Feb 7, 201309:03 AM
Swing Set: Cruising Full Time
Back On The Hook
After being in Key West and A & B Marina for one month, we left there this morning with mixed feelings. We really had a good time during our stay, met some nice people and got familiar with the town. We do hope to get back to Key West later this year, but it all depends on if we'll be able to get a slip in Key West Bight during what will be the busiest time of the year. I had a nice conversation with the harbormaster before we left, and although he didn't guarantee the availability of a slip for us, come this fall, he did indicate that we will have an inside track if we call him this summer. But sitting at a dock every day gets old, and we were anxious to get back on the anchor.
Yesterday was a busy day for us. We called a cab and rode to the airport for our interview with the Customs and Border Patrol in order to enroll in the Small Vessels Reporting System and the Local Boaters Option. Theoretically, this should allow us to call on the phone when we return to the U.S. if we go out of country, making it unnecessary to report-in to a customs office in person. Our interview consisted of some amiable chatter with a half dozen customs officers and getting our fingerprints taken. Rosie hadn't been printed since her birth. I haven't fared as well over the years, but I feel like my run-ins with law enforcement have made me a well rounded person.
We got another cab and got a ride to Winn-Dixie for provisions. One item on our list was a small griddle to use on our range top. Rosie says I ruined her copper-clad fry pan by using it on the Magma grill outside, and the eggs are sticking to it. I fail to see how a pan is ruined unless there is a hole in it, but what do I know? We determined just where in our already full storage areas we were going to put the griddle before getting one. For $19, if it doesn't work out, I'll use it for an anvil.
We now have a loosely followed system of only filling one grocery cart (level), which allows us to be able to carry in our bags, backpack and cart, whatever we wind up buying at a grocery store. We still had to wait more than a half hour, surrounded by our booty at curbside, for a cab to arrive to take us back to the marina. By the time Rosie got finished stocking our purchases into the fridge and pantries, our afternoon was nearly shot. We decided to relax on the boat and watch the activity on the dock.
A large Westport Yacht at the end of the pier was filling up with guests for a cocktail cruise. Big Time always has a party going on, and there is a continuous parade of guests rolling overnight bags down the dock for a night or two aboard this fabulous yacht. In the photo above, two of the guests aboard Texas Tea were going over to join all the other folks on Big Time. Holly was taking a rest from "greeting" everyone who walked by our boat.
We paid one last visit to The Conch Republic Saloon, which overlooks Key West Bight. They have a pretty good deal at Happy Hour and we took advantage of it. Then, to celebrate a successful visit to a fun town, we treated ourselves to dinner at Berlins, the "B" in A & B Lobster House, the "A" being Alfonsos, the bar/restaurant the sits below Berlins on the first floor. Our meal cost us nearly what we paid for a whole cart of groceries from Winn-Dixie, but we'll be on the hook for the next few weeks and won't be spending a dime. You can't take it with you.
We said some goodbyes at the dock, shaking a few hands, but not making a big production out of leaving. We feel like we'll see most of these boaters again somewhere. No point in getting all blubbery. Honestly, I think some of our dock neighbors were glad to see us go, the "greeter" became annoying at times.
I took the shot heading up this blog this morning as we set a course up the northwest channel from the cruise ship dock. We ran at our customary 1200 rpm, around 9 mph. There was still some wind at our backs, and I knew that once we got past the reef and headed east, we'd have some beam seas, so I figured to take our time. My hunch paid off, and we had a pleasant cruise to our "lobster hole." We put the anchor down on a sand bottom in 9 feet of water and got a good hold.
Lunchtime comes early after a very light breakfast, and after lunch, some book reading time appealed to me more than getting gear on to search for lobster. Those lobster won't go anywhere. We spent the afternoon on the foredeck, soaking up rays and reading our Kindles.
After another ho-hum sunset (we are getting spoiled), it was time for our dinner of leftovers. It's our way of saving money and also our way of keeping the refrigerator organized. Rosie mixed rice and black beans, beef stew, steamed broccoli and added some brown gravy, and served it up with some Tostitos artisan black bean and garlic chips for a satisfying meal.
During a game of dominoes, Rosie noticed hole in the seam of one of our throw pillows, so when we finished the game, I got out our sewing kit and mended the pillow while she played around on the iPad. Finding some green thread that matched the pillow was a small joy that can't be appreciated by most people. I even looked for, and found, another spot on the pillow that needed mending. The chore was that rewarding.
We're anchored only five miles or so from Key West, and we can see the lights of Key West and Stock Island off in the distance. But it's dark out here, the wind has calmed down considerably and it feels good to be out on our own again. I wonder if the owners of Big Time would be satisfied with this comparatively simple existence?