Monday, November 10, 2014

Calm After the Storm

  I try to avoid this blog becoming a review of our social life, but living at a marina in Key West does not lend itself very well to tales of cruising, but it's been over a month since my last post, and we've had lots of visitors.
  In mid October, friends started coming down to Key West. Our friends from St. Louis, John and Pat, were the first. They rent a house every year for a month, to encompass Fantasy Fest, Halloween, and the Super Boat Races. As the month progresses, they host a ton of visitors, all who we are very happy to see.
  Before their first guests arrived in town, we were able to get John and Pat out on Swing Set for a cruise. We had a beautiful afternoon ride out to Boca Grande, and we arrived back in Safe Harbor as the sun was setting. Everything worked like it was supposed to on the boat, and that is an important item to make for a good day.
  Last year we reserved a slip at A & B Marina in the Key West Bight for the main days of Fantasy Fest, and we wanted to expand the stay this year but we found out that there was a waiting list for the week of the boat races, so we just stuck with our plan to stay five nights and return to our slip at Stock Island Marina Village.
  We ran into a squall on the morning we arrived at The Bight, so we waited out in the harbor for the wind and rain to die down before trying to get into a tight slip in less than ideal conditions. There are no awards for docking in adverse conditions that I'm aware of, so waiting out the weather, if at all possible, is a better choice instead of playing pin ball in a harbor full of expensive yachts.
  The wait wasn't long, and soon we were slipping flawlessly between the two pilings that marked a slip just inches wider than the boat. Rosie was placing the bow lines onto the forward pilings when a guy off of a neighboring boat came over to "help".
  Now, Rosie and I had discussed exactly how we were going to facilitate our dock tie-up, but the fella wanting to help had other ideas, and Rosie, being the pleasant sort, was dutifully obeying the orders of the helper, even though the orders ran in opposition to our laid out plan. Being the "Captain" of our vessel, I had to intervene.
  "Rosie," I said, "Stick with our plan, and don't take orders from the dock hands. You should be giving orders to him."
  This is something we have trouble with on a regular basis. Rosie forgets that she is the one in control of what we are doing with our boat as far as handling the lines, not some stranger on the dock who walks up and wants to start barking orders.
  We soon had Swing Set tucked in for the next five days. We did reserve the same slip next year for a whole month. If you stay at a marina that has a monthly rate, you may as well stay the month because depending on their rate, a stay of three weeks may cost the same as staying for four. Such is the case at A & B.

  Sorry, no pictures of Fantasy Fest other than this one of Holly at one of the many parades. Holly was the subject of many picture takers, but she wasn't accepting money like the painted woman to the left in the background. If you zoom in, you can get an idea of what many of the "outfits" look like for the week of Fantasy Fest.
  It was nice to have the slip in The Bight for Fantasy Fest week, as all of the festivities are within walking distance, but we had to return to Stock Island.
  Brett and Christine, some other friends from the Mississippi River, made the ride back with us, along with some friends of theirs. The six of us had a very nice ride back out to Boca Grande before putting Swing Set safely away at Stock Island Marina Village where we all piled into our dinghy for a ride over to Hogfish for dinner.
  A few days of rest and then Jeff and Sandy, who live in Kentucky, arrived for a whirlwind weekend of Halloween. During that time, we found out that Super Boat International added a race in Marathon to their 2015 schedule. Jeff and Sandy promised to return for that race, so we're looking forward to it since there is more than a good chance that we'll still be in Marathon when that race is held during the 4th of July weekend.

  Also, Halloween is the day we celebrate Holly's birthday. Since we really are not sure of her official birthday, Halloween is nine weeks before Christmas, more or less, and it was Christmas Day when we got Holly back in 2012. Three years old and all she got was a rawhide stick for a present. Better than the steam iron Rosie got for her last birthday.
  There is no shortage of festivals in Key West. Right after Halloween was Parrothead weekend, a celebration of Jimmy Buffet music. It's amazing to see how many people like to dress in the same t-shirts, sing in unison to the same songs, and do all the cheers etc., all on que. We like to think we are more independent than that.
  We fielded many questions from our visitors, some we welcomed, some were plain tedious, as some of the questions were pretty basic, such as, "Where are you keeping your boat these days?" A question like the last one is usually answered with a question of my own, such as, "You don't read the blog, do you?"
  Now, I can't expect our friends to read this blog on a regular basis, but if a person is really interested in what we are doing, and they know they're going to be seeing us, it would sure be appreciated if they'd just take a peek at this blog to catch up so we don't have to answer over and over again, the same old questions. At least, unhide us on Facebook long enough to get the basics.
  I try not to bore company by telling the same jokes, and I certainly don't like telling the same stories, unless I can improve on them, using the age old licenses that are unofficially placed upon story tellers without penalty.
  One question we got was an interesting one, and it was, "If you had to make ONE improvement to Swing Set, what was the one that you could not do without?"
  I had to think about that one, but over all, I think the addition of our dinghy davit, to allow us to carry our fast dinghy, is the one that has served us best and has made life aboard the boat more enjoyable.
  I posted this fact on our Stock Island Marina Village Cruiser's Network, stressing the fact that we think having a fast dinghy is important. We had members agreeing, but stating that they wanted a dinghy that they could row or sail easily. I had a hard time visualizing us rowing our sailing our dinghy out to Boca Grande.
  We also got questions about who does Rosie's hair. One woman actually stopped Rosie in Publix to ask about her hair color, and who cuts it.
  Rosie cuts her own hair, and uses hair coloring from the pharmacy or grocery store, and it turns out very nice, even though she mixes left over colors together and amazingly gets pretty good results.
  The same logic does not apply to our annual Easter eggs, however. It's not too hard to figure out why our eggs every year turn out to be a dark purple color. They taste good though.
  Yesterday winded up a week of Super Boat races, and we avoided many late nights with our visiting friends and took in every race except the first one on the last day. Just couldn't make that early call after a full day at Dante's pool on Saturday.
  It was a good week of racing with only one serious crash, but no one got seriously injured. We can claim a few acquaintances on two of the race teams, and they both ended the week with mixed results, but injuries. It's an exciting week of racing.
  Friends are filtering out of town this week and by Saturday we'll be on our own again, and that's the day we leave Stock Island. We're planning on staying at Newfound Harbor, just off from Picnic Island, until next Monday when we'll arrive at Marathon Marina.
  We are scheduled to have Swing Set hauled in mid-December for bottom paint, and we're going to stay at Banana Bay in Marathon for four nights. We are going to also buff and wax the hull of Swing Set while she is "on the hard". That, hopefully, will complete our major expenditures for Swing Set this year.
  But we're not in Marathon yet, are we?

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