Oct 042013

A few interesting tidbits from the rock this week starting with one of those election thingies.

There was a local election, you know, that thing where citizens cast votes for people to run things, so they have someone to blame when said people screw things up.  I’m no longer a part of the process, but it was interesting to see how things turned out for one particular issue.

There was a referendum on the ballot that if passed, would allow the City Council to throw a hint at the Army Corps of Engineers, that maybe, just maybe, if they were nice and showed a little lovin’ to the City, they would be allowed to examine the feasibility of possibly doing a study to see if any, minor as they are sure it will be, any damage might result to the reef and sea floor in the marine sanctuary if said seafloor was dug up another 450′ so bigger and more better cruise ships could fit into our tight little channel and ejaculate more tourists onto our fair island.  Because those $5 t-shirts don’t sell themselves you know.

There was a massive campaign by the Chamber of Commerce of the City, and the cruise ship industry, and others with a monetary stake in this issue to downplay the effects said dredging would have on said reef.  One moron even suggested that all the silt stirred up by the cruise ships actually helps the reef.  But, the forces of good ran a very effective campaign against the dredging study and the referendum was soundly thrashed on Tuesday by a 3 to 1 margin.  So for now, no study, no dredging…..for now.

This issue is not dead, only delayed.  The cruise ship industry, the idiots who run the C of C, and any tour guide company who has a contract with the cruise industry to provide activities for the hoards of cheap tourists who march off these monstrosities of the sea, are not going to stand by and let a little thing like the will of the people stand in the way of more profits.

The cruise ship industry will threaten to divert all their ships away from Key West now.  Havana will be the new hot spot.  There will be great anguish amongst the island folk.  “What will we do without the cruise ship industry?”, they will howl.  Economic chaos will erupt.

The Chamber of Commerce, who would never say a negative thing about anything that might dissuade any tourist from coming here, will gnash their teeth and rend their garments to the membership.  “Your business will suffer without these cruise ships.  They are vital to the island economy!”.

The big activity companies, the national chains who run those godawful trolley’s, trains, and cattle boats, will threaten to lay off employees, and close down operations if their precious cruise passengers don’t come here.

And then somehow, someway, in a back ended type of move, lo and behold, a study will be made, and the dredging will be declared ok, and the reef and sea bottom will be ripped up, and even larger ships will begin coming to the island.  It’s gonna happen, no matter how the people voted.  It’s just gonna take longer.

You know my feelings on this.  Get rid of all the cruise ships.  The only ships that should be allowed up that channel are naval vessels and anything with a sail.  The cruise ships don’t do shit for the average business owner or resident in Key West.

If you want to get any of the cruise passengers to partake of what ever it is you are selling, you either have to be located within the first few blocks of the docks, or have a contract with the cruise lines.  These contracts usually involve something like a coupon or discount included with the cruise price so when the tourist exits the ship, they are whisked away to some structured, guided activity.  It’s all very orderly, with no variation.  A quick ride around the island on the trolley or train.  Perhaps a bike tour down Duval to the Southernmost point.  A quick walking tour…stay in line, don’t deviate.  The passengers don’t see anymore of Key West than the ugly touristy things.  The t-shirts on Duval, the scripted narration by the trolley driver, and they don’t go near any bars or restaurants since food and drink is included on the cruise.  Grab a quick $5 t-shirt to bring back, and it’s back on the boat and off to the next port of call.  I can’t think of any more hideous way to waste a vacation other than maybe spending a week at rat world in Orlando.

So those companies who have these contracts, stand to make, and lose a lot of money, depending on how many passengers come in on these “boats”.  About 800,000 last year if memory serves.  For everyone else, the ships and their passengers are meaningless.  They crowd the downtown area, the boats block the view, and even without the dredging, they are silting up the channel.

I say, let ’em go.  Let them go to Havana or Cozumel or the Bahamas.  They can have them.  Let the big corporate tour operations pack up and go someplace else.  Good riddance.  But it ain’t gonna happen.  As with anything, when the minority controls the money, what the majority thinks don’t matter.  Expect to see dredging to happen sometime down the road.  It’s inevitable.  All this election did was delay it.

So, off to other things of a little more local variety.

The bathhouse here at the marina of doom is now on lockdown.  You need your special id card to access the toilets, showers, and laundry.  It all seems to work so far.  I am curious though, since it does require electricity to run, what happens when the power goes out?  Can’t wait to see.

Over at the office, the girl, Kris, who did such a nice job of handling the bookkeeping and billing for the home owners association is gone.  Replaced by a lackey who works for he who shall not be named.  I forget her name but I remember hearing that she answers to “Bitch”.  From what I have heard she is a real nasty person with a hatred for boaters.  She is not to be trusted and has a personality similar to that of scraping finger nails on chalkboard.  Can’t wait to have a run in with her.  It would explain why the office now smells vaguely of sulphur and brimstone, and would also explain the flying monkeys circling overhead.

Kris, by the way, a Captain in her own right and lives on a boat, operates a really cool candle company, KonchKandles.  Check out her wares online and tell her you heard about her from the Fritter.

I also talked to one of the office employees at the marina where I would like to move to.  She gave me some very positive news.  Seems that even in winter, there are slips available so if I were to plan a move later on, it could happen.  Slip prices would be in line with what I am paying now.  It just gives me more incentive to get this boat done and git outta here.

I did go do some price shopping at the West Marine the other day to try and get a more firm idea of what all this will cost.  Rough estimates come in around $1300 not counting the paint and haul out.  That is at straight retail not taking into account things like sales, discounts, finding something used elsewhere, and any extra peripherals.  But it is in line with what I expected to spend.

I have the possibility of another web project coming up and if that happens it will be very tempting to go for broke and get everything done aside from the haul out and hope more money comes in to cover the regular bills.  I have to be careful not to wind up spending too much and not being able to handle other things, but it’s all so damn close.   I will be so much happier once I am out of this situation.

All in due time.

Capt. Fritter