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Swing Set

Mar 7, 201411:32 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

The Red Tub Boat is Gone, Really Gone

I'm starting this post with a picture that was taken by "Ferd" when the Fenton gang was down here a couple of weeks ago, just because we like the photo so much. Ferd is Sharon's boyfriend, and Sharon is the pretty woman smiling between Rosie and I when we spent the afternoon at Schooner's Wharf.

Now, I'm not a reporter, so I don't have to research the facts, and I won't because then this becomes work, and I'm not looking for more work, but the facts, as I know them, about the red tug boat that I wrote about a couple of blogs ago, is that we woke up one day and Tilly was being escorted out of the channel into Safe Harbor, as promised, one month after it came here.

The boat, when we first saw it, was named Tilly, and if you Google Tug Tilly, you'll find lots of stories about it. Tilly was tied next to a seawall at the marina next door, and mangroves had taken root in the barnacles that had grown up to a foot thick at the waterline. As I have stated before, one morning we found Tilly tied up just a few yards away from where we first saw her, at a T-head on F Dock here at Stock Island Marina Village.

News reports say that the boat had no engines, and that some local shrimpers helped the owner float that boat to the dock here, and the staff member who "checked the boat in" had been called and told that an 85-foot motor yacht was coming into the marina. There was some cardboard, hand-made signs in the pilothouse windows advertising Tilly as having a new name, Sea Gypsy. I can only assume the reservation made for this vessel was made under the new name.

The staff member told me first hand that he took cash for the slip rental for one month, which for a boat this size would have been over $2,000. I can only assume the money was taken without seeing the boat. I assume this because SIMV doesn't have a policy requiring vessel owners to provide proof of ownership, registration, insurance or anything else when reservations are made. Maybe they need to re-think that.

So, having paid up front for a month's rent, the marina allowed the boat to stay, but the owner was told that when one month was up, he had to go. The marina manager told me this first hand, too.

The boat owner, soon after he arrived, made an attempt to bring homeless folks onto the boat to start a commune of sorts, but marina policy doesn't allow subleasing a vessel once it is here, so a stop was put to folks going onboard.

You saw the pictures of the little outboards attached to the stern of Tilly, and I'm not sure how the conversations went with the owner and the new dockmaster, but the owner had some things to say in the media that don't ring true to me in regard to how he was "made to leave" the marina.

One thing I know is that if the marina doesn't take your rent money, you have to leave, and my personal belief is that if the marina wants you out, you're out. Period.

Another news story says the owner was duped into buying the boat, but I don't see how this is a problem for the marina here. Think about it from this perspective; let's say a guest comes to your house, under false pretenses or not, and decides to stay the night, or a week or a month. Maybe forever. Don't you have a right to kick the person out?

What if someone parks a camper in your front yard, likes the view, and decides to stay a while, rent free. If the camper fails to start, do you have to allow this person to stay until he decides to repair the camper, so it can be driven away under its own power?

Once Tilly was out of the channel into Safe Harbor, an anchor was set (so I've heard), but the anchor dragged and the boat drifted west, endangering other vessels, especially at night, because no running lights were on the boat.

Various tales have been told about how the boat sank, but sink it did, in 35 feet of water, inside the reef near Sand Key.

There is a lot of finger pointing going on, but the marina is keeping mum. Probably best they do, because the boat owner just looks like an idiot in the videos and news stories that we have been seeing. Too bad the boat had to sink before the boat owner was able to fill it full of ex-patriots and head to Cuba to escape this horrible country, but for our part, we hope SIMV is not held to blame for any part of this fiasco. The Coast Guard has issued their stance as being that "the sole responsibility of a vessel is that of the owner, floating or not."

Estimates for salvaging Tilly and removing it from the sea bottom are being reported as being $500,000 or more. I don't think the owner has that kind of money, or any money for that matter.

We have contracted with a nearby sail making shop, Geslin Sailmakers, to re-upholster our dinette, and to make a new sun screen for the windshield on Swing Set. I'll be letting you know how that goes.

We also had the seals, flush ball, flush cartridges and shafts replaced on both of our toilets. Perry, the Head Honcho, came on the day he promised to come and did the work in just under two hours. It's work I've done before, but I wanted to establish a business relationship with Perry, so that when we have that real nasty job come up that I cannot, or will not do, Perry will already know us and he'll come to the rescue.

Perry wouldn't take any money on the day the job was done, and we saw him a few days later and asked to get a bill. We did get the bill and, as promised, he only charged us for one hour labor, and at a reduced "local rate." His price for parts was a tad more than I found them for online, but try to get a computer to fix your toilet when it breaks.

So far, we have a good relationship here in Key West with Key West Engines for our main engines, Mark's Diesel of the Keys for our generator, an electrician, a small instrument technician, a canvas shop and an authorized Sealand dealer in the Head Honcho. We are also becoming familiar at the local bars and restaurants. No doubt, right?

We were in Hogfish last weekend, and a woman we knew from years ago came by our table and we all recognized each other immediately. We hadn't seen her in over 10 years, and it was a pleasant surprise. She had a friend with her who is a local cop, and he told me to drop his name if I ever got into trouble. This is invaluable networking!

Last week, we were contacted by one of our blog readers who was staying on his boat in Marathon. Jack and his wife, Pat, wanted to take the Lower Keys Transit System and come for a visit, so we spent a couple of hours with them on board Swing Set. They're leaving their boat in Fort Meyers for the summer and going back to Arizona for a while, and then making the trip over to the Bahamas next winter and wanted some first hand advice about it. I hope they got it.

Also last weekend, we got a call from some friends that were down in Jupiter to see the Cardinals in a spring training game and decided to drive down to Key West for a couple of days. Mike and Sherry were just here in November for a week, and here we got to see them again! What a great surprise that was. Even better was them stopping by on their way out of town to drop off the beer they didn't drink while they were here. Somebody pinch me.

Yesterday, we got another visit from some friends that were also just here in October and were in for the afternoon aboard a cruise ship that was in port for the day as part of the "Kid Rock Cruise."

On the left is Renee and Jeff, who are friends of Jeff and Sandy next to them. Jeff and Sandy are friends from LaGrange, Ky., but we know them from boating up on the Mississippi. We took this picture at the Lazy Gecko, just one of the stops we made downtown on a too short visit by Jeff and Sandy. Always good to see them.

Rosie and I have been discussing our options, and we became increasingly convinced that Key West and Stock Island Marina Village will become our home for the foreseeable future, so we decided to get a small scooter to get around on the island.

Scooter parking is free anywhere around here, and it seems like everyone has a scooter. We went to the local Yamaha dealer and ordered a new Zuma 125. It should be here by this weekend. It's still small enough to stick on the boat if we want to go somewhere else, but it's a best seller, so we shouldn't have any trouble unloading it in the future if we want to. I'll show you pictures when we get it. We already bought helmets, not something that folks wear down here, but we might value what little brains we have more than the other people down here do.

I'm closing out the blog with another photo taken by Robert "Ferd" Frank. It's a picture of Coconut Row, which is the south pier at SIMV. Ferd took some other photos on his visit to Key West, and you can see them on his website: ferdworks.photoshelter.com.

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