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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cooking in the Galley for a Change...

It occurs to me that I seldom cook onboard the boat and I often find myself doing the expedient thing and heating up a can Hormel Chile or some such. It's either that or a can of ravioli or perhaps even a tin of tuna or the dreaded potted meat.

The best thing that can be said about the potted meat is that it is somewhat edible and comes in a tin and doesn't require any refrigeration. Other than that I'm thinking that the tinned potted meats should be consigned to my survival gear bag that I've yet to put together.

It's either that or I could perhaps use the stuff as bait in a lobster trap. Lobsters are the bottom scavengers of the ocean and love eating foul stuff and are but one or two DNA chromosomes away from making them identical to a landlubber cockroach.

Yes... the cockroach... that repulsive creepy-crawler lurking from underneath your dishwasher in the kitchen with its feelers twisting about in the air in the same manner that a lobster's feelers twist about from underneath a coral ledge.

In any event, I got this urge to cook something and happened to be craving some real food for a change so off I went to Daffy Doug's Convenience Store to make a few purchases. Daffy Doug's just recently started stocking fresh produce, canned and dry goods as well as frozen poultry and meats.

By all accounts, Daffy Doug's has been an instant success among the boaters at the marina because of its close proximity and even more importantly because of its reasonable food prices. The produce sold in the store is all locally grown in nearby Homestead.

Publix and Winn Dixie on the other hand are in obvious collusion to keep their food prices sky high. I feel totally screwed every time I go into either one of these two stores. A dinky green bell pepper should not have to cost $1.50.

Nevertheless, I loaded up my Daffy Doug's hand basket with a frozen package of chicken thighs, a bell pepper, an onion, and two potatoes but not before checking underneath the double-door freezer for any repulsive, creepy-crawlers with their feelers twisting about in the air.

I later cooked up a pot of "Fricase de Pollo", or "Chicken Fricassee" for those of you who spent all of your time goofing off in your high school Spanish class. I also cooked up a small pot of steamed white rice to go along with it.

Check out the Goya website for some relatively easy to prepare Latin American food recipes if you are so inclined and wish to eat something other than the usual burger and fries.

I'd give you the basic recipe here but I've tired of typing this stuff up at this early hour in the morning and need to check in on Hurricane Paula and see whether or not she's coming this way later on today.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Venturing Out to Old Stomping Grounds...

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It certainly is convenient having a car to get around in yet there really aren't that many places to go to other than the usual watering holes. I did nevertheless venture out to the Boot Key Harbor Dockside Bar on the other side of the harbor a week or so for a change of pace and for old times sake as well.

Yes for real.... the same dockside bar is still where it was some twenty-two years ago which my then wife and I frequented for a week or so while cruising aboard S/V BratCat. The DockSide Bar was practically the only establishment on the harbor back then that was accessible by water.

The place was but a simple open-aired Tiki Hut of sorts at the far end of the harbor and catered almost exclusively to liveaboard cruisers. The same characters could be seen day in and day out while seated in the same bar stool both mornings and evenings.

My ex and I would motor ashore in the dinghy in the mornings for coffee and breakfast and later in the evenings for a cold beverage. Seated at that bar were the same old fuddy-duddies purporting to know everything there was to know about sailing. It seemed as if they were all glued to their respective bar stools both day and night.

It occurs to me that perhaps the fuddy-duddies would never leave the bar to go aboard their boats lest they lose their spot at that bar... which begs the question, How did they all ever develop such exceptional seamanship skills in the first place when all they ever seemed to do was talk about sailing while glued to their bar stools? Goodness... I can only hope that I don't ever find my rear-end perpetually planted on a bar stool.

Anyway... the Dockside Bar has expanded quite a bit from what it was back then. There are now quite a few patio tables and chairs outside the bar as well as a covered stage of sorts for the band in the evenings. The place has a fun look about it.

The only problem is that there are few patrons willing to pay for the overly priced beverages and word has it that it's been financially run into the ground and will soon go belly-up. Oh well, not my problem.

I had but two Billy-Bud domestic beers and gasped when I got my tab. Needless to say, I haven't been back since.

Monday, October 11, 2010

"Live close by, but visit often"... another "Booty-Call, Protocol" tenant...

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I got another invitation from my friend up on Marco Island to come visit for a few days and dip my toes in her swimming pool once again. Well it certainly didn't take much arm twisting to get me to accept her gracious invitation and I was soon enough driving on up there for a most welcomed respite in a real house.

It was a joy to cook in a real kitchen and on a real stove for a change and not on some dinky propane gas burner in a galley. It was also nice to sprawl out on the sofa and watch television at my leisure and not have to share a tv in a marina lounge with some old, grizzled boater exposing a huge gut and hairy back.

(memo to self: anonymously suggest to the marina staff that a dress code be implemented while one is inside the lounge area... I'm tired of seeing old fat geezers displaying hairy armpits in a public setting.)

My visit was interspersed with a few excursions throughout Marco Island as well... these included a scenic stroll along Marco Island Beach, a site-seeing drive throughout the affluent "Estates" neighborhood, a drive out to the nearby quaint community of Goodland known as "a drinking town with a fishing problem", a visit to the new city park boating facilities on Marco Island and lastly an excursion on out to a State Park facility with an extended boardwalk above a swamp, purportedly loaded with alligators... not that I saw any.

While touring the "Estates" neighborhood, I was informed by my friend that Larry Bird happened to own a house somewhere in the neighborhood as well. I had my eyes peeled looking out for him and was hoping that we could perhaps shoot a few hoops together in his driveway. Unfortunately he was nowhere to be seen and was evidently out of town.

Buster Douglas, the fellow who knocked the crap and mouthpiece out of Iron Mike Tyson also has a house on the Island as well. Somehow I missed my invitation to hangout at his house one evening for some pizza and beer. Oh well, maybe next time.

Well all good things must eventually come to an end I was all too soon back on the road first thing Monday morning driving on down to the Keys after a good three days of house-guest loitering .

While driving, I kept thinking of my friend's succulent and delicious mangos. They were to die for. I could eat on them all day. Someday I'm gonna have to plant myself a mango tree in my back yard once I ever get off my boat.

Later that evening I called my friend to let her know that I had safely arrived in Boot Key Harbor and was back aboard my boat. I also thanked her for the wonderful time spent over the previous three days and of how she was spoiling me... to which brings me to what could arguably be described as a fundamental tenant of "Booty-Call, Protocol".

Upon thanking my friend and informing her that she was spoiling me, she gently reminded me, "Live close by, but visit often".

So there you have it... the second "Booty-Call, Protocol" tenant...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Every Marina has a Character...

If ever there was a certainty about boat marinas, it is that they can have more than their fair share of characters... and Boot Key Harbor certainly was no exception and indeed had one such character.

While seated at the marina picnic tables and idly chatting with fellow boaters about sailing and stuff, the conversation gradually shifted to a dispute among two boaters here at the marina.

At issue was one boater purportedly brandishing a handgun on more than just one occasion to another boater as he motored his dinghy on past while enroute to his own vessel in the harbor.

A legal complaint had been filed requesting that the individual purportedly displaying the weapon be expelled from the harbor and a court hearing was to be held the next day. It was anticipated that there would be a good turnout of live-a-board boaters attending the next day's court proceedings.

Vandalism had been a recent occurrence at the marina as well... slashed tires in the parking lot had been reported in addition to mishaps at the dinghy dock.

After having only recently arrived, I had no clue as to what had initiated the dispute and even less as to who might be involved. I just assumed that the fellow with the handgun was some disenfranchised and disgruntled old guy who did little more than tune into FOX Fabrication News Network every day and reiterate every moronic Glenn Beck utterance from the prior evenings' broadcast.

I was convinced of all this especially since this was the same individual who had recently been overheard boasting to some little kid that he was going to shoot the President of the United States... an incident that was immediately reported to the authorities and had the Secret Service investigating his ass in a Dick-Cheney-heartbeat moment.

(Memo to Former Vice-President Dick Cheney... Please do the world a favor and go have yourself a fatal heart-at... oh never mind... I've had a few...)

Well it turns out that the fellow was not some disenfranchised and disgruntled old guy at all but rather some privileged young kid about half my age living aboard a sizeable sailing vessel. Supposedly there were three German shepherds and three full-sized iguanas onboard as well.

It was the same guy perpetually pacing about the marina lounge with a cell phone up against his ear while loudly pretending to carry on a phone conversation with someone on the other end of the line.

It was the same guy who I happened to see up on the dinghy docks one early morning and wish a "good morning" to only to have him start carrying about whether it really was indeed a good morning or not. His diatribe gave me instant tired-head and I couldn't get away from him fast enough.

It was the same attention-deprived "mamao" constantly intruding on everyone else's personal space as they quietly sat at a marina lounge table with their laptops while lovingly responding to emails from friends and family.

It was the same "pendejo" who stealthily snuck up right behind me while I watched a random television program one afternoon only to then to hear an obsesity-inducing soda can pop open just behind an ear...

The SWoosshh sound nearly popped an ear drum but my 180 degree turning iguana-eyes immediatly activated in time to realize that inmature dumbass was right behind me. I had the presense of mind not to acknowledge the unwelcomed intrussion into my personal space so I ignored the hell out of his ass.

It was the same dumba*s that I studiously avoided every time I'd see him pacing about attempting to engage someone... and I mean just anyone in conversation.

Well the City Marina along with a number of other complainants were successful in having his ass booted out of Boot Key Harbor... (pun most certainly intended)

Police authorities along with their trained dogs could be seen the morning after the court proceedings had concluded conducting a thorough search of his vehicle out in the marina parking lot.

Dumba*s and his super-hot companion could be seen looking on from a discrete yet obviously mandated distance. It seemed as if an entire Miami-Vice SWAT team had descended upon his ass right there in the marina parking lot. The only thing missing from that search was a helicopter hovering above the scene.

A day or two later I find myself sipping on a carbonated soda, (okay, I admit to lying...) along with other patrons at a dockside bar overlooking the entrance to Boot Key Harbor. We all observe a Sea-Tow motor boat towing a sailing vessel from one marina and later on to another.

The bartender happens to recognize the sailing vessel from our lofty perch up on the dockside bar's poop-deck and comments, "He better not even think about coming here because he's not welcomed". It just so happens that she too is a live-a-board with her sailing vessel out "on a hook" in the harbor and knew all about that immature dumba*s.

(Memo to self... tune into VHF channel 68 every morning at 9 am and get clued into all the happenings going on at Boot Key Harbor.... then yet again haul ass on out of here at daybreak and set sail off somewhere... anywhere for that matter... preferably Havana.)

Super-Dork and his companion could be seen up on deck of that sailing vessel.... yeah, it's the same dumba*s "estubido" who was back once again, only this time seeking out a marina kind enough or perhaps even broke enough to allow his sorry-ass boat to tie up to one of their docks.

It turns out that Sea-Tow was carting his ass from one marina to another because his diesel engine wasn't working... it had something to do with not having "auxiliary power".

Like I mentioned earlier, every marina has their share of characters but this was one character that most everyone at that marina was happy to see his ass booted out of Boot Key Harbor.