November 5, 2004
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Well, we seem to have survived our first Key West Fantasy Fest!
What a RIOT! Needless to say... a good time was had by ALL!
First of all, you have to understand that, in SPITE of explicit
warnings to the contrary from the KW Police... body paint did
indeed constitute being "dressed" in Key West for the
week. For the most part this manifested itself in women running
all over town with their breasts exposed, "covered"
only in "body art". "Art critics" proliferated...
and LOTS of pictures were taken!
The festival lasted 10 days and there was something different
happening every day and night. As the festival progressed, the
costumes got smaller and smaller. By the Saturday finale parade
there were more than a FEW people "dressed" only in
Now, I've got to say this... I really don't have a problem with
nudity per se. The pretty young thing "dressed" as a
hillbilly, of which ONLY the flip-flops were real, was down-right
fun to see! But... I draw the line somewhere short of the 70 plus
year-old woman who was more than a LITTLE overweight and had a
"hound dog" painted on her torso... the hound's "jowls"
came down WELL past her waist, which was QUITE ample! Frankly,
the world is NOT ready for a sight like THAT!
WE had the best time participating in the Friday night Masquerade
March. The whole town is invited to show up in costume and parade
through the twisting turning streets of Key West. In fact SO many
people join that TWO parade routes are set-up. Everyone starts
at the cemetery. We ended up on the North Route, although we had
intended to do the South route... not that it mattered! Along
the parade route local businesses and hotels set up "refreshment"
stands... and then scramble as the participants hit their spot
demanding something "wet" to quench their "thirst".
Trust me, the various recipes of "punch" packed a "punch"!
We were out and about in costume every night of the festival...
including the Wednesday "wear red" day, the Thursday
"toga party" and the African Goombay festival the first
weekend. But we brought out our BEST costumes for the final weekend.
Roger, 6'6" to begin with, wore a 2' tall wizards hat covered
in rainbow colored stars, a matching sheer cape and matching short-shorts!
I was "Mother Nature" in a full-length jungle scene
gown (no skin from ME!) and leaf headband. I thought we made a
I have figured out that the whole festival has a subtle "scoring"
system. Points are chalked up by either getting your picture taken
as "unusual" or by collecting the brightly colored Mardi
Gras style beads. Of the two of us, Roger scored highest in having
his picture taken but I did a GREAT job collecting beads! Mind
you, I later gave them all away (no room on the boat!) but I had
collected a worthy pile!
I'll send pictures to my good friend and webmaster so he can post
them as soon as possible... you'll want to see some of THESE sights!
Life's a trip!
October 23, 2004
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Well, we made it back to Key West with JUST barely enough time
for a grocery shopping day and a laundry day before Fantasy Fest
began! Last night was the kick-off celebrations. We attended the
Goombay Festival down in "Bahama Village"...the traditional
African American section of Key West (no longer segregated). Costumes
were optional for this event so Roger and I decided to just add
a beaded headdress to our other clothes. Tall Roger, in flowing
beaded tresses, was a big success! Several people wanted to have
their picture taken with him! We had a great time seeing and being
Fantasy Fest lasts for ten days... with next weekend being the
main events. That's when the major costume events and parades
take place. It is also when the KW police force has to be MOST
diligent in making sure no one is "overexposed"... or
otherwise having TOO much of a good time! Apparently it is often
VERY difficult to tell where "body art" ends and costume
(if any) begins.
Fantasy Fest is billed as "Mardi Gras" meets "Halloween"
in Key West fashion. Its a time for everyone to let their inhibitions
go (as if one needed much of an excuse in Key West!) and the start
of the winter tourist season. There are parades nearly daily.
Doors are thrown open all over town to let skeletons and ghosts
(and who knows WHAT else) out of the closets.
Having a GREAT time! Life's a trip!
September 7, 2004
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Well... apparently the "local wisdom" that hurricanes
NEVER hit this part of central Florida... needs to be updated!
Hurricane Francis, unlike Charley just a few weeks ago, came and
stuck around! We were being blasted for a full 24 hours! Thankfully
she was not as strong as Charley. If she had been I don't know
if the dock we were tied to would have held! As it was, we did
fine. Once again we weathered the storm with no damage to the
Roger's mother also faired well this time around. She has lost
more shingles off of her roof but does not seem to have any leaks
as yet. Her insurance company has already agreed to buy her a
new roof from Charley's damage, so there is not much else to complain
about! She is without power and will likely be for a few more
days but we have brought our spare generator to her house and
are in the process of bringing her refrigerator down to temperature.
We are also without power at the boat, but we have the diesel
generator to keep us powered there.
Lets see... oh yes! I wanted to mention again that far from being
a foolish thing to do, we honestly feel that the BEST place for
us to ride out a hurricane is on the boat. Of course every storm
is different, every boat is different and we encourage everyone
to do what they feel best doing... but for US the right place
for both these storms was on our own boat! We were in a sheltered
harbor tied up to a strong dock on a seaworthy boat. By being
ON the boat we were able to adjust lines as needed and keep the
boat safe while she kept US safe. A win-win situation.
We JUST got over to Roger's Mom's house today. Yesterday we were
forced to stay on the "beach side" of Port Orange, also
known as Port Orange's barrier Island. There was extensive damage
to hotels and businesses along A1A and the Police Department was
being very strict about ONLY letting people that could PROVE they
were residents of the Island venture back onto it. We could have
gotten OFF the island, but we would not have been allowed back.
Today they are allowing a little more traffic onto the island
and we feel confident that we will be able to return to the boat
this evening armed with the handwritten permission slip given
to us by the boatyard explaining that we live onboard our boat
So we are cleaning up after a hurricane yet again... and keeping
a close eye on Hurricane Ivan, who is heading our way! I think
I'm going to get some hurricane symbol decals and start adding
them to the hull like the WWII fighter bombers used to do when
they shot down an enemy plane!
Hey! Life's a trip!
August 14, 2004
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Yes, we were right in the path of hurricane
Charley.... and we survived! Thankfully we were on the tail end
of the storm as it passed through Florida. Still we clocked continuous
winds of over 100 mph and gusts up to 140mph. The weather reports
were all saying the winds were less than we clocked, but they
weren't on our boat!
We and our boat did just fine. We had spent
the morning preparing the boat by taking all of the sails and
canvas off, rigging extra dock lines and removing anything that
might fly away. We did this even though the NWS was predicting
the storm would go further North and only give us a glancing blow.
By the time we were done with our preparations they had revised
the storm's path to be more of a threat to our area, so we were
glad we had prepped well. We ate lunch at Roger's mother's house,
did last minute shopping for the mandatory extra, extra set of
batteries, and returned to the boat around 4 PM... in time to
get the car inside of the marina's dry-stack storage building,
so we had one less worry about the car.
Then we waited... listening to the local
TV stations broadcast of continuous hurricane updates. We literally
watched the storm's approach and its devastating aftermath LIVE
as it crept our way! (Why do they always have to play the scary
subliminal music in the background?) About 10:30pm it hit. We
were lucky to be tied to a very secure dock and orientated so
that our bow was pointed into the worst of the winds. The boat
did just fine! For about an hour the winds were so strong that
the sound was a steady roar. Our rigging shook some, especially
once the center had passed and the winds shifted, but otherwise
it wasn't too bad!
For those of you who wonder why we didn't
ride the storm out at Roger's mother's house... well, we trust
the boat, we were tied to a very strong dock, and frankly we were
safer on the boat! At Mom's house the winds tore off a screened
porch and then a tree fell onto the empty space left by the porch...
mere feet from where she was sleeping! Another one of her trees
fell onto a neighbor's roof and across the street her neighbor
had TWO large trees fall on their roof! On a boat we may be pelted
with water, but at least TREES don't come crashing down on us!
We spent today clearing debris from Mom's
yard... we still have several more days worth. Her roof is damaged
badly enough that she will need to replace it, but at least it
is not leaking inside... yet! The last we heard there is another
storm out in the Atlantic taking aim at us again... Fun!
We know that several of our friends were
also in the path of the storm... some in worse hit areas than
ours. We hope they have all faired as well as we have!
As always....Life's a trip!
August 3, 2004
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We're down in Port Orange (Daytona
Beach area) visiting Roger's mother. We'll be here through Aug
20th-ish. Roger's Mom is a very nice person. There is not
a mean bone in her body. we'll be doing some work on her house,
painting, tile etc. so she can better look for a townhouse. Other
than that, Things are going fine here. We're getting some boat
work done, but as always, it never goes as quickly as you would
We may spend another month here. We were hoping to head up to
Beaufort, SC to visit some cruising friends currently running
a marina there, but it looks like we may not have time. Our bottom
is getting barnacles, so we'll have to do something with that
as well. We hope to be back to Key West for Fantasy Fest Halloween
week... then on to the Yucatan!
Life's a Trip!
June 24, 2004
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We made our first TWO night ocean passage Friday through Sunday.
We went out into the Gulf Stream and rode it North for 24 hours...but
I'll write a trip report about it when I get a chance.
We're in Port Orange now... docked a few miles from Roger's mom's
house. We are going to rent a car and do a one-way rental to North
Carolina and pick up my car. We plan on being in Port Orange at
least two months so picking up my car is cheaper than renting
one. And Roger has to return to NC to renew his drivers license,
Otherwise, things are going very well. We plan to be back in Key
West for "Fantasy Fest 2004" over Halloween. We're told
it is THE event of the year (in a town with a of big events).
It is rather like Mardi Gras with a week of parades and floats
(and throw beads) but with a Halloween-masquerade ball flavor.
But, being Key West, the "costumes" don't involve a
lot of fabric, so to speak. People run around in nothing but body
paint all week. Should be interesting!
Life's a Trip!
June 14, 2004
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Dry Tortugas National Park was, in a word, WONDERFUL! We had
SUCH a great time! We spent two weeks there and are looking forward
Where? What? and Why? Dry Tortugas?
WHERE? is about 70 miles due West of Key West Florida.
WHAT? is a huge coastal fortification built in the late 1800's...
or at least that is the most prominent feature. It took 16 million
bricks and the conscripted labor of thousands of slaves, prisoners
and army enlisted men thirty years to build. Hundreds died...
many more may have wished for death working in unbearable heat
on an island with no natural water source. But, for it's day,
Dry Tortugas' Fort Jefferson was the pinnacle of coastal fortifications...
the "stealth bomber" of its day! It was SO formidable
that it NEVER fired a shot in conflict... it was just too darn
scary to even THINK about attacking! A classic use of deterrents,
if ever there was one!
WHY includes the only deep water anchorage, reasonably well protected
by a ring of coral islands and reefs, for hundreds of miles in
any direction. Protect that anchorage, and the warships anchored
there and you control the shipping lanes between the East Coast
and the Gulf of Mexico, including the Mississippi River.
But Dry Tortugas
National Park is much more than Fort Jefferson alone. It is
bird and sea turtle nesting sites on uninhabited islands... and
GREAT snorkeling and diving in coral filled tropical waters! It
was so wonderful to stay there for 2 weeks! The vast majority
of visitors come by two daily commercial ferries out of Key West.
THOSE people only get to spend 4 hours on the main (fortified)
island. A handful of the ferry passengers bring tents and will
camp for a few days. But otherwise, at 3pm, when the ferries depart,
the islands become virtually deserted... left to the 12 park rangers,
a few hardy campers, and us boaters!
WE got to watch the sunset into the Gulf of Mexico nightly from
the walls of the moat. WE got to wander and explore at our leisure,
unimpeded by crowds. We also got a great candlelit tour of the
fort after sunset one night. Mike Ryan, the ranger who seemed
to be the resident historian, got dressed up in full 1860's soldier's
uniform.... made from shod wool (even after dark, he was suffering
in the heat). We were given lanterns lit with beeswax candles
and got the "deluxe" tour, including a musket firing
WE boaters and campers were the lucky ones!
We stayed as long as they would let us. Our days were spent taking
the daily tours given by the ferry services in the morning, returning
to the boat for lunch, relaxing until the "day tourists"
left at 3pm, then snorkeling in the afternoon lull. Evenings were
usually spent with other boaters. We had a few "pot luck"
dinners ashore and more impromptu gathers for dinner or drinks
on someone else's boat. Sunset always found us either on the moat
wall with others or on our boat (we could see the sunset from
our location) with one or two other couples. We had a GREAT time!
We're now back in Key West and expect to leave here Tuesday morning
to head North... North Florida! We'll go spend some time in Port
Orange if we can get dock space. Roger's mother lives there. We'll
miss Key West but we plan to be back in about 4 months... on our
way to the Yucatan peninsula.
Life's a trip!
Webmaster's Note: In addition
to the two sites hyperlinked above, there is an excellent site
with GREAT Pictures at
May 11, 2004
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We are in the middle of a "fresh water wash-down"...
otherwise known as a rain shower! Its nice to get the salt off
of the boat for "free" when it rains. Roger's outside
scrubbing the decks a bit to help with the process.
We're STILL in Key West. STILL having a great time! We're looking
for a weather window to get out to the Dry Tortugas, though. It
is another 60 miles down this rag-tag island chain that makes
up the Florida Keys. Obviously a little too far to have had a
road built to it, so the only way there is by air or sea. It promises
BEAUTIFUL snorkeling and exploring of the abandoned Fort Jefferson.
The drawback is that it has no "facilities"... no WATER,
no groceries and no phones. We understand that when bad weather
sets in and boats get "stuck" there for awhile, water
and BEER become very valuable commodities. We carry plenty of
water and food stores, so we won't have a problem.
The Conch Republic Days are over in Key West. A good time was
had by all! I think the highlight for us was when we rode in the
"World's Longest Parade" from the Atlantic Ocean to
Gulf of Mexico (all of about 15 blocks). WHAT did we ride as,
you ask? Ourselves! Anyone who wanted to could just show up, decorate
their vehicles or selves, and join the parade! We did! The price
was RIGHT... free! We festooned our bikes with ribbons and flags
(supplied for FREE by the local radio station) and rode! We were
positioned behind the junkaroo band, so we had a REALLY good time!
We also paid to be crew on the Schooner "Western Union"
for the "Great and Bloody Battle for the Conch Republic".
Can you believe it?... we PAID to be in the battle! We could have
participated for free if we had entered our own boat, but we attended
the pre-battle "Captain's Meeting" and decided the whole
thing sounded a "might bit" messy! And it WAS! Water
cannons soaked all participants... and many spectators. And that
was just the opening volley. After that the food flew! We had
brought along pancakes as weapons. They flew okay if thrown frisbee-style
but we discovered that the best food weapon was pickled hard-boiled
eggs! Next year - EGGS!
If we become "incommunicado" for awhile, don't worry.
It just means we have found our weather window to the Tortugas.
We expect to spend around a week to 10 days there.
Life's a trip!
Top of Page
In 1982, some genus at the US Border Patrol got to thinking...
SO MANY illegal drugs and aliens landed on the shores of the Florida
keys and continued onto the mainland, why not establish a border
crossing at the North end of the keys and catch them before they
Needless to say, the people of the Florida Keys were less-than-happy
to be treated as foreigners by their own country... and decided
to secede from the Union! Of course, they immediately surrendered
and demanded Millions in War Reparations! The US government ignored
the whole thing...except to hastily remove the offending border
crossing. Thus began the Conch Republic and the annual celebration
of Conch Republic Days! "We seceded where others failed!"
The festival is 10 days long this year and has such events as
"Drag (Queen) Racing", "Wreckers Regatta",
"World's Longest Parade" (about 10 blocks from the Atlantic
Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico), "Bed Races" and "Pedicab
Racing". The grand finale is the "Great Naval Parade
and Battle for the Republic", in which Conch Republic boats
square off against the US Coast Guard (really!) and have a big
ol' water-gun and water-cannon fight in Key West channel! Everyone
gets into the act, including those on land who lob various objects
at the passing boats. The only "approved" ammunition
(besides water) is stale Cuban bread, conch fritters, peeled hard
boiled eggs, over-ripe tomatoes or canned peaches and pears...
and all must be hand thrown! Conch Republicans tend to think rules
were meant to be broken, so who knows what will be flying! We've
decided against venturing into this fray with our own boat, but
have signed up to be "crew members" on the tall ship
"Western Union", which will be one of the major players.
We expect to have a "blast"!
In other news... about a week ago a water spout (tornado over
the water) ran amok through the mooring field and Key West anchorages.
Imagine 70-80 MPH winds super-saturated with water bombarding
your boat at 4 in the morning! Visibility was reduced to zero,
the boat was tossed and turned... at one point being blown over
at a 35% angle! Fun! We came through it just fine, although it
was an exciting ride! One older boat at anchor near the mooring
fields had its whole roof blown off and many lost canvas covers.
Several boats in the anchorage were blown ashore but all seem
to have been refloated. Sixty miles further out, in the Dry Tortugas,
there were lots of boats damaged in the same storm system, but
no injuries. We're VERY glad we were on a secure mooring for the
The end of April is coming up... and with it the monthly lease
of our mooring ball... so we've decided to extend through the
month of May! We're having MUCH too much fun to leave yet! Sometime
in May we expect to take the boat out to the Dry Tortugas for
a week or so. And then perhaps at the end of MAY we'll be ready
to head North again... we'll see!
Life's a trip!
March 21, 2004
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Key West is still holding our attention! There is always something
great to do! Last weekend was a celebration called "Peace in
the Park.” Sunday afternoon we all brought pot-luck dishes to Bayside
Park where there was music and entertainment of all sorts... in
a totally cash-free setting. The message was "peace"...
both inner and outer! For entertainment we had gospel songs, African
drummers, guided peace visualizations, yoga stretches, and dancers.
Many booths were set up. The City of Key West was handing out free
bike safety products... reflective arm bands, spoke reflectors,
red flashing tail lights, AND free bike helmets! The Key West K-Mart
was out of helmets, we were really happy to get two for FREE! I
got a free massage in another booth. And being Key West, the Aids
prevention society was there... you can guess what THEY were handing
One delightful woman had brought along her portable labyrinth. Have
you ever walked a labyrinth? It is designed to be a walking meditation.
Unlike its cousin, the maze, the labyrinth has no dead ends and
no tricks. You walk a path that winds and twists around itself...
in one end, out the other. Walking a labyrinth is very soothing.
I stopped and meditated in the Key West Buddhist Sangha's tent.
In another booth I learned the remarkable story of a woman known
as "Peace Pilgrim" who had walked some 25,000 miles with
only the clothes on her back and what she could fit in her pockets.
She walked until someone gave her shelter and fasted until someone
gave her food... and found she was always "rich" with
the generosity of others.
A great time and good food was had by all at "Peace in the
March has been particularly windy! A LOT of winds from the North,
which is our unprotected side. We haven't been swimming everyday
like we did in February because it is usually too rough! But the
mooring is secure so we can sleep at night without worry. The only
real hassle is the long dinghy ride into the dock... we end up getting
wet in rough weather! But I guess that isn't the worse problem in
the world to have!
We think we will probably stay in Key West through April... might
as well! Then we will head out to Dry Tortugas, which is another
60 miles further down the island chain into the ocean. That's as
far as our we're-pretty-sure-of-this-much plans go. From Dry Tortugas
it is only 290 miles to the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula. We're
giving Guatemala some serious thought for the summer months. It
looks like it has good hurricane protection and would be a really
interesting place to visit. I would LOVE to spend enough time in
a Spanish speaking country to be able to pick up some Spanish...
I am REALLY bad at languages! Luckily I have always been able to
get my meaning across anyway!
We'll see. We may go back up North instead, as there are still places
and things we'd like to do and see in the Chesapeake and Hudson
River. Who knows! There are no such things as "plans"
on a sailboat!
Even if we come back North this summer, we may head to Guatemala
next year. A neighbor has loaned us a guide and it sounds like a
good place to "winter", but we'll need to learn more before
we decide. The trip "down" the Caribbean islands sounds
like a lot of work (you are heading into the wind the whole way
down) and we would have to keep moving. We've discovered we really
LIKE hanging out in one place and getting to know the area. The
trip "down" the Yucatan Peninsula would be easier and
take us to great places like Isla Mujeres, Cozumel and Belize. Then
we would end up in the Rio Dulce in Guatemala... a river which opens
up into a protected lake. A good hurricane "hole"! We
could settle in and spend six months (or longer!) enjoying the local
flavor and have lots of room to explore! We'll look into it further.
Life's a trip!
March 1, 2004
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We've signed up for another month in Key West. We're having such
a great time, we aren't in any rush to leave! In fact we've run
into one of our usual problems... TOO many fun things to do! We're
exhausted! And grateful for a windy (from the North) day. North
is our unprotected wind direction in this mooring field, so the
water fetches up and makes the dinghy ride back and forth uncomfortable.
A good reason to stay home today!
We WERE going to join another boat as "crew"
and enter the "Wrecker's Regatta", but we would have
had to go ashore last night and "sign-up" at 7 PM...
and the winds were even worse last night. None of US wanted to
go ashore at any rate! Why as "crew" and not in our
own boat? To be cheap, of course! The $30 PER BOAT entrance fee
covered BBQ dinner for 4, so we would have wanted to get our money's
worth! And these "regattas" are all about the BBQ and
punch afterwards anyway!
So... what is Key West like? Well, the word here is "tolerance"!
The OFFICIAL Key West Philosophy (according to the bumper sticker)
is: "All people are equal members of one human family".
Rich, poor, Cruise Ship "cruisers", drop-your-anchor
"cruisers", gay, straight, working class, dark skinned,
light skinned, locals, tourists, "New Age", straight-laced...
all live in harmony here! Bums share the benches in Mallory Square
with Ralph Lauren-shirted visitors. Everyone shares the Island
with Key West "Free Range" Chickens and stray cats.
Activities? Duval Street stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to
the Atlantic Ocean. One MUST bike or stroll this tourist shop
and restaurant lined street daily to see and be seen. The furthest
end of the island holds the Cruise Ship docks and Mallory Square.
Mallory Square is a sleepy little park... until about an hour
before sunset. Then everyone seems to try to squeeze into this
small spot! It has the best views of the sunset... and magicians,
acrobats, escape artists, tight wire artists (and one VERY strange
man with trained house cats!) try to vie for your attention against
the backdrop of the sunset. As soon as the last ray of the sun
dips under the horizon, everyone claps and cheers this magnificent
feat... and exits "en masse" to the Duval Street pubs.
Generally we like to be back on the boat before sunset but we
did the sunset "scene" once... we stayed out until 8:30
pm and just about couldn't keep our eyes open! A couple of old
fogies! But in our defense, we ! DO get up fairly early on the
There are beaches and old forts to explore. One Civil War era
fort houses the Key West Garden Club and is lush with orchids,
palms and vegetation of all sorts... and free! We often eat a
brown-bag lunch there. Another favorite lunch spot is next to
a fountain in the Truman Annex residential area.
The streets in "old town" Key West are narrow. Two-room
former cigar rollers' shacks (now selling for $400K and up) stand
shoulder-to-shoulder with much more elaborate houses valued in
the multi-millions. Everything is lush and green! Flowers bloom
There is some "event" nearly every weekend. Today was
the "Wrecker's Regatta", which we missed, and the gay
community is having some "bash". Last weekend was an
outdoor art show. Next weekend will be a boat show and nautical
flea market (boat junk for sale!).
During the week there is laundry to do, swimming, the library,
other cruisers to visit, grocery shopping, 2 for 1 drink coupons!
And there is a magazine-sized booklet with 10 or 12 self-guided
walking tours some local has written. We are trying to work our
way through that as well! Never a dull moment!
Life's a trip!
Top of Page
We haven't been in Key West for a full two days yet we already
feel like true "Conch Republicans"... it is, after all,
more about attitude than location, anyway!
We picked up a city mooring on Wednesday. For $130 for the next
month we have a secure spot with protection from all but North
winds, use of a dinghy dock, showers, free water and free holding
tank pump outs... a pretty good deal! Thursday we took a timeshare
tour and were given $110 in "Key West Money" for our
choice of restaurants or tourist activities. We just LOVE timeshare
tours, and who knows? Someday we MIGHT actually buy one (there's
always a CHANCE!). From the timeshare tour of the very fancy Hyatt
facility we asked the fancy van driver to drop us off at the Salvation
Army... we were in the market for some transportation for the
next month! They didn't have what we wanted, but the pawn shop
a few blocks down the road did. We bought two well used, rusty,
ugly bikes for $50. It is the quintessential Key West mode of
transportation! Everyone bikes! And the uglier your bike, the
better! Apparently bicycle theft is a large problem, so ugly is
the rule of the day. !
It's the same strategy we use with the dinghy. We keep it ugly
on purpose... its the pretty ones that are most often stolen.
The bikes were in very usable condition. All we had to add were
head and tail lights so we can be legal after dark. The lights
cost almost as much as the bikes!
So we are set for the next month at least! The bicycles are going
to be great! Good exercise and with an island that is FLAT (the
only hills are bridges), only 2 by 4 miles in scope, with virtually
NO car parking, the bicycle is the way to go!
Today we plan on signing up for a library card. Robby, the Aussie
from "Wandering Wallaby" a few moorings away works at
the library and says I will have no problem getting a card and
then will be able to borrow books and DVD's. We also picked up
a walking tour guide of Key West and I can see that there are
LOTS of neat things to see! The water at the mooring is clean
enough to swim in so that will be our main form of "bathing"...
a dip, Joy soap (lathers in salt water) for shampoo and body wash
followed by a quick fresh water rinse.
Life's pretty good! Eventually we will take the boat another 60
miles to Dry Tortugas. It has great snorkeling and an old Fort
to explore. But for now, we are really happy where we are!
Life's a trip!
February 3, 2004
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Wow! We're having a great time! We finally got a nice weather
day for reef snorkeling, so that's what we did today. What a trip!
We took the boat about five miles offshore to Sombrero Key Lighthouse
Reef. There we picked up a free mooring ball provided by the state
(they protect the fragile reefs from damage by anchors). The reefs
around here are beautiful! What colorful fish! We fed the large
schools of yellowtail snapper frozen peas until they started getting
a little too aggressive and resorted to stealing the bag out of
our hands. There were all sorts of parrotfish, grouper, barracuda,
butterfly fish and a large school of midnight blue fish with purple
tails. Not to mention the beautiful coral formations. We spent
a couple of hours in the water and had a blast!
Now we are back anchored in front of the entrance to Boot Key
Harbor, FL... otherwise known as Marathon. We spent about 2 weeks
shuffling between Rodriguez and Tavernier Keys off of Key Largo.
Both were just small mangrove islands (no real solid land) but
each offered a different patch of scenery... and protection from
different wind directions. We swam daily, snorkeled in the shallow
water around the islands and ventured into shore when we needed
groceries or a lunch out.
It has been really nice to slow down and enjoy ourselves! We are
very happy with our decision to explore the Florida Keys this
winter. This is really our first time in the keys by boat. Our
only other time through, right after we bought the boat, we had
not been able to stop along the way because we were under a deadline
to get the boat out of Florida or have to pay sales tax on it.
That would have been a considerable sum of money! So we blasted
right through the keys and didn't stop other than to sleep. And
we missed a LOT! We're glad to be back to see what we missed.
Marathon Key has a large protected anchorage... or so we're told.
We haven't yet ventured inside. We will take the dinghy in tomorrow
and see what the harbor has to offer. We understand it is always
very crowded, and we like to avoid crowds when we can help it.
We may rock and roll a little more outside, but when the weather
is nice, we enjoy the elbow room. In a few days we probably will
take the boat inside and grab a mooring if there is one available.
But before then we hope to get in at least another day of reef
We are slowly making our way down to Key West. We're actually
only a day away, but we're not in a rush... at least not anymore!
We'll probably spend about a week in the Marathon area as we have
our mail being forwarded to us here. Then we hope to be lucky
enough to be able to grab a mooring in Key West. The price is
supposed to be very reasonable, but as a result, the place is
usually "booked" solid. If we find a mooring, we'll
stay put for at least a month. After that, we have no plans!
Life's a trip!
January 19, 2004
Roger and I anchored off of a tiny little mangrove island off
Key Largo Florida. We've been here for several days and will probably
be here several more. We're having a great RELAXING time!
We recently did a little rethinking about our plans. We have been
rushing too much! Our vision for us and the boat always was something
along the lines of being anchored off of a small, secluded tropical
island.... something with clear, CLEAN, warm, tropical blue water
and very little civilization in sight. We wanted to spend weeks,
if not longer, at a time at said tropical island doing tropical
island things like swimming, snorkeling, RELAXING, etc!
We haven't EXACTLY been doing that! We've been rushing up and
down the East Coast, always in waters either too dirty, cold or
crowded to swim in. And always too close to civilization. Don't
get me wrong! We LOVE places like NYC and Washington DC by boat!
But the pull of such great sightseeing places has kept us too
busy seeing sights to RELAX and enjoy ourselves. Not to mention
doing the appropriate amount of boat chores!
So we were going to RUSH off to do the Caribbean Islands and keep
going until we got to Trinidad! Which seemed like a good idea...
until we started really figuring what it was going to involve?
It was going to involve a LOT of RUSHING! And a lot of work. The
problem is that, at least at this time of the year, there is a
cold front moving through the islands every few days. This means
employing one of two strategies... We can either get attached
to a dock in a protected harbor, like Marsh Harbor, Bahamas, and
be protected, but amongst a crowd and in water that would not
be clean enough to swim in. And we would be paying a fairly large
chunk of money for the dock and consumables like food. OR we could
hop from one secluded (unprotected) island anchorage to another,
always at risk from the cold fronts and storms. To do this we
would be saving on dock fees, but paying through the nose for
water and consumables.... and we would be RUSHING! We'd have to
spend hours every day listening to and interpreting the weather
reports, and we'd have to move anchor every few days to find the
best protection from the changing weather conditions.
The more we thought about it, the less it sounded like the thing
we wanted to do right now! So we think we are going to hang out
in the Florida keys for a few months. Here at Rodriguez Key for
instance, we have clear, clean tropical waters. We have been swimming
and snorkeling every day. There are two other boats with us, both
far enough away to not be crowding us. We can move the boat out
for a day anchor to a reef about five miles away which promises
a great tropical snorkeling experience. There's a restaurant a
long dinghy ride to the shore of Key Largo and from there we can
walk to a convenience store for milk and eggs. Eventually we plan
to mosey on down to Key West, enjoy some civilization there for
a week or two or whatever, and then maybe venture a little further
to the Dry Tortugas for some more R and R. Eventually, more towards
Spring, when the weather is more settled we'll probably head for
the Caribbean. We don't know yet whether we will then continue
through the Islands, staying down there for the Summer (advantage,
great weather MOST of the time, disadvantage, the occasional hurricane)
or return to the States for another snow-bird journey North for
the Summer. Only time will tell!
Life's a trip!
January 13, 2004
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We have met so many people
that have hated Miami - we think Miami's great! It's
mellow and has easy access to shopping, not to mention great public
transportation. Much of it is free or only 25 cents.
We are having a really good visit, but we're gearing up to head
a bit further South. It's a few days down to Key West, so
we'll mosey down that way.
Life's a trip!
January 8, 2004
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Our good friend Bob Kelly has graciously
set up a new website to cover our adventures on SummerThor! He's
been saving my "trip reports" since 2002 and has put
them all together with some photos and other information about
our boat. So have a look...
The web address is:
Also... remember the web address because
pretty soon I will be sending our "trip reports" to
Bob and having them automatically forwarded to you from the website.
This will save me time and phone charges. Isn't technology wonderful?
Sometimes, at least!
Our email address to RECEIVE emails will
remain the same, namely
We're in Miami, Florida right now. We've
decided to slow down and enjoy the scenery. We have been rushing
like madmen for what seems like YEARS! Now that we are here in
beautiful Southern Florida and enjoying ourselves, we are reluctant
to "run off" to the Islands right away. Florida is great
and a lot less expensive! The Islands are just a "stone's
throw" from here... we're not worried they are going disappear.
We're going to relax for a while!
Our good friend Colleen is trying to arrange
to come visit us here, so we are "waiting and seeing".
Meanwhile there is a good group of "cruisers" here and
we got together with several for a "potluck" gather
We may head down to Key West eventually...
we missed visiting the Conch Republic in 2000 when we bought the
boat and brought it back from St. Petersburg, FL. We hit there
at the start of a busy holiday weekend and there just wasn't any
room ANYwhere to be found. We kept on going. And have always wanted
to return. Or we just might leave from here after Colleen's visit
and head East to the Bahamas. Who knows! There are no set plans
Life's a trip!
January 1, 2004, 9:49 AM
Top of Page
Once again we are underway. Tonight we are
anchored in the North end of Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, FL.
We will probably spend a few days here... we have a couple of
things catching up with us here. Once we have everything, we will
continue further down the Florida coast to get a more favorable
angle from which to cross the Gulf Stream.
Our plan is to get over to the southern
Bahama Islands, following the basic guidelines set forth in Bruce
Van Sant's "Gentleman's Guide to Passages South", which
is the "bible" on Caribbean Cruising. We plan on taking
it slowly and enjoying the scenery...which may mean we don't make
it to Trinidad the first year. We'll just have to see how it goes.
The weather has been cold here the past
few days. It's certainly feeling a LOT like Christmas! We hope
all of you a joyous holiday season and best wishes for the new
Life's a trip!