Saturday, February 17, 2018

Key West - We sail!

Intent on holding that line!
Natalie: We had a fun day sailing and taking walks down the docks. Woke up to some bacon and pancakes then worked on some of my homework while Sarah, Dad, and Grandpa got ready to go out sailing. We had ham and cheese for lunch then at 1:00 we headed out on a sailing adventure! It wasn’t very fun for me because I got seasick and so did my Dad. But we came back early so I was ok! After that Grandpa and I went for a walk around Caroline St, and with Hoolie, too! Sarah and I had more ham and cheese for dinner when everyone else had chicken salad and to top it off we ate ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert!

Sarah: This morning I woke up and was ready to sail! Dad made amazing pancakes for breakfast with bacon. After that we had to do our homework for school. When I finished my homework I helped grandpa get the lines ready for our departure. Soon later we officially left, right away we put the main sail up. It was wonderful feeling the wind and hearing the waves brush against the bow of the boat. When we went past the beach we put up the jib and turned off the diesel. We didn’t see any sea life and Natalie was a little sea sick so we turned around. Our highest speed was 4.5 knots, but the on the way back it averaged at 3. I sailed the boat mostly back and was able to put ropes on a piling. Afterwards we went to CVS and got ice, basically walking around some more. We had dinner and ice cream; we might also be watching a movie, bye.

A Saturday tradition is for Philip to make pancakes with bacon so he didn't miss a beat this morning and all was well. The main event of the day was sailing in the afternoon. The winds were forecast to be 10 kts or so, not too bad for some of our less sailing experienced crew. getting off the dock was an all-hands on deck exercise. Two lines on each side had to be removed off pilings, two forward lines removed, aft lines untied, dinghy untie and retied to a side line staying with the dock, and the electrical line unplugged and tied to the boat. The stepping platform had to be removed too and the anchor raised. No big deal - but don't forget anything! More than once we've come to an unexpected stop backing out of a slip due to a forgotten line.

The new moon ove Schooner Wharf, warm night, light breezes, bliss...
Now everyone is tired, full of chicken sandwiches and watching Captain Ron, the favorite movie for sailing families. I think the kids have seen it a dozen times and we've seen it at least five times that I can remember. That's where we learned the "Captain Ron Maneuver" that's we've adopted when going into a face dock. We used it once at Hinckley's in Savannah when the tide was running 2 kts, the wind was blowing  and there was exactly one boat length of dock space among expensive Hinckley boats. They had their crew out to catch us (about five dock hands...) and Ann was at the helm as usual and headed in at about a 45 degree angle, swung at the last moment and put it in reverse. The  boat lost forward momentum but continued to turn and was flush against the dock. That's when one of the dock hands shouted out, "Captain Ron Maneuver!" We both said, "Yes!"

Friday, February 16, 2018

Natalia is on the left, Sarah on the right
Natalie: Today was a peaceful day, I relaxed in the aft cabin for a while then the crew went out on a grocery run. During this time my dad and I stayed behind to help a fishing boat come into the dock next to us. After that we headed on a walk for two hours and had lunch at The Island Dog, I definitely recommend the chicken caesar wrap! With that we came back to the boat where I cooled down in the air conditioned aft. When the relaxing was over Mom, Sarah, and I went on a walk all around Duval St and had some gelato at Duetto very, very good. For dinner we had a very cranberry, chicken, and many different salads, and coleslaw. When dinner was over Sarah and I ate Oreos on the dock watching the boats come in or as I call it enjoying life!  

Sarah: Today I woke up and had cereal for breakfast in the cockpit. Today was a grocery day so we went and conquered the store with three whole wagons. After we did two trips from the car to get the bags on the boat me, mom, and Natalie went on walk. We went down Duval Street seeing the different shops. After a while we stopped and got some amazing gelato. We went up and down the streets watching the trolleys pass by. Afterwards Natalie and I hung out on deck while I read some of Grandpa’s book. The sunset was gorgeous to watch and the breeze felt wonderful. I heard from my friends in Connecticut that it was rainy but in Key West it was in the 80s. We had dinner and now Natalie and I might play some Black Jack, bye!


Typical alley sight, this was from a tree in full bloom
Having two teenage girls on board is an experience. I think they are enjoying Key West and the change in the weather from Connecticut. I explored more of the backstreets of Key West. The alleys usually border the backyards of the houses and they plant ornamental trees and flowers which are in full bloom. So Hoolie and I walk along and enjoy the view.

This is the sunset the girls were enjoying
Saturday is our sailing day as our weather continues to be extraordinary. With all the crew, it's no problem backing out and unlooping the lines off the top of the pilings. Philip has a personal challenge with his sister who reached 8.2 kts when she sailed Fleetwing! (not that there's any competition between siblings...)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Key West - A day of rest and piling replacement

Sarah is doing a Flemish coil on our lines with Natalie watching
Sarah and Natalie arrived today with their parents from the frozen north. Now they have blog duties along with enjoying Key West.

Natalie: Yesterday we got to the boat after a long day of hiccups and lots of naps! Today we took it slow but still had some fun. First people came in and took two damaged pillars out of the ground to replace them after the hurricanes. My dad and I went out to get coffee from the Cuban Coffee Queens which I must say, even though I do not like coffee the Cuban sandwiches are truly Tasty! As we continued our slow day I sat on the back of Nana and Grandpa’s boat watching the dinks trying to get by the big barge in the way! In the afternoon everybody (including Hoolie) but my dad went for a walk around the marina. After a while Nana, Grandpa, and holy went back to the boat and mom, Sarah, and I walked around to some of the stores near by. Now I must go so I can enjoy some chicken potpie by my Nana!

Manatees made their first appearance in the harbor today
Sarah: Today I woke up and I thought I was still in a dream! Going through exams and project after project really made Key West a relief. We had a delighted breakfast with beautiful warm weather. For the rest of the morning I read boat related books and watched construction workers taking out pilings. The pilings they were taking out were damaged from the storms months before. After we eventually went on a walk to see beautiful Key West. Walking through the streets and on the docks made me realize how long I have been going here. I knew where everything was and Key West doesn’t really feel like vacation, but  amazing home away from home. The bright tropical spirit and beautiful waters are the things that make you fall in love with this place. On the walk we went to CVS to get some essentials and we looked around in some stores. I got strawberry gelato and we walked back to the boat. I find it funny watching people paying so much to go on these crowded big boats. Afterwards, Natalie and I talked and hung out on deck watching the sunset. Now I am writing the Blog and can’t wait for another gorgeous day in Florida!


Before
After pounding in
Sarah is a Freshman in highschool and Natalie is in the 8th grade. They both will have blog duties during their week long stay on Fleetwing. After the long trip yesterday, complete with driving through a grass fire along US 1, it was time for a rest. It worked out okay since today was also still a work day for the barge fixing damaged pilings. It's amazing how deep they drive the pilings. They completed the repair work for now and will be going over to Garrison Bight marina to do more extensive repairs. It suffered a lot more damage than Key West Bight.

We plan a more active day on Friday with a trip to the supermarket for provisions and wine. Mostly, it will be just enjoying the warm, Key West weather with temps in the high 70's every day and no rain.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Key West - Piling repair day

No room, no room! Too tight a fit.
With the hurricane came damaged pilings. Nobody wanted to move but the damaged pilings still had to be replaced so the repair barge started moving this morning. They started down our fairway but quickly ran into trouble, they could not clear the first set of boats and so this huge  barge with a crane on top, backed up. They had three pushers to help steer the barge. There was not much room but they backed out successfully.

By the dinghy dock, still a tight fit.
Having tried to come down the fairway with boats in place, the boats on the other side of the fairway now had to move (they were not happy). Now the barge once again came down the fairway but this time they had enough room to clear everyone and wound up by the dinghy dock where a couple of pilings had to be replaced which consumed the rest of the afternoon.

Now they are done for the night and snug up against the opposite docks
We have a piling right next to us that has an orange ribbon on it so we are due for a replacement piling too. We were told we didn't have to move since they have a crane and can just pick it up without disturbing us (we hope). The barge with the carne is massive! A little 1 kt push against us would crush us! Our turn comes on Thursday so we'll see what develops.

Meanwhile, we're waiting for our second crew to arrive and we just heard they are held up north of route 1 due to a forest fire. Route 1 is closed due to smoke so we don't know when they will arrive. This is as of 7:00 pm and they still have about a 3 hour trip at best. I think it's going to be a late night.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Key West - Secrets of Key West, Part I

Flowers along one of our walks
There are certain enjoyments in Key West that are not generally known, especially to tourists. One example are the variety of walks that include excursions through small streets between the major thoroughfares. They could be called alleys I guess but they are lovely and usually decorated with flowers and tropical plants. In a later post I'll detail our favorite paths and discuss what to see along the way.

A typical setting in Key West for a performer in a restaurant, repeated throughout Key West
Another example are certain musicians that not only play or sing well but also entertain the audience. There are hundreds of musicians in Key West but only a few that fit into the category I described above. Tonight we witnessed Fiona perform her magic at a nearby restaurant, Key West Bite. She was born in Ireland and now tours all over the US but has made Key West her home for the past several years. Whenever she plays we make it a point to seek her out. She has her own following that will fill any restaurant she plays in.

But Fiona is special, a real find
I'm sure that other people would have other lists of favorites but we are of a certain age and do not enjoy music so loud our insides vibrate. We like a melody and the ability to actually listen to the music without having to cover our ears.

Meanwhile, our second crew will be on their way Wednesday to arrive at Key West late, probably after 8:00 pm. Sarah and Natalie along with their parents will spend a week with us in the sun here, lots of fun!


Monday, February 12, 2018

Key West - Wyland and piling repair

Wyland's mural in Key West by our dock
The crew was sad to leave at 7:00 am this morning on their way to Ft Lauderdale for a motel so they can catch the early flight out Tuesday morning. It was a grand time and nothing can compare to having a grandkid for six weeks on a boat. It's a great experience for the kid but also a great way for the grandparents to get to know their grandkids. We enjoyed every minute of it although Finn may not have enjoyed the homework so much. Carrie, Finn's mother, scanned in all the homework and tests that Finn completed and sent them to his school so he qualifies for returning to his class at the same level as the rest of the students.

Wyland's mural on Williams street is intact! It suffered no apparent storm damage and is as bright as ever. Wyland has about 100 murals of this type scattered all over the world. He will periodically refresh the paint if one starts to fade a bit. He has an art gallery in Key West that we like to visit when we're here.

Here's one piling that didn't survive - to be replaced this week.
Key West Bight suffered very little damage but some of the pilings still have to be replaced. That's causing some consternation when the crane doing the replacing blocks the access to charter boats trying to make a living. We have a piling due to be replaced but we can stay in place for the procedure although we won't be able to leave our slip for a couple of days which is not a problem for us but is a problem for charter captains running excursions. Nevertheless, a few pilings do have to be replaced but there will be some grumbling.

Our next crew is due to arrive Wednesday night for a week's stay provided they recover from a stomach virus that has put them to bed for the last two days.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Key West - Last day for the first crew

Finn is the one on the right
Well I guess this is it. I always hate goodbyes but I guess it’s the only thing I can say to you. Today was a good last day. We went shopping around Duval Street. I got a leather bracelet with a skull on it. But I had to tie it to my wrist. Tonight’s dinner was amazing. I had shrimp with garlic sauce on top so it tasted like cheese shrimp. They combined the best things in the world. I also got a bag of candy at It’s Sugar. I am the only one I know that likes black liquorice. Tomorrow we’re leaving at 7:00 am. I am going to bed early. Well I guess this is goodbye so Good Bye and see you in the summer!       


A view of El Siboney showing about 1/2 of the seating area
Well, the Japanese are tourists (how did they find this place?)
The gang went for one last stroll down Duval Street, window shopping and just enjoying the warm weather. Rowan got his dad to take him on the Key West Conch Tour Train. It wasn't at the top of the list for Rowan's dad but it was number one with Rowan - he likes all things about trains. 

We were treated to a dinner out at El Siboney, a caribbean style restaurant that's a favorite of the locals. You won't see many tourists here except those that know of the place from friends. The food is better than good and there's plenty of it. They don't bother with reservations but there's plenty of room although when we left tonight the place was about 90% full and they have  a lot of tables. Not a tourist in sight (except us).


Typical restaurant on the waterfront, no walls and live entertainment
This one is The Conch Republic Seafood Company
Our crew of the last week will be leaving Monday morning at 7:00 am to take a hotel room in Ft Lauderdale in preparation for a flight early the next day.  But we will have an empty  boat for only two days. Our next batch of escapees from the frozen north arrives Wednesday for a week's stay.