After the “scary” night I experienced, I was up early the next morning. Walked Lily and she decided we were just going to walk. We continued this for some time without anything productive happening so went back to the room and gathered my items for the day. We headed down to the wharf, so I could see about getting a ride on the tall ship I kept reading about, the Jolly Rover II. Because it was so early, I opted for breakfast in the first place that seemed open.
We headed into the Schooner Wharf Bar and there were few people there. Because it was practically opened air and it was early, I wasn’t sure if they were actually opened. I saw someone that was near enough to the bar and had a similar shirt to another person there and asked him if they were indeed opened. He said they were and I could sit anywhere, and Lily was welcome.
We sat and were one of three people in the entire place. They brought water for Lily and she decided to stare at the chicken that was walking around within the confines of the dining area. After looking at the drink menu, I opted for a beer. It was Key West and I had been there going on my fourth day, might as well act like a local. It was a fruity beer with grapefruit and peach accents, so it seemed like a perfect thing to drink with breakfast. Adding to the liquid breakfast, I ordered a cranberry juice as well. Not really sure why at the time, but thinking about it, I guess my kidneys were calling for some attention. I got my drinks and gave the food order of shrimp Benedict. I love Key West pink shrimp.
As I waited, Lily took a liking to the pigeon that was roaming the seating area. She followed it like a hawk and barked at it. I had to bribe her to be quiet, and eventually, it flew off. While I got her attention, she sat nicely, but it turned out she was just peeing.
My meal arrived, and it was cooked perfectly. The poached egg was too runny for me but perfect for a poached egg. I had just enough seasoned potatoes to sop up the yoke that spilled all over the plate. The shrimp were sweet and flavorful.
When we were finished, I walked the wharf looking for the ship I had planned to sail on. I could not find it, but Lily was complimented, and people were shocked to see her so close to the water. I wasn’t sure if Lily would be allowed on the boat for a day trip because everything I read only mentioned being allowed on the sunset sail. After a few rounds of the wharf and not seeing the ship, I saw it was a decent time to call. Did so and got a pleasant woman that was not only friendly but helpful. She said they would allow Lily on board and that they started taking reservations at 10. I was early, but with her assistance found the location of the ship.
On the way to the schooner, I came across a man that questioned if Lily a husky. I told him she was a Malamute and he repeated that often as I passed. When we did find the ship, I waited at the dock in front of the turn off for it and was approached by the “Malamute” repeater. Discovered he was a vet and most likely homeless. He asked me if I smoked, to which I said no. Shortly after that, someone rounded the corner and answered yes to his question. They shared a light and a bud, and he told his life story to the passer. He did two tours and was in the air force. He drank a lot and was proud of the fact that he was wasted or drunk from 6 am to midnight. He seemed quite out of his mind as every time we passed him, he called out to Lily as being a Malamute and enunciated it, “MAL-a-MooT-T” with the extra T.
Lily was getting restless waiting and whiny, so I calmed her with treats, but that only worked for a few minutes. We walked around the corner and I was able to see where the stoner came from. As soon as the airman left, she calmed down. I’m not sure if it was a smell, or his attitude, but she was unnerved by him. As we waited, all sorts of people said how pretty she was, and one lady with a purple backpack stopped by and gave her some extra attention. There was a man with two small dogs that passed, and he held them close to himself to keep them from setting Lily off. It worked. She didn’t care. They got a little grumbly though.
Ten o’clock rolled around and the both was not set yet. I waited a few more minutes as I saw someone was setting the boat up. Within 15 minutes, they had the booth up and Lily and I approached the woman that had the purple backpack. Turns out she was also the person that I spoke to on the phone. She said all was fine and we were set for the day cruise. With that, I left back to the room, passing the man again, who, if ever I questioned what kind of dog I had, reminded me Lily was a “MAL-a-MooT-T.”
The sun had come out and the heat was becoming apparent. Again, it was hotter than I expected, and I was feeling uncomfortable. Lily wasn’t liking it either, and I didn’t realize how much she was trying to tell me she wasn’t feeling well earlier by acting all whiny until our walk back to the room. She got sick on the way, which I attributed to all the treats she was getting while we were at the front desk of the inn. Note to self, Greenies are not for Lily. I tried to clean the mess as best as possible, as I had an onlooker from the hotel right above me reading his morning paper. I would have picked up after her regardless but felt extra self-conscious as I was being watched. The fact that it was not solid just made it that much more of a pain to work.
We slept a bit of the morning away and as the time approached, I gathered everything I thought I needed and we headed back to the ship. At the wharf, we ran into the Vet again, and this time I walked a large circle around him to avoid hearing the call that had become as commonplace as the birds chirping.
We got to the pier a little later than I wanted to, but we were greeted by the lady with the backpack, who was happy to see Lily again, another person they were familiar with, and the captain, whose name I discovered later was Rio. Rio looked like a light-haired version of Captain Morgan, in facial hair only. All people we encounter on the pier, including people on other boats, were very happy to see Lily, and Rio assured me Lily would love the ride. I was told there was someone on board that was from Alaska and I should talk to them about my trip. We boarded the schooner and Lily fell in the process of getting on. There was a gap between the dock and the boat and she fell through. She normally didn’t have issues, but there was a lot going on as we went up. Rio caught her, and she was lifted in without much ado. I asked if they wanted to have her as a permanent mascot, and they said now.
I was told it was a small party and was shocked when I only saw a couple and the crew aboard. I was introduced to Chris, a local, and Christine, the person from Alaska. I decided to sit next to the couple, they untethered, and we were on our way. We were warned of the cannon fire that would happen at some point during the sail and told what made this ship a schooner. It had to do with the number of sails. Lily was pretty chill through some of the sailing but acted up at inappropriate times. As Rio explained the history of schooners and gave detailed info on safety, Lily needed to have the attention directed towards her, so she started barking as his spoke.
They started to put the sails up, so we could catch the awesome wind that was blowing that day. It was a perfect day for sailing. Strong, but not powerful, wind and a bit of sun. Not many clouds to fill the sky and the sails provided all the shade we needed. As Chris and Christine hoisted the sails, we were offered the opportunity to assist. I politely declined as I had Lily and figured keeping her out of the way was a more important job. The couple that sailed with eagerly helped. They wanted to sail and were very interested in how the ship worked. They planned on getting a sailboat and knew more about the process than I expected. I felt like the odd man out when it came to maritime information.
They preloaded the cannon that was onboard. We were told to cover our ears because it was extremely loud. I was given headgear, so I could cover up and hold Lily’s ears when they fired. Placing the headphones around my neck, Rio said I needed to put them on. I did so and a second later, they yelled “Fire in the hole!” I covered Lily’s ears in time but did not expect it to happen so fast. Their intended target was a docked cruise ship. As the ship was so large, we felt the sound wave reverberate back at us. It was not something I have experienced before, and it was a unique rush I don’t expect to experience that many more times in my life. As concerned about Lily as they were, she was fine and didn’t think too much of it.
Rio asked if anyone wanted pictures at the helm. I said I wasn’t interested as I had Lily and that made it difficult. He egged me on and we got Lily up there as well. One of the safety tips given was to hold on to something that was sturdy as opposed to a wire or rope, as they were all over the ship. As I got up and moved closer to the helm, the boat swayed violently enough that I needed to hold on to something and with Lily in one hand, had a bit of an issue gaining purchase. At first, I grabbed for the closest thing to me but realized that was not part of the authorized handles, so I quickly shifted my weight and hand to grab the closest bar I could grab. They saw this was an issue, as Lily was trying to also keep steady so one of the crew took her from me and I was able to get to the helm. After getting up in position, Rio took pictures and said there were a few good ones. Lily is normally not camera shy, except when the pose is important. If she is just sitting somewhere, she will gladly look at the camera and pose, but when it is a timing issue, she looks anywhere but at the camera. This was one of those times. Trusting the captain, I was happy with the pictures.
While up there, I discovered there was another, much older, couple at the back of the boat past the helm. I only saw them again, when we disembarked.
While things were calm, well the water wasn’t, I talked to Christine about Alaska. She said she always flew and never did the drive. She was excited for me. She also warned many people have visited, most have moved there. I told her that was not going to happen with me. She did mention that it was beautiful and will be a great experience. She said it was only one of the places she had lived, having lived in Peru and other places I would consider exotic. She had a good attitude about travel and life, which was, make enough to get to the next destination and work enough to live. The travel was the experience and that was what it was all about.
Chris was just as interesting, in that, she was in a magazine for being part of the crew of the Jolly Rover II when they were the first American sailing vessel to go to Havana Harbor in Cuba in 50 years. She had sailed with the Rover for some time and seemed very happy doing so. She gave recommendations to local eateries and specifically mentioned the Schooner Wharf Bar, where I went for breakfast, as having an awesome tuna nacho that was one of the best things on the island. This led to talk of food, and I was very interested. The crew mentioned local eateries having fresh catches and all of them were good. Some better than others, but if the food was fresh, it was going to be good. They mentioned the shrimpers and the shrimp boat being offshore. They mentioned sailors being long on cash, and no supplies. One person started their bar by bringing beer to the fishermen and charging them high prices for it because they had money, but no beer, and they wanted the beer and were fine with that. Said it is still like that today. Can get some good fish by going to the wharf and a six-pack and make a trade.
During the trip, they had snacks of crackers, cheese, apples, and something else. Knowing Lily liked apples and cheese, I asked for some for her, none for me. She was very friendly to Chris after that. She gave both of the ladies hugs because she is a flirt for food and they fell for it.
Rio mentioned they had a blunderbuss in the hull. I was interested, but because of Lily, couldn’t do too much. The male of the younger couple brought it up on Rio’s request and he gave a story about it. They then posed with him at the helm. He then mentioned that the cannon they fired earlier was one of several they had on board, but that specific one was a replica of one of the ones on the Atocha, the ship recovered by Mel Fisher.
As we headed back to port, Lily got ornerier. We were sitting on the side of the boat in the shade and I was loving it as it was nice and cool. Everyone else was complaining how cold it was. Christine even put on a coat. I grabbed Lily and we went to the sunny side and she perked up a bit. I realized she might be getting thirsty, so I asked for one of the complimentary bottles of water and pulled out her folding bowl. She started to drink and calm down some more. While I was watching her, they moved the riggings and her poop bags fell out of the pocket on her leash. As they rolled on deck and got in the way of the crew, I was able to get everything under control, but not without a bit of egg on my face.
They loaded up the cannon again, and this time we were on the same side. I got my headgear and covered Lily’s ears. Because we were closer, she was a bit more startled, but still handled it like a trooper. I think the next incident might be an issue for her, but as that was the last one on this ship, we were in the clear.
One of the discussions we had while on board was about the hurricane last year. It seemed to have ruined the economy in a way I didn’t consider. All the news outlets only showed the destruction, but the lower Keys were fine. They still had people there and the place was mainly intact. Because they kept showing the destruction on the news, people think they are not operating. Rio mentioned the boat he lived on for five years being blown to another location, and him having to move, but the mainland was intact, except for the lower tourist numbers. He said they were running a two for one deal and they still couldn’t get people on the boat. Normally the cruise we were on would have been packed. Visit the Key, they need the visitors and it was fun.
When we returned to dock, I dropped a tip in the hat, which I noticed Rio cover. I’m used to venues that do tipping like that, but they don’t often hide the opening. I’m not sure how I feel about that as it could be, so they can’t see how much I put in in a positive or negative way. I enjoyed myself and put as much cash as I had with me in, but I don’t carry much cash often.
Lily and I returned to the wharf and then to the room to gather more cash for that evening’s festivities at Mallory Square.