Clocking through New Year's Eve from 2020 was just strange, and we suspect that was…
When we arrived in Key West last year and discovered Stock Island Marina Village, a two-week stay turned into a two-month stay and our mantra to friends and family was, “Come visit! Stay with us – we have plenty of room!” We imagined hosting friends and family, getting the nieces and nephews and the goddaughters down here to snorkel, boat, and revel in what felt to us like the last outpost in a far-away archipelago. And, we love to host. Living on a boat for long periods of time and having a 90-pound calling card named Jasper, traveling can get complicated so we blanketed our snow-covered friends and family with invites. We had some wonderful visits, but not the parade of merry-makers we had thought or hoped we’d have.
This season has been a wee bit different. Maybe it was our write-up of the marina or all the colorful images we’d posted last year. Maybe it was that we couldn’t shut-up about languishing in the hot sun and warm breezes, harbor cruises looking for manatee, Heidi and Angie’s perfect cocktails by the poolside Salty Oyster Bar, or all the great food we had, or the lazy morning walks past crowing roosters and the kerfuffle of guinea hens.
Maybe it was the allure of being close enough to stick your toe into the celebratory chaos of Old Town Key West while keeping your bottom peacefully floating just far enough outside the fray to hear yourself exhale. Or maybe it was just the snow… but when we made the proclamation that we were coming back to our home away from home at Stock Island Marina Village and staying for a spell this winter, the pencil-us-in dates quickly began to fill our calendar.
It’s been two months since we arrived and we’ve barely scraped a week together without visitors and we’ve loved every single minute of it, from the penciled-in to the pop-overs.
We’ve also learned that OLOH can handle a full house with ease. Even the Captain’s Lounge, with its Pullman sofa and privacy curtain, became a perfect 4th stateroom and our nephew’s favorite place to “chill”!
Every new visitor to the Conch Republic usually has a “must-see” list and we knew the newbies would want to see Sunset at Mallory Square, the Southernmost Point, and Mile Marker Zero to start.
There were visits to the Hemingway House, the Maritime Museum, the Butterfly Conservatory, the Truman Little Whitehouse, breakfast at Pepe’s, cocktails at Louie’s Backyard and Hogsbreath, an obligatory piña colada or two (twist our arms) at Sloppy Joe’s and a visit to Willie T’s to listen to an excellent musician and friend of ours, Jason Lamson (who can also be seen at Sloppy Joe’s, among other Key West staples).
We had a terrific rum tasting (video to come) at The Key West Rum Distillery and an amazing night of dinner and drinks at one of the best-kept secrets in Key West, a speakeasy-style bar called Berlin’s tucked in the back of the infamous A&B Lobster House.
And countless strolls down Duval. Sound exhausting? Nothing that a respite on the top deck of OLOH couldn’t remedy with an OLOHrita or one of our favorite cold brews or a tool around the harbor on One Love.
And everyone was getting “their steps” so whatever we indulged in on our excursions were calories easily burned…at least that’s what we convinced ourselves of.
And in-between it all were reminders that we were on a boat. Which meant things were going to break. Two days before our Christmas arrivals, it was the A/C unit that cools the VIP stateroom and the mid-cabin stateroom. Mom would be in the mid-cabin and she ran cold so if it didn’t get fixed before they arrived she’d be OK. Sis and hubby were in the VIP and they ran HOT and it absolutely had to be fixed before they arrived. This was a big trip for them and getting Mom to come was no small feat – she doesn’t like to fly – and we wanted things perfect. After troubleshooting a low-pressure code we called in the experts from Mobile Marine Repair Services, they came the very next morning and surmised there was a small leak somewhere. The fix, get the pressure back up and see how long it stays there. A temporary bandaid but the A/C was back up and cooling and we found another service provider we will use again and wholeheartedly recommend.
By 11 pm, after finishing touches on decorations and monitoring the A/C, we breathed a sigh of relief and called it a night, excitedly anticipating their arrival. It was around 12 am, just as the sugar plum faeries began dancing in our heads that we were startled awake by an ear-piercing, high-pitched squeal. Had a piglet been caught by the tail? Where was I? What is going on? Bilge pump? No! Fire? No! The dreaded Carbon Monoxide alarm? YES! Shaking the faeries out of our heads we rushed down the companionway to find the detector in the mid-cabin sounding off. From experience, we know detectors can be super-sensitive but we take no chances. We reset it and waited. 10 minutes and it went off again, and then it was followed by the detector in the captain’s lounge – but the three other detectors in the near vicinity remained silent. All the doors and windows had been shut and the A/C was cooling the entire boat. There were no boats near us running their generators. We had nothing on board that could create carbon monoxide. Our house batteries had full power. We were flummoxed. We scrambled for our hand-held CO detector with its digital readout only to find it had corroded and was unusable (take the batteries out when your not using something regularly – duh). We opened the boat up to let fresh air in and then monitored the situation, resetting the detectors. To say we barely slept that night would be an understatement. At some point early in the morning, the reset monitors stopped tripping. We decided to confer with a trusted fellow boater who loaned us his battery-powered detector (thanks Jeff) and it found nothing. Everything was normal. Still, we replaced the mid-cabin unit with a new one and bought an additional portable detector.
After that, the TV satellite dish went kaput and we called in the cavalry to help us put humpty domey onto the southern sky again. That was met with only temporary success. Just recently we discovered and repaired a random, slow, fresh-water leak which left gallons of water in the engine room and we replaced the seals on our A/C strainer when we discovered during regular maintenance that it was leaking seawater into our bilge. It should be noted and not a surprise to any boat owner reading this that everything was working perfectly until the boat found out we were having guests. In fact, there’s something breaking on your boat right now.
In the midst of all of the landlubber visits we were thrilled to have a surprise visit from our dear friends on Yorel where we spent a wonderful evening. We enjoyed a lovely cocktail hour on Red Head along with the fine crew of September Song. We welcomed our great friends from last season at Stock Island who recently arrived on Chasing 80. We met the friendly crew from No Vacancy and got to get to spend some time with our new friends who are here on their beautiful floating home, Alzero.
Before our last guest headed out we took advantage of a spectacular day to take OLOH out for a Bloody Mary cruise around “The Rock.” It was the first time OLOH has left the dock since our December arrival and it reminded us of how much we thoroughly enjoy this boat.
If you’re wondering what’s next for us…you guessed it! More guests – and we can’t wait to show them our little piece of paradise. Signing off for now from the last outpost on a far-away archipelago.
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And that concludes your OLOH instructions. M/Y OLOH back to 1-6.