We are well-entrenched at the Key West Bight Marina, the municipal marina here in Old Town Key West (map). We've had a pleasant and mostly quiet week and a half since arriving from the anchorage last Wednesday, but things are really starting to heat up now in anticipation of the big New Years Eve celebration. There are two hundred-foot superyachts on the dock next to us, and a 123' Palmer Johnson just across the fairway from us. Most of the small slips are also taken, and I expect them to fill up by tomorrow.
Vector docked at Key West, before the crowds arrived, and sporting her new signage.
We've been pretty busy since we docked. Since we are here with friends, we've been very social, and what time we have left has been split between the never-ending project list and trying to take in a few of the sights around town. As long as we have the scooters on the ground, we've also been catching up on shopping for provisions and projects.
Key West, by the way, is a perfect place to have a scooter. While auto parking is scarce and expensive, there is designated scooter parking all over town, and it's free. After unloading the scooters from the boat we pushed them down the dock and parked in some of the free designated parking just a few steps away. We also unloaded the bicycles and locked them to a nearby rack. Conchs (what the locals call themselves) generally get around town on two wheels, too, with bicycles outnumbering scooters by a small margin.
Temperatures have been in the 80's most days, and we've been content to just walk to anyplace within a half mile of the marina. While Blossom is docked just a few hundred feet from us across the fairway, it turns out to be a half mile trip between the boats over land. Mostly we've been meeting for cocktails or dinner in town, saving someone another half mile of walking.
Louise, Sandy, Steph, and Martin at Sunset Pier for cocktails.
Where the pier gets its name.
We did host dinner aboard Vector on Christmas Eve, and Martin and Steph returned the favor with a wonderful spread aboard Blossom on Christmas day. Steph's mom, Sandy, also came to town for the holiday, spending about a week. (Steph just updated their blog as well, and there are a few good photos of us there, too.) It was a very relaxing holiday all around. For those of us from more northerly latitudes, there is something surreal about celebrating in the warmth and sunshine, but both boats were festively decorated, and we are surrounded by holiday lights in the evening, including on the palm trees.
Holiday lights from our flybridge.
We've been very low-key on the tourist front, mostly just strolling the streets and taking in the scene. We did do a trolley tour of holiday lights -- some Conchs go over the top -- with the gang from Blossom, and separately we went through the Butterfly Conservatory. Most of the "historic" attractions in town, unfortunately, are inundated with tourists and have succumbed to the cheese factor.
One of the denizens of the Butterfly Conservatory.
Key West is now a fairly major cruise ship destination, and there have been from one to three large ships in port every day we've been here (including AIDAvita last week, which seems to be following us). Fortunately, cruise passengers generally do not eat in restaurants, and most of the ships depart by 6 or 7pm anyway. Wednesday morning will be our last chance to see anything without competing with cruise passengers, as the first ship does not dock until noon.
Little good that will do, though, because the NYE crowds have arrived. The town was almost sleepy leading up to Christmas, with vacancy signs all over town. Not so today; the town, like the marina, is sold out. That's largely due to the fact that NYE in Key West started being televised a few years ago, sending visitor counts through the roof. I'm not sure we'll even be able to move on Duval Street after about 8pm.
Roosters are loose everywhere you look in Key West.
All that said, we're enjoying ourselves enough that we have extended our stay to the 5th. That's the last morning we can have the slip, and it makes an even week, which is a lower rate than daily. Even if we shove off on the 4th we will be ahead of the game, so this gives us a bit of weather flexibility.
On the project front, I changed the pressure switch on the domestic water pump, which had become intermittent. We also put "Vector" on either side of the flybridge coaming so we can be identified from the side or just a little off head-on, and not just from astern. I finished removing from the engine the hokey contraption that had been supplying cooling water to the stabilizers, thus allowing me to put the zinc anode back where it belongs. And today I picked up seven gallons of oil so I can change the main engine oil before we leave -- the marina here has waste oil recycling.
This cat has found a benefactor in one of the local fishing charter operators, who throws him a fish every evening.
Somewhere in all of this my old shoulder muscle injury came back to haunt me, and I have been moving slowly for a few days, notwithstanding getting a massage the same day it happened. Also, my laptop keyboard quit, and I shipped it back to Asus this morning for repair, so I'm having to make do with my old one that also serves as our navigation computer. And I missed the boat, so to speak, on dentists -- I could not get an appointment while we're here, so it will have to wait till Tampa Bay.
Whenever we make our exit here, our plan is to head west about 70 miles to the Dry Tortugas for a few days, where we will have no Internet connectivity whatsoever. From there it is an overnight run due north to Tampa Bay, where we plan to spend a week or so before working our way down the west coast to the Okeechobee Waterway, which will take us across the state to Stuart.