Friday, January 24, 2014


One year ago this week, I landed in Key West. My only responsibility was to s/v Kairos, I owned no keys, and felt free as a bird. This morning, I grabbed my keys, climbed into my car and drove to work. My life has changed drastically in one year. I'm not complaining, I like my life, it's great. I'm close to my daughter and her family, have a fun job, a wonderful boyfriend, and planning my next boat build.

What's that song that Miranda Lambert sings... "Famous in a small town". Key West is that small town. It may have thousands of tourist visiting every day, but it's still a small town, and everyone makes it into the paper eventually. Last week, it was my daughter and her family, front page... and back page.

Working at the locally owned hardware store, I see the contractors and their employees everyday. Sometimes many times in one day. I don't spend much time with them during the transaction, but enough to chat and learn a little about them. Each of the cashiers have their own "fan club"; those customers that will wait in line for a particular cashier, even tho there are two open registers. Yes, I too have a small fan club. I've been called many enduring names: sweetie, sugar, doll, baby, honey, darling, mama, beautiful, and been told "I love you". Been asked out for drinks, dinner, and even gotten an offer to be a mistress. WOW! Yes, that one shocked me. Doesn't he know how small this town is? Or, does he not care anymore!

Key West is an interesting place, and maybe a one-of-a-kind. It attracts a variety of individuals. I can usually tell the sailors from the power boaters, and the locals from the snowbirds. The young people are usually only here for a few years, then they move on. If you don't have a strong pull to the water, if you are here for the "party" atmosphere, the new wears off after a few years and the financial strain is too much of a burden, and you move on.

I have decided that Jim Michalak's Mayfly 14 is the perfect boat for me. The plans have been copied from Jim's book; enlarged, studied and I'm making a list of lumber needed. I want to know the cost, and an approximate build time. My plan is to start the build this summer, when there is plenty of daylight after work. I'm excited about this boat, and feel I will be able to get a lot of sail time with a Mayfly 14. Now, to just convince Chuck that one more boat will fit on his property.

Chuck's favorite line is: "Some people have an alcohol or drug problem. I have a boat problem, and I don't want a cure."

Yes, there is a house behind the boats.

I think the boat count is up to 12... what's one more!

Saturday, January 18, 2014


photo by Andy Newman

After weeks of strong gusting winds in Key West, I sit here looking out over the water one day away from the 2014 Quantum Sailboat Races... and the palms are motionless and the water looks like glass. Great conditions for power boats, not so good for sailboat races, but I'm sure it will change.

Last year, I sailed into Key West aboard Kairos during race week. The marina was humming with excitement, boats coming and going. I will see the races from a different view this year. Several customers in the store this week buying anchor chain, shackles, and wearing matching jackets with sponsor logos, are participants in this year's race. A few telling me "ciao", and one familiar face to many... Dale Earnhardt Jr. I don't know if he's here because it's race week, or just when he decided to take a vacation.

photo by Tim Wilkes
The races start Sunday, the 19th. The marinas will be buzzing during the day, and the bars busy with race chatter at night.
photo by Tim Wilkes

There is always something going on in Key West. We are always looking for an excuse to eat, drink and be merry! This week.... sailboat races!

Friday, January 10, 2014


Chuck:  What do you want to do for your birthday?
Me:  We could go out to eat.
Chuck:  Have you ever been on a cruise?
Me:  No.
Chuck:  Would you like to?
Me:  Absolutely!

After checking on dates and destinations, it was discovered that there was no way we could go ON my birthday, so we got as close as we could: leave January 2, 2014. Cozumel, Mexico… here we come! 

Chuck had a friend that was to be in Cozumel the same week, so plans were made to meet and go diving the afternoon we arrived. The dive gear was packed, along with swim suits, shades, caps, short sleeve shirts, and shorts. We were prepared for a warm weather vacation. 

On the morning of the 2nd, we arrive in Miami and board CARNIVAL VICTORY. After getting settled in, we wander around and land on Lido Deck… where we found food, TV, pool, and a waiter waiting for us with a couple drinks. This seems the perfect way to start the cruise.

Hungry, we quickly find the buffet and help ourselves. 

Miami in the background.
Two of our friends, Ed and Deb, booked the same trip. I met them a few months ago when they came to Key West for a visit. It was good to have them along.

Ed and Deb
Most of our time was spent in the dining room, Casino, or enjoying the comedy shows. Turns out it was rainy and cold most of the time, which kept most away from the pools and hot tubs… but it was a little too cool for us too. On the last day, the sun came out and it was very warm. I thought, I will go up to the Adults Only deck and soak up some sun and take a dip in the hot tub… turns out, all 3600 passengers had the same idea. It was so crowded, I made a lap around the deck, didn't find a single chair open. I headed back to the room and took a nap while Chuck enjoyed a lively game of Texas Hold 'Em.

Our best find on the ship, was Sylvia at the Martini Bar, soon to be known as "Sylvia's Bar". She was a hoot! The Mini Martini Tasting was our first experience at Sylvia's Bar, and we had a blast. We shared all eight of their samplings, tasting each to discover our favorite. Mine? Sea Blue, yummy! Sylvia put on a show for us. She poured all eight at the same time, but claimed she could pour up to 12 at a time, and would do that the next time we came to see her. Did we go back? Of course Silly!

Friday was a windy day as we headed south to Cozumel. The seas climbed to 10 - 15 feet, and combined with the winds, the ship started to rock. Luckily, this didn't affect me at all. HOWEVER, this was not the case for everyone on the ship. Just outside the dining hall, we witnessed a young woman making a mad dash for the Ladies room, being chased by a server with a bucket in hand. She wasted that meal! Many of the young ladies were dressed in their party attire, complete with four inch heels. It was quite a sight watching them walk down the halls bouncing off the walls as the ship rocked and rolled. I was fine in my flip flops, and experience aboard heeling sailboats on rough seas. Again, I was fine.

Saturday afternoon, we rolled into Cozumel at 1 o'clock, along with the storm. It was decided the conditions were too bad to go out diving. Chances were great something would get broken, or someone would get hurt. Diving was called off and a new plan was set in place: meet at Woody's for a drink, snack, catch up, and take a stroll down memory lane. I heard many stories of finding treasures in the waters of Key West. Everyone was wearing a Spanish silver coin on a gold chain, part of the treasure that was found by Mel Fisher's crew in The Keys. Jim was a member of the crew, and found 18' of gold wedding chain. He was paid in Spanish silver coins, cool huh? Okay, everyone but me has a coin, but maybe someday. 

Heading back to the ship in Cozumel.
Our room was on the first deck, and very roomy; large bathroom, two hanging lockers, three drawers, a couch and a towel animal with two chocolates every night. The staff greeted us by name every time they saw us. and seemed genuinely glad to see us. That, or they are good actors. 

Did I have a good time? Definitely! Will I do it again? Absolutely! This was the best birthday present I have ever received. Thank you Chuck for making this a birthday I will never forget!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


I booked my flight home for Christmas, last summer to get a good rate. Luckily, my employer didn't have a problem with me taking a week off for my holiday visit. Three days before Christmas, I was soaking up rays in warm and sunny Key West. Two days before Christmas, I was freezing my butt off in West Texas. The cold dry weather irritated my nose and aging joints. It was not pleasant.  I love my family, but dang they live in harsh conditions.

We had a small gathering this year. Only two of my mother's grandkids made it down. My daughter and her family couldn't make the journey. We usually Skype with them if they cannot attend, but due to sick kids, worn out mother, and working father, it just didn't happen this year. My son hurried off to work before we thought about posing for our annual Christmas Photo. Bummer. Did he do that on purpose? He's not fond of having his photo taken.

As far as gifts go, I made out like a bandit: cool T-shirt, cool sunglasses, a beautiful bracelet, and a GoPro! Yeah, a GoPro… now you guys will have to endure… I mean, get to view… videos from another angle. How cool will that be! I have already purchased a bag for the camera and accessories, and am planning cool stuff to do with it.