Fantasy Fest, Saturday

Claire talks to everyone. Sam and I have said Claire and Diana have invisible signs on their foreheads that say, “ask me a question.” It can only be read by crazies. Think blacklight.

The information she gets is incredible. I have been there months and know just a few folks that share my interests. Claire knows all about EVERYONE the minute they arrive.

The sign has been bright in Key West, the force is strong here.  While everyone has been cool and really great, a few have just been completely off their rockers.

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Seems Key West is a natural draw for people looking to hide, escape reality, and change their life. Some change sexes, some spouses, some just change dimensions, for a minute or a lifetime. Most eventually run out of money and just slide deeper in. Most of this crowd tend to be Democrats, go figure.

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When you add the boating crowd aspect, it gets really entertaining. Boaters are at least affluent enough to have a boat, and some can even pay slip rent….

We have met some really nice people, and many have become friends we both hope to stay in touch with. Almost all of  these are Republicans, go figure.

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So it was on the dock walking back to the boat that Wednesday night that Claire is asked a question about her backpack which starts an all-girl-dock-huddle conversation, which results in an invitation for a cocktail party Thursday afternoon, where a request is made for help with a Fantasy Fest float Saturday night by a beautiful, tall, cool-drink-of-water, knockout, redhead. You can’t make this stuff up.

Before it is over we both have a budding new group of friends, and some more stories.

24 people in a 14 seat van, last ride back to marina.

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Saturday we hit both pools, walked around, and got ready for the parade.

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The parade, which had about fifty floats, starts in the back of Truman Annex, then passes near Mallory Square, turns on to Duval Street and goes the length of Duval. We walked 6.3 miles in about two hours.

I was selected with three other husbands to be in the, “Chaos Control Committee” for our float, “Marathon Airlines”. Chaos Control get the only official Fantasy Fest t-shirt. They were a hot barter item. They were lime green this year. We had a apron with pockets for our giveaways, sexy.

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Our function was to keep parade goers and float bead throwers from dashing between the truck and float, and helping the driver negotiate the couple of turns, police barricades, etc., all while walking in the exhaust of the diesel truck.

Absolute over-the-top enthusiasm from the bead throwers resulted in complete depletion of bead inventory by the halfway point, and from then on we scooped beads off the street and tossed them back.

We tossed beads, glow rope, and packaged condoms, the later of which was a futile  attempt to keep some aspects of the Fantasy Fest populace from breeding successfully.

I traded a few glow ropes for a couple of cool led lighted foam batons, and used them to hit various revelers along the way.

The batons we’re a hit. I was exposed to and offered all sizes, shapes, ages, colors, and races of the exposed female breast for a baton. Yes, really.

Before it was over I had given my glow ropes to the little children along the path, and the baton to a little girl who was tired, had no beads, and just wanted to go home. No reason to keep this stuff and take it home, it costs diamonds to see Claire’s breasts.

We did not get any really good pictures, it was dark, we we’re moving, and frankly there was too much to see. If anything I should have videoed our two dancing girls that would flash the mob during the parade. They bumped and grinded each other the entire time. Best of show hands down.

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A quick note, the police were in full force, and crowd control was absolute. We saw no one get out of line anywhere in anyway. Amazing and hats off to the cops.

So now we can say we have done it, and can relax for a couple weeks back home, leaving Choices hibernating for awhile.

 

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Fantasy Fest, Friday

Margie and Jim drove in late Thursday night. We opted to hangout for the night on the boat and call it a day.

I got them moving early Friday morning for a perfect day of snorkeling on the Sambo rocks. The reef is only four miles from our marina, roughly 30 minutes away.

Claire said the water was as clear as Bonaire, and the fish much bigger. There was only one other boat out there with us.

We stayed until lunch then came back and cleaned the boat up.

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This is the house one of the James Bond movies was filmed in. Notice the door numbers. Pretty cool, for sale at $5m.

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After lunch we could not keep the girls from hitting every damn tourist trap we passed.

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Claire wanting a picture with the big boobs.

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We had dinner at Antonio’s. Killer restaurant, top three in Key West easy. My guess is we have eaten there now 8 times in less than two weeks. Same thing almost every time, Carbonara.

After that it was time to walk Duval. They finally blocked traffic, and it was much safer. Earlier they let traffic and pedestrians walk together, so you had staggering drunks and stupid ediots speeding in trucks all together, bad combination.

Stopped for liquid courage and saw this poster. I want it or to have it reproduced for my bathroom in Lafayette.

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Fantasy Fest does not have the thugery of New Orleans Mardi Gras, nor the complete loss of civil control. It is expensive to get here and stay here, so most show a high level of decorum. We saw No Trump bashing, a welcome respite from reality.

More than half the attendees are 40 and over. Little less than half those are in some sort of costume. Many spend thousands of dollars for a different costume each night.

You must wear pasties, be painted, or covered. See through counts as covered, as does wind blown or falling out.

This gal and compadre we spotted early in the evening.

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While nudity at all levels is everywhere, most people want their pictures taken.  These are all the quiet neighbors next door.

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If I could only get Claire to smile like that…

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This guy was just hanging out enjoying the show. Loved his hair.

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Now the weekend starts…

Fantasy Fest, Saturday – Monday

This is the windy season in the Keys. Seems the average has been 20+ mph constantly.

The boat sits in her slip pulling at her lines, gently rocking and moving. Our location in the marina offers us more protection than any other slip, and we still move.

They put the big guys up front, and they take the brunt of the waves. The weather has forced many to change plans. It is rough outside, and wise to stay put and explore on foot.

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We got a one day wind break, and decided to take Claire, Mark, and Renie snorkeling. Water was 20-25′ deep.

Snorkeling Video 1

Snorkeling Video 2

Snorkeling Video 3

It was not Bonaire, Belize, or the Bahamas, but it was comparable to the Dry Tortugas. Lots of small schools of fish and Marine life. Only problem was the jelly fish we’re releasing spores, which can irritate some swimmers.

On the way out we ran over a line in the water, maybe 8′ long. Since it was black and I never saw it.

About thirty minutes of sawing with a razor knife and if was off.

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Saturday Claire and l walked through town for dinner. Here are a few businesses, with their decorations up.

This year’s theme is, “Games People Play”.

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Twister Mansion

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Monopoly Mansion

Of course the plaid party, pirate party, ABC party (anything but clothes), toga party, and white party are all still going.

Sunday morning Claire and I tried to get another snorkeling trip in, but it was a little rocky.

Jailhouse Rock Video

Sunday afternoon was the first big Fantasy Fest event, the Zombie Parade. It is a family friendly event, lots of kids.

It started around 6:30, and went to 9. We had a strategic place in the shade, sitting high on s wall. No one could block our view.

The event drew about 4500 bikers. Sorry for the poor lighting, it got dark before it was over.

Zombie Ride 1

Zombie Ride 2

Zombie Ride 3

Zombie Ride 4

Zombie Ride 5

Monday they had a pool party at the Perry Hotel / Stock Island Marina.

No videos or pictures, pretty tame, but the guy did a killer James Brown impersonation.

Monday night we got a small glimpse of what is to come. Lots of nudity, male and female. Some not so nice…

Wait For It…

There was even a pirate ship car. Not a parade float, a street legal car that he drove all over town. Extremely well done, excellent wood work, fully lit with crow’s nest and lighted rigging. Killer stereo system.

Pirate Car Video

More to come, stay tuned!

Preparing for Fantasy Fest 2018

On our bucket list is Fantasy Fest. It lasts a little over a week, during Halloween. It is not for the faint of heart.

We departed Ft Meyers Yacht Basin October 1st in 15-20 mph winds, a 2 mph tide change flushed us out, and we headed toward Marco Island basin.

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We have been here before, nothing new, spectacular sunsets. We did some recon and found a Tiki Bar to have drinks and dinner next time we stop here.

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Pulled anchor early in the morning and motored to Shark River. This time the wind blew the no-see-ums away.

Shark River FF to KW video

The first two days the wind was from onshore, so we hugged the coast to keep the wave action down.

The last day we had 4′ seas from the South, with 3′ seas from the East. We were headed almost due West- South- West. After about 4 hours the autopilot started to complain.

Once I disengaged it was easy to understand why. Pretty much 180 degree wheel swing every 10 seconds to try and hold course.

I watched with amusement as one of those 45-55′ euro boats cruised past us headed the same direction.

Incredibly he cut across the flats into Key West Channel. The water is about three feet deep, with a jetty almost submerged for about 25% of the initial length. I had almost made the same mistake last time. Can

He suddenly stopped, then after fifteen minutes he slowly started moving along the jetty. My guess is his depth meter sounded off first, or he actually ran aground. He was moving really slow.

Here is a picture of a shrimp boat that hit the end of the jetty. It was somewhat fresh when we passed, fuel was still leaking. Notice the white mark on the left hand of the picture, designating the end the jetty. We are in the channel, so he was way out, and ran straight into the jetty.

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After this the guy went to the other side of the channel and ran aground again. You can not travel down here without charts. My guess is $20k in damages, if he did not touch the hull.

The locals cut the tip, but they know the area.

We have a slip close to the bar, bathrooms, and showers. It is nice.

Here is Choices clean except for the hull staining, I had not cleaned it off yet. Hammock and fishing poles are ready.

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and here with her pajamas on.

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I am extremely claustrophobic. If I had to get into a MRI tube or die, I would write my obituary. The autopilot pump is behind the bridge helm. You basically slide open the 14″x12″ radio door, slide in, turn 90 degrees, and slide 6′ completely in. Once in there is enough room to reach forward and back for tools.

Thinking about it that night I had to get out of bed and walk around twice, it wigged me out that bad.

Next morning Claire volunteered to do it, but I had done it before, with no one around to watch, so with her there to hold my hand, I crawled in to check the pump. Yoga sure helped.

All is good, I will add a little fluid, but it is fine, just got worked really good.

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No autopilot likes a following sea. The rudder has flow from the front, then all of a suddenly the boat tries to turn from the wave, and the rudder flow stalls. This happens very quickly over and over, side to side.

The weather was overcast, and windy, so we cleaned and waxed the boat since it was cool. Little did we know a hurricane was passing into the gulf. A little preventive maintenance and we are ready for Fantasy Fest.

This big guy is in here with us. My guess a $5M rig, carbon fiber everything.

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I posted this then the infamous hurricane Michael developed. We were missed, but a couple of bands hit us. The video is of two that occurred, registering 52 knots, or about 60 mph for ten to fifteen minutes.

Hurricane Michael Video 1

Hurricane Michael Video 2

 

Hurricane Season

Just a FYI, Choices was docked in freshwater at the Ft Meyers Yacht Basin for hurricane season. We took the time to check on our houses and do some projects.

Sam rebuilt my carb for “Gomez”, the lowered 67 Chevy C10, and here it is before installation. Once it started and ran for awhile, it now runs smoother than glass. So quiet you can not hear the truck run. The old carb was for Amanda’s 292, and was too rich for the little 250.

This truck is for SALE! Actually both trucks are for sale.

Rebuilt carb, Rochester Monojet B, as technical as a soup can.

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292 carb, wow, electric choke!

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We tied up here for short trips in the area, and are headed to Key West the end of September for Fantasy Fest, Powerboat Races, and Thanksgiving.

We took a day and toured Edison’s and Ford’s homes, and Edison’s lab. Very interesting places. Did not know Edison was so in to rubber and cement. Here is one of his trees he had groves of. The hurricanes recently thinned the herd.

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Claire posing with Mina Edison in her garden.

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Not to be out done, Ft Meyers has a group of locals that come out of the woodwork to jam. Listen to the video below. I was glad to keep my distance………

Ft. Meyers Drummer Video

Ft Meyers has been a great place to hole up. Lots of night life, which ends for me at 10:00.  We have met many really nice and cool folks on the dock, passing our cards out to all. I truly think people remember the boat and Claire, not me so much, I tend to look like a local deck hand, but do clean up well. Here is Claire ready for dinner and drinks, no wonder everyone talks to her…….

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This is a burger joint and bar called , “ Ford’s”, in the Ford building. Very well done, shop rags with hose clamps for napkins,

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Tire rim sinks with gas nozzle faucets,

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an entire Model T above the bar on a grease rack, wheels turning

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Terry and Cathy Lee took us to Punta Gorda on a Sunday. The girls shopped for way too long, but we did stop at a classic car museum for some guy time. I got some shots for my files of a 1968 Chevelle SS 396, like mine but nicely restored.

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Here is mine as it is now. I have not touched it yet. Will be using “RestoRat” software to document the build (Check out their app). I use it for all the cars and boat.

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IMG_20170224_084431486.jpgWe are scheduled for a bottom job December 10th at River Forest, so December will be back in Ft Meyers. Might try a new marina if just for a change in scenery.

Before we left, Terry and Cathy Lee took us to Ft Meyers beach to listen to one hell of a singer. He has his own groupies, and these gals danced like pros.

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IMG_20180930_145620396.jpgLots of boats stop in Ft Meyers taking the channel across Florida. Here is a beauty that was being delivered.

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Cost at least twice what ours did!

The Dry Tortugas

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The Dry Tortugas are a small set of islands and sandbars at the end of the Florida Keys. They are roughly 70 miles East of Key West, and about 30 miles from Cuba, so we really needed to not miss them navigating. I did not want to go to Cuba, and Belize was a long way on the other side.

Almost an atoll,  the islands are a US National Park. The park consists of Fort Jefferson on Garden Key, a lighthouse on Laggerhead Key, Bird island, which was connected to Garden Key while we were there, and some sand islands.

You can not leave anything there. No trash, nothing, it must leave with you.

The park has a couple Porta potties, and that is it. No water, electricity, internet, cell coverage, radio, or food of any kind.

We have always said our final goal was the Tortugas, it sounded exotic, and most people don’t have a clue where it is.

The weather lined up for us, wind out of the East at 10 mph Friday, dying to 7 Saturday, 3 Sunday, then 8 out of the West Monday. So it would blow us down there then back, saving us an hour travel time.

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We provisioned and pulled the trigger. Tanks full of 200 gallons of water, 60 lbs. of ice, soft drinks, steaks, bacon, bread, etc. Ice is like gold there, we could trade it for many things.

During the trip the water went from kind of clear ten foot visibility to gin clear 40 foot. Not the Bahamas, Belize, or Bonaire, but close.

As we motored down we passed Key West again, then at 45 miles the last key, Marquesas.

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Rain squalls surrounded us, but it only sprinkled as we out ran them.

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Marquesas seems like a place explore on another trip. I can only imagine how bad the “no-see-ums” are there at night. The island has a lagoon in the center that just might be deep enough for us.

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After that, there are several places it gets shallow, around 10′, which is kind of unnerving when you are out of sight of land. Most have a mark on them to warn navigation, and are maybe a mile wide under the water. Notice the change in water color.

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As you approach you see the light house, then the fort. You must enter the channels and work your way back into the basin. All anchoring must be within one mile of the fort. The numbers are depth at low tide in feet. We need five feet or we run aground.

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Choices is anchored on the far right. The slightly brown area to the right of Choices is one foot deep. Choices was in 15 foot depth there. The little brown beach in the middle of the picture is the dinghy beach, ours is the one to the left.

The tents are for Eagle Scouts that come out here for a couple of weeks at a time. They do volunteer work around the fort, cleaning up, replacing brick, etc. Slightly out of the picture to the right is the public campgrounds, a little more private. Contract workers for the docks and major repairs also camp here or on the workboats.

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It is common to go from 30-40′ to 1-2′ deep in less than half a boat length. The bottom could be sand, coral, or rock.

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We finally launched our new dinghy. It is white Hypalon, with a soft bottom, and rolls up into a package small enough to fit into the lazarette under the back deck. We used our gin pole to lift it onto the bridge. It is comforting having it there on open passages, would be much more comfortable than floating around in a life jacket.

The dinghy has a 5 Hp, 4 stroke outboard that has a small integral tank and a large exterior tank. It is perfect for exploring.

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The wind had blown the sargassum weed into the harbor. It stinks like hell when rotting. When floating, all kinds of critters swim and hide in it. It was pretty thick until the wind blew it away.

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Fort Entrance Video

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This picture is from the top of one of the armory buildings. These are small buildings scattered along the top that housed the gunpowder and cannon shot.

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Panoramic View of Fort Video

It has three levels, a moat around it, and one small entrance.

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It was never finished, and has never fired a shot. Claire doing a readiness inspection…

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You must register to stay at the park. Here is Claire dropping off the form and our money in the box. The big ball is actually one of the bumpers for when the ferry arrives to keep it from damaging the dock, or vice-versa.

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You can ride a high speed ferry, seaplane, or private boat to the island. We have taken the plane before.

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We chose private boat. It had air conditioning, two bedrooms, bathroom, shower, full kitchen, bar, and ice.

Many come by private boat to fish, stay for a night or two and tough it. They just sleep on their boat decks, in the open, no air conditioning, and feed the local bug population. Basically they drink themselves unconscious. The really stupid ones turn all their lights on so the bugs can find them, like ringing a dinner bell….

Harbor at Night Video

Others come just to relax and get away.

Panoramic Beach Video

Claire whipped up some fine dining. We had steaks on the grill, etouffee, crawfish pot pies and everything.

The first night there we celebrated out arrival, and finished the Zafra rum bottle. Zafra is very hard to find, but hands down the best rum I have ever had.

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Sunsets were pretty spectacular, there was no pollution. At night there were only boat lights, no moon, and the stars were thick.

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We snorkeled the old docks and Claire did the moat. It was very clear and covered in coral with big tarpon patrolling it.

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The lighthouse took a beating during hurricane Harvey. Notice the boat barn building broken in half.

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Supposedly this island is owned by the Rockefellers, who lease it back to the government.

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On the way down and back we saw many sea turtles. From the bridge their brown shells are easy to spot, but they spook quickly and dive. Hard to photograph, but here is one Claire took.

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Here is a shark she got from the bridge

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Returning from Tortugas Video

Once back in Key West we refueled and cleaned the boat.

We have decided to put Choices up for sale. Our travel goals have been reached, and currently we have no new ones, that could change though.

Maybe the next posting will be the listing.

Key West

Claire and I made reservations at Stock Island Marina for the month of May.  It costs $1700 a month, not counting electricity at about $10/day.

The marina is part of the Perry Hotel, a pretty Euro – swank place, more Miami than Key West. But it has a pool, shuttle to Duval, workout facility, and fuel pumps.

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They will also let you ride a hurricane out here.

There is a lot of marina life here. The mullet schools are huge, as I show in these videos.

Mullet Video 1

Mullet Video 2

The mullet are being fed on by Tarpon. This resident is about 5′ long and 100lbs of pure fighting fish. I could almost touch him from the boat.

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There is also a very large manatee that swims near the boat.

Here is a Sea Here Claire spotted from the galley while cleaning.

Sea Hare Video

Combined with a $100 tab every time we go walking, it can get expensive, especially after three rounds……

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This weekend they had a kinetic art parade. Pretty tame by Key West standards. Each entrant’s sculpture must be human powered.

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Claire and I have not picked a time to go to the Tortugas yet. Weather is controlling that time frame.

But for now we have our car, all fluids changed on the boat, and the only thing left is to finish waxing it. Our intermittent AC problem looks to be fixed, and we are currently testing at Artic conditions. So we are chilling, waiting on Jim and Margie, for some serious 8-9pm partying…..