Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #33 Westward, Ho!

It’s always interesting to observe the various boat names in any anchorage. Occasionally we see one that’s familiar, but most of the time I’m just curious about what other people see fit to call their boats. Serenity and Osprey are somewhat common, as is anything with “Wind” in the name—such as Summer Wind, Second Wind, or Wind Borne. Other names speak of Solitude, Solace, or Tranquility. But many boat names fall into the one-of-a-kind category—Angel Heart, Touch of Grey, or Caloosa Spirit. In Marathon I found myself wondering about the owner of Curmudgeon. While it’s not altogether uncommon to see the same unusual name on different boats in different places (Shibumi being a case in point), what are the chances of seeing such a name on two different boats in the same anchorage at the same time? Yesterday Arcturus from Dania Beach, FL, anchored in front of us here at Bahia Honda Key, and today Arcturus from Marathon, FL, anchored behind us. They are two entirely different boats, and they’re both still here. I wonder if either of them has dinghied over to the other to inquire about the name. I sure would like to know what it means. Anyone have a clue?

Bahia Honda is a state park with what is reported as one of the Keys’ best beaches. Well, not by our standards. Compared to the white sand beaches of the Gulf coast and beaches in the Bahamas, it was mediocre (to be generous). The campground appears to be a nice spot to while away some Keys down-time, but we’re ready to move on.

Bahia Honda anchorage

Newfound Harbor isn’t exactly one of our most exciting new finds. We came into this anchorage that’s about 10 miles south of Bahia Honda just to see what it’s like. It’s a very protected anchorage for bad weather, but the skinny, lengthy channel getting to it is something of a deterrent to a convenient overnight. We didn’t bother to go ashore to search for the elusive dinghy dockage.

Some thirty-three years ago we made a land trip to Key West, and vowed to one day return by water. Today we finally did that. Key West was never convenient to get to on a charter or trailer-sail, but taking the opportunity to get here leisurely was one of the reasons we retired when we did. We had a wonderful sail down from Newfound Harbor without the engine running! This evening we went ashore to participate in the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square—a must-do for any stop-over in Key West. Due to the clouds there wasn’t much of a sunset, but the variety of sidewalk arts and crafts displays and the sideshows captivated our interest anyway. The most entertaining act we watched was fire-dancing from…I think he said New Zealand, but I could easily be mistaken. Anyway, the dancing with fireballs on the ends of ropes to the accompaniment of djembe drums was fascinating and artistically and skillfully done. We also watched a couple of Houdini wanna-bes extract themselves from straight-jackets and chains, but our interest in watching someone dislocate their shoulder several times in succession quickly waned. The southern-most bag-piper was pleasant, but we quickly passed by the evangelist loudly claiming the Bible to be the definitive answer—no matter what the question. We were sorry to have missed the man of the hour—the cat trainer. That’s house cats, as in “You expect me to come when I’m called?” We’ll have to go back another evening just to take in this performance extraordinaire. We’re told it’s another must-see.

Key West sunset

We spent the day wandering around Old Town, just to get a feel for the place. The historic buildings and homes here are certainly intriguing, and we hope to do a more thorough walking tour in the next few days. Today we had a wonderful seafood buffet lunch on Duval Street, then toured the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. Mel Fisher was the treasure-hunter who in 1985 discovered the Spanish galleon Atocha, which was loaded with silver, gold, emeralds, and other treasures. He had actually discovered parts of the ship 10-15 years prior to that, but in 1985 his daily pronouncement of “Today’s the day” foretold reality when he and his crew finally found the treasures from the holds about 20 miles off Key West. The mountains of gold, silver, emeralds and other riches stolen from American natives to finance Spanish wars and imperialism was just obscene, but they presently make for a remarkable collection to view. A most fascinating tidbit of information, however, concerned the name of one of Mel Fisher’s sons, Dirk (who, sadly, died during the exploration of the Atocha site). My favorite author (and now Jim’s), Clive Cussler, is also a shipwreck explorer, who would be something of a contemporary of Mel Fisher. The adventurous hero in Cussler’s books is named Dirk, who, presumably, was named for Cussler’s son, also named Dirk. Quite a coincidence!

Yesterday and today we did more touring of the historic houses of Key West. Many date from the 1800’s, and exhibit architectural influences from New England and the Bahamas. Charming doesn’t begin to describe many of the old homes which have become guest houses, B and B’s, and museums. Several churches are also 19th century structures, including First Congregational Church, where we attended yesterday morning. The congregation was most welcoming, much like our own First Congregational Church in Indy. But we much prefer Dick’s 15-20 minute sermons to the one yesterday that lasted about 40 minutes. Still, it was a treat to find a UCC church here in Key West that’s even within walking distance of the harbor. Incidentally, we took a dinghy tour to a different harbor on another side of the island. We noticed another Arcturus moored in a marina there. Small world!

Key West B B

This evening we took in the Sunset Celebration once more in hopes of seeing the trained cats. Well, we saw them, but the extent of their training seemed to be to take food from their “trainer”. Somehow we had gotten the impression that the cats actually did tricks, like jump through hoops and such, and that the show was a real hit. Not so much. The guy who rides in nightly on his bike to feed the feral cats looks like a rehab refugee, but he seems to genuinely care about them. He was thoroughly delighted to find a bag of cat food that some kind soul had left earlier in the day. It was heart-warming to see this man’s dedication to his mission, and to see how both he and the cats benefit from their relationship.

A picture taken at the southern-most point in the U.S. is another must-do in Key West, so this morning we walked the 1+ miles south from the harbor to that spot. Sure enough, there was a crowd of folks all taking pictures at this tourist mecca. Fortunately, we found someone else needing someone to take a picture of their family, and they agreed to take ours.

Southern-most point

We also toured the Key West Lighthouse and Museum. The lighthouse was built in 1847, with the Keeper’s Quarters added in 1887. We were able to climb up inside the lighthouse to see the spectacular view of Key West, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Being the bus travelers that we are, we also tried out the public transportation system here, after delightedly discovering that there was one. We rode several miles to a shopping center, but didn’t get much. Our goal was to see more of the island from the bus, but we ran out of time, so we’ll probably try again on a different day. Interestingly, the bus driver was also a live-aboard cruiser, so he kindly took pity on us and picked us up between stops in the 90-degree heat.

We’ve completed our tour of Key West, having now visited all the museums, shops, and restaurants that sparked our interest. Well, all the places that were affordable, anyway. Many of the attractions in town seem quite costly to us. Yesterday we stopped for an obligatory drink at the Hog’s Breath Saloon, as we had done the other day at Sloppy Joe’s Bar. We understand that no visit to Key West is complete without a visit to these two well-known watering holes. We’ve very much enjoyed our visit to this American piece of the Caribbean, and hope to return at a future time. Part of me hates to leave. Being here has been something of a vacation for us, and I hate to see it end. For the last week nothing has needed fixing, and we haven’t even done any laundry or grocery shopping. Touring and doing fun stuff has been our focus, just like when we used to go on vacation during our working years. In shops here, when we were asked about how our “vacation” was going, we just smiled and said we’re on permanent vacation. But the times we’ve been stuck waiting or fixing or both haven’t felt like vacation, to be sure. So Key West will be fondly remembered for the welcome respite it has given us, and for offering us one of the better sides of cruising.

Stop at Sloppy Joe's

After spending a couple of nights back in the Bahia Honda State Park anchorage, we plan tomorrow to head back to Marathon. Hopefully, we’ll first take a detour to Sombrero Key for some snorkeling. Our plans are to be back in the St. Pete area in about a month. Why St. Pete again, you ask? Our son Mike is making another move at the end of next month. He’s been in San Diego since 1/03, but has decided he wants to return to the East. So he and his girlfriend Stephanee are moving to the Tampa Bay area. We will be thrilled to have him nearby once again, and we’re really looking forward to the day they arrive. So that’s why we’ll be back up in St. Pete for a while. Family continues to tug at our heartstrings, even—make that more-so—while we’re cruising.

Fair winds and smooth sailing until next time,
Alice & Jim Rutherford

Posted Sunday June 20, 2004

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