Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A-B Marina In Key West Bight

  In this small harbor there are four marinas to choose from. There is Conch Harbor, Key West City Marina, The Galleon, and A-B Marina. All four are unique in their own way, but all are expensive. The bottom line for us was that A-B gave a discount for an extended stay, plus they don't displace you for another customer coming in later. Once you are in, you're in.

  All of the boats are docked stern to, or with the back of the boat adjacent to a pier. There are pilings at the bow with only lines running between the boats to keep them apart. We have all of our fenders out. Not so much to protect our boat, but to protect the boats on either side of us are such that I don't want to have to pay to get them fixed if we bump into them. We are in some nice company. I think we are the only folks here that actually wash and wax their own boat. Most have crews of two or three hands to do the dirty work.
  When we got in, two dockhands helped get us tied up and signed in. They also made sure we had everything we needed and then left us alone. We didn't even wash the salt off of the boat, but got hot showers and then went out to get something to eat, which is not hard to do in Key West. We walked over to the Schooner Wharf Bar because it is pet friendly and we had Holly. We intended to get a couple of beers and appetizers but it didn't work out that way. A couple vacationers walked by and became friends with Holly and then asked if they could join us. We wound up staying waaaay past happy hour.
  On our walk back to the boat, we were approached by our first Key West panhandler. I only gave him the time of day because Holly liked him. It could have been because he reeked of pot, a lot of folks have that odor about them down here. He finally got down to where his routine is to ask us for some money for him to "buy a beer". I just told him that I couldn't do it. I didn't say why, but I let our government do my charity work with our tax money. It's more efficient than a "hit or miss" method on the streets.
  We left our new friend and passed three other folks sitting on a curb. We didn't even get a "hello", just a "hey, sell me a cigarette!"
"I don't smoke." See ya later.

  Our first morning here was the 8th of January, eight months to the day since we left St. Louis. Here are some more of our boat neighbors. Front Street is in the background behind the A-B sign. One thing that brought us to a marina, other than staying "On the hook", is that we needed some engine work done. Swing Set has been gradually more reluctant to run like she should. I suspected the reason was our many months of running a turbo charged engine at trawler speeds. It's not recommended, but running a boat like ours on most of the rivers in this country can get you shot at. I hesitate to mention any mechanical issues about our boat because I don't want any armchair mechanic advice about fixing the boat. I'll pay for that service after consulting people whose judgement about the matter I trust.
  Be that as it may, I asked around the harbor and got a phone number of a certified Caterpillar dealer here in Key West. After taking care of some personal business on the computer, and having a nice chat with my brother on the phone, I finally was able to call Key West Engines. I was told that someone could possibly come around by the end of the week, or maybe the beginning of next week. No problem, I'll wait for a call back.
  After lunch, Rosie and I took Holly for a walk to find a grocery store. We wound up at Faustos on Fleming Street and we stocked up on Bud Light. I wasn't sure we'd make it back to the boat with our four 18 packs intact, due to thirsty locals asking for beer, but it must have still been too early for the real panhandlers to be at work. We did some chores on the boat and talked to some more of our neighbors. We had a nice dinner of leftovers and went to bed early, not even taking advantage of our free WiFi and watching a movie.
  I woke this morning to the crow of a rooster at 7 A.M. and after a quick breakfast, started in on a rust reduction program for Swing Set. Some of our stainless steel is not so stainless. I have discovered that by using a hull cleaner to take off the rust, rinsing it, and then putting on a good wax, we can keep our stainless looking like new. Rosie and I gave things a pretty good effort until lunch time. When we went in I saw we had a phone call from Key West Engines and a mechanic could come at 1:30. Will we be available? You betcha.
  Steve the mechanic showed up right on time. I told him our story and he had some good questions for me. He took his tools below, looked at a few things, and then said he wanted us to take the boat out and run it after he hooked up a variety of gauges. After washing and waxing the boat all morning, we didn't want to take the boat out and get it dirty again, but saying no was not an option.
  Some concrete reasons where found as to why Swing Set is not running right, and Steve assured me that it wasn't anything about how we had been running her, but he did suggest that once we get her fixed that we should run her up to speed more often to blow the cobwebs out. He left his tools in the engine room to come back the next day and "could we have the hatch open over the starboard engine for him?" You betcha.
  So we washed the boat again after he left and then relaxed in the cockpit with an icy cold Bud Light while the sun did it's famous Key West thing. Then we had a good dinner of pork spareribs and sweet corn, along with some left over Spaghettios. Yes, Spahgettios again.
  I tried to set up the Roku player to watch a movie on the marina WiFi but couldn't get a connection, so here I am, posting this blog. Just as well; tomorrow is going to be a big day. Steve the mechanic will be here bright and early and then we are going to take a walk to a nearby Ace Hardware. We intend to ease in to further Key West type activities.


  1. We have turbo-charged Caterpillar engines in our boat too, and we also travel at trawler speed, and have done so for 5,500 miles now. When we bought the boat a year ago we were told that if we were going to generally run at trawler speed, we should " run it up" to cruising speed (18 mph for us) for 5 minutes every day. So that's what we've done, and knock on wood, have had no problems so far. Enjoying your blog; keep it up!
    Cathryn and Bob on "Next To Me" currently lying Carabelle waiting for a Gulf crossing

  2. Thanks for the note Cathryn. I found that "running the engines up" on the inland rivers, or even the Intracoastal Waterway, proved to be a problem due to the wake our boat causes when we do so. Once our boat engines are healthy again, you can be sure that I'll find a way to do it regardless. The mechanic did say that our issue does not stem from the way we operated our boat. He also complemented us on the condition of our engine room, but now that we are in a salt environment, we will really have to keep up with it. See you in sunny Florida!

  3. My husband & I truly enjoy reading your posts & have learned so much from your experience. We hope to leave the rat race some day & make our wary around the great loop. In the interim, we live vicariously through your stories. Thanks again for sharing! :-)