Swing Set

Oct 4, 201309:33 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Key West Again

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On our last day in Boot Key Harbor, last Sunday, we took the dinghy over to Sombrero Beach to try out our beach umbrella setup with the rod holder I installed near the bow of our Mercury dinghy, on the bulkhead of the anchor holder. Rosie and Holly sat in the shade while I completed the overdue job of cleaning the dinghy with the Formula 88 Degreaser that we bought at Home Depot. Outside of some subtle mold spots on the dinghy, it looks close to new.

With my work completed, we took a slow cruise over to Sunset Grille for a late lunch. Even though it's the slow season, the pool was full of kids and adults, and we stayed for most of the afternoon, getting back to Swing Set before sunset.

We left Boot Key Harbor at the break of dawn on Monday morning and had an uneventful cruise to Stock Island Marina Village.

As we entered Safe Harbor, we were reminded of how industrial the area is. The Key West water treatment plant is on the starboard side as you enter the harbor, and a boatyard with the rusting hulks of vessels in various state of repair, or disrepair, is on the port side. But then we came up on Stock Island Marina Village, and the view changed. New buildings and docks have been built, and the place was teeming with workers. I called the office on our radio and was directed to a dock right in front of their marina office.

Rob Cate, the dock master, and Eric (I think I got that right) came out to assist us in tying up Swing Set. As soon as we plugged in to shore power and changed out of our swim wear, we met Rob in the marina office and he took us in his golf cart on an extended VIP tour of the facility.

Folks, this place is going to be very nice. Everything is being done first rate. A new marina office with ship's store is out on the main peninsula, which has a cruiser's lounge on the second floor that will have a bar area and a lounge with big screen TV, accessible by key card by boat owners at all hours. A new laundry facility is next door, and also has shower facilities for cruisers, too. The floating docks are well built with concrete walks and composite edging, and they look beautiful. (I'll post pictures when we come back in December.)

We actually got our pick of where we want to keep Swing Set when we come back. We were able to choose a 50-foot slip as we are right on the cusp of a 40-foot slip because we are 41.5 feet overall. We have a hard time choosing when we have the run of the place, but we hope we chose right. We picked a slip on the end of a finger, reducing the amount of foot traffic passing our boat, plus reducing the drive coming in from the harbor entrance. I had one reservation about airborne debris from a neighboring boatyard, but Rob assured us that it wouldn't be an issue. If it is, we'll move I guess.

We also got to see one of their floating condos. They have two, and another is on the way. These cozy little "houseboats" are very clean inside and come with a kayak and have inviting decks attached. We have family members visiting in January, and they are staying in the "Red Grouper." We sent them an email telling them that they're going to love their accommodations.

We saw the new dog park on the premises, a tiki hut for entertainment events, the community garden, the new pump house and generator facility, and the site for the soon-to-be-built hotel, restaurant and pool. We're very excited to be getting in on the ground floor of this marina.

As I've said, Stock Island is quite a bit different from the downtown Key West experience. We took a walk later in the afternoon to check out the neighborhood, so to speak. A convenience market is not too far away, and the Rusty Anchor, a seafood restaurant, is very close. West Marine and a handful of other restaurants are within walking distance, too. The Hogfish restaurant and bar are within walking distance, but we'll most likely be taking the dinghy to that establishment when we go. There is also a "beach" gathering spot of sorts just a short distance away on Boca Chita Key, where we'll be able to take Swing Set, or the dinghy, to socialize with other boaters.

We decided to have dinner in the Rusty Anchor. It just happened to be happy hour. Go figure. Bud Lights were cheap, and appetizers were half price, but we also ordered sandwiches. The owner came over to bus our table when we finished and asked us how we liked everything. We told him we'd be back. I bet he's very happy about the new marina being built.

The wind picked up during the night, and we got bumped around at the dock a bit, but it sure was nice having our air conditioning on. We slept later than we have in months!

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