Monday, February 28, 2022

Key West - We take an artist walk down Duval Street


This sculpture has been in Wyland’s gallery for the last 10 years

Ann paints during the day in pastels while I’m usually down below writing. With Covid winding down in Key West, we took the free Duval Loop bus down to lower Duval Street and toured the art galleries, one of Ann’s favorite things to do in Key West. 

Thomas Arvid and Ann talking shop

Our first stop was at the Wyland Galleries. Wyland does paintings and sculptures but also has other artists in his studio. It’s always interesting to browse the exhibits and chat with the host there. Moving on down the street, we found that at 11:00 on a Monday morning, Duval Street was not crowded at all. We may do more of this during our stay here. Things almost appeared normal. Nobody was wearing masts except on the Duval Loop bus where it’s mandatory. 

Ann greatly enjoy her conversation with Arvid

There’s one artist we see all the time, Thomas Arvid. He had found a niche, the painting of wine glasses. They are painted photo-realistic. He has a real talent for representing glass. When Ann asked him if he ever got tired of painting wine glasses, he said he had a backlog of paintings already paid for. Ann and Thomas talked “artist shop” for 15 minutes while I milled around and at the end took a photo of them together. 

It was a nice day so we just walked back instead of taking the bus back. Ann sure enjoyed the art galleries and talking to Thomas Arvid. 

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Key West - The flowers are starting to come out


The flowering trees are coming out

Part of our everyday routine is a stroll in the afternoon. Key West has many alleyways to explore between the major town roads and they are often decorated with flowering trees, bushes, and other colorful plants. It’s very pleasant to take a stroll and admire the scenery - and take photos. 

The orchids are always beautiful - many house have them outside by the sidewalk

We had our first rain today in over a week. It’s still the dry period in Key West and we’ll leave before the rainy season starts, which is nice that Key West designs their winters for the convenience of tourists. There has definitely not been the number of cruise ships this winter compared to previous years. It’s a rare day when there’s even one cruise ship in port and I haven’t seen two at a time since we’ve been here this year. Of course, I don’t mind, it makes for less crowded streets. 

Covid has just about run its course here and most everywhere else too. We are still asked to wear masks inside but nobody enforces the rule. Outside, nobody wears masks - but then with a steady 15 kt wind, there’s little reason to when outside and many of the restaurants are all open anyway. The one place we are careful to wear out masks still in on the bus - it’s an enclosed area and we want to be careful. We only ride the bus at non-busy times anyway so it’s not a problem. 

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Key West - We see the annual art show in Key West

There’s much more room at the Truman Waterfront park than at the Whitehead location

 One of the big attractions we like to see in Key West is the annual street art show. Artists from all over the east coast attend with their paintings, sculptors, and other creative arts. It’s been held on Whitehead street in the past, right in downtown Key West but this year they moved it to the Truman Waterfront Park. Key West renovated the waterfront and added a water park, lawns, walkways, and a bus stop for the Duval Loop bus. 

They had a great, free water park. The kids were having a great time. Water everywhere!

We wanted to avoid a crowded bus so we got the first bus to arrive, the 10:00 am bus to the park. There were only two others on the bus, not crowded at all. After the short ride to the exhibits, we walked through the artist tents and surveyed the offerings. Ann bought a handmade broach for her hair and I just enjoyed the morning air in bright sunshine in the 70s. 

On the way back, we saw a manatee in the harbor. There are still several around.

The ride back was equally uncrowned but I would imagine it would be more crowded later in the day. I think we’ll take advantage of the thin crowds in the mornings to see more of Duval Street this coming week. We’ve been careful to avoid crowds but today’s experience showed us that with the judicious selection of times, crowds can be avoided. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Key West - Schooner Wharf for dinner


Open-air entertainment, typical of Key West - with a gravel floor

Yet another perfect day in paradise with temps in the high 70s, light winds, and no rain. I finished an article for Waterway Guide on anchoring out in Key West and Ann painted all day. I’ll do a blog of just her paintings in the next day or so. 

You may see a few chickens roosted in nearby trees while dining

We had wine on the back of the boat and then walked over to Schooner Wharf for dinner and music. The start of any dinner in Key West begins with conch fritters so of course we had some. We got there around 6:00 and got a table with no problem but by the time we left, the place was packed. 

I had fish and chips and Ann had seafood tacos, both were good. We were about 10 feet from the band and it was a little loud for us, more so for Ann since I can’t hear anything anyway. One thing about having a hearing aid, you sure can sleep well at night - no noises to keep you awake!

Saturday is the once a year art festival in Key West but this year it’s down by Truman Park, too far to walk so we’ll try the bus for the first time this year. We’ve been avoiding the bus due to covid concerns so we’ll try a less crowded time early in the morning. Ann loves to meet the artists and “talk shop”. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Key West - Your and Mayan Fair Trade Shop

It’s the most colorful store I’ve ever been in

One of the favorite places we like to browse through is Yours and Mayan. It’s a shop with imports from South America. They are all handmade and very brightly colored, each totally unique. They have handbags, clothing - all sorts of things. 

A mask?

The shop is near the water and has been there for at least 10 years since we’ve been coming down. We passed it today when Ann went to the art studio to see the latest paintings by her favorite artist in Key West at the Greene Street Gallery, Peter Vey. He only paints with a pallet knife but his paintings are extraordinary. Take a look at

Fun to look at in a shop, don’t know how well it would wear in a house

I’m writing an article on anchoring in Key West based on the experience of the Dockmaster in Key West Bight Marina. He sees all the troubles with people that don’t anchor right for the conditions in the area. The holding is very variable with some areas very good and some on the other side of the spectrum. Knowing which is which is the key to a good night’s sleep. 

Today was mostly boat work, replacing all the lines on the fenders. It’s the first time they’ve been replaced in over 20 years. Everything wears out eventually, I guess - hopefully not us for a while yet.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Key West - Manatees return to the harbor


It’s unusual that we see three manatees in the harbor. I wonder if they came in search of seagrass

The manatees in Florida are starving. The sea grass that they feed on is in short supply. We saw very few in Titusville where in the past there were 20 or so in the marina but this year we saw only one or two. With that, we were surprised to see three in Key West Bight harbor. The one in the middle appears to be a juvenile. We couldn’t see if they found any seagrass or not. There have been attempts to feed them with lettuce but it hasn’t been too successful, too many needed too much. 

Ann likes to take photos of cottages along our walk for pastel subjects later on

We are in the dry season in Key West. We haven’t had rain for more than a week. It makes for great weather but it’s good that Key West has an independent supply of water piped down from southern Florida - along with all the electrical needs of the area - and a trunk line for internet too. 

I think Key West is doing pretty good. There’re lots of crowds and the restaurants look full so they must be doing okay. We continue to just enjoy sitting on the back of Fleetwing and watching the world go by. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Key West - The dog park is closed!


A sad sight for Hoolie, no dog park anymore

For the past several years, we enjoyed taking Hoolie over to a fenced in area that turned into an informal dog park. Hoolie enjoyed running around chasing a ball, his biggest sport. We were very disappointed to see that it’s been closed, complete with a padlock. I wonder what happened? There were no explanations posted, just a chain locked fence, sad. 

It was interesting that we did see a new set of docks,
Wonder who they are for?

We also noticed docks that were there the last time we visited Key West just opposite the old dog park on the harbor. It was half full and it probably had some connection to the nearby base. It look pretty new and the boats looked typically transient type. 

So instead of a romp at the dog park, Hoolie had to content himself with a walk and we made do. I’ll do a little research to find out about the old dog park but gone is gone for now. Ann made her own version of a fish sandwich tonight and I’ll have to admit it’s pretty good and with more fish than you’d get in a typical sandwich in Key West. With a busy day of laundry and shopping for fresh produce at Fausto’s food store. They are great on fresh produce but out of sight on meats. 

Monday, February 21, 2022

Key West - Want to snorkel?

A typical charter boat carrying six passengers.

 As you might imagine, there are lots of opportunities for enjoying the water at Key West. One thing they all have in common is that they are not cheap. The photo shows a six person boat equipped for a water adventure such as snorkeling. Below is the price list for such an adventure. I think we’ll just stay on Fleetwing and enjoy the views off the back of the boat. 

We’ve restarted our afternoon walks and one of the joys are the many flowers about. Many of the houses have taken orchids and attached them to trees by the sidewalk, They are beautiful flowers. The main flower display will not be until March and I’ll be sure to take pictures then too. 

February is a good month for Key West. It’s before the bigger crowds of March and spring breaks and not as hot. All that doesn’t affect us much since we mainly stay on Fleetwing with Ann doing here pastels and me writing. We both enjoy the solitude but we do look forward to having two of our grandkids down for spring break for a week in mid March. That will liven things up a bit!

You can see that the charter is a real bargain:)

Meanwhile, we like the flowers.

Many houses have orchids on trees by the sidewalk, very pretty

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Key West - Donut Sunday


The selection of pastries at Olde Town Bakery is the best in Key West

Today was a day which you just didn’t want to end. Perfect weather with light breezes, not hot and not cool. We started the day out with our usual donuts on a Sunday morning from the local pastry shop which had a line out into the street. At least it was in open air and once inside, it was a quick exit with three pastries. 

Next on the day’s list of treats is a stop at the Cuban Coffee Queen for Cafe Con Leche

The perfect complement to the pastries were two Cafe Con Leches from Cuban Coffee Queen which involved another long wait but it was worth it. Nothing like a Sunday morning in Key West. We’ll help our neighbor leave Monday morning but I don’t envy him his trip back to Marathon with 15 to 20 kts of wind on the nose and resultant 2 to 4 ft waves. He’s on a schedule I guess and has to leave when his crew arrives. 

Key West remains crowded but we aren’t impacted out on the docks, no crowds where we’re at watching the dinghy traffic go by. 

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Key West - We meet Captain Ron!


The real Captain Ron!

One of our favorite movies of all time aboard Fleetwing is Captain Ron, especially with grandkids along. We’ve watched it dozens of times. Today, Captain Ron paid us a visit! He used to run Captain Ron Yacht Charters out of Ft Lauderdale before he semi-retired. He’s in Key West at the moment and he dropped by to pay us a visit. He wanted to stay in Key West but couldn’t find a slip so they are at Stock Island at the moment. 

We had a visitor on our swim platform that decided to stay, to his detriment

We awoke this morning to a Maine fog! It was clear in the harbor so it wasn’t entirely like a Maine fog but out in the bay, it looked pretty thick. I can only remember less than a dozen times in 10 years when I’ve seen fog in the Keys. It burned off by noon and we even turned on the air conditioning but then it moved in again and turned cool by 4:00 pm. 

Ann got her shopping itch scratched. No crowds here in the afternoon and it’s wide open. 

Ann ventured out this afternoon and even went in some of the nearby stores. We’ve tried to be extremely cautious due to Covid and so far it has worked. In the harbor here, the wind constantly blows and most of the restaurants and bars are outdoors or at least have wide open doors to the outside with plenty of ventilation. One wonders whether we will always feel this way about crowds, we’ve been so conditioned over the past two years. 

Ann continues to paint and work on email and writing articles for Waterway Guide. The next challenge is doing taxes remotely. All tax forms for investments can be downloaded, all filled out, so it’s easier than it used to be. Meanwhile, we’re just enjoying the warm weather. 

Friday, February 18, 2022

Key West - Barry Cuda’s last night at BO Fishwagon


This was Barry Cuda’s last night at BO Fishwagon - he’s off for Sicily, of all places! 

The usual gang was there tonight, people we knew from the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club. They had a table saved for us, a prime spot right in front of Barry. BO Fishwagon is a small place which adds to the intimacy and limits crowds. It’s an open area so you don’t feel closed in. Here’s a video of Barry playing at BO Fishwagon.

It really was just a food wagon that found a home on  corner in Key West

Barry had a saxophone player tonight in addition to the drummer. The music they play is decades old but we enjoy the songs. Another thing we like about the place is the excellent food. We had conch fritters for an appetizer and fish sandwiches for the main meal with onion rings on the side. Some places overdo the fish sandwiches with too much stuff but not BO. They use Cuban bread which compliments the fish very well. 

This was before the crowds that came to see Barry - BO’s is not for everyone

One downside, they do not have a liquor license. BO’s was sold recently and the new owners have applied for a license but it has not yet been approved. With that, we took our own bottle of white wine for dinner, no problem. 

In short, we like the music, we like the food, we like the camaraderie. It may not be for everyone, it sure doesn’t look like much inside but it suits us fine. 

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Key West - The fishing fleet comes in and the pelicans are happy!


The fish cleaning station is conveniently located near pelicans(?)

I showed the pelicans yesterday waiting for their evening snack sitting on top of the turtle museum. I walked over today to see the activity in more detail. I had thought they would have no competition from tarpons like they do at the 4:00 pm feeding by A&B Seafood. I was wrong. The tarpons are not about to pass up a free meal. Somehow, they found a path in by the fish cleaning area. 

The pelicans are not alone in their fondness for fish! Here come the tarpons. 

We always enjoy seeing fellow travelers along the ICW. We had three couples stop by today and we pass the time in conversation. I always enjoy the feedback which I use on ways to improve my Guide and the Facebook page I run for ICW cruisers. I’m also selling Bob423 burgees at Fleetwing for those that want them. 

Are they pretty? Not really. Fun fact, pelicans and seagulls don’t mix.
There are no seagulls in the harbor.

I had an article published today in Waterway Guide News on the use of an iPad Pro 12.9 at the helm. The iPad Pro 12.9 can perform functions that no chartplotter can do. The details are in the article, here’s the link: iPad Pro 12.9 at the helm

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Key West - Pelican feed time and Mallory


No cruise ship today!

I took a walk to Mallory Square this afternoon but it was far before the crowds were due to arrive. There was ship in port so it was deserted. No doubt, there will be a crowd tonight as always but not when I was there. Key West is more crowded than I remember from past years but we stay outside, not in enclosed areas and dine in restaurants that have outside seating, so far, so good. 

Feed me! No competition from Tarpons here.

Key West has an active charter fleet of fishing boats that take on passengers to deep sea fishing. When the charters return to port, there’s an active group of pelicans ready to meet them! The charter crew will usually fillet their catch on the dock and cast what they don’t use to the pelicans. The birds will often fight over who gets what scrap but the pelicans aren’t the only ones in the equation. The tarpons also come for their share and will gobble down the scraps before the pelicans can get to them. These are not small fish, around 4 to 5 feet long! If the tarpons go after them, the pelicans don’t stand a chance. 

We enjoy the back alleys of Key West. Some of the plants are huge! In another month, they will start blooming. 

In the photo, the pelicans are near Turtle Kraal where the tarpons cannot go so they have the scraps all to themselves. For us, we just enjoy watching all the activities in warm weather, nice. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Key West - A walk along the docks


The beach is only three blocks away, a short walk but not much activity today.

The strong winds are abating somewhat but they won’t really calm down until Friday. It’s now predicted to be in the 70s the rest of the month with lows only in the 60s. There’s a sandy beach not far from the Bight and we walked to investigate. It certainly wasn’t crowded. It’s not much of a beach but it’s the only one on this side of Key West open to the public. 

Where’s is everybody!? One lone pelican

What was apparent were the larger than normal number of boats at anchor. They were before us as far as the eye could see. I can imagine what it’s like out there in 25 too 30 kt winds, especially at night but I’ll stay where I’m at. 

On the way back, we walked past A&B Seafood and their docks. It’s all powerboats except for one lone sailboat. It looks like party time there, not a place to sleep over at night. One lone pelican was waiting for the 4:00 feeding but it was only 2:30 so he was mighty early. So we’re just chilling out and enjoying the weather, not a bad way to spend the winter.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Key West - Night views


The view towards B&B Seafood

One advantage of the high winds (20 to 25 kts) was that most of those on moorings and at anchor stayed there so we had the laundromat all to ourselves - such are the joys of cruising. The dinghy dock was unusually empty, plenty of room. 

The view in the opposite direction - off the back of the boat

Our night was not uneventful. We had the combination of a strong northeast wind to 25 kts and a drain tide. That pushed us up against the fixed dock add on of steps. We were fine with the dock as designed but somebody in the last two years thought it was a good idea to add additional steps in wood for getting off the boat. At a drain tide low, we hit the steps at 2:00 am in the morning. So up I was and went to investigate. I added more lines to the starboard side to pull us away from the fixed dock. After about 1/2 hour of this, I finally succeeded. Isn’t cruising exciting! 

I had a mechanic on board this afternoon to look at the injection pump, thinking that it was leaking fuel. He did a detailed analysis and concluded that it was not leaking and what I was seeing was just residual oil spread about by the vibration of the engine at high rpms. That sounded much better than a leaking injection pump which goes for $5000. 

Having pass that hurdle, we relaxed for the rest of the day and look forward to warming temperatures on Tuesday. 

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Key West - A look at Schooner Wharf


The stage is set up permanently and is always occupied by a performer -
 with a tip hat in front but no tip is required. 

One of the iconic restaurants in Key West is Schooner Wharf. It’s the only place I know of that has two happy hours: one in the morning and one just before the dinner meal. They are also one of the few places with live entertainment starting early afternoon with multiple performers during the day. 

You can see one of the many roosters in the area at bottom right
The kitchen is available for your inspection too

The restaurant may give pause to those not familiar with Key West traditions. There’s no ceiling, no walls, and the floor is gravel. There are roosters wandering around and some hens with their brood. Dogs are welcomed, we often take Hoolie along and there’s always water put out for pets. The food is remarkable good, you can see the kitchen as you wait to be served while listening to the night’s entertainment. 

How many restaurants have their own cigar bar?
Schooner Wharf has had one for years.

If there’s northern blowing, they will put up plastic curtains to ward off the cold, especially if it dips into the 60s. Key West is surrounded by water which acts as an enormous heat sink to moderate any cold front that somehow finds its way that far south. 

So if you’re ever in Key West, be sure to have a dinner at Schooner Wharf, it’s a unique experience and part of the Key West experience.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Key West - Crowded on the weekend, such great weather!


I lost my anchor chain in the incident at Caesar’s Creek - here I just bought 90 ft as a replacement 
from West Marine, they were the only store that had it in stock. They also lent me their 
cart to transport the 100 lb load to Fleetwing.

I can understand why there are crowds on the weekends here. Such good weather and people are celebrating the lifting of all the cautions. They still advise wearing masks inside enclosed areas but obviously not when eating or drinking - and what else is that to do in Key West? We focus on the areas with outdoor seating such as Schooner Wharf and BO Fishwagon, they never had anything but outdoor seating! Neither one had a roof or sides. Schooner Wharf is just a gravel floor with rosters wandering through and sometimes hens with their chicks. 

We see these “floating Tiki Bars” all over the east coast. They are powered by an outboard and scoot around the harbor - with drinks in hand

All the bars have music and that’s part of the attraction. Where else can you sit for the cost of a bottle of beer and listen to pretty good music? I walked by BO Fishwagon tonight and it was half empty and yet the new place (Only Wood) across the street had a line outside waiting for a table. Here’s is a Key West institution in BO’s and tourists don’t even know it?! The fish sandwiches are outstanding, served on Cuban bread without all the stuff other restaurants pour on the dish, you can actually taste the fish! 

It tough here but we’ll manage to enjoy the area, the warm weather , the gentle breezes, - somebody has to do it. I don’t mind. 

Friday, February 11, 2022

Key West - A night out at BO Fishwagon


Barry Cuda playing at BO Fishwagon

BO Fishwagon has not sides and not much of a roof. That allows a lot of ventilation so we felt pretty good about our first night out in a long time. The McKeevers were down to listen to Barry Cuda play the piano before he leaves for parts unknown. He’s a fixture in Key West and has played here for years. Nothing he has is amplified, it’s all natural music.

Ann enjoyed the party

We met the crowd collected around the table saved by Bill and Ruth McKeever. They come down every year in an RV and stay months at a time. We know them from the time at Poughkeepsie Yacht Club where we were both members. His favorite saying is, “These young people don’t know how to party!” Bill sets the example for us all.

It felt great to get out for the first time in ages. Covid in on the decline in Key West, mainly because is has already infected everybody it could. We will still be careful but not isolated quite as much in places such as tonight. It was fun tonight, a real treat.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Key West - Sloppy Joes is still there


Sloppy Joe’s is going as good as ever from what I can tell

I took a walk downtown for the first time today. We have avoided crowds for so long that its second nature anymore to avoid going where there’s lots of people. At some point, all of this will be over and we’ll learn new ways. Even walking downtown, I found myself moving to the edge of the sidewalk when passing people or even going on the other side of the street, oh well. 

Ann’s favorite gallery is still in business on Greene street.

The store with $5 tee shirts that were overbought and now on sale was still there too. I got a few. The material is fine and they all have a Key West theme of some sort anyway. There are definitely more people than I remember from past Februarys. Everybody seems to want to get out and have fun. 

The gallery Ann likes is still in business and seems to be doing well. We’ll pay a visit during the week at some point. An icon of the area will be playing tomorrow at BO’s Fishwagon, Barry Cuda. We’ll be there to enjoy some piano music, one of our first outings in months. The McKeevers will be there too and we’re looking forward to catching up on everything that’s been happening. Nice to see old friends. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Key West - want to buy a house?


Inexpensive housing in Key West - only $649,000 - buy before it goes

We are feeling the effects of inflation here too. If the prices only went up 6 or 7% per the advertised inflation rate, it would be fine. However, we’re seeing more like 50% to 100% increases in thing we buy (fuel, food, marina prices, car rentals, restaurant prices, and on and on). You saw the prices of meat in yesterday’s blog. Everything I mentioned above is tracking in the same direction. Ah, the cost of paradise. 

Nevertheless, we still had a sunset briefly

What if you wanted to buy a home in Key West? The photo shows what’s available in the cheap range of under $700,000. The price for that abode is only $649,000. Of course, it may take a little fixing up but that’s the price for an inexpensive home in Key West!

It has turned cold here with a high today under 70 so we stayed mostly in Fleetwing with the heater going. The sun only came out briefly for the sunset. Somehow I think I won’t get much sympathy from those up north - but to the snowbirds, it’s cold!

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Key West - Getting into the swing of things


We will have to try this place!

Although we did eat out at Schooner Wharf last night, it’s not our usual dinner in Key West. We mostly cook on the boat (correction, Ann mostly cooks on the boat - I enjoy it). One thing we have discovered is Wahlburgers. They are sold in most grocery stores and we always look for them, they are delicious so we found it interesting that Wahlburgers opened a restaurant in Key West! I’m sure we’ll be giving it a try something while we’re down here. 

I don’t think I want lobster tonight at that price!

There is only one grocery store nearby, Fausto’s Food Palace - and it’s a palace in prices for meats. The rest of the products are not too bad. We usually get our fresh vegetables and fruit there between visits to Winn Dixie out on route 1. If you ever do crave meat that you don’t have in the freezer, then you have to be careful if you shop at Fausto, just take a look at some of the prices!

Their steaks seem rather expensive too

There’s not a great deal of differences between the highs here and farther north in Florida but the biggest difference is in the lows. We’ll stay in the 60s for a low while Titusville will see 40s. It’s great weather here for running and walking in the morning, one of the great things we like about being in Key West in the wintertime.