When we first started out on our adventure a year and a half ago, one of our goals was to be here in Key West during Fantasy Fest and the Powerboat races. We spent so much time on the inland rivers last summer, we began to readily see that making Key West in time for these events in 2012 would mean skipping by some really fun spots along Florida's West Coast, so we set our sights on being here this year. We're so happy that we did.
In the last few weeks there has been over forty people down here visiting for some reason or another. Some of the folks we feel are close friends, and some we had a mild acquaintance with, but we feel like we became closer friends with most of them due to the fun times we had with everyone.
Now before you start thinking how popular we must be to have all these people travel all the way from Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky to see us, we can only claim that one couple actually made the trip just to see us, the rest came because of Fantasy Fest, the boat races, and because Key West is a fun place to visit.
Having all these folks visiting was no ordeal for us because we didn't (and won't) arrange accommodations or transportation. Two sets of friends rented houses here in town for a month, and they had most of the people staying with them off and on. I commend them for the work they did in hosting so many of their friends. We were just able to reap the benefits.
Since our blog is about boating and living aboard, I won't chronicle our activities here in Key West too much, but for anyone dreaming about casting off and living aboard their boat, I have some insight and want to share it.
Many months ago I decided to gut our second state room and make an "office" out of it. Anyone who has read our blog from the beginning knows this. (The rest of you, please catch up.) Of course we wanted a nice place to use our desk top computer, and have room to store tools and extra parts, but the other thing was that we didn't want to have guests aboard to stay overnight. The reason is that we like to run a tidy ship. Anyone coming on our boat would have a hard time realizing that we have been living on our boat for so long. As they say, "there is a place for everything, and everything is in its place". This is impossible to do with more than two people living on this boat. OK, two people and a small dog.
Sure, two people could sleep on the floor in the salon, but we've done that before and our schedule is usually different than that of others, and we don't like to be walking over anyone if they want to "sleep in".
The other thing is that if we are on the hook, the systems on our boat are taxed as it is with just us, two or more people onboard just adds that more usage to the water, waste, and power systems, plus there never seems to be enough room in our small refrigerator either.
But sure, we like friends to visit, right? But to have visitors, you have to commit to being in one place for an extended amount of time. Last year we were moving around a lot, and had we adhered to the travel schedule of friends wanting to see us while they were "in the area", we wouldn't have been able to adhere to our loosely knit travel plans, and while we were somewhat flexible in that regard, twice we had to draw the line and commit ourselves to set departure dates.
The other criteria for having friends and family come to visit is to be in a place where people like to visit. Sounds simple, but after a day or two, your visitors may want to strike out on their own for a few hours, and you'll probably want them to, so you'll want to be in a place where there are things to do for them. We've had friends visit while we were at Kentucky Lake, Marathon, and Key West. No problem there.
Another consideration about having friends visiting while you are on a boat is having room for them all if there is a large group. We took the photo above when we decided to have a dockside happy hour. Even with our generator out of the boat, at times the swim platform was submerged. With a group this size, going out on the water was out of the question.
On the subject of running a tidy ship; we know that when guests first come aboard, if they are boaters, and most of these folks in the picture are, they want to remove their shoes, but everyone wants to remove them right inside the transom door, but our cockpit is small enough without everyone having to step over a dozen pair of shoes, so we asked everyone to line them up in the salon under our settee, so their shoes weren't a trip hazard. We also had to insist that everyone use the bathroom at the marina. Our holding tank would have lasted about an hour with this many. When it got dark the men used more convenient methods.
Again, most, if not all, of our friends are boaters, so no one was severely disappointed that we never left the dock. The weather wasn't co-operating anyway as we had a good deal of wind.
The week earlier, with another group of friends, we were able to go out on the water. We took eight guests, which made it ten with us. Ten people onboard Swing Set for a cruise is manageable, any more than that and it becomes a chore for Rosie and I. Know how many people you can safely cruise with on your boat, and stick with it. You and the Coast Guard will appreciate it.
I told about our snorkeling trip with Ryan and Aimee in my last blog, but I didn't have this picture, so I wanted to include it this time. If I was going to have an advertisement for chartering guests on Swing Set, this would be a good picture for it. Rosie and I are always hopeful that when we have guests aboard our boat that they have a good time. People who have a bad boating experience never forget it.
Holly just had her second birthday! We mark Halloween as Holly's birthday as we don't really know what day she was born, and Holly really doesn't care. We took her to breakfast with us to Pepe's and she was presented with a ceramic bowl filled with ice water for her enjoyment. She didn't get any special treats or birthday cake. We don't want to spoil her.
We spent many nights out with our friends during that last few weeks, and had many late nights and lots of fun, but in every case, as we walked, or weaved, our way back to the boat, we always looked forward to seeing our pet and Holly never failed to make us feel like we were missed.
We also look forward to seeing our friends again, whenever that may be. They also made us feel like we are missed, and they all made us feel like they wish they were doing this too.