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Swing Set

Oct 30, 201311:44 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Calm Before the Storm

Sunday was the last day of Fantasy Fest, and things are back to normal here in Key West, if there is such a thing. While this blog is intended to be mostly about living aboard our boat, I'm going to give myself a little more latitude in my subject matter if for no other reason than attempting to maintain some interest in the blog. HeartLand Boating may decide to remove us as a featured blog, but I can't write a blog about setting at the dock everyday. "Today we were at the dock. The boat is still floating." Yawn.

I guess our everyday experiences while dockside can inspire folks who are contemplating this lifestyle by knowing that leaving family and friends back home will not mean an end to social activities. Quite the opposite will occur if you let it. Not only is our social circle beginning to include other boaters who we keep bumping into along the way, our connections with friends old and new through this blog and Facebook have allowed us to feel as though we never left our homeport of St. Louis.

Now, becoming "regulars" in and around Key West, we feel like we belong in a certain respect, at least at the marine supply stores and the bars.

I titled this blog as the calm before the storm because we were to have a two-day breather before another contingent of St. Louis-area visitors is due to arrive on Halloween, this Thursday, and we need to rest up.

There are still five of our friends here for the month, and we spent Monday evening with them at one of their rental houses, for a barbecue and some World Series watching, before declaring a moratorium on any social activity for Tuesday, as we wanted to realign our equilibrium. But it was not to be.

Yesterday morning, Rosie washed the boat and I began waxing some parts of it that were in the shade, and I also waxed the bottom of the dinghy since it's hanging over the dock and I can reach the bottom of it by laying on my back on the dock. My real focus is the bow, and the bow of Swing Set is not in the shade until five o'clock, when the large yacht next to us blocks the late afternoon sun. We learned from some local experts here on the dock on how to more effectively care for the finish on our boat, and the lessons are paying off.

We had a sirloin roast slow-cooking in the crock pot and were waiting in the cockpit for the "waxing hour" when we got a rare phone call. Some folks we had met along the way were in town until Thursday, and they wanted to get together for happy hour. Normally, I won't let a last-minute invitation keep me from any boat maintenance mission, or any other mission, but these people went out of their way to contact us, so we didn't want to disappoint them. Not only that, but waxing overhead on the dinghy had gotten to my arms and they were sore. (I haven't held my arms that long over my head since our last gig at the Ice Capades.)

Now, let me back up a little to last January: We were here in Key West looking for a slip for New Year's Eve and were at our wit's end. We knew that Fast Eddie from Fast Eddie's Bonaire in Alton, Ill., was in town, as he had a condo in Key West. We called him and asked if he had any friends in the area with a dock slip we could use, but he didn't. We promised to look him up once we got situated, but once we finally got a slip at A&B last January, Eddie had gone back to St. Louis for a family emergency and we left town with not ever seeing him. Until yesterday.

We have been here at A&B for a month, and we walk past the Conch Republic Restaurant & Bar nearly every day. We knew that "the Conch" was a favorite watering hole for Eddie, so we looked in to see him at what we had learned was his usual perch almost every time we had passed, but never saw him.

So, after I had put away my boat waxing equipment and we took showers and put on some nice duds, Rosie and I walked over to the Conch and got two seats at the bar right at happy hour. I looked down the bar and, sure enough, there was Eddie, nursing a cold one. Not wanting to give up our premium seats, especially with two more folks due to show up, I saved our seats and Rosie walked over to see Ed.

Coincidences are a phenomenon that I truly believe in, and we had one in meeting Eddie at the bar yesterday, because he had just left the local title office, having closed on the sale of his last condo here in Key West and was headed back to St. Louis in the morning. Had we not altered our plans, or had we chose another bar to meet up with our friends, we would have missed Eddie altogether, and probably would have spent half the spring still looking in to see him at the Conch every time we would pass.

Rosie brought Eddie back over to where we were sitting, and we spent the next 90 minutes talking about his bar (Eddie Junior is now owner) and some other things we have in common, and then Eddie revealed something to us that we weren't aware of.

Some of you might not know about Fast Eddie's Bonaire in the Alton area, but I know that most of my blog readers do know about it, and they know how many customers Fast Eddies has served over the years, and it would be fair to say that the number is in the millions. Keeping that in mind, Eddie went on to describe meeting us, or seeing us for the first time, and he described it to a "T," so I knew he remembered it well. That day was over 20 years ago, so we must have made quite an impression.

Rosie and I were with some good friends, one of which had just taken his new Sea Ray up to the Alton Pool on the Mississippi, and we had been up there for a day of boating. On the return trip, our friend Don suggested that we take the Illinois route, so as we were all piled into his van anyway, we had no objection.

On that day, Eddie was tending bar, and we all took seats front and center, and none of us were even vaguely familiar with Eddie at all, but like I said, he remembered us. Let's just say that we were all having a good time, and we gave new meaning to a new bar shot we had just heard of called a "Buttery Nipple." I also claim to be the inventor of the "belly button shot," now known world wide. Prove I ain't.

Over the years, we finally met Eddie, and we only frequented the Bonaire once or twice a year, but every time we were in there and saw him, he made it a point to buy us a beer or two. We eventually met his son when he started working there and kept up the practice. We didn't know until yesterday that we had made such an impression. It's good to be known for something.

Today, I have every intention on following up on my plan to wax the bow of our boat, and I'll still have to wait until five o'clock to do it, but afterwards, we'll be watching the sixth game of the World Series at The Lazy Gecko on Duvall Street. The Lazy Gecko is Boston Red Sox territory, and we're both going to wear St. Louis Cardinals attire and enter the lion's den.

Maybe I better not get my arms too tired waxing the boat. Even though we will "go in peace," I might need my limited arm strength for slugging Red Sox fans.

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