Swing Set

Oct 4, 201309:33 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Key West Again

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!

 

We took our time having coffee and breakfast in the morning, and then visited the marina office one more time to say goodbye and thank you, promising to visit occasionally while we're in Key West Bight, to check on the progress at Stock Island Marina Village. They hope to be operational by the time Fantasy Fest rolls around, and by the looks of things, they will be. We asked to be invited back to their Grand Opening, and Rob said we would. Can't wait.

We cruised over to familiar Key West Bight and called Mark, the dock master at A&B Marina, for our slip assignment. He asked if we needed help and was going to send someone to help us tie up, but I told him we'd call if we needed any. Generally, we like to tie up ourselves, so we can take our time and not be rushed. Also, I like to secure our boat the way I want to do it, and if the person helping us is doing it differently, then I have to give orders. I don't like giving orders. (Rosie may not agree with this last statement, but, at the core, it's true.)

We got into our slip just fine, plugged into shore power again, and then went to see Mark at the marina office. There were several packages waiting for us, and more on the way. We took them back to the boat and then trekked over to The Galleon to confirm our slip for later in the month, when we'll have to vacate our spot at A&B for five days due to reservation conflicts. Suzy at The Galleon confirmed our slip reservation, and we told her we'd see her in a few weeks, if not sooner. We returned to Swing Set and began to organize the items we had brought aboard earlier.

On Wednesday morning, we walked over to West Marine and picked up our new water heater. We also visited Key West Marine, where I picked up two gallons of Barnacle Buster. I'm going to CIP our heat exchangers again, because I don't think I did it long enough last time. We were still running a little hot coming down from Marathon.

On Wednesday evening, after a light dinner, we went to the Tropic Cinema on Eaton Street to see a movie. We didn't like the movie, but we like going to the Tropic. It's mostly run by volunteers, and it's about the cleanest, neatest, theater we've ever been in. The popcorn is the best!

On Wednesday night, we got a hellacious storm, and in the morning, Front Street was flooded all the way to Duvall Street. This is a common occurrence in Key West, especially when it occurs like it did this time, at high tide. Everyone takes it in stride, and the water recedes after a few hours.

Thursday was haircut day for Holly, and she got the shortest cut yet. She didn't behave as well for her haircut as she has done in the past, and we think it's because she hasn't had a cut in a while. I'm going to have to trim her more often so she is used to it. You don't think it's because she is just getting more spoiled as each day passes, do you?

Some bad news: I checked the engine room when we went to leave Stock Island Marina Village and found a bit of oil debris in the bilge, obviously from the generator.

To verify the oil source, I wanted to start the generator (after checking the oil level), and it wouldn't start. I saved further investigation until this morning, but in the meantime, had contacted a local Westerbeke mechanic, referred to me by Key West Engines, the folks who installed our turbo chargers last January. I replaced the Racor fuel filter, plus the primary fuel filter on the generator, and tried to start it again. It still wouldn't start. I bled the fuel line several times with no better results, so I called the Westerbeke mechanic to get us on his schedule. If the generator won't start, we can't diagnose the oil leak, so first things first. I was hoping for a simple fix, of course, but we'll just have to see.

We went to the Dog Island Bar yesterday afternoon to watch the Cardinals in their first game of the NLDS. A place called Dog Island and Holly was not allowed in! We checked a few other nearby places, but wound up taking Holly back to the boat and returned to Dog Island before the first pitch. We didn't really want to go back to Dog Island, but other bars we checked had golf on their TVs. Golf?

One place had NO customers, had golf on its TV, and we asked if he'd put on the baseball game. He took just a little too much time to formulate an answer, so I said "nevermind" and walked right out the door. He must have learned his business acumen in the Bahamas.

We enjoyed the game, especially the outcome, but vowed to find a place where Holly was welcome for the second game this afternoon.

It looks like Dante's will be the place. We like Dante's anyway, for the pool firstly, plus they have at least three outside bars. Holly has been there with us before, so we don't expect to be thrown out, at least on Holly's account. Maybe mine.

In between all this fun to be had in Key West, we have a generator to get fixed, a water heater to install, and heat exchangers to clean again and taken apart after cleaning to check for blockage. I'm going to be busy, but we want to have our boat running and working smoothly for when our friends start showing up here in a couple of weeks. Then, we can play all we want.

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