Monday, November 30, 2009

Weekend Work

We originally thought we'd be finishing up the new battery bank this weekend but we came up 2 feet short on wire and no where open to buy more until Monday. So, with that project coming to a screeching halt we dug in and took on a couple more.
Jeff recently acquired a rowing dinghy that had been left here by a former resident 6-8 months ago. After making a phone call, the owner was surprised to hear the boat was still floating and since he had tried to give the dinghy away before he left, he said Jeff was welcome to have it. So we towed it back to our boat in it's water-logged condition and Jeff got in the water and scraped off the reef-like layer of fire coral, tunicates, and barnacles that probably weighed more than the dinghy itself.

After a couple of weeks of drying out in the sun, the boat was ready for some sanding. Jeff took care of that in the garage...making a huge mess with fiberglass dust everywhere.

I remained a save distance away.

In anticipation of the chore I needed to complete, the previous day we had taken the inflatable dinghy to the beach and scraped the bottom clean so that we could haul it out of the water without making a huge mess. Then after running an extension cord half-way across the marina, I went to work with a heat gun and a scraper to remove the expired registration numbers. Next step...paint on the new ones.
So now our registration is legal and with any luck the numbers and letters will stay where I put them.

Jeff still has quite a bit more work to do on his free rowing dinghy and we'll take pictures of his progress along the way.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Dark and Stormy Night

Alright, with all the lightening that was going on it really wasn't that dark. But what a night it was! It started off with rain, which advanced to severe thunderstorms, which turned into a water spout [read small tornado over water] that tore through the harbor somewhere close to 3 am. I'd been awake for a while listening to the rain and boat noises...I finally looked at the clock at 2:26 am and then things got weird. There was a roar and you could hear stuff sliding around the top deck plus several things crashed inside the cabin. The boat shook and tilted dramatically to the port side. We were both up and out of bed and holding on. The dog slid from one side of the floor to the other. Then another roar and the boat shook and tilted again. All in all, the scary part was over fairly quickly. We then turned the VHF radio to 68 to see if anybody was on [68 is monitored here in the harbor during emergencies and weather events such as what had just occurred] and it seemed as if the entire harbor was awake. People were recounting events as they happened to them and checking on neighbors and friends to see how they had faired. It was then confirmed, that yes indeed, we had had a water spout pass through. Someone else came back to report that the previous gust of wind had registered 106.1 knots...which by my calculations is 122 mph. Eek. Next were reports of a boat being loose and drifting through the mooring field coming to rest at the seawall on the southern side. It smacked a few boats on the way [& came very close to us!] but no serious damage. Later, when the wind shifted the boat was on the move again. A harbor resident, monikered Fiberglass Dave, announced that he was headed out to secure the run-away boat and of course Jeff volunteered to assist. I knew he'd been chomping at the bit to go take care of it but knew he couldn't tow it with our 3.3 motor. At least Jeff isn't the only boy scout in this harbor and the two of them quickly secured the boat on an empty mooring. And in the meantime came the damage reports: ripped canvases, broken or missing wind generators, lightening strikes and fried electronics, a cap-sized trimaran [no one on board],and dinghies missing or flipped upside down - motor and all. Our neighbor in the houseboat sustained quite a bit of damage with the refrigerator toppling over as well as shelves, cabinets, and computers. He and his wife were fine although they had to avoid quite a bit of broken glass and debris. The only thing damaged on the S/V Exposure was the wind generator. We didn't break any blades or lose it, but it did lift off of it's base and is no longing producing electricity. Hopefully it's just a wiring issue. We lost a few items off the decks...all of which have been recovered this morning. My flowers look as if they've been been mown down - and I guess they were - but I think they'll recover when the sun comes back out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Birthday Company

Jeff turned 44 this past Sunday [Happy Birthday, Jeff!] & his momma, Denise, & her husband Kelly came to the boat for a nice long weekend to help celebrate.

The adventure started for Jeff and I on Wednesday. It was Veteran's Day, so Jeff had the day off. We planned ahead and made a Dr's appointment for the day off, booked a hotel near the FLL airport, and picked up Denise and Kelly when they arrived in the sunshine state Thursday afternoon.

Then it was back to the Keys for all of us.
Once off the mainland, we opted for Card Sound Rd. and made a pit stop at Alabama Jack's...a truly rustic slice of old florida. We found the food and drinks to be quite satisfactory...fabulous fish spread! And then we headed on down the road. Next stop was the Caribbean Club for a bit of history and to say hello to our favorite bartender. A quick visit to the African Queen, then, on to Marathon where we had a date with an entertainer. Dave Johnson had arranged to be playing at Porky's Bayside where we finished off our day with dinner, good music, and a bottle of wine.
Friday morning we started off the day with coffee @ sunrise. Then we all got dressed and headed out in the dinghy.
We had 2 errands to run. The first was a birthday delivery to a harbor resident who turned 72 November 12th. He's on a fixed income with no family so we took him a rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, cupcakes, cheap cigarettes, and a 12-pack of Budweiser...our good deed for the day. The next stop was at another local boat to pick up a couple of freshly harvested sea sponges [gifts for mommas, aunts, and myself.] We dropped our loot at the boat and then into the docks to the car. We had a surprise planned for Kelly, an avid golfer.
We told him we had a tee time for him to shoot 9 holes and then took him to Boondocks for miniature golf. He says he figured out we were pulling his leg way before we ever got there, but he let out a chuckle when he saw the sign and knew for sure. We started off with some lunch in the Keys largest tiki hut. Denise and I split some lobster corn cakes and roasted asparagus with melted blue cheese and pine nuts. Jeff had a burger topped with chili and Kelly enjoyed a taco salad. Then it was off to the golf course...the Keys only miniature golf course. The weather was warm and beautiful and the coarse was just as beautiful - landscaped with tropical foliage, palms, and blooming mimosas. We had a great time. Kelly won. Denise and I tied for 2nd and Jeff brought up the rear. The highlight for me was hitting a hole in one...and then winning a sno-cone at the ball return.
Back at the boat, Denise and Kelly taught me a new card game while Jeff relaxed and read for a while. We ate a light dinner and called it a night.

Saturday morning we all woke up early and headed to the Cracked Conch Cafe for some breakfast. We hadn't eaten there before, but we were interested to learn about their late-night until midnight 7 nights a week.

Afterwards, Denise and I headed to yoga & the boys went to the gym. Then it was back to the boat for a little lounging around time.

There was a party/pot-luck planned at the marina to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the Marathon Cruiser's Net, the VHF radio program here in the harbor. I didn't want to feed our guests pot-luck, so I threw together a mac & cheese and cooked a slab of BBQ ribs in the rotisserie. We headed in for the end of the party and the beginning of the music at the tiki hut.

If you look closely, you'll notice Jeff's birthday present from his mom & Kelly clipped onto his shorts. It's a tiny battery-powered amp by Marshall and he loves it! Especially the distortion feature that makes him sound like a rock star.

[Thanks also to Uncle Bill for helping to find it!]

The night was a little chilly as you can see by all the fleeces and jackets, but still perfect weather for fall. A good time was had by all who, shaker eggs, and drums in hand.
We turned in fairly earler and went back to the boat to have dinner.

Sunday morning we awoke to another beautiful sunrise. We started off with coffee and I made some orange-cranberry scones from a mix I had picked up in NC from the Old Mill of Guilford. They turned out well...although how could they have been bad when the recipe calls for a whole stick of butter? By midmorning, we had moved on to bloody marys and then dressed and got ready to go for the next outing. We were off to Robbie's to feed the tarpon. Denise and Kelly had never taken the time to stop there and we ran out of time on our way from the airport. Upon arrival, we bought our buckets of fish and headed out to the docks. One difference from the last time Jeff and I stopped in was the presence of some very hungry, fairly menacing pelicans. We had visited prior to their annual migration south. This time you had to pick and choose where you tossed the fish food or else it became bird food.

Once our buckets were empty and the fish were full we headed to the surrounding booths of wares for sale. We all picked out pairs of cheap sunglasses and selected several pieces of artwork for boat, home, and gifts. Then we all piled back into the car, made a quick stop for lunch, and headed for the harbor. Back on the boat, we all took it easy for a while then played a couple hands of cards while watching the sunset. For dinner, we chose the Key Colony Inn, a favorite restaurant for tourists and locals alike. When we were all stuffed to the gills, with enough food left-over for us all to have another meal, we headed back to the boat for the night.

Monday morning came way too soon as Jeff headed off to work, and Denise and Kelly prepared to leave. It was my day to "controll" the net -- the VHF radio program -- and so at 9 am I did my radio thing then we left to pick up the rental car. A quick breakfast at Stout's and our company was on the road back to Ft. Lauderdale to catch a plane. We had a great time over the long birthday weekend and hope Denise & Kelly come back soon!

And since I couldn't squeeze one more photo into this blog:
Birthday Weekend Album
For best results, click on slideshow or flip through the photos in the album if you are so inclined.

Monday, November 9, 2009

New Camera

And my reward for being a complete idiot and losing the camera?

A brand new, even better camera!


Check out what it can do:

It's shock-proof and water-proof and has all kinds of neat features.

I promise not to lose this one.
Thank you, Jeff!

Beware of Dogs

Beware of SUNDOGS, that is. I had never heard of, let alone witnessed a sundog until Thursday morning when someone pointed out a huge, rainbow colored ring around the sun. It was a beautiful, sunny morning and the ring around the sun was quite a phenomenon for an hour or so until the sun rose higher on the horizon. Sundogs, scientifically named parhelia meaning "beside the sun", occur most often at sunrise or sunset when the sun is low. They form when sunlight is refracted through ice crystals in cirrus clouds and often indicate that a drastic change in weather is on the way. Our drastic change has come as extremely windy conditions for the last 4 days [and running] with gusts of 25 - 30 mph. Today we have a wind advisory [gusts of 31 - 39mph] on land and a gale warning [39-54mph] on the water as well as small craft advisories. I just heard on the radio that a cruise ship has canceled docking today in Key West because it's too rough for them to come in. Whereas this would be just a windy day on land, it's quite blustery here on the boat. We've had to secure everything that could possibly blow away or bang around. I have the kayak lifted out of the water and secured to the side of the boat...although, I apparently did not have it secured well enough to start with as I noticed on one of trips outside that the kayak was actually flying along side the boat during an especially big gust. Getting off the boat is a little challenging with the water in the harbor being quite choppy. It's a wet and bumpy dinghy ride into the docks. Staying on the boat provides it's own challenges...all my tuperware lids have blown off the dish drying towel and my McDonald's coffee cup just won't stay put... and a little fancy footwork is required when the boat shifts. We've had a little rain, more mist than anything, and it's still a balmy 80 degrees. Hurricane Ida [recently downgraded to a tropical storm] has blown past us with little to no effect and things should be settling down later this afternoon.
Note: The picture shown is not mine, and not of the actual sundog that occurred on Thursday. It is extremely similar to what I saw and provides a visual on what a sundog looks like.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fantasy Festival 2009

As I mentioned in a previous blog, Jeff and I went down to Fantasy Fest for our first time for the pinnacle event, The Captain Morgan Fantasy Festival Parade. Although a big festival for Key West, coming from Louisville, Kentucky and dealing with the Derby Festival every year with crowd numbers well into the 100,000's, this crowd didn't seem too bad or too big. We arrived in Key West around 5 PM and parked the car very close to where we would have on a normal day and paid about the same amount. A quick walk down Caroline to Duvall and we were in party central. And talk about an eye full! Everywhere you turned was someone in costume or body-paint with varying degrees of nudity. The one thing we figured out right away is that you don't have to be THIN, YOUNG, PRETTY, or even TAN to walk around mostly naked during this festival. The costumes ranged from comical to wild to bizarre...with everything in between. We saw women of all ages, topless, with their breasts covered in paint in a wide variety of themes...pumpkins, apples, flowers, butterflies, flames, cat's eyes, or just splashes of color airbrushed on in littering swirls. Some of the painted had props to complete their ensembles as nurses, flight attendants, belly dancers, football fans, devils, angels, Daisy Duke [with short shorts literally painted on], vampires, witches, tigers, and several Eves made appearances with fig leaves painted in place. Men were dressed and painted as well as vampires, demons, devils, construction workers, indians, Homer Simpson, Aunt Jemima, Beetlejuice, the Riddler, Santa, the Pope, just to name a few.
We ended up staking out a great place to watch the parade -close to Captain Tony's so that we were close to a bathroom and refreshments. Then we just took in all the sights. I played photographer while Jeff stopped different interesting characters to take a picture. Everyone was in good spirits and everybody wanted to have their picture taken. One guy, dressed only in a strategically-placed, miniature hardhat stopped to ask if he could have his picture taken with Jeff [whom he referred to as "a sexy, little fireplug"]. What a HOOT!

The parade had about 50 some odd floats with different themes and sponsors. Most floats were accompanied by loud music & manned by costumed and nearly-naked people throwing beads into the crowd. Jeff and I caught our fair share. The parade ended on an odd note with a group of Jesus freaks letting us all know if didn't change our ways we'd all go to hell...and even that was entertaining.

At some point, we decided we'd had enough [talk about sensory overload!] and headed back to the car so we could grab a little dinner and head back to Marathon.
Once we were back at the car, I slid the camera off my wrist and set it on the car to take off my backpack. And that, tragically, is the last we've seen of the camera! I must have left it there as we drove off and it fell off somewhere. I've placed ads offering a reward for the return of the memory card...keep the camera...but have had no response yet.
So - no photos!
I did a little looking around on the net and found photos that others have posted. I chose photos for the slideshow that are either people we actually saw or are similar...just so you could get the flavor of the evening. This album [click on slideshow for an easy way to see all the photos]has a lot of good shots of the parade and this one has more pics of the night.
Despite losing the camera, we had a FANTASTIC time and are already making plans to go next year.