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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Entrance to Dinner Key Harbor, March 2011...

Dinner Key Harbor is far different than from what I remember back in 1988. The harbor back then had a ratty feel about it. In addition there also seemed to be a disconcerting number of vessels that didn't appear to be seaworthy tied off to the mangroves just offshore.

Derelicts could also be seen loitering about marina all day as well... but I should probably stop talking bad about myself.

Perhaps my recollections of the place have been somewhat distorted by a few unpleasantries from back then. In any event, I happen to like the new facilities much better now. There is even a motorized shuttle service to take one to and from one's boat if one is so inclined so long as it's between the hours of eight and five.

The marina was reconstructed after hurricane Andrew wiped everything out back in 1991 or so. That hurricane evidently wiped out all the derelicts that had been hanging out in mangroves as well.

Dinner Key Marina now sports a total of something like seventeen well constructed piers all with shore power, water, and security gates. The slips all now seem to be occupied by both motor and sailing vessels from all over the world. The monthly cost of a slip however is most certainly not within my budget.

Man, I hope I have the wherewith all not to ever become but another derelict aboard a boat...

Sailing Biscayne Bay Just for the Heck of it...

Yeah man!

I love it when steady winds fill the sails and the boat lurches forward while gently gliding across the water. It's effect on one's brain is better than any over the counter anti-depressant that I can think of.

Me thinks that I should be sailing more often...

Actual Sailing Going On for a Change...

Well... whad 'da know.... Contrary to prevailing perceptions, S/V Blondie-Dog does indeed occasionally throw off her mooring ball lines and sets sail just for the heck of it.

Note that the tall downtown Miami buildings seen in the distant background are somewhat obscured by a haze of smoke that had enveloped the city.

A lightning strike somewhere in the middle of the Everglades earlier that week had lit up a grass fire that wouldn't quit. Winds later shifted from out of the west resulting in a lot of crud blowing over the city.

Incidentally, not that it has anything to do with sailing nor that anyone gives a rat's ass, but "Clean Coal" has to be the biggest oxymoron ever contrived.

Enthusiastically Supporting my Mavs and doing very little in the way of Sailing...

Ordinarily the crystal clear blue waters of Biscayne Bay would entice any sailor to raise sails and go sailing at every turn but not in my case. Getting the boat squared away to go sailing feels like work and so for better or worse, I've had other diversions occupying my mind at the moment.

More specifically my beloved Dallas Mavericks have my full attention for the time being. So yeah, I've been busy and have somehow been transformed into no less than Mark_Cubano.

Mark_Cubano can more often than not be heard giving Spur fans some grief on their local tabloid... and no, basketball does not enlighten me as once asked by a F.O.S. wanna-be renaissance man but it certainly does indeed entertain me.

Hanging Out on Calle Ocho while Hobnobbing with the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz...

I gotta admit that I've done very little sailing lately and instead find myself wandering about Miami whether it be in BaySide, South Beach, Coconut Grove or even Little Havana.

Nevertheless it was while strolling about Little Havana the other day that I happened to have a most delightful surprise.... no less than the late renowned Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz could be heard calling out her trademark catch-phrase, "Azucar"!!.

I along with a number of her many other adoring fans immediately scrambled on over to give her a big hug.

Que en paz descanses.

Strolling Along Calle Ocho in Little Havana...

Coconut Grove does indeed have a number of upscale establishments all mostly catering to upscale European tourists... and it goes without saying that all these upscale establishments all think very highly of the services they have to offer and charge its patrons accordingly.

Calle Ocho on the other hand is but a mere three or four miles away from the Grove and can be found smack in the middle of Little Havana. This community is exclusively Hispanic and is dotted with quite a number of cafes and tobacco shops.

Calle Ocho is most certainly deserving of its iconic reputation and has a definite vibrant and boisterous feel about it. Also to be found alongside this street is a domino park complete with benches and tables. Senior and not-so-senior citizens gather here to play dominoes all day. Elderly women can also be seen playing alongside the men folk.

The clatter of dominoes can continuously be heard and later seen gleefully being slammed down upon the cement tables. This scene is almost always invariably followed by animated commentary by both spectators and players alike... all in Spanish of course. (ie: "No Seas Burro!!)

Along Calle Ocho are also a number of tobacco shops all beckoning tourists to spend both their euros and dollars on boxes of handmade cigars. The tourists all invariably arrive in large tour buses courtesy of the Cruise Lines.

These buses will suddenly pull up alongside the curb when one least expects it and unload a throng of camera wielding tourists in but an instant. It's always a mad scramble off those buses and it's best if one stays way clear of an arriving tour bus.

The tobacco shops all have an antiquated charm about them and though I am by no means a smoker, I gotta admit that it certainly was an intriguing sight to observe tobacco leaves cut and then rolled into coveted cigars. There were literally hundreds of fragrant cigars lined up against the walls and stacked all the way up to the ceiling.

Incidentally, a trip to Little Havana must include indulging in the local fare. Be sure to treat yourself to a plate of morros and cristianos and platanos maduros. The food is all good and all reasonably priced. Bring your appetite and don't even think about wanting to feed your face another fast food burger and fries while in Little Havana.

I suppose that the only missing feature of Little Havana to make it completely authentic were all those old classic Chevrolet cars still purportedly being driven throughout the streets of Havana, Cuba.