Winter in Key West

While folks to the north are shoveling out and looking for ways to keep warm, life is a bit more pleasant here to the south. As a first time visitor to Key West, I’m enjoying the climate and getting to know the town. It helps to have local friends as tour guides!

There may be other places with as much live music, but not much better if at all.  Add the history of this place and its unique culture, and every day offers new discoveries.  In no particular order, here’s a sampling of a few images – so far.

We are pretty far south….IMG_20131223_174724843

Looking west toward the Dry Tortugas.IMG_20140119_181513116

Really neat pocket parks.IMG_20140107_130742306_HDR

Headquarters of the Conch Republic.. IMG_20140117_092211796_HDR

Multiple live music venues – great music!

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…and Karaoke competition.IMG_20140121_201013815

and Chickens everywhere ….IMG_20131220_151418968

Race week is underway, with about 125 boats. Conditions were marginal on opening day – Monday – with winds barely over 5mph. Tuesday and though the week it looks like 15-30 for some exciting races.  See http://premiere-racing.com/QKWLive/  for pix and results.

2014 key west race week a 749January 20, 2014 Quantum Key West 2014 photographs by PhotoBoat.com

Heading to the Miami Boat Show February 12-17 to work for the Passport Yacht folks, then weighing anchor and wandering back north……..just not too fast.

Wintering in Key West

For those of us from the north, you could hardly call this winter, but that’s what the calendar says. The coldest day was last week when temps dropped into the low 60s – and we got a couple days of rain. Otherwise temps have stayed in the 70s to low 80s……..  Since arriving in mid-December, it has been great fun getting to know the town, and Key West’s unique culture.  Especially so because good friends here have been my tour guides – lots to see and do!

Otherwise known as the Conch Republic, Key West is an island town with a bit of everything for both tourists and residents.  Mobs of pelicans inhabit the town,

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And chickens are afforded protection as descendants of early Cuban fighting roosters.IMG_20131220_151418968

 More ‘wildlife’ is found at the Hemingway House in the form of numerous six-toed cats. The Hemingway House is one of the several historic locations. IMG_20140106_132339986_HDR

Hemingway wrote many of his well-known books while living there, and apparently ‘collected’ cats at the same time. Several generations later, the cats are well cared for and prowl the compound at will.

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Arriving at Christmas time provided the opportunity to see all the many spectacular decorations around town and experience some of the festivities. IMG_20131220_195554421

Good restaurants and live music abound, especially along Duval Street – tourist central. Here’s a small sample of some of the places and events I’ve enjoyed… so far. A wonderful French croissant café; the Garden Hotel jazz and wine tastings

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The Jazz Club

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 ………McConnell’s Irish pub; the Green Turtle right at the harbor where I park my dingy; Aqua Idol night club with its karaoke nights and Drag Queen shows; Salute’s restaurant for New Year’s eve with a local group of friends, then there was the New Year’s pirate drop……

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………….and live stage plays at the Waterfront and Red Barn theaters.  The annual Daschund Walk and small pocket parks add to the diversity and character of the town.

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So, what about the sailing? Well, first I’ve been kept very busy with all the activities – and what a great way to experience a new place. Second, it seems the polar vortex that blanketed much of the country with bitter cold, sent strong winds and rain this way. Winds in excess of 30kts have been frequent since I arrived – enough so that I moved Valinor into the marina for a few days to get her off the exposed mooring. One sailboat just north of here got caught in 40+kts and was blown outside the reef. The solo skipper was picked up from the sea in 10-12ft waves by the coast guard. Hopefully it is now settling down to more normal conditions in time for Race Week that begins this coming weekend.

One of the pluses of this part of the world is the many beautiful sunsets……

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