Archive for February, 2009

Another Month of Cool

February 28, 2009

As I sit here writing this blog entry, I’m thinking we didn’t do much this month and have been lazy.   Then I looked at the pictures, and realized that MB has been running me ragged!  We haven’t stopped, I’ve barely had time to work on the boat, although I did manage to rebuild the fuel pump, rebuild the carburetor, and change the filters, oil, and redbed the transducer for one of the depth sounders.

In addition to that, I caught a meal of fish, Grouper no less (actually, a little blue striped thing, but hey, it’s my “eat what we catch” program, and I also have a license for lobster.  Not lobster like we know it, they have no claws, but they do have tails, so I bought this kit that has a little ‘tickler’.  I am supposed to find a hole while snorkeling, push the ‘tickler’ in, tickle the lobster, and he jumps right into my net.  Right, kind of like the Asian Carp, but I got it anyway, so we’ll see.  Check the picture of MB in the dingy (she’s the one with the life jacket on) in the Atlantic Ocean.

When we took the dingy out, we decided to check and clean the bottom.  There were enough barnacles, and growth under there to start a farm.  It took two and a half hours to clean it.  We will have to do it more often, and clean our big boat.

We decided to go to Key West by bus, and it was so grand there we went back a second time.  Hog’s Breath Saloon (MB was on webcam there), Sloppy Joe’s, Margarittaville, Captain Tony’s, the list goes on.

Fabulous place, we also stopped at Schooner’s Wharf Bar and Grill, Michael McLeod has been singing and performing there for years, a real live Jimmy wannabe, although he’s different than Jimmy, you have to really listen to his music to appreciate it, as opposed to Jimmy’s music, that is just fun, even if you don’t listen.  You can see the dogs at Schooners Wharf line up for food just like the waitress’s.  They have a ‘running with the dogs’ in Key West, as opposed to ‘running with the bulls’.  A VERY cool place.

At Key West, the land doesn’t go any further west.  While standing on the wharf, there is nothing behind us but turquoise water.  We made it.  Need proof?  Ok, there’s the pic of MB at the end of US 1, there’s a picture of us together at the end of the wharf, there’s a busker playing bagpipes, the sign says “Southernmost Bagpipe Player in USA”.

I have to speak a little on Key West; there are chickens in the streets, for real.  There are folks in the streets trying to make a buck, notice the guy playing the flute, with a dog in ‘T’ shirt and sunglasses, whenever he plays the flute, the dog howls, all for a dollar.

We visited the Aquarium, with sharks, stingrays, Iguana’s and a wonderful tour.  I enjoy these tours, you learn so much in a short period of time.  Much better than trying to figure everything out yourself.  We learned about sharks there, in fact I even handled one.  Not slimy at all, kind of rough, like a snake.  We also learned about Sea Turtles, and ‘bubble butt’.   These hundreds of year old turtles get hit by a prop, and when they heal, it leaves a pocket of air at the stern of their shell, and they float ‘butt’ up.  They will die at that point, the one we saw, “Rocky” was taken into the aquarium and kept.  It was sad.

They produce nothing on Key West, other than relaxation, so in the old days, they made money by watching ships get wrecked on the rocks, and salvaging all the goods.  Of course, they saved lives too, but once the vessel was scuttled, goods were there for the taking.  And take they did, stories abound with the wrecks.  There were towers, with bells, and when a ship went on the reef, someone rung the bell, and the wreckers would get ready to go collect their ‘booty’.

Ernest Hemingway lived here for a few years, we toured his house, one of the significant features was his six toed cat.  There are 44 descendants of this cat living on the estate today.   Lots of interesting features about the house, his life, and the property.

We had a surprise visit from Richard and Susan Schermerhorn and Ralph and Karen Thompson from Summerside, PEI, so we went to (where else?) Dockside bar and grill, and had an outdoor visit with drinks and food at the local Tiki Bar (check out the entertainer and his guitar).

Thanks for the visit, it was fun!!  They went from here to Key West, so their fun is only beginning.

I needed to do some work up the mast (first time ever for me), so I called in lots of help.  Colin and Pat from ‘Lady Margaret’ has befriended us, and we do stuff together (trips to Key West, they know their way around, Quilt shows for MB, navigation tips) they are incredible folks, and I will remember them always.  They helped go up the mast, Pat took pictures, Colin tailed one of the lines (MB was supposed to be tailing the safety line; instead she was waving at the camera!!).  Everything worked out; I lived, and will need to go up again before we leave.  The return trip up the mast was far easier the second time, I even had a chance to wave for the photo.

Things were going so well with our preparations to leave that we had time to sit out in the cockpit and learn to blow a conch shell.  Be sure to check out the video on the sidebar of Mary Beth, it sounds great.

We have now provisioned for our trip to the Dry Tortugas, and expect to be heading out in a couple days.  We will be out of communication with everyone, with the exception of the ghosts of old Pirates past, and of course the Park Rangers after we arrive.  The next blog entry will be after that trip, an unknown period of time.  Whenever we run out of water and supplies, I suppose.  No chance we’ll run out of food, with my new fishing rod and lobster catching kit.

I hope everyone had a grand winter; spring is on its way.  Love to all.

Joe & Mary Beth Amelia aboard S/V “Pot ‘O’ Gold”

It is official; winter has arrived in the Keys

February 6, 2009

Not winter as we know it, but still, MB brought winter with her when she arrived.  Every few days, a cold front comes down from the North (darn Canada), and with it comes high winds, and cold weather.  By cold, I mean the temperature drops to the 60’s, and 70’s during the day.  A couple of nights it actually got down to the 50’s.  It is still sunny during the day, but the winds and sun have created their own issues.

Too much sun on the solar panel together with too much wind for the wind generator together burnt out my charge controller for the battery bank.  Very critical here, as we are not plugged into electric on the balls, so I purchased a new, larger and better controller.  It is doing a wonderful job, so far.

I have done some maintenance on the boat to prepare her for the journey home.  We have come to the conclusion that we are not going to the Bahamas, this year, anyway, instead we are going to venture to the Dry Tortugas.  It is a reef with a few small islands, and an old fort not completely finished in the 1800’s.  There is absolutely nothing in the way of supplies there, so we will stop for a few days in Key West to do the Duval Street thing, and then sail off into the sunset.  In the Tortugas (named by Ponce de Leon for the turtles, called Dry because there is no fresh water available), we will anchor inside the reef, we can dingy ashore to search for shells, swim, snorkel, and visit the ships sunken around the reef, as they (some, anyway) are still there.  We’ll search for Pirate Booty!

Alas, first we wait until the North Winds stop blowing.  We’re told that when January is over the cold fronts slow, so we are expecting to be off around the middle of Feb., but we’ll have to see, we’re not in a rush.  No person or thing is in a rush here, except to get in line for the shower.  There are three showers for 260 boats.

To keep busy we go to get togethers at night, or visit folks on their boat, or go to seminars to learn new things.

We gave a surprise visit to my Uncle Joe and Aunt Harriet who were vacationing in Marathon, and stayed about a mile from us.  We didn’t find out they were here until a day before they left, we had a fun visit.

There were several Superbowl parties on the go, we chose the one at Dockside, we take our dingy over to a lounge on the water with live entertainment, and for Superbowl, they had a chili cook-off.  Fifteen people made the hottest and best chili they could, and we had about an ounce of each to judge them.  That’s a pound of hot chili each we ate, and of course had to be flushed down with margaritas and beer.  We left the windows to the boat open that night!

A lady from the “Green Parrot” in Key West came to the party, and brought her mascot with her, check out the pictures.  For entertainment, the backup band played for several singers (mostly Jimmy Buffet tunes, of course), and this picture is a 91 year old, still telling jokes and singing.  It’s a tough life down here.  MB wants to take a bus to Key West and visit all the tourist shops, but we’re waiting for the weather to get back in the 80’s, hopefully next week.

We put a call out on the radio for other Loopers in the area (that’s the folks like us doing the Great Loop) and we expected about 8 people to show under the Tiki hut at the marina, and there were 68 people show up representing 34 boats.  Turns out we know a lot of them from the Rivers up North.  Everyone is just waiting out the winter in this area, those that didn’t get to the Bahamas on time.

Good news from the Porthole Magazine, they are going to continue running our story for at least 2 more issues, so I am still an author (as opposed to a has been author).  Anyone not a member of the Canadian Power Squadron can get the magazine; it is inserted into Canadian Yachting Magazine.

That’s our update for February, the next one will come when the weather is improved, and we have provisioned, and are on our way to the Dry Tortugas (even the name sounds exotic).

We read about the snow home on PEI, and have decided we don’t miss it.
Love to everyone,

Joe & MaryBeth
S/V “Pot ‘O’ Gold”