Key West

Ambler Isle
V and S
Tue 21 Jun 2011 22:00
24 31N
81 48W
Before we knew it, we were at Key West main channel.  We went to our usual anchorage by Fleming Key, a navy installation.  After we dropped our anchor and set it, we noticed small buoys saying, "No Boats."  Seems the navy had extended its restricted area.  So we hoisted the anchor and moved over a few hundred yards.  The chain was wrapped in big globs of seaweed, that had to be snipped off with scissors.  The water was much deeper here, 25', so we had to let out much more chain than normal.  But the anchor set right away.   Just in time for a big black cloud to appear.  Closing the windows, doors and hatches, we went to the sky lounge to watch the storm.  It rained so hard on the horizon that the boats anchored there seemed to disappear in a fog.  When it finally reached us, it was more of a shower.  But it did rinse the sea salt from the decks, and we were glad for that.  Seems it always rains when we are in Key West.  Elsewhere in Florida they are suffering drought.   We spoke to friends Roger and Lisa Carter from Panama City, Florida. Their son Geoffrey and his family are stationed in the Coast Guard in Key West. We hoped to visit them and meet their new baby boy,Patrick.   Roger said he and Lisa would be in Key West on Sunday.  Although we'd not planned to stay very long here, we decided to stay through Monday to visit with them.   We'd met Carters in 2000 during our Great Loop Cruise.  Roger offered to drive us to the auto parts store, although we were strangers. We went with him and later stopped at a local restaurant for brunch with him and Lisa.  We remain good friends and try to see them whenever we are in the area.  Sometimes they meet us elsewhere so they can take the boat ride home with us.  Once they drove to Destin and cruised to Panama City with us.  Another time they came with us from Panama City to Appalachicola.  It was worth staying here a day or two extra.  We cleaned up and dinghied over to the wharf at Key West.  After purchasing a one week dinghy pass from the city marina for $26.50, we took a walk.  The tour boats were getting ready to head out on sunset cruises.  The fishing charters were just coming in and cleaned their catch on the dock.  Several stores had gone out of business.   Even the grocery store!  Others had new owners and new faces.  The t-shirt chains had changed their image, redesigning their stores.  The Pirate Store had moved to St. Augustine.  Seems if they could not make it here, where could they make it?  Mallory St. had not started setting up their sidewalk shows yet at 6:15pm.  They have very limited hours to operate, usually about an hour before and an hour after sunset.  We went to Two Friends Patio Bar on Duval St. and enjoyed happy hour with $2 beers and 1/2 price appetizers.  We ordered steamed shrimp.  Our waitress, Margie, claimed to have Loyalist ancestors from the Bahamas.  She also said her grandfather, Hamilton Lowe, first discovered and named the now famous Key West Pinks shrimp.  We continued our walk along Duval.  An Elvis mime stood still as a statue.  He would only move if someone either put money in his tip jar, or tried take money out of it.  Traffic was hectic. Scooters, golf carts, bikes and cars.  No parking.  The sidewalks were jammed with vacationers.  We went past each nightspot, but the music was ear drum shattering, so we did not go in.  The Hogs Breath had a band, also.  Several young women decked out with feather boas, leis, and funky hats danced a jig to the lively music.   We searched their gift shop for nice shirts, but found nothing we needed. 
Even at 9pm it was hot and steamy.  I think it is hotter, more humid, and the winds lighter than in the Bahamas.  Captain Valt has decided to grow a goatee and mustache.  I think he looks handsome.