Mar 222014

It’s been almost three years since I achieve my lifelong dream of moving to and living in Key West. I pretty much knew what to expect when I moved down here and the island has lived up to my expectations. I knew of the costs, the tourists, and the difficulties and was able to take it all in stride. I was pleasantly surprised by just how nice the weather and water was, and that I have, at least to some extent been able to fend for myself. But there has been one aspect of island life I did not expect and it has put a major damper on my enjoyment of living here. No, not the toilet nor internet issue, it’s been the difficulty in finding a comfortable and hassle free place to live.

So far I have lived in two places, both marinas on Stock Island. And both places have proved to be less than happy, smiley, accommodations. The first was the apartment I rented over at Stock Island Marina Village. It was a one room ground floor next door to the laundry. A big mistake but I paid more attention to the price rather than the noise. The toilet and showers were shared, a situation which I am beginning to hate. The place was noisy, neighbors always fighting, playing loud music, and occasionally banging on my door. But what really made things bad was the fat, obnoxious marina manager. He had a condescending attitude and an air of superiority about him that rubbed me the wrong way. I made a point of always paying my rent on time and same with the electric but that seemed to make no difference. The tenants were scum and all that counted was the money. When I got word that the building was to be torn down and we had two months to leave, I found the boat at the other marina and got out. When I left, I didn’t clean the apartment to the standards of said fat manager who wanted to keep my security deposit. It was all I could do to hold my temper as I explained that said apartment would not exist in a few more weeks. I got the deposit back but that son of bitch really pissed me off.

The next place is where I currently reside and if you have been reading the Fritter you know about what has been happening over the past year. Things came to a head recently between me and the marina manager. He is a skinny, obnoxious man with a condescending attitude and an air of superiority, who has a nasty habit of giving evasive answers to any questions, flat out lies about others, and has come real close to getting that smug smirk of his slapped across the room. Any inquiry to this weaselly prick is like a game show. You have to pry answers out of him and even then, they are misleading, downright false, and insulting. But then, it’s not hard to figger out who is pulling the strings there.

Couple all that with the change of ownership of the marina, a hostile change of attitude by the land based HOA, and unexpected little things like $125 a month for the, “privilege” of taking a shower or using the laundry and living on a sailboat in Key West has been less than desirable. In addition, I’ve got a few neighbors who don’t seem to appreciate others feelings when it comes to things like loud music, or trash on the docks. It wears on you after a while.

The entire experience of the past year in particular, and the three years total has really set me back. I was not expecting to move onto a boat and live aboard again but when I got the Spirit, I figgered, what the hell, it’s simple, easy, and should be enjoyable. And it would be, were it not for the issues of the marina and staff. I decided it was time to get the hell out of the marina of bovine fecal matter for real just a month or two ago. Things continue to deteriorate and I see nothing but trouble ahead if I stay. The really sad part is things got so bad I started looking to sell the boat and find a place on land, even if it meant giving up the dream and moving back up the islands to Marathon. But, I am cautiously optimistic.

I went to the other marina that I have been looking at and this week secured a slip that I can move to at the end of the month. It’s a marina that I have almost moved to several times in the past, and at first glance appears to be well worth it. It’s clean, seems to be quiet, and has all the amenities one would expect, and no extra charge for a shower.

It is on the gulf side of Stock Island and officially in the Key West city district, which I understand all of Stock Island north of US 1 is. This will be a refreshing change given I have lived on the southeast side of the island all this time and it is not the best of neighborhoods. And that is saying a lot if you have ever been to Stock Island. Trashy, high crime, and noisy down there.

That’s not to say it’s all beer and skittles at the new place. The jail, sheriff dept., and homeless shelter are next door. If I want to go out to open water it’s a bit of a sail just to do so. But the marina is well situated in a cozy little back bay and secure from the constant winds that come off the water. It will be a good place to be in a storm.

The other upside is the marina manager. A female this time and she assured me that she would be honest and up front with me anytime I had questions. Time will tell but she seems like a nice person. I have heard nothing bad about this marina other than one current neighbor who moved there and then came back. But I suspect it was more the neighbor than the marina that was the problem. So, I am cautiously optimistic.

I am now preparing the Spirit for the move. I got the motor out and running. I’m doing some other clean up and later next week I will drop the mast down. The reason is there are two ways I can get to the marina from this side. I can go all the way around Key West along the south side up the channel beside Mallory Square, through the cut at Fleming, past the mooring field and Sigsbee point, a distance of about 15 to 20 miles, or drop the mast, and go straight up Cow Key channel, out of the winds, under the bridge at US 1 and into the marina. About 3 or 4 miles.

Given that I am unsure how well the engine will hold up in the salt, since it is a fresh water engine, and with the winds, currents, and heavy boat traffic in the channel, going the short way seems to be the smart way to go. Plus I have people along the way, so should something happen I can get help. Not that I expect anything.

As to which day I move depends on weather. I will have three or four days from Sat. through Tues. to go and we do have a front coming on Friday. If winds die down by Sunday I can go.

Getting the slip has been very easy, almost too easy and I am expecting the other foot to fall and something happen that I can’t move in. It’s just my nature based on past experiences. But I leave this shithole at the end of the month, no matter what. If it means anchor off for awhile so be it. But I will get out of here.

As things move along I’ll post about it and if all goes well, by the beginning of April, I will be in new digs and things will begin to improve. However, I’ve decided that this will be the last marina. If things don’t work out here and this new place winds up being like the others, then that will be it for boat living. I’m getting too old and tired to put up with the bullshit. All I ask is for a quiet, affordable slip to tie up to where I can live and work in peace on the island that I’ve always wanted to live on.

I’m cautiously optimistic.

Capt. Fritter

  3 Responses to “Living Aboard: Cautiously Optimistic…”

  1. fingers crossed for you capt!
    it sounds exciting.
    but you know me.
    i like to move!

  2. I’m going to be less cautious in my optimism–it will be wonderful! I’m so glad you are finally ready to make this move.

  3. Great deal! You should love it there! I’ll be there in about a month in a half to visit, so if you haven’t moved the boat over by that time I could help out.