperatures are downright hot in the sun so we pick a route with shade.

I've only seen such large palms in Key West
The boats continue to thin out. The one off our bow is due to leave Sunday which will put no boats within 50 feet of us in any direction. Even then, the one boat that close has no one on board. We're about as isolated as you can get in the US.

A little different color along side the walkway
I went by the fish market this afternoon which is still up and running. I got a pound of pink Key West shrimp and Ann did her usual magic. It was great! We're all in good spirits, just waiting out the situation and we'll decide later what to do.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Key West - Virus free blog site

The house (?) doesn't look like much but oh those flowers
I'm tired of all the news - so from now on, I'll assume you've heard enough about that subject. Let's just enjoy some pretty pictures!

This si a typical key West house - two-story and well kept
We like to take afternoon walks and enjoy some side trips through local alleys that have well-kept plantings. Some houses may look well worn but they almost always have great beauty surrounding them in the form of flowers. 

The owner put a little thought in his garden by the front door, nice
We like to admire the flowers and plants and forget about everything else. The weather is in the 70's with no rain, full sunshine, what is it we have to complain about? Life goes on and Ann paints in the cockpit while I work in the main salon on boat stuff over the internet. We are both very content, what else matters?

If we stay through the end of our reservations, we have two more months of this, I think I can take it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Key West - It's closing down

BOs Fishwagon is kind of empty - take out only
All the bars and restaurants are closing today at 5:00 pm. The restaurants can still offer take out food but no inside seating. This is going to hit Key West like a ton of bricks. Their entire economy is tourism. I think they waited until today to allow St Patrick's Day go on which is a big event down here.

Same thing across the street at Pepe's, take out only
There was a fishing tournament that was canceled too along with a host of other events. Everything is just closing down. I hear that it's similar to the rest of the nation. One wonders if the cure is worst than the disease. A lot of people without an income down here is going to be hurt. However, the edicts are there to prevent the spread of the virus which could be even worst, especially for people our age.

No crowds at Only Wood looking for take out
I took Hoolie for a walk tonight and took photos of some of the familiar haunts that look eerie without the usual crowds. I think they are very optimistic to think this is only going to be a two-week thing. I don't think things will return to normal until everyone is vaccinated and that could take 12 to 18 months at least.

Likewise at the Raw Bar, nothing open
On that cheery thought, we'll be around here for a while, probably until May 26, when we'll reassess our situation. At least the weather is nice, in the 70s every day and we get our exercises in with running in the morning and a walk with Hoolie in the afternoon. We'll make do...
At least we had a sunset - Mallory Square is closed at sunset time

Monday, March 16, 2020

Key West - Dante's Pool closed, crowds thinning out

Dante's Pool - usually shoulder to shoulder with spring breakers
Key West declared an emergency today which gave them additional powers to deal with the virus. There are still no confirmed cases of the virus in Key West but there are some cases in Miami. The bars and beaches were left open but gatherings of more than 50 people were not advised. In response, Dante's pool was closed today. It had yellow tape all around the pool. In the past, it was a meeting place for the spring breakers who stood shoulder to shoulder while standing in the water.

Not the usual crowd
I got the propane tank filled and on the way back, I stopped at the hardware store to buy batteries, they had plenty. They also had toilet paper. l don't understand the attraction of buying extra toilet paper? We went shopping at the local supermarket and there were plenty of items on the shelves, no shortages down here.

However, still a good crowd at Kraals
That said, the crowds are thinning out some. The cruise ships no longer stop for the next 30 days at least and the spring breakers ought to be lessening too. Meanwhile, we've decided to stay put at least for the next month and maybe the next two months. Fleetwing is docked bow-in so we aren't close to people walking along the dock, a form of "social distancing" I guess. We will head north after things cool down a bit. Until then, we'll have to put up with 70 to 80 degree weather, sunshine, and no rain. Oh well, we'll manage.