Saturday, February 29, 2020

Key West - Our company leaves

There's always a band at Schooner Wharf - and people dancing
Everybody is headed north again. We've lost all our company and we will be by ourselves for the next five weeks. We will now settle into our Key West routine of walking in the morning and enjoying the warm weather. We will head over to the Gardens Hotel Sunday evening to listen to their version of jazz music. It's a different experience from the Green Parrot, more upscale - a different environment which we also enjoy.

It may be 64 out but people are still dining out under the stars
Bill Washburn and Bill Spence came over to say goodbye. They are leaving for points north tomorrow and gave us the leftover wine in a box which we consumed while they were here. We will wait out all the craziness of the virus down here in Key West and let everything sort itself out while we're in warm weather. We're determined to take our time heading north too.A week at Marathon, a week at Marine Stadium, etc. Just no rush to go north this year. The new agencies seem intent on producing "click baits" for headlines. The worst the headline, the more people that click on it and the more money the advertisers get, I guess. We are done with that game. I think we are starting a news blackout for awhile.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Key West - Winn Dixie and recovery

Free and frequent, is the motto
We were running out of supplies so it was time for a trip to Winn Dixie. We had a choice between Winn Dixie or Publix and we've found that Winn Dixie has much lower prices and the merchandise was just as good. The second advantage is that Winn Dixie can be reached at the first stop, spend 45 minutes shopping, and then catch the return bus back home. You can't do that with Publix, it's too far. Plus, their prices are higher too.

The flowers continue in bloom!
The bus fare for seniors is only $0.50 each way which makes it much more cost-effective than renting a car from Enterprise. It costs as much to park a car overnight as it does to rent the car in the first place. Key West is not user-friendly for parking.

This car has been here as long as we've been coming to Key West - at least 10 years
If you just want to explore downtown Key West, then the best approach is to use the Duval free shuttle. We use it all the time to reach the Green Parrot bar and listen to jazz on Sunday afternoons.  We used it last hight to reach the restaurant at the south end of Key West. It's heated on cool days and air-conditioned on hot days, a great addition to Key West transportation.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Key West - We have dinner at Abbondanza

Another fine meal among friends from the Poughkeepsie YC
One of the long time restaurants favored by locals is Abbondanza. It's at the south end of Key West on Simonton Street. The cluster of buildings used to be the home of cigar rolling but they've been repurposed into dining rooms. It's quite nice and usually gets voted one of the best restaurants in Key West. Ann and I had a good meal with the focus on Italian cuisine.

It has turned cold here with a 15 to 20 kt wind out of the north. The high on Friday is only projected to be in the mid 60s. Ann is doing her painting and I'm working on a "Going North" presentation I'll give before we leave Key West.

It's amazing that it's already been a month since we arrived, where did the month go? However, we still have another month ahead of us before we head north on April 4. We are in no hurry, especially with the virus problems up north.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Key West - Farewell Luncheon with McKeevers

It wasn't a busy day on a Wednesday afternoon. Nice area though.
The McKeevers are nearing the end of their stay in Key West so we all went out for lunch at Matt's Stock Island Kitchen and Bar. The restaurant is located in Stock Island Marina Village which boasts 288 slips, it is huge! It turns out that they also own A&B Marina in Key West Bight and run an hourly shuttle between the two marinas. It makes for an interesting choice since there is a direct shuttle to the attractions of downtown Key West. Once at A&B Marina, it's only a block away to pick up the Duval free shuttle which opens up all of downtown Key West for exploration.

They have inside seating too
The restaurant we had lunch at was very nice, offering both inside and outside seating. Since it was a warm day (80), we chose outside. I had the blackened Mahi Mahi and Ann has the fish taco, both were very good. The hotel there was more upscale than I expected for the Key West area. At some point in the future, we may even leave Fleetwing there and come down for the winter, we'll see.

A cold front is coming through tonight with the temperature dropping into the 60s, burrr! Break out the sweaters, hoodies, jackets, etc.!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Key West - Green Parrot and the Myles Mancuso Band

The Myles Mancuso Band
The Green Parrot had a special band tonight, the Myles Mancuso Band which was very good and the place was packed for the event. Once again, it was the Poughkeepsie YC south meeting with I six of us in attendance. I think we'll form a Key West chapter.

He's the lead singer and guitar player
On the way home, we stopped in at Schooner Wharf for a fish sandwich and took Hoolie with us. Many places in Key West allow dogs, especially the ones with a gravel floor like Schooner Wharf. The waitress brought out a bowl of water for Hoolie with ice cubes. He spent the evening eating the ice.

The entertainment was a one-man show, not so good but it kept the place alive. The McKeever's are hosting their going away party at lunch Wednesday so we will celebrate with them on Stock Island. It's just busy, busy, busy having fun.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Key West - Boat work and a fast boat

I wonder how fast it is?
Evidently, there are those that like to travel fast. We saw one such boat at the fuel dock (where else?) at our marina. I know they race them in the ocean but I wouldn't want to be on one with 4 to 6 ft waves! I'm surprised it has only two outboards.

More boat work today with the forward head, enough said about that. My articles for Waterway Guide were published today. Here's a link if you want to see what I wrote at Waterway Guide magazine.  My articles are there on pages 28 and 40.

We are finally getting over our colds so how we will start planning our eating out better. The Green Parrot has a promising band Tuesday night so we'll go and see what the fuss is about. After that, we'll mosy on home and have dinner at Schooner Wharf, probably a fish sandwich, they do it pretty well.

Turtles Races!
In taking Hoolie out tonight, I came by the Turtle Races held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. at Turtle Kraals.  They put four turtles in the race with each one numbered and they "race" up an incline to a checkered finish. One turtle got within 1 foot of the finish line and stopped! Every yelled and coaxed him to continue which he eventually did to the cheers of everyone.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Key West - A new tradition, The Green Parrot on Sunday afternoons

Our band for the afternoon
Every Sunday morning we have donuts or at least pastries. There's a great bakery nearby, Old Town Bakery of Key West. They don't really have donuts but rather pastries such as sticky buns, cheese danish, scones, and other varieties typical of a bakery. it's always fresh and there's always a crowd so be prepared to wait if you arrive around 8:30 to 9:00.

A good crowd but not packed wall to wall as usual
Our second tradition on a Sunday, at least in Key West, is to take the free shuttle to The Green Parrot to listen to jazz in the afternoon. We get there around 1:30 and stay for a couple of hours. They have a great band on Sunday afternoons and we enjoy the music. I'll buy Ann and I a Belgium beer along with the free popcorn and just sit and listen to jazz.

We had a little excitement on the way back. We were waiting for the free shuttle to arrive when it pulled in and clipped a car behind it. (Note to self: don't park your car next to a bus stop). Everybody had to get off the bus to await the arrival of the police. After a 15 minute wait, the next bus arrived and we proceeded home, no problem.  Another day paradise!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Key West - BOs Fishwagon on a Saturday night with Barry Cuda, a tradition

Lots of art at the Key West yearly art show
The Key West art show was today. Artists from all over set up shop on Whitehead street to sell their wares. There was even one guy from New York ("what's that white stuff in your painting?") who went through a very elaborate process to transfer drawings to aluminum. They were quite good.

We stopped at Sloppy Joes on the way back, too crowded, not a seat to be had
The rest of the artists were of varying quality (that's artist speak for, "not very good"). Still, it was fun to walk along and view the different styles. Every artist seemed to gravitate to a particular style with all their painting done a certain way.

I counted five chickens within five feet of our table. BOs is open-air and all rea invited.
At five, we took advantage of a reception at a real art gallery, the Gallery on Green Street. The paintings usually go for the $1000 to $15,000 range, far outside our affordable budget but they are wonderful to admire. Ann had some shop talk time with the featured artist.

Barry was holding forth as usual, in fine form
To close out a perfect day, we had fish sandwiches at BOs Fishwagon with Barry Cuda playing at the piano with saxophone accompaniment. He clearly enjoys what he doing and it shows in his crowd interaction and music. We even got a table this time. There were people dancing in the aisles to his music. It was just a great evening, I highly recommend going there Saturday nights when Barry is playing.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Key West - New things

Used to be a parking lot
When we first came down to Key West, there were lots of empty lots but as the years went by, they were replaced by condos and restaurants. The hotel pictured above used to be a vacant lot where cars were parked. We came back one year and found The Marker hotel in its place.

Moved from Duval Street
Just a 1/2 block away is another new establishment, the Only Wood Grill restaurant. It used to be near Duval Street but moved this year to the waterfront. They feature a massive wooden grill imported from Italy. We haven't eaten there yet but we'll give it a try later on. Key West is booming. It has to be one of the best places to find good food anywhere.

The winds have arrived. They are due to blow in the 20's for the next three days and since they are from the north it will cool things off a bit, but only into the 60s at night. Based on past experience, we expect to see the locals in full hoodies and long pants if not down-filled parkas. Your blood thins out in this tropical weather.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Key West - the flowers come out

There's a whole row of these across from BOs Fishwagon
As you know, Key West is tropical, it has never seen frost. Nevertheless, it still has seasons when the flowers come out more so than others. They start appearing around the middle to end of February and then explode into March. They add an explosion of color to our afternoon walks.

Bien in Key West keeps these to add to the flower parade
I don't know the names of all the flowers, I just enjoy the riot of color that they add as we walk along the sidewalks of Key West. Perhaps one of these years, I'll look up the names.

Another example across from BO's Fishwagon
Meanwhile, I have a major task tomorrow in replacing the hose to the head. It's required every three to four years and it's time now. It's hardly something to look forward to so that will consume Friday. On the weekend, we have the Key West Art Festival which consists of artists from all over coming to Key West to show their works. It's like Ann being in a candy store. She loves to talk shop with the artists. Unfortunately, she came down with the same cold I had but it seems mild so we'll probably go anyway. Key West has lots of tourists coming to town, especially on cruise ships so we keep our distance as best we can. It's not a closed-up town like up north, everything is open-air so there's always a flow of fresh air and I would think that helps, we'll see.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Key West - Mangia Mangia, a fabulous restaurant

The inside is typical Key West - not a lot of space, the outside seating is much better
We had dinner scheduled at 6:30 at Mangia Mangia with Bill Spencer and Bill Washburn, our friends from the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club. We knew the place was going to be crowded, it always is, so we chose a Wednesday night thinking it was an off night. Bill got there ahead of us to get in line since they do not take reservations for parties of four.

It's great to dine with friends!
So we waited and waited, about 45 minutes at least. We watched a party of about 20 walk by (the group had reservations) and thought of all the dinner orders ahead of us! Naturally, the 20 person group took the coveted outside seats. In looking over the menu, it looked great and very reasonably priced in the $15 to $25 range mostly.

Our dinner arrived without much delay and it was fabulous. The restaurant is rightly famous for making its own pasta and they have honed their recipes over the years. Everything was just great. I would highly recommend going, just not on a weekend and it might be wise to ask if they have a party of 20 coming that night. The busiest time is 7:30 so 6:00 would be good or eat much later.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Key West - BOs gets a new roof??

That's a brave guy up on top, there can't be much under him for support
One of the most dilapidated establishments in Key West is BOs Fishwagon. Nothing is ever replaced, nothing ever wears out. You know when it's closed because they put a piece of rope across the entrance. The musicians complain that when it rains, their instruments get wet - and that can be an expensive problem for some.

I guess it's okay if the patrons get wet, it's part of the attraction and who cares about the musicians? However, if the cooks get wet, that's another matter! The "repair", if you can call it that, was located over the "kitchen" such as it is. The whole place is just a food cart surrounded by tables and chairs and trees that have accumulated over the years.

All that said, they stay in business because of the excellence of their fish sandwiches. They don't overload their sandwich with sauces and such, it's the fish fried just right on a great bread roll. We plan on going over on Saturday night to listen to Barry Cudo, we hope, if he's back.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Key West - Kapok Tree, BOs, and Dennis

The Kapok Tree - I've only seen one in Key West
You'll never see a Kapok tree much farther north than Key West. The biggest one I've ever seen is near the Green Parrot. The branches go in all directions and occupy an enormous space. It's one of the most photographed trees in the world. I think it's beautiful.

It doesn't look like much but then that's BOs for you - however, they have the best, pure fish sandwich in Key West 
They were working on BOs Fishwagon today up on the roof. It appears they were working to stop one of the many avenues of leakage available to local rainstorms. The repair started out with a blue tarp (what else!) I'm not sure if that's the repair or they intend making something more permanent - but then this is Key West and maybe that's the extent of the repair?

Dennis doesn't sail at night - but has great sails during the day!
One person we've known for the past 10 years is Dennis who runs a sailing charter called, Breezin from our dock. I think he holds some sort of record for five-star reviews, he always makes sure the customer is completely satisfied. If you ever want to get a personal taste of sailing in the Keys, you can't do better than Dennis at Breezin. He's on Dock E, right down our dock. He's a great guy.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Key West - The Green Parrot for jazz on Sundays

Good to listen to!
There are certain places in Key West that you must go to at some time. They are the essence of Key West. One such place is the Green Parrot bar on Whitehead Street. They always have live music but it's special on Sunday afternoons where they feature jazz.

Yep, that's a parachute over the bar
We always make it a point of dropping by Sunday afternoons to listen to their jazz band and whoever happens to drop by to do some solo jazz. This time we found a seat and could actually sit, a rarity at the Green Parrot, usually it's standing room only. I bought each of us a beer and sat back to listen to the music. They also feature free popcorn throughout the day so we had several servings of that too.

I hope they don't run out...
As it turned out, all of the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club members in Key West dropped by too and joined us. We had two former Commodores (Bill and Bill), and two professional party-goers that used to own a vintage wooden boat - well, you know about wooden boaters, not to be trusted after a little imbibing of the spirits. That left just the two of us to keep order in the house and we did just that, I think, the memory is a little fuzzy after the mandatory beers.

At any rate, fun was had by all and we plan on repeating the event next Sunday afternoon, drop by and join us. We'll get there around 1:30 or so and stay until 3:30 or later. Remember, if you're in Key West, you must stop by at least once to pay your respects to a very unique, open-air, bar.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Key West - We see Peter Vey and I'm feeling better

We both love his use of color and light
Today was a day of recovery and I'm feeling much better. So far, Ann has not caught it but it's still early for that and I don't want to jinx the outcome. Mostly, it was just boat work, slowly but progress nevertheless.

The gallery is beautiful but Peter Vey's paintings are the star
The big event of the day was for Ann to see one of her favorite artists in Key West, Peter Vey. He had a reception at Gallery on Greet Street which, by far, is our favorite gallery in Key West. Peter Vey's paintings sell in the $15,000 to $30,000 range so we cannot afford them but we like to look and admire.

Ann comes alive like nowhere else when talking shop with another artist
She was able to talk to Peter for about 15 minutes on painting and she enjoyed every minute of that. Peter paints in oils with a palette knife which gives a unique style to his work. You can see some of his paintings from the website link above. If you're in Key West, be sure to drop by the gallery, it's worth the trip.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Key West - Tiki Bar, still sick

Floating Tiki Bar!
Slept yesterday from 7:30 pm to 7:30 am! I can't remember the last time I did that. I'm still trying to fight it off and it does seem a little better today. So as I sat in a daze on the back of Fleetwing, I see this Tiki Bar come by. They didn't stop to see if I wanted anything... Probably just as well. He goes up and down the fairways in the harbor around sunset.

Meanwhile, I'm persevering. I think I can skip the 7:30 pm bedtime tonight, at least. We are starting to reconnect with people from the Poughkeepsie YC and friends we've known from Key West in the past. There won't be much activity here until I recover so bear with me.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Key West - I get a head cold

Hoolie was the start of the show at Faustus supermarket, everybody wanted to pet him
I came down with a head cold last night and it's miserable. You're not supposed to get sick in Key West, I think there's something in the brochure about that. So here I am in paradise and moping around the boat, not good! It's cold medicine tonight and early to bed for me.

The freeloaders all lined up for the evening feed of fish
The worst thing is that Ann will probably get it too and with her history of allergies, it could turn into something worse.  There's nothing to do now but wait and see. I'm going to bed and it's only 7:15!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Key West - Friends from the frozen northland

A fixture on our afternoon walks. The goldfish is right at the bottom (away from fishing cats)!
We are starting our afternoon walks in the shade earlier than usual. Our saying was, "Walk in the sun in February but walk in the shade in March". We seem to be getting the warmer weather of March earlier than usual. Nevertheless, Key West has never had a frost so it's a tropical climate.

Flowers, complete with a bee
The bathtub fish tank is still there, just like the last 10 years. Some things never seem to change. Last year they had screening over the top to prevent "fishing" by the local cats but it was gone this year. The lone goldfish was at the very bottom of the tank, on purpose? The flowers are coming out too and even the bees as you can see in the photo.

Bill Spencer and Bill Washburn. They don't look frozen but then they've been at Schooner Wharf for an hour.
We had two visitors today from the Poughkeepsie YC so we will explore Key West restaurants with them. We hope to get a sail in this next week so we can test the engine shaft alignment done yesterday but that depends on the wind, it's been blowing 20 kts or more most days. I would like a 10 to 15 kt day to take the boat out.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Key West - High Speed Ferry

It's rather imposing from the front
The Key West Express runs between Ft Meyers and Key West. It's a 170 ft long catamaran that cruises at 34 kts at a round trip price of $155. It runs daily but we've never been on it. We've had friends that have taken it for a visit with us. It's about 2 hours faster than trying to drive from Ft Meyers to Key West plus you don't have to find a parking place.

How do you know you're getting fresh fish? You buy it at a market where you see the fish come in!
That's the Half Shell Fish Market
Today we had our prop shaft aligned. We had a vibration right after we had work done to replace the aft oil seal on the Volvo diesel. The mechanic evidently moved the alignment and we suffered through that for the trip down. The mechanic we found in Key West took about two hours to do the work. We ran Fleetwing in idle in the slip and it seemed to be okay. We will take it out for a sail later this week or next to give it a good test. I'm used to a smooth engine and prop shaft. Hopefully, it's back to the way it was.

Well, I hate to pass up a bargain. Everything in the store is only $5, including the tee shirts.
They are of good quality, just last year's designs but fine for me.
It's been warm here, in the 80s, more so than in years past in February. It's still not too hot since we always have a good breeze in the cockpit. We aren't doing too much yet, still just taking it easy, after all, it's Key West speed now.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Key West - Schooner Wharf in pictures

Now this is "Open Air" for a restaurant, Schooner Wharf
There are certain icons in Key West that everyone should visit while in the area. Near the top of the list (after Mallory Square) is Schooner Wharf. It is totally unique in the Key West fashion. It's an open-air restaurant with live entertainment continuously. What other restaurant (bar?) has three Happy Hours! For the record, they run 8:00 am to noon, 5:00 to 7:00 pm and 2:00 to 4:00 am!

Everyone faces the stage
The stage is a fixture of the restaurant. All tables face it and the best of the local bands always have a time slot sometime during the month. I have my favorites I always try to catch but they are all good.

The view from their top bar, "what roof?"
They have an extensive menu and the setting by the harbor can't be beat. What better way to spend an afternoon or evening than sitting by the harbor at Schooner Wharf while listening to a local band?

Have a cigar, any cigar...
If you want a cigar, they have a cigar stand with a wide choice, part of the advantage of being "open-air" I guess. It's only about 200 feet from where we're at but things still quiet down at night after 11:00. We just enjoy being here, so close to everything, especially Schooner Wharf.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Key West - Everyone left today, at 6:30 am

The dinghy docks are not free, $87/month!
We are by ourselves now. All our company left for points north, back to the cold weather. Too bad but we continue to enjoy highs in the 70s and lows only in the high 60s. That's not hard to take for the next two months. We can view the frozen north on our webcams and that's about as close as I want to come.

We are on the small side for boats in this harbor
We are going to take it easy for a while and rest up from all the excitement. I have a mechanic coming by on Tuesday to do an alignment on the engine shaft to prop shaft. When I had the aft oil seal replaced, the alignment that had been good for 15 years was disturbed. Hopefully, the mechanic can put it back right.

Now we have to plan the rest of the stay but we won't start that activity until Monday, it's rest and recuperation for now.