Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Key West - Cooler days

$450/night if they have a room
Our temperature topped out at 80 yesterday and now we're in for cooler weather, the lower 70's. Ann is enjoying doing her painting while I'm down below doing boat planning stuff for our upcoming trip north. I think I've found a 8 MLLW path through the east entrance to Dawho River where there's only 5 MLLW if you follow the buoyed route. The route is from the survey by USACE of Charleston. As far as I know, no one has ever taken that particular route. It's outside the buoyed channel. When we go north, we'll give it a try. If anyone else wants to try their luck at it, send me a comment below and I'll forward the waypoints. An extra three feet would be a great benefit to those transiting that shallow passage.

Totems? Hotels like these always seem to have this sort of thing around.
Key West is always changing. I snapped a photo of the Marker hotel It's sitting on what used to be a vacant lot when we first starting coming to Key West. The rooms, I'm told, are very nice but they go for $450/night. The hotel occupies most of a city block and it's right next to Schooner Wharf so it's in an ideal location for marina action.

Yesterday I bought 300 ft of 5/8 inch line from West Marine at 40% off their usual list price. They've announced a new policy of not being undersold by anyone, including internet sellers. I guess they've gotten religion because they were losing customers right and left. Now they have a price matching policy which is long overdue. Maybe with that they will become a useful supply store for mariners. They were just too overpriced in the past.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Key West - Cycles and chains

I guess I don't understand, if you're going to buy a motorcycle this elaborate, why not just get a car?
We heard a rumor that there was snow up north and we received regular reports on the progress of the winter storm. We watched the progress on our house cam of the front driveway. It's a good way to watch winter weather, from a distance! We have a friend that keeps the driveway plowed and I think the bill is going to be rather larger than normal with all the storms.

Not to say anything negative, but the heavier the chain the better
for locking down a bike
So we took it all in as we basked in 80 degree weather. March is the dry season down in Key West. There's no bugs in the harbor and not much rain aside from an occasional shower. Key West does an amazing job of keeping the insects at bay. It's the only place we've been down south where you can sit on the back of your boat in the evening and never see even one flying insect. I hear they have a very aggressive policy on enforcing a rule on no standing water. Bird baths are a big no-no around here. The enforcement officers have the freedom to come on your property to make sure there's no breeding area for mosquitoes.

Mallory Square from afar
We still get out in the morning before the heat and take a walk in the afternoon on the shady side of the streets. It's a beautiful place with all the tropical plants. I didn't get over to Mallory Square tonight but the sunset was still pretty.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Key West - A potpourri of performers at Mallory Square

This guy could play that piamo!
With the onset of daylight savings time, I now have time to get over to Mallory Square before the sun sets when take Hoolie out for his evening walk. In addition to watching the sunset, Mallory Square is also famous for its performers. They lay a rope around an area where they perform to mark out a sort of a stage. There's always the ceremonial pot for collecting excess change from the tourists strategically placed for easy accessibility.

Care for a coconut?
Then there's the "patter" to go along with the performance, it wouldn't be the same without it. The acts vary from sword swallowing to fortune telling to just playing a piano some dance to. There's lots of stuff to eat as you would expect but I didn't see alcoholic beverages being served.

I first say this guy 8 years ago!
The big attraction, of course, is the sunset. All the performances halt when that draws near. Everyone looks out to see the sun sink into the ocean. After that, everything starts up again for those that stay around.

Sword Swallowing anyone?
Taking Hoolie through this sea of humanity is an exercise in frustration. He's looking everywhere for his next meal and especially any other dog around, of which there are plenty. So it's a constant tug in all directions, but then he's a dog.It was 80 today, hot weather has arrived. 
Finally, the sun nears the horizon and all activity stops!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Key West - A calm day

Just a walk down a street two blocks away
We decided to take the day off from any boat chores to rest up for the following week. We have two more weeks to go on our Key West adventure. It hardly seems possible that time flies by so quickly! Now I have to start thinking about the things I have to do to get the boat ready for the trip north. However, today was a rest day and we took full advantage of the 79 degree day with full sun and little wind.

Old Town Bakery is the place to go for pastries or just a quick breakfast. We visit them every Sunday morning. They also have excellent breads and we have one in the pantry now that we cut a slice off for lunch everyday. The place is another one of those Key West institutions, it's been there forever.

Orchids in full bloom on the same street, stunning when in person
Our afternoon walks have shifted over from being in the sun for warmth to seeking the shady side of the street due to the sun. Once you're away from the water and the breezes, the southern sun can heat you up in a hurry. The walks are always picturesque with many plants in full bloom, we never tire of the scenery of the walks. Monday is a work day in Key West, such as it is, maybe 1/2 a day, oh drat.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Key West - Matthew leaves for cold weathyer

BO's Fishwagon, unusual as usual. 
Sadly, the time had come for Matthew to return home to the cold north country. He's due back at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island on Monday. We rented a car today for one last tour of Key West with Matt before he had to leave. It was a vintage Key West day with light winds and temps in the high 70's with full sun.

Typical Key West chick magnet
For his last meal in Key West, we went to BO's Fishwagon for one of their famous Grouper sandwiches. They really are excellent but the Grouper is expensive since they don't catch Grouper anymore near Key West. Of course, we had the conch fritters to go with the sandwich, an absolute must in BO's.

Spongers tend to make these things

After dropping Matt off at the airport, we provisioned for the trip north and now we're all set. I have a lot of boat projects to do to get the boat ready, nothing major, just the usual stuff of oil changes, etc. I've already updated my GPX routes with the latest waypoints through the shallows but I'll check the spots again before I leave. Meanwhile, we're just going to enjoy our last two weeks before heading to Marathon where we hope there will finally be an empty mooring.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Key West - No sail today but we visit Mallory Square

Matt was holding Hoolie so he wouldn't get excited but then the boy led his dog over to say "Hi", chaos..
Ahoy! It is I Matt, on day five of Camp Fleetwing. Due to the wind deciding to pack up and quit today I was not able to go out and sail but believe it or not it was still a great day. After waking up at the unthinkable time of 9 but not actually getting out of bed until 12ish, I made myself a corned beef melt for lunch. A corned beef melt is corned beef, cabbage, cheese, and some mayo between two pieces of bread, grilled. This afternoon consisted of a series of drawing and showing music to Nana. I drew a seagull and began drawing a rocky shore. Nana was surprised at how eclectic my musical tastes are, ranging from heavy metal to smooth indie rock. 

Somehow we finished the entire plate, mostly Matt
After some more doodling I went down below and made nachos for dinner. My monster tray of nachos consists of a huge pile of several layers of chips, cheese, and salsa. One tray can feed 5 easily. We managed to clear the whole tray. After a spot of ice cream we hooked Hoolie up and went for a stroll to Mallory Square to watch the sun go down. No green flash tonight but it was still beautiful. Hoolie was a regular old superstar with every other girl in a sundress having to stop to pet him. The sun went down and we meandered back towards the boat stopping to see the sword swallower. Today marks my last day on the boat. Tomorrow I leave to return to the snow up north. Grandpa will be renting a car for us to tool around in until it’s time to go to the airport where I’ll catch a flight to Newark and then to Providence. Here’s Matt, Veteran Crew, signing off for the last time this week. Until next time! Happy sailing and strong winds from Camp Fleetwing!

The weather went from too much wind to no wind in the course of 24 hours. We barely had a breeze today, about 5 to 8 kts tops. With that we decided not to take Fleetwing out since it would just be motoring and not sailing. Matt kept Ann company up in the cockpit with drawing and music and I paid bills down below. However, the weather was perfect with a high of 78 with full sun. Matt made his signature dish of nachos for lunch which we polished off with no leftovers.

The water in the harbor is pretty clear, here you can see a tarpon hoping for a handout
It was such a good day that we walked over to Mallory Square to see the sunset activities. When you walking in that direction near sundown, it's like being in a river of people. Everyone's going in the same direction. Even if you didn't know where Mallory Square was located, all you needed to do was go with the flow. The usual array of performers were there. One guys playing a piano that people were dancing to, a fortune teller, an acrobat climbing a pole, a woman pretending to be a statue, a juggler and more. One little known fact is that the performers have to audition to be allowed into Mallory Square, not just anyone can claim a splot.

The trip to Mallory Square was worth it to see this sunset!
The sun did its thing with all the sunset cruise ships in full array and we returned to Fleetwing to plan Saturday. Matt has to catch a plane in the afternoon so we'll catch a fish sandwich at noon and drive him over to the airport in a rental car we'll pick up in the morning. We will be sad to see Matthew leave. In this stay in Key West, we've had everyone of our kids down here for a stay. All five grandkids and both families of Caroline's and Philip's. There's just nothing better than family with you for a stay, especially in Key West during the winter!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Key West - Corned Beef and Cabbage

Fish flipping in Key West - see the fish flying to the pail - headed for the cooker
Ahoy! Today marks the 4th day in Key West. Today was an exploration day. I walked a way down Caroline Street and rented a big\ke for ten bucks and proceeded to explore the island. First stop was the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor. the entrance has been repaved and decked out with brand new sidewalks and a guard house. After a quick nap on the beach which led to the frying of my arms, I moved on to stroll through Fort Zachary. It looked as if there were preparations for a war reenactment with authentic tents and rifles set up in the courtyard. After exploring Fort Zachary, I set out again on my rental. I went as far as the southernmost point where a church group was singing to the tourists waiting in line on the sidewalk to take a picture with the monument. From there I headed back in the direction of the boat. Down Duval Street I went with a quick detour to Mallory Square. The sidewalks and streets were packed with tourists and a cruise ship's worth of folks. On my return to the boat I lounged in the cockpit with Nana and shared some of my musical tastes with her while reading my book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. For dinner we had corned beef and cabbage. boy was it great. Soon we will be off to Schooner to see our neighbors play in their Irish band Blarney Rabble. Here's Matt signing off from Camp Fleetwing.

A look overhead at our table at Schooner Wharf, cover those drinks!
We've not been able to get good corned beef and cabbage in Key West so we've taken to cooking it ourselves during Irish Week. We bought the standard package with included spices and Ann follows her own directions for cooking. I got the last cabbage at a local store and we were all set. The only problem is that we have four to feed: myself, Ann and two more counting Matt. All went well and we had a great meal.

Our next door neighbors play in a band so we're going over to Schooner Wharf to listen for a bit tonight. We'll cheer them on. They are breaking into the big time in Key West when Schooner Wharf has them for night's stand.

Our neighbor is at the far right in the picture - he broke into the big time playing at Schooner Wharf!
On Friday it's predicted to be much calmer than the last few days. If that holds up we may go out for a sail with Matthew. It's also supposed to be much warmer with a high of 78 which is more like normal for this time of the year and with the usual east wind. It is also Matthew's last full day. He leaves for school up north on Saturday afternoon, so sad.