Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Fuel Dock

It's that lunch break thing, finding myself with my Bonneville downtown at 2:30 in the morning, the Bonneville purring sweetly and me not sleepy enough to want to lay down on a cot for an hour in the storeroom. So I take myself and my motorcycle down to the waterfront for the best breezes to cool the 84 degree night.

It's October and it must be cooling off Up North. I know this because a selection of northern tags is showing up on the front of vehicles around the Lower Keys. Down here in the murk of a sub tropical endless summer it remains warm and occasionally muggy despite the strong easterly breezes. Sleeping on a boat without the hatches open would be trying for me, but this Catalina 30 was buttoned up with only the companionway wide open.

I keep thinking sudden summer squalls are done but they aren't; I got drenched riding home Sunday morning as I had left my waterproofs at home and I greeted my dog, impatient on the deck, soaked from head to toe. She was hopping around like a puppy while I slowly got changed into dry clothes for her walk. Then she got even more indignant when heavy rain stopped play and we had to go home. I got wet a second time sheltering her with my umbrella as we climbed the stairs under a torrential downpour. In fact she wouldn't step out under the rain unless I offered her the cover of my umbrella. I get the feeling Cheyenne never had it so good.

In the South Atlantic and in the West Indies there is some hurricane activity which is not surprising as the season for cyclones doesn't end until November 30th when tropical waters are supposed to have cooled off a bit. However at this stage it looks more like heavy rain for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and Hispaniola but no disturbances for us. Suits me.

I like the absence of drama on still waters, no waves, no crashing surf, no white frothy spume bursting over cliffs and rocks. Limpid, mirror-like flat water suits my taste. These harbor waters are considered historic because they were once the center of trade and maritime traffic in Key West. This was part of the coastline from Mallory Square where ships dropped off their cargoes. In the 20th century Key West Bight was the place where commercial fishing boats docked. The term "bight" means an indentation in a coastline with suitable protection for anchoring. Nowadays it's a place where the leisure industry makes a living serving amateurs and party boats and sunset cruises and the like. The shrimpers are banished to the working class docks on Stock Island.

Turtle Kraals overlooks the dinghy docks where boaters park their "station wagons" that bring them to shore from their boats anchored far out in the harbor. I don't miss those days as much as you would expect. A motorcycle is more efficient and arguably more fun... The restaurant's name is derived from the delightful practice, now happily banned of storing turtles in these watery "corrals" (known in South African Afrikaans as "kraals") until they were pulled out and butchered horribly while helpless on their backs. Our ancestors were not always charming people. And why they used the term kraal instead of corral I couldn't say.

Nowadays the stores that serve the Bight sell dust catchers and more useful things like bait and bottled air for divers and all the sundries needed by temporary boaters.

The Half Shell Raw Bar much enjoyed by visitors...

...and my Triumph Bonneville much enjoyed by me.

Can't wait for my ride home. Darkness, zombie cars to pass, a happy Labrador to greet me.