Key West to Stuart Wraps Up the Season: May 20, 2019

     

We kept at our Key West rhythm of boat work and neighborhood fun for a bit longer.  Then we got a curve ball and needed to change our personal finance computer program ASAP.  Chris researched and dove into transferring over twenty-five years of financial history from one system to another.  In order to be out of earshot from the grunts and sighs and cursing – I returned to the stainless; clean, dry, polish repeat.  Dinner of chicken tikka masala was a rewarding end to the day (5/3).

Our days generally mush together but today is Saturday and it is packed with today-only-events (5/4).  After emptying the engine of coolant we needed to dispose of it.  Well, have you tried to do that lately?!  The marina staff apologetically said “no,” NAPA sneered through the phone as they said “no” but the lady at the Key West Department of Waste said “yes”…one Saturday per month at the Park at 1801 White Street, from 7am – 11.30am, manned by volunteers.  We thought it sounded like a lot could go wrong with this disposal dream but we had no other choice.  Off we went in an Uber with six, one gallon, jugs of used antifreeze coolant.  Bingo!  In less than five minutes we had deposited our jugs and were off to breakfast.  And with a chuckle to start the day as we watched the tutu relay race gather (tee, hee, hee: https://runsignup.com/Race/FL/KeyWest/Tutu10KRelay).  Yes, grown men and women in running gear with brightly colored tutus in every hue gathering for a 10k relay race.  Did we mention how much we love the humor of Key West?!  As we continued on our walk to breakfast we passed an octogenarian with a wheeley shopping cart full of old paint…we knew where she was headed. 

             

Our next today-only-event was the Papio Kinetic Sculpture Parade (http://www.papioskineticparade.com/).  That is a wacky way of saying a parade of floats (human-powered art sculptures that are engineered and styled to inspire and amaze) that wind through downtown Key West.  Kinetic Sculptures are described as made from what some people consider “junk”…but one man’s junk is another man's raw artistic material.  The parade is in honor of sculptor and welder Stanley Papio (aka Barefoot Stanley of Key Largo, 1914-1982) who described it like this, “A bunch of junk is a welder's glory.  Buying new stuff is not a welder's way.”  Sheesh, the sun blazed along the parade route with sweat, literally, running from the top of our heads down off of our toes.  Thankfully, it was a short parade and had lots of fun to distract us from the heat.  Our day wrapped up with a final today-only-event…the Kentucky Derby.  We watched the race on the TVs at The Half Shell Raw Bar where it was standing room only (and full of hats).

   

Many items have been checked off project lists but several items still remain.  We are looking at a departure in seven days despite the fact that the engine is in pieces with the sea strainer drained and dry as well as the engine drained of coolant.  Here we wait for the delivery of 17 new engine hoses from California.  Not to mention that we have not heard a peep about the dinghy hydraulic crane piece that is out for welding.  Worry?!  Who me?!  We distracted ourselves with the personal finance data transfer and stainless clean/polish.  Hallelujah – the stainless is finished!!  I will not bore you with photos of every bit of stainless but here are two photos so you get the idea.  The evening ended with Cinco De Mayo nachos – ole.  Oops, another surprise as the kitchen sink hot water line sprung a leak just as the nachos came out of the oven.  We capped it, cleaned up the water and returned to the nachos.  We’ll get to the hardware store tomorrow.

             

In order to give Chris some solitary time with the personal finance transfer I took an early morning walk to the cemetery for some soft light photos (5/6).  The cemetery is located just about dead center of the island (tee, hee, hee).  It has been battered by storms and is a bit ramshackle and crumbling.  However, the humor of the island permeates even here with tombstones that say things like, “I told you I was sick” and “I’m just resting my eyes.”  Plus, countless momentos draped and chiseled and affixed to crypts and head stones.  I returned in time for the run to the hardware store after which the kitchen sink was repaired and (bonus) the master shower hose was replaced.  The successful morning turned grim as we learned that the engine hoses had not yet been shipped and the welding had not yet started (but both would be starting…soon).  What?!  Okay, time for another distraction – travel meals.  Our stores are dwindling and the boat will sit idle for six months once back in Stuart so the pantry does not need to be re-stocked.  Instead, we need strategic meals…aka…a meal plan.  This kind of structure is not my cup of tea but it is the most practical option for this situation.  Key West to Stuart should be about five days with anchoring every night so I came up with a list of meals – some to make ahead and have ready in the freezer and others ready to create at anchor: for dinners - meatloaf; pasta with tomatoes, peas and sausage; steaks on the grill and loaded BLTs…for breakfast: bacon, rice and cream of chicken casserole topped with a poached egg, 2x ham and cheese filled crescent rolls (we love these) and quesadillas.  I’ll make one a day and have them ready for departure.        

     

Okay, it is a new morning and today should have some project timing answers (5/7).  The 17 engine hoses arrived overnight express at Noon and the hydraulic crane welding work was returned.  Chris dove into the engine hose project while I made a meatloaf and popped it into the freezer (recipe below).  Removing and replacing the hoses gave us a look into the engine in areas not previously seen.  Eek, looks like we dodged an unexpected bullet when bits of impellor were found in a hose.  They must be from before our time because our changed out impellors have been in one piece.  We called it quits at 6pm because we ran out of hose clamps (and Cubanos marine hardware has closed for the day).  We slunk into Half Shell Raw Bar for dinner but did not even make it in time for Happy Hour. 

     

We are cooking with gas and making great progress (5/8).  I made the pasta with sausage, tomatoes and peas (recipe below) and the breakfast bacon, rice and cream of chicken casserole (recipe below).  Both were popped into the freezer and are ready to be re-heated on the road.  Chris flushed the water maker and finished the engine hose project.  Current jobs are mostly inside jobs which is a stroke of luck since buckets and buckets of unexpected rain have been pelting down all morning long.  In the afternoon I checked in with Julie about my needlework project to make sure my stitches are on track and all looks good.  I am loving the Zen of the project.  Chris also re-assembled the dinghy hydraulic crane but needed to eek out one more centimeter on the re-welded hydraulic piece (what Chris wouldn’t give for a work bench).  We’ll test it tomorrow after everything has set.  Finally, we filled the engine with fresh water to test for leaks and flushed it through the system.  Thumbs up and we are ready for coolant tomorrow.  For dinner we tried a new place.  Well, it’s actually two places in one spot.  It’s a bar with a large front yard full of Adirondack chairs facing a make-shift, shaded stage area called Hank’s Hair of the Dog.  Behind the cabin-like bar is Garbo’s Grill – simply a food truck (http://www.garbosgrillkw.com/).  We sat inside the cabin listening to the live music waft in as we contemplated our food options.  There are just three choices of taco/burrito and three burger/dog choices but the loaded flavors all sounded great.  We went for the cayo fish tacos and the kogi dog.  Yes, there really is a hot dog beneath all that kimchi, sesame mayo, fried cheese, cabbage, scallions, carrots, daikon, citrus soy dressing and sriracha.  Yum!!  Irish Kevin’s on Duval rounded out the day and was as crazy as ever with a singer on stage half a step away from being karaoke but loaded with energy and charisma.  And the crowd was not far behind in the energy category.  At one point a woman asked for a Taylor Swift song.  Another patron quickly said, “I’d pay you $40 not to play that song.”  Well, he was slow on the dough so another patron rushed to the tip jar and put in $40 before the song could start.  Eventually, the original patron with the $40 added his $40 to the tip jar.  Huh, $80 not to play – that’s new.  Quite a fun night with plenty of live music.     

       

It was a day of testing – fingers crossed (5/9).  Dinghy hydraulic crane – check.  Yippee!  Thanks Vinny at Bone Island Welding (https://www.boneislandwelding.com/).  New coolant was added and circulated – check.  Yippee!  This was a tandem job with kitchen floorboard taken up so that we had a clear downhill hose run from the kitchen to the engine for filling.  Chris was at the engine and I was in the kitchen pouring one gallon jug at a time into the funnel and through the tube.  Dang - those jugs get heavy pretty quick.  Thanks for the extra muscles, Chris.  By the end of the filling we felt a bit like this pink faced bit of twisted wire art on a wall.  Systems are a “go” and we are ready for departure in a few days.  Showered and relaxing we had cocktails on the top deck while listening to the songwriters performing at Turtle Kraals (https://www.turtlekraals.com/).  The Key West Songwiters Festival is off and running.  There is always loads of live music in Key West but this is over-the-top.  There are 200 songwriters who play over five days at bars all over town nearly round the clock…and most events are free to watch (http://www.keywestsongwritersfestival.com/).  Okay, back to the sunset.   

           

We continued to click through projects which were getting smaller in size; remedy anchor bridle shackle, laundry, bake sour cream chocolate chip bit cake for the guys at Cubanos Marine Hardware (recipe below), fill the boat with water, police the engine room and the boat for stray tools and odds and ends.  Plus, we enjoyed the live music.  There was Channing Wilson and Rob Snyder at the Green Parrot Sound Check and several songwriters who cycled through the stage at Smokin’ Tuna (the epicenter for the songwriters festival).  Sitting in the bright sun on the patio of Smokin’ Tuna is fun but we moved to Captain Tony’s bar for a bit of shade.  It is dark and cavernous with business cards, license plates, paper money and bras covering the walls and ceilings.  We sat at the large u-shaped bar where we chatted with barstool neighbors just back from a day of snorkeling (they appreciated the shade, too).  Captain Tony’s is thick with history (supposedly the oldest bar in Key West…and the original Sloppy Joe’s) and stories that could only be in Key West (5/12).  You see, there is a tree that grows in the center of the bar (honest, a tree) and pops out the roof to make a canopy over the roof.  It does not shade an open courtyard; rather, it silently provides a reminder of Key West’s past of pirates and murderers.  The tree is said to have been a “hanging tree” from whose branches the convicted were strung up.  True…we do not know but the texture around every corner in Key West is marvelous. 

 

One month in Key West was great but we need to put the boat to bed in Stuart which will be four-ish days of moving north.  Thanks Key West Bight Marina for making our stay so pleasant (Prince, Steve, Keith, Keegan and JC).  The forecast shows thunder storms swirling around so we attempted to reduce our exposure to that melee.  We tossed the lines at first light (5/13).  Eeek – not enough of “first” light because I missed the spring line still attached to the dock.  Thank goodness our dock modus operandi is slow and boring.  Off we went to the Hawk Channel and points north.  The bumpy conditions settled down once we entered the ICW at Duck Key and the shallow bit was at a better tide height so the lowest we saw this time was 5.9 feet (yes, two inches does make a difference).  We have a few habits while moving along the ICW.  One is that we follow along the route with our Skipper Bob’s Anchorages Along the ICW (http://www.skipperbob.net/).  Our copy is from 2006 with notes about anchorages and route conditions noted over the years.  Another is our red and green bean bags.  They help us keep track of marker position.  Currently we are moving with green on the right and red on the left.  It was a twelve-hour run to Tarpon Basin.  We made loads of miles but we were pooped.  The already prepared pasta was perfect to fill us up with little effort.

     

We made another early start on the calm waters of the ICW (5/14).  But the power tools, landscaping equipment and other 21st century sounds are a bit jarring.  We miss the roosters.  That said, Biscayne Bay was loaded with critters; turtles, fish and a dozen dolphin on both sides of Barefeet happily darting and leaping beside us.  Further long the way we fueled up with diesel in Miami harbor tied to the Peterson petroleum fuel barge.  The process went smoothly despite dark and angry clouds overhead…and we cannot complain about the price at $2.52/gallon (every nickel and dime adds up when we are taking on more than 600 gallons).  Our long day ended with us anchored in South Lake in Hollywood Beach and dinner of loaded BLTs.  Yum!  

Here we go again.  Up anchor early for a day with bridges galore as we continue north to Lake Worth (5/15).  We started with a pack of five catamaran sailboats but they quickly departed the ICW at Port Everglades.  Multimillion dollar homes line the waterway on this stretch.  Many homes decorate their waterfront curb appeal with lawn ornaments (does that increase or decrease the value of their property – we are unsure).  The lawn ornaments range from nymphs to Neptune (with a trident) to animals like an elephant, leaping marlin, shore birds…eegads.  Oh my, hey – that is not a statue – it’s a naked guy (the first we have ever spotted – tee, hee, hee).  Our 3pm afternoon arrival was positively civilized.  The anchor set in Lake Worth on the first try and we prepared for a celebratory dinner of steaks on the grill with baked potatoes and Greek salad.  It is our last night at anchor and the (almost) end to a great cruising season!

We have felt very lucky to stay one step ahead of the fierce thunderstorms as forecasts have stayed on track.  This morning there was a weather advisory on the VHF radio for 50 knot winds and rain in Miami today with mariners advised to seek shelter.  It always amazes us what a difference 100 miles can make in weather conditions.  Arrival at River Forest Yachting Center had us tied up and ready for the end of season blur of getting Barefeet put to bed (5/16).

   

We prioritized the final projects and jumped into them.  Clean laundry and a rental car for wheels had us well on our way (5/17).  The grill was cleaned and packed away, all engine oils and filters were changed (dinghy, get home engine, main engine, generator), baked a sour cream chocolate chip bit cake for the marina gang and the full enclosure was washed inside and out.  Plus, there were runs to NAPA Auto and Walmart.  Dinner at Charlie’s was easy and laid back…and the bartendress remembered us.  So nice.  Oh, check out the drink special of the night…also available to go.  Back aboard Barefeet and there was quite the commotion between ospreys.  There was squawking and swooping and wing flapping.  It was quite a show.  Then all quieted down as the sun gently went down off the back of Barefeet.

 

Galaxy Diner is where we started our day before we were back at the projects (5/18).  The full enclosure was lined with towels and rolled for storage, the watermaker was pickled, corrosion block applied to the dinghy anchor…you get the picture.  For dinner we headed to Fresh Catch Seafood Grill after hearing rave reviews by the marina folks (https://www.freshcatchstuart.com/menu.html).  The seafood was great and we are always suckers for tuna nachos.  Up the next morning and we were back at it (5/19).  Fridge and freezer were emptied and shut off, exterior of the boat was scrubbed and applied 4000UV caulking to top deck helm sea attachment points and aft shower box.   

 

We were up early getting ready to be hauled at 1pm (5/20).  Bilges were dried (air conditioner condensate), water tank emptied, packing and stowing.  Everything (we mean EVERYTHING) is stripped off of the exterior and put inside in case a hurricane should stroll through during storm season.  Right on schedule we were hauled at 1pm on the dot (thanks JP – always a smooth process), Barefeet’s bottom was power washed (without any surprises below the water line) and she was parked on the cement until next season with dehumidifier humming in the kitchen and fan whirring in the bedroom.  It was a great season; this time around it was four months in the Bahamas and one month in Key West.  All is now done with sore muscles and kinks to prove it…but we would not change a thing.  We are very lucky.  Next season…hhhmmm.  Well, we are not sure what our itinerary will be next year but I will pick up the blog again when we are back aboard…again escaping from the Boston winter.  Until then - smooth seas and fair winds.

 
Old Fashioned Meatloaf (Paula Deen) serves 4
1lb ground beef
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
teaspoon black pepper
1.5 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
cup quick cooking oats8oz can diced tomatoes, drained
Topping: 1/3 cup ketchup, 2 Tablespoons brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon mustard (hot dog type)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Saute onions and bell pepper until soft.  Add garlic and saute two minutes more.  Set aside.
Mix all ingredients well (including cooled onion, pepper and garlic).  Shape into loaf.
Mix topping ingredients and spread on loaf.
Bake for one hour.  Let rest for fifteen minutes before cutting so holds together.

 
Peasant Pasta (Rachael Ray) serves 4
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1lb spicy or sweet Italian sausage (4 links, casings removed)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
cup veggie or chicken broth/stock
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
cup heavy cream
1 (10oz) package frozen peas
Salt and black pepper to taste
24 leaves fresh basil, torn or thinly sliced
1 lb penne rigate pasta
Grated Italian cheese, for passing

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil.  Add sausage, crumble as browns.
Add chopped garlic.
When all meat is browned deglaze pan drippings using broth.
Stir in crushed tomatoes and bring to a bubble.  Reduce to simmer.
Stir cream into sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.
Stir peas and basil into sauce to combine.
Serve with or beside pasta (cooked and drained according to package instructions).

 
Death Chicken (South Carolina)
6+ slices bacon
1 cup rice, uncooked
Garlic salt
1 teaspoon oregano
2 – 3 Tablespoons parsley, dried
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup water
Pinch nutmeg

Line 9x13 pan with six or more slices of uncooked bacon.
Sprinkle rice evenly over bacon.
Whisk together soup, water, bit garlic salt, nutmeg, oregano and parsley.  Pour over rice.
Cover with heavy foil.  Cook at 300 degrees F for two hours (no peeking).
When cooked serve on plate and top with fried or poached egg(s).
Option: After sprinkling rice over bacon put chicken pieces (with skin) onto rice.  Sprinkle skin with salt, pepper and paprika.  Continue directions as above.

 
Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Bit Cake
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sour cream
1 pkg (6oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix butter with 1 cup sugar until blended. 
Beat in eggs one at a time. 
Stir flour with baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
Add flour mixture with creamed mixture and stir until well combined.
Mix in sour cream.
Pour batter into greased 9x13" pan.
Scatter chocolate chips evenly over batter.  Same with the 1 Tablespoon sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes or until cake just pulls away from sides of pan (reduce by 25 degrees if pyrex).
Serve warm or cool.  Do NOT refrigerate.  Cut into rectangles.