We had our first visitor aboard last week when Matt’s Uncle Rich flew in for a few days of fun, sun, and lots and lots of fishing. He’s been coming down to Key West on and off since the 80’s, so it didn’t take much convincing on our part to have him meet us down here for a few days. It was so much fun spending time with him and exploring the Island, discovering some fun new places, and did I mention the fishing? I’m not over exaggerating when I say that he and Matt had a rod in their hands for 75% of his stay. I wasn’t complaining…. this meant fresh fish for dinner and some guilt-free reading time for me, so I wholeheartedly encouraged it.
The first day was spent fishing off the back of the boat right here in the mooring field. It’s amazing what a difference it makes having a block of frozen chum in a mesh bag hanging in the water. The fish were just swarming the back of the boat. They caught a freezer’s worth of ballyhoo, a small bait fish we can use to troll with across the Gulf Stream to pick up larger fish, like mahi-mahi, Matt’s dream catch (besides me, of course).
They also snagged TWO baby sharks that were eating the fish swarming our chum block – a nurse shark and a bottlenose, which looked a heck of a lot like a hammerhead. They threw them both back, but not before taking a few pictures of the catch. Not sure where their mamas were, but I’m glad they didn’t make an appearance while we were posing for pictures. The sharks, along with a 3ft barracuda we had hovering underneath the boat the other day, has made us think twice before diving into the water.
Later that night we went into town for dinner at Blue Heaven, and surprised Richard with tickets to a Christmas show… a burlesque Sexy Santa Sing Along, which looked way more entertaining than any Christmas show we’ve ever seen before. The dinner was excellent - perhaps the best Key Lime pie on the island - however, the burlesque was not. After an hour of drunken crowd sing alongs and panhandling for tips, we were anxious to get out of there. We all agreed there was nothing sexy about that show. Oh well, you live and you learn. At least we got a good story out of it.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
The next day we took boat out to Eastern Dry Rocks, a reef about five miles south of Key West in the Atlantic, to do more fishing. You can’t actually fish inside of the reef, since it’s a protected area, so we got as close as we could to the perimeter before letting the lines fly. The boys ended up catching a whole bucket full of Yellowtail Snapper, which ironically, is what we spent $25 a dish on at Blue Heaven the night before.
After fishing for a few hours, we headed back just in time to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the water. On our way past the cruise ship dock, we saw the big crowd at Mallory Square had already gathered for the nightly sunset celebration and two old schooners were on their way out with a deck full of tourists paying big money to see the sun set on the water. We tied up to the mooring ball just as darkness fell, and the guys immediately went back to casting out their lines again, this time catching just one lone mutton snapper and a skate.
After we said goodbye to Richard, we decided we should get around to some of the boat projects that were patiently waiting for us, one of which was to refill our propane tank. That was an adventure. We had to go to two different places before we found a gas station that could actually fill our little 2.5 gallon tank. We got some odd looks driving around too. Not sure if it was the propane tank inside of the milk crate on the back of a mountain bike that did it, or the fact that both of us were absolutely covered in sweat thanks to the humidity that’s been hanging around here like a fog the past few days.
The same humidity which has caused mildew to spout in our boat, so another chore at the top of the list was scrubbing everything down with a water/vinegar mix. And another grocery store run to re provision and begin to stock up for the trip to the Bahamas. Ah, life on a boat.
Speaking of marina life, we have quite the eclectic set of neighbors we seem to run into every time we're at the dinghy dock. Our favorite is this woman who is an entertainer in Mallory Square (we think), who uses the bed of her truck to practice her routine. It's.... interesting.
Big news! We just discovered Cuban Coffee Queen, which is by far our favorite breakfast/lunch spot on the Island. This is big news, because we both like a good breakfast spot, and this one was delicious and cheap. In fact, we had both breakfast and lunch there yesterday, for a grand total of $30 for four meals. Not shabby at all in a town where that’s the cost of a round of drinks. Huzzah!
Today we tackled laundry, and met another couple who are cruising on a Lagoon 410, which is the exact same boat as ours. We pass their boat each time we dinghy in/out of the marina, and we just noticed that their hailing port is Bel Air, MD. How funny is that? Even crazier? They’re cruising with another couple that also has a Lagoon 410, which happens to be the exact same boat we saved from dragging anchor and crashing into a very expensive looking power boat this past fall in Annapolis. It really is a small world, isn’t it? We’re joining them for Christmas brunch tomorrow on their boat. This is our first cruising potluck, so I’m wondering what the heck to bring. I’m sure anything that comes in a bottle will be much appreciated by all.
We also made some time to continue to explore the island and took a hike that lead us through a beautiful nature preserve. We're having so much fun, it's hard to believe that Christmas is here!