Saturday, March 24, 2018

Key West - An Art Tour and Barry in the Evening

What the tourists see off the boat in Key West - just like any Caribbean town
We do take the weekends off from all boat work and just spend more time enjoying Key West. For today's adventure, we went to the local art gallery that only accepts works from local artists. Some were okay, most were not but Ann still enjoyed seeing their works. I wasn't able to take photos, they were forbidden as they are in most galleries.

Buy a pretty trinket - cheap
So we spent an hour or so browsing. Our next stop was to the tourist section of Key West. It's the area right by where the cruise ships come in. We've talked to friends who frequent cruise ships who complained about stops at Key West. They related that it was just crowded and full of cheap, tourist shops. Well, yeah, that's the case right by the cruise ship docking area. They display what sells which says more about the tourists than Key West. Plus, those on the cruise ships never sample the fine cuisine that Key West has to offer, they all eat on board.

We found an artist in his own shop, beautiful work in metal - Native Colors is the name of the shop
We browsed through the tourist shell shop with shells never seen within a 1000 miles of Key West. Enough of that, we just enjoyed the 78 degree weather with full sun, it was great.

He had dozens of works on display
Our next stop was in a small shop, Native Colors, where we never expected to see anything of value but found a man who made his own sculptures in metal. He burnished the metal surface to show a range of colors. The effects were very beautiful. He doesn't even have a website but does have a Facebook page. They were reasonably priced too.

We wound up with an hour of Barry at BO's Fishwagon, the best way to end the day in Key West
Ann bought a seahorse sculpture for our back porch in New York. We walked back to the boat and had leftovers from our outing at Bien but then found out that Barry Cuda was back from his European trip and playing at BO's Fishwagon tonight. That was a treat we didn't want to miss so Ann and I found a stool and listens to good piano playing for about an hour. What a perfect day in paradise.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Dawho River Shallows - An 8 ft MLLW Path

Tonight is a break from my usual Key West posts to focus on one of the shallow areas we will be transiting on our way north in the spring. There are a number of these area but most don't offer an alternative route. It appears that Dawho River does offer a deeper path around the shallows. The article below was posted on the Active Captain Facebook page and is also under "ICW Tips" at the left. As the saying goes, "We'll return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow..."

In the analysis below, I proposed an 8 ft MLLW path through the Dawho River east entrance. Note that I have not personally tested the route for depth so proceed with great caution, preferably at high tide. Let us know your results since an 8 ft MLLW route would be a great benefit to all those transiting the ICW in that area.  I will personally be taking this route in the spring trip northward. Now, let’s look at the analysis supporting the new route.

The east entrance to the Dawho River has a very narrow, shallow channel with current depths down to 5 MLLW in places. The charted channel cannot be followed and to get the 5 MLLW you have to avoid G115 by 450 ft. On March of 2017, the Charleston USACE did a depth survey of the entire area around the channel and it showed an 8 ft MLLW path through the area but it’s far outside the charted channel. The survey is shown below:

USACE survey of 3/16/2017 with grid lines drawn in

Let's look at two detail cutouts of the above chart. The first one is the detail on the eastern end (the entrance when going south) showing the 3 ft MLLW spot right in the middle of the channel! Look at the nice, deep water northward.

Here's the 3 ft spot right in the middle of the channel you would like to avoid
Look at the deep water north  of the channel!
Here's the second detail showing 8 ft MLLW crossing from the deep water (in blue) to the channel following the red line shown in the top most chart with the black lines. Just follow along from the deep blue to the channel in a southwest direction, always staying in the survey area.

Just stay south of the edge of the survey for 8 MLLW, according to the survey chart

The full survey by USACE is linked here, In the chart at the top, I’ve drawn black lines to form a grid connecting the xy coordinates of the chart. They are slanted since the chart is not positioned exactly north up. I drew in an ideal route shown as a red line in the chart. Using the grid, I interpolated the xy coordinates and then used a conversion routine from Earthpoint to convert the xy readings to Lat/Long, which I plotted in Aqua Map. I checked the conversions against several Lat/Long readings along the edge of the USACE chart and they matched so they ought to be correct. Feeling brave? Note that it takes you over land according to the chart below. It’s just like how the red side route first appeared at Fernandina. That route also took you over “land” according to the charts until the charts were later updated

The 8 MLLW route plotted in Aqua Map

 Here’s the same Aqua Map view (see below) but with the same route plotted but with a satellite overlay. You can see that there’s no “land” at waypoint 3 and it looks more like the USACE survey.

Same route, same Aqua Map but with satellite view overlay ( really nice feature of Aqua Map

How about SonarChart? The problem is that the readings revert to chart readings if no one has been through an area. The early Fernandina SonarChart had the same problem and it also showed shallow water where we now pass through with 14 MLLW after the USACE survey.

I didn't plot the route since SonarChart does not import routes but you get the idea
So, what to do? Obviously, we need someone to try out the route, preferably at high tide and with a shallow draft vessel just in case the USACE is all messed up in their readings – but I think they are correct and an 8 MLLW path is there just waiting to be confirmed and taking a load off boaters with deep drafts trying to get through at low tide.

The route can be downloaded at BDawhoX. Let us know if you try it out.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Key West - Scallops tonight

Oh the choices...
There's a fish market nearby that we frequent as often as we can. It's located in Half Shell Raw Bar restaurant. They supply fresh seafood to five local restaurants and we periodically take advantage of their market. Tonight we bought their sea scallops, six apiece but we could have been done with only four each, they were huge. Ann cooked them in a casserole using the recipe, "Awesome Baked Sea Scallops/" and they came out great!

We'll take one of each... Well, just the scallops for tonight
We're taking it easy until next week when we'll swing into action (as much action as we ever do down  here) to get ready for the trip north. First, we have to think about all the things we need to do before we actually do anything. This week was the thinking part. Next week is the doing part. We'll enjoy our time in Key West as long as we can.

It's also the time of starting to watching the weather for a good window to head north. The winds are usually out of the east at this latitude so we look for a reversal of the usual winds and that may take several days to materialize. The route to Marathon, our next stop, is due east, we rather not buck a head wind with the accompanying seas. Now it's wait and watch.

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.