Friday, March 31, 2023

Key West - The fish returns (or a new fish)


Our new fish - the cats are happy… (or birds?)

There is a bathtub that’s been converted into a fish tank that’s been here ever since we’ve been coming to Key West. At various times in the past, there were attempts at preventing “harvesting” of the occupants of the fish tank - mostly without success. 

Just to round things out - the recent hot spell has brought out the flowers in force

There was screening across the top and other forms of warding off exit spirits but the fish were plucked out regardless. This year, I think the owner of the tank gave up and just redid the tank without a screen on top but provided multiple areas for the fish to hide out under the water in various rocks and crevasses. The lone fish of that experiment lasted about a week. The tank has sat empty for over a month with the water pumping away in circulation but without fauna to enjoy the environment. 

Today I saw two fish! When I took a photo, one of the two fish was looking right into my eyes  (looking out for predators?) I wonder how long they will survive in the wilds of Key West?

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Key West - Changing Seasons


The increasing high clouds are pretty but portend raining weather coming

The wintertime here is dry but with every passing day, there’s more likelihood of shower or two. You can see it in the sky with the increased high clouds. We had a water spout warning this morning but we didn’t see any. There were a few sprits of water, nothing major. I think it’s time to move on.

Other than walking, the main mode of transportation remains the bike. 

Ann is gradually getting better, good enough to travel so we’re still aiming at Sunday for moving to Marathon where we hope to pick up a mooring. The next day remains iffy on continuing to Key Largo. The weather models do not agree and that’s always a bad sign. 

Meanwhile, we’ll make preparations for our journey north with provisioning, water, and a pump out. Hopefully, it all comes together for a Sunday departure.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Key West - The Bloddy Pirate


Good name for a boat!

The Bloody Pirate visited us again today. They sail out of Key Largo and typically have 20 kids on board for a week at a time. Whenever they’ve been in town, the crew consisted mostly of teenagers, often from a scout club. I guess it must be quite the adventure for kids. 

Bloody Pirate is a 65 ft schooner with enough bunks for 24 people overnight

I met the captain (Captain Ron!) one time and he has his hands full with the active crew.The boat is also available for general charter. Since they are on a schedule, they travel in all types of weather, some weather that we wouldn’t take Fleetwing out in but then the crew is young and it’s an adventure.

We continue looking at the weather reports everyday and it still looks like Sunday will be our next window. Now, all we need is for Ann to recover enough to make the trip to Marathon. This time of the year, there are usually moorings open and we hope to pick one up. It looks like we may be there a few days waiting for the next weather window but then the weather is always changing. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Key West - The Gardens Hotel


They also have parakeets that will give you the eye in the garden!

One of the places we like to go from time to time is The Gardens Hotel. As the name implies, there are gardens to walk through by the hotel but they are noted for jazz on Sunday afternoons. It’s usually very crowded so you have to arrive early to get a seat. 

A garden to stroll through

There’s no cover charge but they have a great wine bar. The wine is electronic. You buy a card and use it to push one of three buttons on a selection of dozens of bottles of wine. You can purchase a taste, a half glass, or a full glass - your card is debited with each choice. 

On other days, starting at five, they have a grand piano that’s played by local musicians. It’s nice to sit by the piano with wine in hand and listen to fine music in the afternoon. Our faviorite pianoist was Jimmy Olsen, just like the person in the Superman comics. He plays broadway musicials, great fun. 

Monday, March 27, 2023

Key West - Change of plans!


A  sunrise on our way to the local urgent care center this morning

Our intention was to leave Key West Tuesday morning but our colds have gotten worse. I took Ann to the urgent care center (Advance Care - excellent service!) to have her looked over. The short of it is that we need time to recover fully. It’s no fun cruising if you don’t feel up to par. 

The “Better than Sex” restaurant in Key West - supposed to have great desserts

The marina is far from crowded so there was no problem extending our stay - except for the prices, but then it’s Key West. We will take it a week at a time and see how our recovery goes. We took a COVID test  this morning and it showed as a negative - it’s just a bad cold. Everyone I’ve talked to around here has had the same experience - something going around.

With that piece of good news, we are just going to take it easy for a while and let nature take its course - for recovery, hopefully. We will probably be here for the next two weeks and then look for a window once again to go east. Oh well, time is our friend when cruising. 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Key West - One more day, then we’re off

Signs to all parts of the world - do you see your home?

 I walked Hoolie this morning and once again noticed the arrow tower of distances to various people’s homes. It’s a real global community that comes to Key West. The direction signs have been there ever since we’ve been coming and I’m sure, many years before that. No one seems to be in charge of the signs, they never seem to be taken down or “renewed”. I imagine there are stories behind each one. 

A typical boat going out three times a day - snorkeling and such

Speaking of signs, our sign on returning north is getting close Tuesday still looks like a great day to move east with winds of less than 10 kts. We’ve enjoyed Key West as always, having wine on the back of Fleetwing and watching all the sunset cruises move out by us. We have one right at the end of our dock that’s usually full. They offer snorkeling during the day but a sunset cruise at night too. Everybody just comes to have fun in the warm weather, why not?

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Key West - Are there panhandlers in Key West?


Our lone oldster - he’ll accept money but never ask for it

In the two months I’ve been in Key West, I’ve never seen anyone asking for a handout. There are no cardboard signs that I’ve seen being held at intersections with a plea for money. The area by Key West Bight is especially looked after.

One more time - a visit to Schooner Wharf in the afternoon

That’s not to say you can’t contribute if you want. In the area around our boat, there are two oldsters that will sit or stand near the area but not occupy a bench (they are for tourists!) They’ve been there ever since we’ve been coming to Key West over 13 years ago. In my experience, they never ask for money, they are just present. The locals support them with small donations. In the first few years we came, there were more - again, never asking for money (discouraged by the police?) but present if you wanted to donate.

No clouds but good color in the sky

Key West likes to make their town a welcoming experience to tourists. It’s one of the few places we can sit out at night and never see an insect. They have excellent mosquito control. I know the local officials can enter any yard at will and inspect for standing water which are breeding grounds for insects. For example, I’ve never seen a bird bath in Key West. Of course, it helps that we usually come during the dry season but nevertheless, yards are actively monitored. 

Friday, March 24, 2023

Key West - End of the dry season?


Storm clouds! That’s Dennis’ boat on which he take riders out for a sail

We’ve had two month of almost no rain, not even enough to wet the streets. It’s also been much warmer than we remember from past years. So this morning, we were surprised to get soaked during our morning walk. It wasn’t just a shower but rather a downpour. 

I haven’t seen a wet street scene for the last two months - no wonder there are no bugs in Key West

We took shelter along with two others under a palm tree, which we found out, directs water away from the central trunk given the way the fronds hang (who says you don’t learn something reading these blogs!) You never realize the amount of trivia you accumulate over the years until you do a New York Times crossword puzzle. Ann and I finish one each day. 

The rest of the day was dry as usual and it warmed again into the high 70s. We are looking for a Tuesday departure date given the changing weather outlook. So far, they all agree that Tuesday is a good day with winds of 10 kts or less but then when has a weather forecast ever changed?

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Key West - The electric revolution has reached Key West


A typical electric bike - they are not cheap! (But the fuel is)

The biggest change I saw this year in Key West was the ubiquity of electric driven bikes and scooters. There were always electric golf carts for rent for tourists but the transportation used by the workers has always been bikes or manual scooters. That has changed. 

There are levels of sophistication - this one is upscale

When I’m out running in the morning, there’s a steady stream of people whizzing by on electric bikes, often going as fast as the local traffic. Mixed in with the bike traffic are the scooters, also electric. Both can go at least 30 mph. Nobody wears any protective gear when using the electric driven vehicles. Strangely enough, there are the traditional bike riders too and they are all decked out with helmets and pads - but not the newly minted electric riders. I hate to think what would happen to a person on an electric scooter going 30 mph if they hit a bump and fell off. Disaster!

In the other hand, you can get a scooter and whiz along

For a minimalist approach, there are those that electric skateboards - going just as fast and sometimes on the sidewalks instead of the street (look out, coming though - at 20 mph!). As they say, experience is the only teacher, provided they live through the experience. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Key West - Flowers out in force with spring weather


I love these flowers - they are all over

The cool weather followed by a renewed period of warm weather seems to have invigorated blooming flowers of Key West. On our afternoon walks, we are seeing more and more flowers come out. 

These flower sprout on bare trees, lovely

Particularly pretty one are on what appears to be trees. The plants have no leaves, only the yellow flowers. I’m sure someone can comment on what they are but I just like the beauty. 

I have no idea what these are - but such a red color!

Ann and I had a night out at the Waterfront Brewery. They have reasonable prices compared to the rest of Key West and the food is good. We got a walkway window and watched the crowds go by. The appetizers of buffalo wings was especially good.

It’s that time of the season when we’re starting to look for a weather window. We thought that Saturday would be a good days to head east but the weather changed and now it’s not so good. We’re looking for a calm ride to Marathon so we will just wait until the weather suits us - maybe Tuesday as it looks now. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Key West - Feeding Time


Pelican feeding time

Everyday around 4:00 is feeding time for pelicans. The fishing boats return from their daily runs and clean the fish they caught. Any scraps are pitched to the eagerly waiting pelicans - and the occasional tarpon lurking under water. Usually a crowd gathers to watch the thrashing for scraps. The pelicans get plenty to eat.

You can see the top of the cruise ship peeking over the far building. It’s big, Key West is small.

On the way downtown, you look over the tops of the buildings to see if a cruise ship is in town. They are so tall that they dwarf any building in Key West. Unfortunately, today was one of those days. I had wanted to get a $5 sweatshirt without a crowd milling around but it was not to be. I did get my sweatshirt (in preparation for cooler weather on the way home) but not without a wait. 

Smallest Bar in Key West

There are many iconic shops in Key West and one is advertised as the Smallest Bar in Key West, it’s locally famous. Likewise for many other places to imbibe, plenty of those around. We prefer our wine in the cockpit of Fleetwing, better view and much less expensive. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Key West - Roosters


Everybody likes to feed the chickens - and the chickens know it!

As you may already know, chickens run loose in Key West. They command the traffic - which stops when they want to cross the road. They seem to thrive here. They don’t lack for food. The tourists feed them as well as the local folks.

The colors really pop out when the rosters are in the sun

The roosters are spectacular when shown in full sun. Their feathers have a shine to them. The hens are much more subdued but don’t threaten their chicks! Ann was taking Hoolie for a walk one morning when he was confronted with a lone chick on the sidewalk. Out rushed the mother hen and put herself between Hoolie and her baby. He didn’t know what to do with himself, he only wanted to play but he was not going to mess with the mother hen who fluffed her feathers out and made herself large and aggressive. 

We are into our last week in Key West. One more night out for dinner and on the final day, breakfast at Schooner Wharf. Hopefully, the weather is good for a trip east along the Keys. It’s not the usual direction for winds but we’re hoping for a window. It will still take us about two months to reach Deltaville, Virginia - our destination for Fleetwing for the summer. Then we hope to do everything over again in the fall. 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Key West - Jazz at the Green Parrot and an Irish dinner


Once again the Cantina Band was playing - great musicians

Our favorite jazz band was at the Green Parrot Sunday afternoon so we took advantage of that for an afternoon listening to their music. There is no cover charge but everyone buys drinks, we had a beer. 

It seems that there’s a group of fans that return every Sunday to listen to the band so we met them again today. It turns out they are from Bar Harbor, Maine so Ann had a lot in common to talk about since she attended the University of Maine for four years. 

A great once a year Irish dinner

It was time to cook our traditional Irish meal, our once a year venture into Irish culinary country. Naturally, it was corned beef with potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. This year, Ann used the Instant Pot and it only took 85 minutes for a tender meal. I think we’ll have enough leftovers for the next few days, it was a large cut of corned beeF. 

Our crew made it back to Connecticut in the early morning hours (3 am!) after numerous delays along the way. With that , all is well up north. Everyone had a wonderful time - great to get together with family when you can, especially in warm weather like Key West!

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Key West - The Go Fast boats arrive


Never enough horsepower!

Every year about this time, the Go Fast boats arrive at Key West. They typically have anywhere from three to five huge outboard motors in the 450 range. They are painted bright colors and they have races during the week. 

Interesting that most have twin hulls

Most of the ones here have outboards but there are a few with all inboard engines. They look even more streamlined but perhaps it’s a difference class of racer. They all look like they are speeding even when docked. Like Harley motorcycles, they have a deep base type of motor noise. I’m sure they could put an adequate muffler on the output but the deep throated noise is part of the scene, I guess. 

A side view, lots of power!

All our crew left today so we are alone once again on Fleetwing. They are catching  a flight Saturday night at Ft Lauderdale. We have another week in Key West before leaving for points north on a slow return to Deltaville where we’ll store Fleetwing for the summer. 

I’m sure the cockpit has all the bells and whistles

Friday, March 17, 2023

Key West - Cuban Restaurant and a sunset at Mallory Square


Irish singers are in short supply in Key West on St Patrick’s Day.
This guy dressed the part but didn’t play (or know) any Irish songs

The Waterfront Brewery always hosts a party atop their roof deck on St Patrick’s Day with beer, entertainment, and free tee-shirts. Naturally, we had to stop by. I don’t know why they don’t use it more often, it’s a great venue with a view of the harbor. We had a beer to celebrate and returned to Fleetwing. 

Chickens roamed above at the restaurant, hence the covers above 

The kids spent the day at Ft Zachary Taylor at the beach there since it was sunny all day and warm. I think it’s the best beach in Key West. Some of the others are protected more by reefs which is fine but there’s no surf. The fort is always fun to explore too and in some years they have Revolutionary war re-enactments. 

Not many clouds but a good view of the sun

Next on our busy agenda was dinner at El Meson De Pepe’s Restaurant. I would also highly recommend a night out there too. One thing you never have to worry about are crowds from cruise ships that may dock at Key West. The passengers are all on a meal plan and seldom eat out. Besides, most of the ships leave around 5:30 or so anyway. The restaurant is located in Mallory Square so it’s a one minute walk to see the sunset. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Key West - We sail on the America 2.0


Sarah spent time at the wheel, quite the experience

America 2.0 is a replica of the boat that won the first America’s Cut, a schooner. She’s a beautiful boat and fast! It was built up the Hudson River and she spends the winters in Key West and the summers in New York City. She sails at 1:00 and again at sunset. 

All hoisting of the sails was handled by two girls

The crew is composed of three girls: the captain (with a 100 ton Captain’s license) and two girl deckhands. They handle the raising and lowering of the sails manually. There are four sails to put up and they don’t go up easily. They swing on the lines, using their weight to pull the sails up. They have more energy than I do!

Of course, Ann and I both took our turns at the wheel

The winds piped up to above 20 kts and we hit over 11 kts at full speed. We didn’t quite put the rail in the  water but it was close! We were cutting through the 3 to 4 ft waves, spraying some on deck - it was quite a ride, highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Key West - Butterfly Day

Very colorful

 Key West has a butterfly conservatory so the event of the day was to visit the colorful area. It’s in a building right at the southern end of Duval Street and it’s convenient to the free Duval Loop bus stop. Today was rather cool (mid 70s) so there weren’t a lot of people going out on boats - the conservatory was crowded and with a line to get in.


One additional attraction are the two flamingos in resident. They have a special session at 4:30 where you can mingle with the birds. We just studied them from a far.

With the temps in the low 70s and a 15 kt wind, the hooded sweatshirts were out in abundance. Once you’re used to 80 degree weather in full sun, anything less feels cool  unless you just flew in from New York but then you’re a tourist.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Key West - Fresh produce in Key West?


The place to go in town

There’s only a few paces that sell fresh produce in town. There’s the two major chains: Publix and Winn Dixie but they require a bus ride or Uber. The only one in easy walking distance from Key West Bight is Fausto’s Food Palace. Their prices are sky high for meats but their prices on produce and other goods are reasonable.

A nice selection

We shop once every couple of weeks from Winn Dixie but once every few days at Fausto’s. The selection is pretty good

If you want a lunch snack, stop by Kolache Kitchen for a taco and enjoy the meal over at Mallory Park, two blocks away. The price can’t be beat at $5 to $6 for lunch and each taco is prepared fresh with a short wait. It’s on Duval Street in the same block as Sloppy Joes but on the other side of the street.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Key West - the kids explore

View from the top of the Shipwreck Tower.

 For their first full day our, the kids explored along Duval Street. They toured the Aquarium which is much better than you might expect. It doesn’t look so hot from the outside but it impresses once inside,

Same tower but in the opposite direction

From there it was to the 65 foot Shipwreck tower. It’s a hike to the top but it offer a 360 degree view of Key West where with some interesting history along the way.

Manatees in love?

We also had a visit from the local manatees in the harbor. They are not beautiful creatures, they have a face only a mother could love.

The rest of the week us up in the air. They won’t seem to be ones that plan ahead, take it as it comes, I guess.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Key West - Our Spring Break Crew Arrives!


At the Waterside Brewery, quite good. 

Of course their flight was delayed, initially three hours but then it turned out to be “only” an hour. They had a hard time finding a slot for arrival into Ft Lauderdale - it was very busy. And, the car they reserved was not there, another delay - but eventually they got on their way but it was too late to make it all the way to Key West so they stopped for the night at Homestead. 

We had our customary Sunday morning breakfast at Schooner Wharf and retired to Fleetwing to await arrival of our crew for the rest of the week. Finally, they made it around 1:00 or so and I think the boat sunk another few inches with the load that came aboard. Where do you put nine people on a 42 foot boat? 

Sarah wanted to sleep in the dinghy - but no… 

We have our forward cabin, Philip and Monique in the aft cabin, Matthew and Rachel have the main cabin, and that leaves Sarah and Natalie in the cockpit. I think Sarah wanted to sleep in the dinghy but we thought that was not a good idea. 

The crew has all sorts of plans tomorrow, we’re spectators for the show, we’ll see.