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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

View of Dinner Key Harbor... Sept. '88

It almost seems as if I've subconsciously come full circle back to my old sailing days when my then wife and I once cruised aboard S/V BratCat.

Coconut Grove was pretty seedy back then with but few amenities offered to cruisers. Now the harbor counts on an extensive mooring field as well as a shuttle service to deliver one to and from one's boat out in the harbor.

My most vivid memory of the Grove back then was early one evening while waiting for the crosswalk sign to change. While waiting to cross the street, a fellow suddenly appeared from out of the shadows to ask, "Yo... do you want to buy some CRaccK CoCaine?"

It goes without saying that I politely declined the offer. That was indeed somewhat of an unsettling experience and a far cry from the orderly and structured lifestyle that I had grown accustomed to when previously living in a Dallas suburb.

Present day Coconut Grove in contrast is an absolute delight. There are quite a number of sidewalk cafes, upscale restaurants with linen table cloths, jewelry & fragrance shops and the usual bar & grills for guys like me. Milling about are many European tourist just taking in the sights.

The Grove has a Rodeo Drive feel to it but on a smaller scale. It kind of reminds me of the scene out of the movie Pretty Woman with all the fancy dress shops.

S/V Blondie-Dog is presently tied off to a mooring ball not much further out than shown in the photo above.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meeting New Friends While Strolling about on South Beach...

Strolling about South Beach certainly was a lot of fun and a far cry from the usual boredom of Boot Key Harbor Marina... and while strolling about that sandy beach, I was casually asked by a young lady to lather on a good amount of tanning oil on her back and elsewhere.

It goes without saying that I was only too happy to oblige her. She even gave me her phone number so that we could hook-up later this week for an evening of Salsa dancing.

I'll be sure to call her.

Hanging Out on Miami Beach and Taking in the Sights...

Miami Beach is most certainly a cool place to hang out for an afternoon and I'd only be to happy to share some of my experiences while cruising about that place but the simple truth of the matter is that "Whatever Happens on Miami Beach, Stays on Miami Beach".

So... my sincere apologies but I won't be sharing any of my titillating experiences cruising about that beach any time soon. I will nevertheless let on that it was most certainly an enlivening afternoon.

South Beach... the Place to Be on a Bright Sunny Day...

South Beach is definitely the place to be on a bright sunny weekend day and yeah... that was me striking a pose on that beach and catching the attention of all the suntanning and scantily clad babes.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

An Unpleasant Encounter with a Fellow Boater...

Sunset Cove is as charming as it gets and the memory of my first morning at that quiet anchorage will most assuredly be forever embedded in my mind. It could just as well have been a scene right out of some long forgotten postcard with its pristine waters glistening in various bright shades of blues and greens.

Well that first morning, as previously narrated in a prior blog entry, didn't quite conclude upon me "rescuing" and taking the occupants of a capsized kayak to shore. While motoring my dinghy on back to my boat, I happened to observe another boater climbing off his boat and down into his dinghy.

The fellow wasn't all that far off so I turned and headed on over in his direction to inquire where I might later be able to go ashore and tie off my inflatable. The fellow didn't seem all that enthusiastic about responding to my questions at first but he did eventually point out a spot along the shoreline before continuing on with his task.

The public access was a narrow easement between two dockside establishments. I then thanked him and continued on my way back to my boat but not before noting that his boat was completely crapped-out and in total disrepair.

That sailing vessel if I can call it that, happened to be missing a good portion of its rigging and its sails appeared to be in tatters... not that it was any of my concern. He later explained that he didn't know how to sail and that he simply had been living aboard the boat for the past three years.

It also occurred to me that this young fellow wasn't quite right in the head and not someone that I might want to be associating with in the future. Not only that but I was immediately regretting having pointed out my boat to him at anchor on the other end of the cove.

I was somehow fearing coming back to my boat one afternoon only to find all my gear missing from aboard my boat. You could certainly say that I was sceaved out by that character.

Well I did indeed go ashore later that morning right where the fellow had indicated I'd find public access into town. I proceeded to tie my dinghy off to a mangrove branch among a few other dinghies before wading in ankle deep water onto shore.

Empty liquor bottles could be seen strewn about throughout that easement. A number of rusted out bicycles could also be seen interspersed throughout the mangroves.

It certainly wasn't a reassuring feeling to say the least insofar as security was concerned... especially since I had yet to put a lock on my outboard and had left my steel cable back aboard my boat.

A quick trek on through a neighborhood street soon led me straight into the heart of Key Largo and its busy highway. That busy highway with all its traffic was indeed in sharp contrast to the serenity of the quiet anchorage.

I then started to stroll on back to my unsecured dinghy when to my surprise I happened to meet up with the same sceavy fellow that I had briefly chatted with earlier that morning.

Together we then walked on back to the mangrove where our dinghies were tied off all the while discussing where one could refill a few water cans and while strolling back to our dinghies, the fellow would periodically take a swig from a small bottle that he had cupped in the palm of his hand.

The label on that small clear bottle was readily recognizable... inside that bottle was some of Russia's finest vodka... Stolichnaya... not that I wanted any of it.

The liver may indeed be an evil organ and indeed deserve to be punished but sipping vodka straight out of a bottle before noon is certainly taking it to an entirely different level. That most certainly was some hardcore drinking and no thanks... I believe I'll stick to just beer and wine.

Upon reaching our respective dinghies, the fellow then proceeded to inquire whether I had any spare gear aboard my boat that I might want to sell to him... and while smacking his lips after taking yet another swig of vodka, he went on to explain that he had three hundred dollars and wished to outfit a fishing boat so that he could do some shrimping at night and thereby get himself something to eat.

I in turn curtly responded that I had but a compass onboard and little else insofar as gear was concerned before motoring away back to my boat. While motoring I couldn't help but think that the dude would most certainly incur a mishap of sorts if he were to even so much as come close to my boat.

That encounter for whatever reason had me remembering of the time when I previously sailed aboard S/V BratCat some twenty-some years ago throughout the Bahamas and of hearing an incident involving some fellow cruisers.

The story has it that two local Bahamians boarded a sailing vessel late one night demanding money while one of the intruders held a potato peeler to the throat of the wife. The husband then "complied" by opening his "strong box" and then "neutralizing" the unwelcomed guests with his handgun.

The two individuals were then summarily dumped overboard. The boat's anchors were then silently pulled up in the middle of the night with the vessel then sailing directly to the American Embassy in Nassau to report the incident.

Local government authorities were then said to have summarily dismissed the incident as simply "Death By Misadventure"... something to do with old British Maritime Law and the cruisers were instructed not to worry about their experience and that they were free to go about their business.

Have I mentioned that the pristine waters off of Key Largo are an absolute delight to behold?