Sunday, February 25, 2018

Key West - Art Festival and friends visit

The Art Festival is held every year at the end of February, 53 years in a row
Every year at the end of February there is an art festival held on Whitehead Street. 2018 is the 53rd edition of the event. They attract exhibitors from all over the southeast and some from farther away. For this show, they can only exhibit and sell items they personally make. We make it a point of seeing the show and it's within walking distance of the marina along Caroline Street. More than anything else, Ann likes to "talk shop" with the artists in trading ideas on colors used and the paper.

A meeting that repeats itself throughout our stay, notice the interested dog!
Later in the day we saw a dinghy idle up and were visited by friends we had met in Hampton, VA. It is often the case anymore, that more people know us than we know them although in this case we had met before. We were invited over for wine at 5:00, a traditional time among cruisers. The weather was absolutely perfect for sitting out on the back of their boat sipping wine and talking of things aquatic. They are in route to completing their first "loop" after going north through Chicago and down the waterways to Alabama and now Key West. They will leave and go up the ICW to return to Hampton, VA.

Meanwhile, we simulate a ping-pong ball going back and forth between Poughkeepsie, NY, and Key West every year. I wouldn't give that up for anything. I mean, everyday it's 78 or 79 for a high and 70 for a low, how can that be better? And, we can listen to whatever music we like, live, or not and just do our own thing, it's fun.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Key West - We meet Ed Tillett, General Manager of Waterway Guide

Ed Tillett of Waterway Guide
The traffic on US 1 was horrendous, apparently due to the largest flea market in the Keys taking place north of here. As a result, Ed was about 1.5 hours late but he did find us in the end. As usual, the parking lot was jammed packed, no spaces available so I led him to the parking garage where we still had a ticket from when the kids were here that was still good. He had to go to the top floor of the parking garage to find a spot. I'm sure that during spring break even that option won't work.

As some of you know, I am now the Waterway Guide ICW Editor so Ed and I had a lot of stuff to go over. Nothing will change as far as my blog, my yearly guide, or posts on Active Captain are concerned, they both will continue unabated. I will be keeping the Alerts on Waterway Explorer up to date for the cruising community and also be adding some of the anchorages I use along my route to Key West.

Open air dining, a Schooner Wharf speciality
We were treated to fish sandwiches at Schooner Wharf where the Paul Cotton band was playing. We enjoy Schooner Wharf's fish sandwiches as well as anyone's, they were good. Ed has a long drive back to Marathon in the dark. He has a meeting there on Sunday. We're ready to turn in for now.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Key West - Shoes and Renewal

What a selection!
Ann was in need of new sandals so we went to the one place with the biggest selection, The Sandal Factory on Duval Street. She tried on a bunch and found what she wanted but they didn't have her size in stock. We were about to give up on that but the salesclerk offered to ship it from their Marathon store who did have it in stock. Yes, right... So with nothing to lose, I gave them one of my boat cards and sure enough, we got a call about a week later and they had it waiting for us. The store was in the 400 block of Duval Street so we just walked down to pick them up.

On the way back, a side street in bloom
This store is huge and has the biggest selection of sandals I've ever seen. Ann tried on the pair from Marathon and they fit perfectly, mission accomplished. On the way back, we took our customary detours through the back streets to see the trees in bloom and sure enough, there were several. We are not accomplished enough to know what they are other than they sure look pretty.

The entire boardwalk will eventually be all ipe covered. Here's the underlayment by the pool. 
On Saturday we meet up with Ed Tillett of Waterway Guide for lunch and discuss business prospects for his guide and how we may mutually benefit. It should be an interesting meeting, at least to me. I am dedicated to continuing to input to Active Captain, my blog, and my yearly guides but I will also be a part of Waterway Guide, at least for the ICW edition.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Key West - BO's Fishwagon, another institution in Key West

BO's Fishwagon is under all that foliage 
As much as Schooner Wharf is unique, then BO's Fishwagon is just as iconic It really did start out as a food wagon that found a home on the corner of Caroline and William street. It's been there 30 years now and still going strong. By the way, the BO part stands for Buddy Owen, the original owner and not the other meaning...

You order here at what's left of the food wagon
Once the wagon was set in place, the rest of the surrounding tables and roof (what there is of it) grew like topsy. Some tables are shielded from the rain and some are not so be careful where you sit if rain is expected. They are famous for their fish sandwiches and conch fritters. The procedure is to find a table somewhere and go up front to order at what is left of the food wagon. Once you order, you can return to your table and they will bring it to you.

You can take a scenic table by the sidewalk or inside
There are no walls except what has been built up over the years by memories left behind. The ceiling is lined with memorabilia from former customers and the interior walls are likewise decorated. One could just sit and take in the ambiance for several hours. You can choose to take a table "inside" or on one boarding the sidewalk where you can share conversation with those walking by. 

On Thursday through Saturday there is a live band that plays in a newly designated bandstand close to the wagon itself, that's new for this year.  BO's Fishwagon is yet another must see place in Key West, don't miss it if you're in the area. 

And, there is usually a band playing and there's never a cover charge, just eat
Ann and I continue on a recovery trajectory. According to literature, we should be contagious free by late Friday and fully recovered  by Saturday. While being grounded, so to speak, I've completed my evaluation of 14 iPad navigation apps and written a treatise on the subject. I expect to publish the results within the week. The evaluation was one of the biggest efforts I've ever undertaken other than my yearly guide. Hopefully, it will be of use to some people looking for a good iPad navigation app. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Key West - Key West Institutions, Schooner Wharf

Here's the entrance from the ocean side (they also sell t-shirts)
One of the attractions of Key West Bight Marina is the closeness of Key West life. Duval is only three blocks away and Schooner Wharf is only 300 ft away. Given that contrast, we more often than not wind up at Schooner Wharf as opposed to somewhere on Duval Street. It originally was on a schooner but moved ashore years ago. It's totally unique in Key West. I mean, where else does happy hour start at 7:00 am! However, it ends at noon but starts up again from 5:00 to 7:00.

Looking into the area you can see the one giant tree that the birds like
Notice the canopies at the left
Walking into the place, you will immediately notice it has no roof and no walls, it is classic Key West open air. They have live music at least from noon through 10:00 pm everyday and they serve great drinks (voted best bar in Key West for six years) and great food. It is always crowded but you can usually find a table somewhere.

Leaving Schooner Wharf from the land side, rustic
Although there is no roof, they do have stretched cloth high above the tables, like a high, tent material. You may ask why? Well, think about the birds in the trees, need I say more? You will also find chickens roaming through the area looking for handouts. If you're even in Key West, it's not to be missed.

Don't forget to  buy a T-shirt, they are known worldwide
Meanwhile, we've found out more about our virus. It turns out that it's really a modified form of a flu virus and we are contagious to some degree for 7 days after we came down with it starting the day before the symptoms. That would make this coming Sunday the first day we're no longer contagious. We still feel kinda of crappy but at least we're improving each day.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Key West - Two Sloppy Joes

This is the one on Duval Street
The original Sloppy Joe's restaurant and bar was in Havana, Cuba. Hemingway was instrumental in getting a bar in Key West renamed to Sloppy Joe's. However, it is not the Sloppy Joe's on Duval Street. There's a bar just off Duval named Captain Tony's Saloon that was the one Hemingway frequented. The Sloppy Joe's part was moved to Duval Street after Hemingway left Key West so there's no record of him ever having visited the Duval location even though they picture him prominently in the restaurant.

This is the original Sloppy Joe's just off Duval Street
The one on Duval Street is the famous one and the one all the tourists go to and they have the famous Sloppy Joe burgers. We had one last year and listened to Barry Cuda play and the burger does have a unique taste. True to its name, we ate the Sloppy Joe with a fork. If you ever come to Key West, you ought to eat at the place once just for the experience. There is always someone playing and it's open air (no AC) but that's part of the charm. Unfortunately, if there is a tour boat in town, it's almost impossible to get a table.

Ann and I are gradually recovering from our combination cold and stomach virus. It seems to last about three days so not much was done today except laundry. The boat is back to a two person layout now and we're just waiting to recover. We still have over a month to go in Key West and we're looking forward to it.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Key West - Last day and a sick day for us

The picture was taken before the crud hit us. That's Naalie to the left of the photo and Sarah to the right
Sarah: This morning we had bagels and did some homework. After that we got ready and headed for the beach. The entrance to the park is real fancy and new. It was pretty windy today, but there was no rain. At the beach we went swimming and I had my leftover Cuban sandwich for lunch. The sun was nice and hot; with the breeze it felt pretty nice. After the beach I headed over to an appointment for my sunburn that looks weird. Now were just settling down and were probably going out to enjoy are last night in Key West, bye.

Natalie: Today was a calm, fun day! I finished up my homework, which got a burden off my back. Then it was not rainy today so we got our swim gear together and went out to the beach. Sarah and I swam for a while then dad joined me for a climb on the rocks and mom took me to get some lunch while Sarah and Dad had the rest of the Cuban sandwich! Sadly our beach time got cut short due to a really bad sunburn on Sarah. But this did not stop dad and I taking an adventure to the southernmost point of the continental U.S.A. First we went to a little beach and walked all the way to the end of the dock to take a few pictures. It was a good thing since having no patience waiting in a long line just to take a picture in front of a big buoy! Dad and I found an ice cream place and talked with a nice lady from Massachusetts. After coming back to the boat and showering, I am ready to settle down, Au revoir Key West!   

It was a good day for the crew but not for the captain and first mate. We both caught something and spent the day in bed. It was a big nasty so please excuse the short post. I think Ann and I will hit the hay by 9:00 at the latest. Hopefully, we’ll be better tomorrow.