Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Key West in our rear view (actually side view)

Well we watched Key West disappear in our rear view mirror (actually side view since all we can see in the rear view is a large boat tailgating us). It's hard to believe 37 days went by so fast. We didn't actually leave all of Key West behind though. When we pulled the boat out we found a mini coral reef had started growing on the bottom. It's hard to understand how the coral reefs are dieing when they grow so easily on the bottom of a boat. We really had a good time and met some interesting people. Here's some pictures of the ones we haven't already blogged about. We'll start with our neighbors in the marina.

Dave and Joy drive down from Minnesota every winter and stay on their MacGregor, Summer Joy. They are experienced sailors and actually sailed their MacGregor to Cuba (with proper permits of course) a number of years ago. We've learned a lot from them and have some new ideas on making our boat easier to sail.

Ron is a Key West resident and helped drag me into our slip the first day we arrived. He has a 26X, Waterbear, like ours and has also provided us with lots of ideas as well as charts for the area. He is shown here installing turnbuckles on his sidestays to make them a lot easier and more precise to adjust.

Scott lives in North Carolina but lived in Key West for a long time. He still keeps his J-30, Night Nurse, in the marina and comes down for the Wrecker Races that Schooner Wharf sponsors monthly in the winter. The races are to simulate the the way locals tried to get to an offshore wreck first so they could claim salvage rights. It's a fun race, and for some just a prelude to the party at Schooner Wharf later. Scott has a lot of racing experience and his boat is built for racing so he virtually always wins the under 30 ft class. He told us about the race around the island they do on little sunfish sailboats. The bridge you come across just before Key West is too low even for the Sunfish so they had to race in the direction of the current and tip the boats over so the current would sweep them under the bridge.

Nick left Wisconsin in August on his two masted sailboat Pirate Witch. He completed the journey to Key West shortly after we arrived. Susan has joined him on several legs of the journey. They went to the Marquesas before turning back to Key West. They said the fishing there was unbelievable. Nick is a musician and has played different places on his way down. In March he's heading to Gulfport Mississippi to see his son who's coming back from his fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan.

One more neighbor was this 4 ½ ft tarpon that cruised the marina. He had a hook and line hanging from his right jaw and part of his jaw was ripped out.You have to have a $50 permit to take a tarpon out of the water in Florida so they have become a protected and very plentiful species. They are everywhere.

Los Van Van, the premier Cuban dance band of all time, scheduled their USA tour kickoff in Key West at Fort Zachery Taylor. We got tickets which said the show started at 7:30. Unfortunately it did not specify that it was Cuban time. Loooonnnngggg story short – it was 9:00 when they finally straggled onto the stage and started. They played recorded Latin music while we were waiting but it was so long that they ran out of Latin music and started playing Bon Jovi and soft rock – pretty sad. The music was good when they got going but could you believe it – here they are playing in America but all the words were in Spanish! Anyway we wound up sitting next to Connie, a parrothead we recognized from the Key West Parrothead meeting we went to. We had a good time talking to her (for an hour and a half). She's from Williamsport, PA and lives on a street where Jimmy Buffet has one of his many houses.

We met Al and Jan (1st and 2nd from right) at Schooner Wharf one night. They are originally from Virginia but live on their sailboat, Cavalier, in Key West and other Florida ports during hurricane season. In spite of being Redskin fans they are very nice. Al had a birthday the next day so we got him a present. We just knew he would love an autographed photo of Tony Romo. He was a good sport (as all Redskin fans have become). Brenda and Jan are good fiends with the Custom Cigar Craftsman in Residence at Schooner Wharf.

At Schooner Wharf we also met a nice family from South Carolina who just got off the Sunset Cruise. Their son thought it was awesome.

And this father - son duo were from the UK. They had met some naval officers earlier who took them on a tour of their boat. The bar wound up kind of soggy in front of us but our favorite bartender in Key West, John, rose to the occasion as usual with his own version of “money laundering”.

In the culinary department, La Creperie recently reopened on Petronia Street across from My Blue Heaven. It had been on Duval but burned last year. Very tasty with a wide assortment of crepes including a Red Velvet crepe. That's Yolande, one of the co owners with Brenda.

On our way to the 1st Annual Keys Music Fest in Marathon we couldn't resist stopping at Keys Fishery for their lobster reuben. We were smarter this time though and split one.

The festival was great (and all four groups started right on time!). A guitar player/maker from a small town in western Virginia told the crowd he never sees this many people at one time since his town only has about six permanent residents. He said they have to take turns being the mayor, minister, town drunk, etc. He invited everyone to visit in the summer but quickly added – “not all at once though”. A bluegrass band, Springfield Exit from Winchester Virginia played as well as the Cajun band Beausoleil.

On the way back we stopped at No Name Pub on No Name Key. They do the money on the walls/ceiling thing. I guess it's better than putting your money in the stock market.

The Key West library puts on talks by authors/artists/musicians on Monday nights in the winter. We went to see Tom Corcoran ( ) who writes the Alex Rutledge, Key West detective series. He got out of the navy in Key West and was the bartender at the Chart Room in the Pier House. He became friends with Jerry Jeff Walker and when Jerry Jeff brought a struggling young singer named Jimmy Buffet to Key West, Tom offered Jimmy a free welcome drink at the Chart Room. Can you guess what Jimmy asked for? (see answer below) Well Tom and his wife had Jimmy over for dinner a lot and they became friends. It wasn't long before Margaritaville happened and Tom realized “This guy is going to be rich because of a few lines he wrote. I should be able to do that.” So he sat down and wrote

But now she lives down by the ocean
She's takin' care to look for sharks
They hang out in the local bars
And they feed right after dark

Sound familiar? Not the first verse, but a verse of the Buffet hit - Fins. Tom said at that point the phone rang, he got distracted and didn't write any more. Tom is also a photographer and had done some work for Jimmy so he was invited to Montserrat to do photography for the Volcano album. When packing he noticed the paper with the Fins verse on it and stuck it in his luggage. When he unpacked Jimmy noticed the paper and said “Hey, maybe I can use this”. When the album came out, Tom recognized his lyrics. He said it's one of the fatest royalty checks he gets each year. He also colaborated on Cuban Crime of Passion as well as doing a number of other album covers for Jimmy. He recently wrote most of the lyrics for John Frinzi's latest album in addition to his just released mystery Hawk's Channel Chase. Oh, the answer to the question – not Landshark, obviously, but also not Corona – it was a Heineken. I guess all the years plugging Corona are a sign that the beach scene in Holland isn't a very compelling marketing resource.

One more panorama before we leave Key West. This is the top of the waterfall at the pool at Dante's restaurant. It's open to Key West Bight Marina and Dante's customers.

Finally we've put together a video montage of our stay. We talked about all the scenes except Dominique and His Flying Housecats – he's the Key West/Mallory Square version of Siegfried and Roy, Knot's and Shots – a friendly competition among crew members of the serious yatch races we talked about, and the Doerfels – a family bluegrass (and rock) band from Buffalo, NY. The primary band members range from 12 to 19 but as you can see, one making a guest appearance is up way past his bed time. Just click on the start button below Dominique.

I just hope you understand I just have to go back to the Island......

Woody and Brenda