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Swing Set

Jan 2, 201412:44 PM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Happy New Year 2014

One of the boaters took a drone view of Stock Island Marina Village the other day. This is a very good shot, and I'll use it to describe our surroundings.

First of all, Swing Set is pictured just right of center, in the third row of boats from the bottom of the shot, on the right. Yes, that little speck is us. On the far left is Hawk Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. Cow Key Channel is at the top of the picture, and we take it to pass under A1A into Florida Bay, which can be see in the upper right. Down the center peninsula is first the dock office and ship's store. Right behind it is the showers. Almost dead center of the photo is the new laundry room.

The peninsula on the far left is the original docks for what used to be Safe Harbor. They call it Coconut Row now. The docking is Mediterranean-style, which is docking backed up to a sea wall. Some "slips" have a small dock next to them, but all have a mooring ball to which you have to tie your bow to. The rent is cheaper on Coconut Row, and it's a good place for cruisers on a limited budget. Like us, but we're splurging. Behind the new docks is where the new hotel, pool and restaurant is planned. We hope that this part of the project comes to fruition. Lastly, two boat yards are on the far right.

We think Rosie was the second customer to use the new laundry facilities. The machines take a card that is assigned to you, and a card machine in the laundry loads up your card when you stick it in the machine and feed currency into it. This eliminates the need to save quarters. The washers and dryers read the card and how much money you have on it. Each load takes two bucks. Rosie typically has two washer loads and two dryer loads per week, so we spend about eight bucks per week. We think that's a good deal in order to have freshly washed bedding and towels. Oh, and clothes, when we wear them.

Here's the three boatels that Stock Island Marina Village currently offers to guests. The middle one is brand-new, and when we took this photo, it hadn't been furnished yet. These are cozy little units and neat as a pin, as they say. They each sleep four, utilizing a sofa sleeper. They come with a kayak and a fine porch to really capture the Key West flavor for a minimum five nights stay. You can book them through the Stock Island Marina Village website. They fill up fast.

But we don't spend all of our time at the marina. On one of our last calm days, we took the dinghy five miles up Hawk Channel to Geiger Key Marina. We stayed late into the afternoon and took this photo before heading back to Stock Island while we still had light. It's a good dinghy ride, and the tiki hut bar is a fun place to spend a couple of hours.

Christmas Day was the second anniversary of Holly being our pet. Here, she's outfitted in her Christmas attire. This was the highlight of our Christmas Day, but one of our dock neighbors gave us a little card and a small package of cookies. We spent the day relaxing and then made some nice steaks and watched a movie. Perfect.

On the Saturday after Christmas, we took our bike downtown to Dante's to spend the day at the pool. The first hour or so we sat in the light rain, but by noon the sun came out and the place filled up with patrons. Some new friends, Neal and Cindy, had just flown in from Tennessee and joined us late in the afternoon. It's nice to have some regular friends down here, even though they don't live here full time. Most likely better for them.

We take the bike downtown once or twice a week, or at least to the shopping centers on North Roosevelt. We visit the library regularly, Strunk Ace Hardware, Home Depot, West Marine and Key West Marine are also frequented on a regular basis. My legs are getting a workout, and my muscles are getting harder. Either that, or rigor mortis is setting in.

There is a bike path running down nearly the entire length of A1A, and our bike route is mostly separated from any cars, but drivers down here are used to sharing the road with bicyclists. Many of the residents here only have bicycles for transportation. If you don't count the dinghy and Swing Set, I guess we are two of them.

There is a shuttle that runs on a limited schedule from the marina, and we took it downtown on New Year's Eve, but it only ran until 11:30, so we had to find a cab back home after all the famous Key West activities were over. There was not a cab to be had at one o'clock in the morning, so we joined a long queue to catch a city bus back over to Stock Island. The experience did not go well, but we did get back to the marina eventually.

I am not going to go into detail about what happened on the city bus, because the story would be an indictment on myself. I will say that I made a strong objection to the driver of the bus deviating from his route to drop off some bus riders to their personal residences. Bus company authorities were called to deal with me, to which I voiced yet another complaint. I suggested that the bus company representative call the police, to which he obliged. When several of the Key West police officers arrived, and before they escorted us off of the bus, I made an appeal to some of the other passengers to back up my story, or I knew I was going to jail for at least the evening. As I was telling one officer what had transpired, one lone woman was corroborating my story with another officer, and I was vindicated. We were offered to have a cab called for us, but the police also could not get a cab, so one officer was assigned to give us a ride back to our boat, compliments of the Key West Police Department. Ask me if we'll be riding city transportation again anytime soon.

On New Years Day, while I was contemplating my good fortune at an experience that could have gone horribly bad, I made us a big pot of Hungarian Goulash from my paternal grandmothers recipe. The dish is a stick-to-your-ribs, cold-weather favorite of ours, and even though the temperature reached 80 degrees, it was blustery and cloudy, so we dug into our goulash at dinner as though we had a foot of snow out on the ground.

Yesterday, we took the dinghy out, as the wind had let up some. Neal and Cindy invited us out on their 58-foot Sea Ray Sedan Bridge for a sunset cruise, so we met them at A&B Marina after taking the Cow Key Channel over to Key West Bight. Mark Miller, the dock master there, let us leave our dinghy at the docks while we went out with our friends and watched a beautiful sunset, which I don't have a picture of.

I used our little Garmin that I had put a bracket for on the dinghy to get us home long after dark. I almost put us into "the bushes" once, as Rosie called them, when I was temporarily blinded by the bright GPS screen, but Rosie was on watch and we avoided a close encounter with some low lying mangroves.

Today, it's a chilling 69 degrees and the wind is howling at 30 miles per hour. The sky is threatening rain, and we're going to hunker down and hibernate this afternoon. Everyone here at the dock is still happy that we all aren't sitting in a foot or more of snow up north somewhere. After an afternoon spent on the couch reading our books, the leftover goulash we have waiting for dinner will be a welcome dish, perfect for a frigid afternoon. Brrrrr!

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