Breast Milk Crepes

As we left our home and friends embarking on this journey, we invited everyone to come and visit, whenever they want to and whenever they can. And we are hoping to see you guys all, sooner or later, in some beautiful part of the world.

The first to visit were Kotze and Desi, our Bulgarian friends who we first met in Saint Petersburg Florida a few months ago. The visit was short, only three days, but full of fun and emotions.

Kotze and Desi aboard Fata Morgana at Sand Key, Florida

Kotze and Desi aboard Fata Morgana at Sand Key, Florida

 

We sailed to the Marquesas, we snorkelled in the reefs, we fished and we grilled our catch on the BBQ, we saw dolphins, sunsets, mysterious things glowing green in the dark waters at night, and skies filled with stars. It was truly beautiful.

Kotze and Desi snorkelling at Sand Key

Kotze and Desi snorkelling at Sand Key

But for me, personally, the highlight of the visit were the pancakes.

You see, Kotze and Desi have two daughters, Dahlia who is 6 and Lilly, who is barely 8 months old. The girls didn’t come this time, they stayed home with their grandparents. But Desi, who is still breastfeeding little Lilly, had to collect the breast milk every day. You see, the breasts cannot take a vacation, cannot just stop producing milk for a couple of days, so the milk keeps flowing even when the baby is not around.

Desi's breast milk

Desi’s breast milk

Us, on the other hand, don’t often buy milk, and so milk on the boat is a sort of a rare commodity. And so, I carefully took Desi’s breast milk, added a couple of eggs and some flower and I made crepes! Maya was a bit shocked at first, but when she tried them decided that these are the best crepes ever. Viktor ate a whole bunch, and we all followed, and yes, these were the best crepes ever!

And if you react like most people, shocked or disgusted, think about it! Why not? How much more natural, organic, whole, milk can get? If a baby can drink it, why can’t we?

Thank you Desi!

Desi and Maya eating breast milk crepes. Yum!

Desi and Maya eating breast milk crepes.
Yum!

And thank you guys for the wonderful visit! We can’t wait for the next time, and bring the girls too!

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Boat Punk Mash-Up

The following is a collage of recorded conversations and personal written reflections, and an attempt to reveal (maybe this is not the right word) who, what, why, when, and how of the relatively recent Boat Punk phenomenon. These are the stories and thoughts of Rebecca, Cherri, Ryan, Tyler, Tony, and Stacie: the Boat Punks in Key West, mashed up in one piece. I collected their written and oral accounts and took the liberty and huge responsibility to slice the individual stories and collage them in a way to create a collective piece that would pertain to the entire gang, a piece all can relate to. Even though I have been very careful, individual passages have been taken out of context to produce a somewhat universal but nevertheless altered meaning. 

–Mira

BOAT PUNK MASH UP

by Rebecca, Cherri, Ryan, Stacie, Tony, and Tyler

 

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Met up with friends Sunday and hatched those rafting plans I mentioned with a couple close friends over drinks that very night. Yesterday we visited some places and found beginning flotation and building supplies, and today I found a place next to a boat ramp where we can build and launch the framework for free!

You can call me a boat punk and I can tell you what I’m thinking right now.  

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As I write this, I’m sitting in the cockpit of my private yacht, my own personal ship, floating in a sea of turquoise, beneath a sky of stars. 

The process of transferring our hopes and dreams, our whispered fantasies, from the realm of the imagined and intangible to the concrete and lickable world of truth is one of the most fascinating processes available to the human experience, in my perception. The amount of roadblocks, obstacles and governors we place between our dreams and our realities is another concept I have been masticating for months. From what I can see, from my frontal lobe experience, it is possible to achieve your dreams. I just did it.

I have an oven to bake bread in; I have a cooler to keep beer cold, a liquor shelf, and a toilet. I have a bed (10 of them in fact). I have the table I’m sitting at with a computer plugged in and hot coffee at my side.  I have a fishing pole and a small BBQ that I can use at the same time while listening to my favorite music.  I have a library and a bike shop, and a backyard fenced in by over a million miles of coast line where my neighbors are interesting and the crime rate is almost nonexistent.  I have a wall to hang art and another to hang my hat.  And all this for the arguable sum of nothing.

I realized I didn’t want to live like normal people when I was a little kid.

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I had so many questions. I went to Sunday School. I had to read the bible, but I didn’t understand. I wanted to ask questions. How did this happen? How did that happen? They couldn’t answer my questions! Like the Noah’s Ark thing, that was a huge deal. They were teaching me Lord of the Rings type of stuff and I wanted to know like how the fuck this magic shit happen? They couldn’t answer me! They couldn’t answer me! And even when I was 6 years old I could still put two and two together. You got two animals of each on the arch. Forty days and forty nights, all you gonna have left at the end is lions and tigers. And also there is like you know one hundred thousand different kinds of ants and they live communally… That just doesn’t work! It’s fake, it’s thought to kids, it’s fucking…you know…and don’t bring up dinosaurs. So I got kicked out of Sunday school for not asking the right questions. And my parents were very, very upset.

There is an unrest forming, a casually brewing system of frustration, present amongst many of the finest people I have the joy of being connected to in my life. It is a storm of confusion, of anger and resentment, for the prevailing public standard in America. For the way many people raise their children, for the fog that exists in the minds and the eyes of the tourists we see bumbling through the streets on a daily basis, for the midwesterners drowning in our seas because, at the age of forty, they have never swam in the ocean, for the boy scouts who come to our schooner’s to learn of the sea who’s hands are lilly soft, for the mothers in the parks who warn their children of the inherent dangers of the sand beneath their child’s feet at the playground, frantically dressing them with fresh, thick socks, a filter for the evils of dirt and potential pain, for the war veterans we take into our homes to avoid their slow death on the sidewalks of our finest cities and the dreamy teenagers who volunteer on our properties, lacking the taught skills or motivation to wield a hammer or drive a plow, entrenched in their personal sagas, lost in a dreamland of television, nutritionally defunct meals, apathy, fear and misplaced ideals. 

It’s all very interesting.

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When I was in high school I said I wanted to be an ex-patriot as I grow up. I got suspended for three days.

When I was in high school I was an outcast. My neighbors were my only friends. They were much older than me and they were Punks. They were the only friends I had. They would take me to Punk shows. It was the only time I felt cool, it was the only time I felt accepted. I was fortunate enough to have this outlet because I didn’t fit in the school at all. So I started going to Punk shows. And I realized: Punk music caries a message. I got the message. 

It’s so strange…even some of my earliest memories were listening to music. I remember sitting in the driveway, someone working on their car, listening to music. And I was listening to the lyrics of the music realizing that they are saying something. And just like that, the whole discovery. Wow! Tripped me out, dude. This one memory I’m saying, the song was I can see for miles and miles by The Who, an old classic rock. Then I kind of looked out and I was sort of like, Wait, I could see for miles and miles too! It was like a weird revelation.

In my personal realm, I am on the reaping end of a dream I have been sowing for months. Post the „completion“ of a nearly eight month long, filth infested restoration of the boat on which I now rest, write and create art, I’m reflecting on a process that reminded me of the values I intend to place upon my own life and instilled in me a brand of astonishment that is reserved for the people who have a vision and possess the fortitude, both mentally and physically, to apply the strength, dedication and patience necessary to reap fruition in a tangible sense.

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I got a skateboard as a kid. That was really sort of cutting edge back then. Now every kid has a skateboard but back then not a lot of people had a skateboard. And, you know, getting into skateboarding writing graffiti, hanging out with punk kids and stuff, I started getting into Punk Rock. And I started listening to this old Sex Pistols type of Punk Rock and stuff. It was cool ‘cause you could say SEX pistols without getting in trouble. I was about 9 or 10.

Then there was this alternative college radio station It was on the Fridays nights and it would go till like 4 in the morning and it was called the bottom 40. They would play mostly Punk music and shit like hat. I remember staying up listening to songs and I would record some things. I always wanted shit that was fast, I needed something Punk but fast and they played this Bad Brain song and that fucking changed my life, it was fast as fuck, the fastest music I ever heard, dude. That was my influence right there.

At that point I kind of knew what anarchy was just being a skater, there were anarchy signs on everything. And when you research the bands and learn where they come from really influences you.

Ryan

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I suppose though I’m unsure whether I fit into the [Boat Punk] piece, as I’m at most a fringe-boat punker–there because of the situation. Many would never consider me ‘punk’. I never wore the right studded pants or collected the right audio cassettes. For me punk meant screwing the normal assumptions, roles, and attitudes pushed upon us by society. It meant doing something different and working, in whatever small way, for a world that could be something different. The people I think of as punk are radically different from what most might visually and aesthetically think of as punk. While part of me was on Rocksteady because of Tyler, another part was there because I believed in a boat that offered inspiration and a website (www.boatpunk.com) that offered collaboration.

Punk is no more an expression of freedom as claiming a national or spiritual identity.  It’s common to point out all the black cloths and tattoos and the shinny things in the face.  It may be true that we all look the same, which is a two way street that, in my mind, is just a wash at best. Probably like cowboys, businessmen and gangsta’s, the dress and hangout spots filter out people with strongly opposing characteristic values.  I’v never been to prison but I don’t imagine on the first day you walk around introducing yourself to every single person you see and discuss the potential benefits of acquaintanceship. If I had a swastika on my face I think I would try to get to that side of the room as quickly as I could.  On one hand a marked punk can walk into any city in the world, find the other punks and be in good hands, on the other hand I’ve been cornered by some jock who has me totally confused with some other black shirt tattooed kid that threw a bottle at him the night before. Or upon walking into a store for the first time in my life only to have some manager escort me out reminding me that just last week I had been banished for life.  And I know there are people out there who have paid heavily for my own shenanigans. Like I said the looks part is a wash.  Below and within that, however, exists camaraderie in a community that is strong and free.  Though widely varying philosophies and practices surface, networking and moral support persevere in creating a bond of unity where d.i.y. (do-it-yourself) becomes d.i.t. (do-it-together).   

Community is: everybody takes care of each other. And it’s really important. It’s kind of like here, you know. If you guys need anything you call us, or we hail you guys. Like if we need a dinghy ride. Everybody working together to create a community.

I lived in the Slabs for 14 months and I made moccasins. I made a little community camp, and did little acoustic night and all this shit. And that’s what I did.

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I was dating a girl at a time and she lived in LA and she took me to Slab City. We just stayed for like a weekend. But I felt in love with the place. And I didn’t go back till 6 years later. I was touring with a Punk band and all this stuff, so…but in the back of my mind I knew the band wasn’t gonna last forever and I knew I didn’t want to work, pay rent: I didn’t want to do all that stuff, you know what I mean, it just didn’t feel right to me. So after the band broke off I went to Slab City. And Slab City is a giant community in the very essence of the word. In the Slabs there’s gardens, and there’s libraries, music and arts and everything, and you don’t get this anywhere else. There is for sure a dark side to it. The thing about the Slabs is, you either want to live there or you have to.  Because, you know, some people have no place else where to go. Whether they have a warrant or they are running from the law or whatever. So it’s like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. All these crazy people. I’ve seen giant mansions made out of trash. I mean, nicer than any Hilton that you can stay in. Some of these people have been there for 40 years. Oh my god, I met so many cool people there: Builder Bill, New York Mike… I want to go back, I miss it right now…

And then I got this idea to buy a sailboat and I did that. I got the idea because of this documentary called Hold Fast. It was this punk guy and two girls, they bought this boat and filmed their experience. Kind of crappy filming but super awesome. Full inspiration. And I was in the Slabs. I was gonna stay there but I decided I still had some adventure left in me. So I watched this documentary and it just filled me with zeal. And I was just like Fuck this. I got out of the desert and I got me a sailboat. From the desert to the ocean.

I tried living on land and I hated it; it’s very expensive. So I ended up buying my own boat which was the most exciting day of my life. I know she doesn’t look much to anybody else but me but I think she is beautiful. So that’s how I ended up down here. It’s been quite the adventure for sure. A learning experience. I was really scared at first. Now I am completely comfortable.

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I always wanted a home for myself. But I am a traveler. A house, you always have to go back to. So, I figured a boat will be perfect. I am almost turning 40 and finally have a home of my own. A home I can travel with anywhere in the world. I really like the freedom of it, travelling, and self-sufficiency. Plus, it is free to travel using the elements. And that is amazing for me. Humans have been doing this for centuries and we lost it.

I believe it is important to live a life intimately connected to the rhythms of the natural world–one who’s daily processes are affected by earthbound realities like wind, rain and tide. The loss of connection to the natural world is destroying our humanity.

I like being immersed in science and facing the challenge of adapting to it by way of education and experiment.  I like being reminded that being human is nothing in comparison to nature as a whole and that an interest in self preservation is nothing more than that.  I like living almost off grid and only very near an overly structured society.  I like seeing the fruits of my labor very directly providing a sustainable freedom of travel.  I like the gleam of wanderlust in the eye’s of the dreamers.    

I think the most important thing we can continue to do is act on our wildest dreams. To stay true to ourselves and our intentions. To laugh loudly and create blindly. It is a fucked up global situation. We’ve made some pretty big mistakes, as a species, and I wouldn’t be surprised if momma Earth decides any moment now she’d like to wipe the slate clean and start again. I’m easily convinced of this potentiality every time I saunter down Duval Street and watch a fraternity boy in American flag print swimming trunks chuck a full can of beer across the street at noon on the 3rd of July, drunkenly screaming „YOLO!!“ and then pointing a series of gyrating pelvic thrusts in the direction of the guy he just creamed, who is now crying. Or many of the more subtle examples of mistreatment that you can see every day if you chose to seek them out. What, exactly, defines our culture’s definition of „crazy?“ 

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The other day, I got these worms, I call them burn worms. I thought they’d be great bait. Got them under the rocks. Giant worms! And I grabbed them and they burned the shit on my hands. So I looked them up online and they are called bearded fire worms. Here you go, there is the name!

I love critters, I love nature, I love checking all that shit out. I think it’s really important that everybody knows about how everything lives and its little spot in the environment, and how little it takes to destroy it…But people are ignoring that. I try not to get depressed about it…

Still, a lot of kids are getting around now, caring about the environment and all that stuff. I think that it’s really good for the kids to know ‘cus if they all band together can get pretty cool. When I was a kid I felt I could do more about it, but there is not much you can do as a single person, you can just do your part… As I get older I’m getting a little more bitter and angrier about it. I think animals are more important than people. But I think it’s up to people to protect them.

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Personally, I am reacting to my own disgust by concentrating on building a life for myself that I believe in, the type of life that, if more people chose, would generate a better world. I have only been back on the water for a week–a week that has rekindled truths I am, personally, consistently guilty of forgetting about. It has been a wild week–consistent high winds with numerous passing gales possessive of headwinds over 30 knots, some gusting upwards of fifty. She has not been a particularly gentle teacher, aside from when I float in her relatively still waters during a warm tropical rain, an hour of respite between the winds. These are the lessons the sea taught me this week:

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(the end)

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The Wreckers

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The Wreckers by Rush

 

The breakers roar
On an unseen shore
In the teeth of a hurricane
Oh, we struggle in vain
A hellish night
A ghostly light
Appears through the driving rain
Salvation in a human chain
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All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary
Of a miracle too good to be true
All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary
Everything in life you thought you knew
All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary
‘Cause sometimes the target is you
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Driven to ground
With a helpful sound
Drowned by the cheer from the shore
Oh, we wonder what for
The people swarm
Through the darkening storm
Gather everything they can score
‘Til their backs won’t bear any more
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All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary
Of a miracle too good to be true
All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary
Everything in life you thought you knew
All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary
Of a miracle too good to be true
All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary
‘Cause sometimes the target is you
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Key West’s Geology

Lying in shallow tropical seas, a long and disordered chain of islands, the Florida Keys, stretches between the southernmost point of Florida’s mainland and Dry Tortugas. Alongside, submerged in turquoise waters and hidden from view, run the corral reefs: a 200 miles (320 kilometres) of underwater wilderness just a few feet bellow the surface. Beyond the reefs, a busy ocean highway flows, a major shipping route: The Gulf Stream.

How many absent-minded ships carried by winds and powerful currents have diverted from their route in the uncertainness of night to slit their bellies open upon the shallow  underwaters? Countless.

For them- disaster.

For local wreckers- booty.

A Short History of Key Wet’s Wreckers

It’s been going on for centuries, since ships started sailing in these waters: a wreck per week. For centuries, rootless islanders have been awaiting  unaware vessels to run aground, sometimes luring them towards the shallows with deceiving lights.

When an elephant falls, a hundred hyenas rush to the carcass,devour it, fight for a chunk.

The wreckers would anchor behind mangrove islands at night and patrol the dangerous waters during the day looking for stranded vessels to pillage. The first wrecking captain to reach a crushed ship would became the wreck master. He would employ as many wreckers as he needed to help salvage the ship, and direct the whole operation.

The salvaged cargo and the ship, if it could be saved, were taken to Key West where they were appraised or auctioned. The wrecking vessels and crews that participated in the operations would then be awarded a share of the salvage value. Half of the salvage award went to the owners of the wrecking vessels, divided among the boats on a tonnage basis. The other half went to the wrecker crews, proportional to the number of crewmen on each vessel.

Thus, by the mid 19 century wrecking, regulated, became one of the main industries in the region, along with piracy, drug trafficking, smuggling, and other shady activities.

Recent Wrecking Events

Tyler calls on the VHF and tells us of a recent wreck. A sailboat has ran aground and has been abandoned. What exactly has happened and why is a mystery. So are the identity and the whereabouts of the boat’s owner. We decide to go check it out.

The wreck is near Stock Island, a few miles away from our anchorage, and we get there sailing aboard Fata Morgana in a couple of hours. With us are Tyler and Tony. We get to the site in the afternoon and drop anchor away from the shallows using our dinghy to get to the wrecked vessel.

The crippled boat is leaning on its starboard side, the tip of its mast pointing towards the sunset. Its insides are a dark mess half full of water and green liquids. It must have been a slow painful death. There is a yellow note from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Law Enforcement explaining: Vessel aground. No sails. Abandoned. No apparent value. Open to elements. We, Tyler, Tony, Ivo and Mira, thereupon name ourselves The Elements, pumped up with adrenalin, and proceed to scavenging the wreck, working with screwdrivers and hummers, taking anything that looks useful.

We get a bunch of valuable stuff, we have to do two dinghy rides to bring them to Fata.

The boat is stripped of most of its valuables before the night falls and we are going back to our anchorage in Key West to split the goodies.

Approaching the wreck

Approaching the wreck

Boarding the wreck Ivo and Tony

Boarding the wreck
Ivo and Tony

Inside the Wreck Tyler and Ivo

Inside the Wreck
Tyler and Ivo

Green diesel water inside the wreck

Green diesel water inside the wreck

Notice

Notice

 

Grabbing stuff Tyler

Grabbing stuff
Tyler

Inside Mira

Inside the wreck
Mira

Ivo finds the American Flag

Ivo finds the American Flag

Smoke break  Tony and Tyler

Smoke break
Tony and Tyler

Bathroom break Ivo

Bathroom break
Ivo

Tony's new anchor chain

Tony’s new anchor chain

 

Back at Fata Morgana Tyler and Tony

Back at Fata Morgana
Tyler and Tony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClbE019cLNI

 

 

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Doctor Ivo’s Floating Orthopedics

*The name Ivo is pronounced with an e (eevo) and sounds much like evil

One day Stacy and Ryan drop by for beers. Stacy is not feeling too good. She has stepped on some broken glass on the dinghy dock and has two cuts on her left foot. After about a week she is still in pain and her infected foot looks worst than before. Ivo examines it and immediately admits Stacy for an emergency night operation aboard Fata Morgana. Using a razorblade and alcohol for disinfection, he first removes the dead skin and scrapes off the decaying flesh inside the wound. Stacy is suffering quietly, she is so brave. The only anesthesia she gets is a shot of rum. She says the cutting hurts less than the alcohol Ivo pours over the open wound.

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Maya is assisting Doctor Ivo holding a spotlight and staring at the operation. I couldn’t do this… I am taking pictures from the opposite side. Just thinking about the open wound: putrid meat oozing with blood, makes my stomach turn. But Maya is brave, like Ivo, and maybe one day she will be the one operating. She learns so much from her dad.

That first night Ivo cleans one of the two cuts and does the second one couple of days later, again in the dark.  This time Ryan is the assistant. He is so impressed with Ivo’s surgical skills, says Ivo is better than any general doctor he has encountered in America, and since the operation calls him Doctor Ivo (which is a much better nickname than The Bulgarian Flying Hummer, I think…).

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Today, Doctor Ivo is treating new patients at his private nocturnal cabinet. The doctor works in his swimsuit and only at night, using cutting-edge technologies such as razorblades and tissues soaked in alcohol. Bring your own rum if you prefer a bit of anaesthesia before, during, or after an operation. Tips in the form of fish, lobsters, beers, buckets, and others are always welcome.

If your feet are in such a bad state that you cannot walk any longer, the floating cabinet can sail over to you anywhere on the planet.

D-r Ivo

D-r Ivo

 

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The Bulgarian Flying Hummer

Meet Ryan and Stacy, boat punks and our neighbors here in the anchorage in Key West.

They live aboard the Liquid Courage with Marley and Scabs, their dogs.

We hang out often, have fun jumping off the boat, fishing, and snorkelling.

Ryan

Ryan

Ryan

Stacy

Stacy

Stacy

 

Jumping of the boat in our humongous public backyard pool (the Atlantic Ocean) is so much fun!

Ryan and Ivo

Ryan and Ivo

 

Ivo is showing Ryan The Bulgarian Flying Hummer jump.

ivo

Ivo

 

Ryan performs The Bulgarian Flying Hummer almost perfectly, but needs some more practice in order to achieve excellence, like Master Ivo.

Ryan

Ryan

Ryan

Ryan

 

 

After, it’s fishing time .

Stacy, Ivo, Maya, and Ryan

Stacy, Ivo, Maya, and Ryan

 

 

Ivo and Ryan

Ivo and Ryan

Viktro with a puffer

Viktro with a puffer

 

Jumping of the boat and fishing makes you hungry.

Stacy, a professional chef, and Maya, her soup chef, are preparing tacos for everyone in Fata Morgana’s galley.

Stacy and Maya

Stacy and Maya

 

Best tacos ever with Maya and Stacy

Best tacos ever with Maya and Stacy

The end of the day is beautiful in our neighbourhood.

The end of the day is beautiful in our neighbourhood.

 

 

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Liveaboards, Yachtsmen, Cruisers, and Boat Punks

*The following personal and highly subjective observations are based on the local boat scene in Key West, Florida.

There are various groups of boating people. Each of the four groups I will outline here can be subdivided in others smaller and more specific ones.

 Liveaboards

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The majority of boat owners actually don’t use their boats for sailing and cruising but to liveaboard at the dock or at anchor. It is much cheaper (and in some cases completely free) than owning a house or renting an apartment: there are not municipal, school, road, garbage or any other taxes to be paid when you live on a boat. These are usually single men above fifty, unemployed and unwilling to work, with long beards and bad teeth. Their derelict vessels are in desperate state of neglect and the chances of them ever sailing again are slim to none.

 

Yachtsmen

Only a fraction of all boat owners, about 5 %, actually sail. To do so the boat needs to be ship-shape and this requires tons of money and constant work. For this reason, sailing was until recent years, an activity privileged to the rich yachtsman and his wife, members of the yacht club. They would go out sailing (with a hired captain) not too far from port, participating in regattas and races once every year or two, dressed exclusively in white. For maintaining their boat sitting at the marina the rest of the time, they would pay others to do it.

 

Cruisers

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The cruisers, mostly single men, often couples, and rarely families with children, who permanently liveaboard and travel by sea, are a sort of a romantic minority. These are generally very interesting, intelligent, and hardworking people whose stories of bravery and exotic adventures we read in magazines and books. They inspire us and challenge our limits.

 

 

Boat Punk

 

Tony

Tony

Since a few years now, there is a distinctive fourth group of seafaring people. These are young kids in their twenties and thirties with left-wing progressive views, disenchanted with the capitalist system, and the middle class standards in the United States of America, seeking alternative ways of off-grid living, self sufficiency, and ultimate freedom.

Recently, owning and maintain a boat has become more affordable than ever thanks to the development of new cheaper technologies, the access to on-line information about how to build and repair a boat, and to the global economic collapse. Boat prices have dropped dramatically.

Thus, young rebellious kids can now get an older used boat for as little as a few hundred dollars and fix it up on a very low budget using all sorts of recycled materials, even junk, and go exploring the world.

What sets them apart from the rest of the boaters is their willingness to come and stick together in a tight community, almost a kinship, sharing knowledge and skills,  helping each other, having fun, working together, facing common problems, and doing all sorts of unusual things.

In Key West we met and befriended an interesting crowd of artists, anarchists, environmentalists, animal rights activists, feminists, socialists, musicians, vegetarians, misfits, jacks-of-all-trades, and other non-mainstream enthusiasts, all suffering from incurable wanderlust: Tony and Chopper aboard Pisces, Ryan and Stacie aboard Liquid Courage, Becca aboard Dolphin, Miranda aboard Snoopy, and Cherrie and Tyler aboard Rocksteady who have baptised themselves Boat Punks, deriving from the streets and the Punk scene.

Ryan

Ryan

Punk is a lifestyle, a movement, and a political statement. Since its origins in the 1960s and 70s as an underground music genre, Punk has evolved into a complex ideology opposing the state system and established social structure, challenging the social orthodoxy, political and mainstream cultural establishment, and promoting individual freedom, an anarchic resistance, non-conformity and social revolt, DIY ethics and anti-consumerism.

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Cherrie and Tyler

Although our shiny 38 feet relatively new catamaran Fata Morgana doesn’t really belong, conceptually or visually (unless we spray some graffiti on her, which I have considered) in this fourth group, our family’s ideology, values, and way of life do. And so naturally we have joined their extravagant community here in Key West. Our experiences with the Boat Punks include:

Moreover, we have decided to write a collage article on Boat Punk in collaboration, each person contributing his/her own individual story and reasons for doing what we are doing. I will publish it here soon.

 

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Peter the Sailmaker

On one of our first time sailing aboard Fata Morgana, the headsail gets a bit torn on the edge where the sun cover is while furling it. This means we have two options: buying a new jib or repairing the old. Both options involve spending money which is the last thing we want to do.

We research in the Internet and it turns out that a new jib for our boat costs about $ 3,000 and a used one could be somewhere between $500 and  $1,000. There is a sailmaker in Stock Island, and we bike there to see if he has any adequate used sails and get a quote for a new jib or for repairs. His name is Peter and it looks like he is the only sailmaker in Key West because everyone recommends him.

Peter inspects the jib and tells us the thread on the suncover is burned and needs to be restitched, which is normal, and that the canvass is still good. He can repair it for about $250. Sounds better than buying a new or a used sail.

Peter

Peter

We tell Peter that we are “on a budget” and that we could work and help him if this will bring the price down. Turns out, he has an old wooden sign to be repaired and he hires us to do the job, Ivo will do the woodwork and I will do the artwork. He will repair our sail and we will repair his sign, no money involved. Barter. How cool is this!

Barter is a system of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money… Barter usually replaces money as the method of exchange in times of monetary crisis, such as when the currency may be either unstable (e.g., hyperinflation or deflationary spiral) or simply unavailable for conducting commerce. [From Wikipedia]

I think barter is a better micro economic system of exchange as it creates relationships and is a lot more satisfying and ultimately creates a sense of community where people interact with one another helping each other using their particular skills on friendly basis. Plus, it is a better option for people low on cash or who don’t want to deal with cash, like us. From now on, we will try to do this as much as possible.

Mira and Peter working on a sail in Peter's loft

Mira and Peter working on a sail in Peter’s loft

The next week we spend at Peter’s loft listening to some good old blues songs, helping to remove the old stitches from the suncover and fixing the sign while he sits behind his sawing machine and works on our jib. We like Peter who is all about adventure and sailing, a bit of an anarchist like ourselves. In the past, he and his late wife have organized and participated in regattas and races to Cuba many times.

Ivo repairs Peter's wooden sign

Ivo repairs Peter’s wooden sign

Thus, we not only had our jib fixed without spending money, but we also learned a lot about fixing sails. Also, we made a new good friend who is also a good sailor and who enjoyed snorkelling and sailing with us on Fata Morgana, teaching us valuable tricks about tacking with a catamaran, for example. I suspect, we will go out sailing and snorkelling some more while we are still in Key West, Florida, plus, we will probably make a dodger for our boat with Peter’s help, we’ll see about this.

The sign is ready

The sign is ready

Thank you Peter!

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The Shrimp Who Became a Shark

June 27, 2013 Key West, Florida

I wake up one morning to find a small transparent shrimp on the steps of our boat. Looks like a suicide.

Next day Ivo finds another one. And another one the day after. A dead shrimp becomes a part of our morning routine. We wake up, we make coffee, and we collect the inevitable shrimp.

The first (or second) dead shrimp

The first (or second) dead shrimp

There must be a shrimp kingdom beneath our boat, Fata Morgana. The shrimp king, a fat orange fellow with long antennas, probably had concluded, after a restless night full of hallucinations, that Fata Morgana is a powerful shrimp goddess. One who’s anger and might could annihilate in a minute the entire shrimp population for no particular reason. “Therefore, he had announced to all, sacrifice is needed to appease the powerful goddess hovering above our shrimp kingdom”.

I take the little carcass and gently place it on a hook on one of the fishing poles. I don’t have to cast far. I just drop the hook with the shrimp directly beneath the boat. Two minutes later I catch a small fish. With this little fish as bait Ivo pulls out a bigger one.

Mira with fishes

Mira with fishes

And with the bigger fish we catch a reef shark, about four feet in length or maybe even five.  It isn’t easy pulling it out of the water, the animal resists and tries to free itself. Its heavy body is silvery grey with a white belly. Its head and jaws are smaller and less impressive than the Great White shark we have all seen on TV. The Reef Shark is a common coral reef dweller and they are not dangerous to swimmers. Once, a six-foot reef shark passed nearby as we were snorkeling around a reef and none of us panicked.

A Reef Shark

A Reef Shark

Thrashing about on the deck of the boat, fighting for its life, the creature doesn’t look scary at all but frightened and helpless. It is a beautiful animal and I am against killing it.

„100 million sharks are killed each year-by longlines, by „sport“ fishermen, or by a barbaric practice known as shark finning. Hooked sharks are hauled onto boats; their fins are sliced off while they are still alive. These helpless animals are then tossed back into the ocean where, unable to swim without their fins, they sink towards the bottom and die an agonizing death.

With 90% of the world’s large shark populations already wiped out, sharks are being depleted faster than they can reproduce. This threatens the stability of marine ecosystems around the world. Sharks are vitally important apex predators. They have shaped marine life in the oceans for over 400 million years and are essential to the health of the planet, and ultimately to the survival of mankind.“ (from http://www.seashepherd.org/sharks/)

 

Sharks are endangered species but Ivo and the kids insist on grilling and eating it. Ivo says he is not exterminating large shark populations, just providing protein for the family, like Bear Grills would do…

The shark we caught

The shark we caught

And so we do. We eat the shark. There is so much meat and no bones. It is not bad at all but a bit chewy. I feel guilty…

The next day my belly is killing me, swollen, hard and hurting like hell. I feel like dying. The pain goes away very slowly; it takes me a few days to feel good again. I am sure it is the shark meat even though everyone else is fine. I knew we shouldn’t eat the shark…

Often in ocean predators bigger than four feet heavy metals accumulate, like iron and mercury, and people avoid eating them.

Shark fillets on the BBQ

Shark fillets on the BBQ

 

Today, we are more aware of the problems posed by unsustainable fishing practises around the world. New legislation regulating the overfishing of sharks are being implanted around the globe.

Shark are critically endangered and faced with extinction and some species are already wiped out due to overfishing and shark finning practises. From predator they have become pray. The survival of this marine creature with false bad reputation is being threatened. And it is not just the sharks who are in trouble. All life is interconnected in a fragile balance, and if sharks disappear, our own survival is at stake.

Personally, our family has become aware of the horrific shark-hunting industry thanks to a 2006 Canadian documentary by Rob Stewart Sharkwater. The film is not only informative on the subject, but also full of thrilling action, suspense, and hidden camera footage, as the film crew gets chased by poachers and police in Guatemala and Costa Rica, exposing the illegal shark trade and corruption. It is a must-see documentary.

Sharkwater.com

Sharkwater.com

We decide, from now on we will no longer fish for and eat sharks, unless we are forced to do so by extraordinary circumstances.

* A link to 100 Great Points of Interest in Sharks and their Conservation by Erik Brush

 

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The More We Sail, the Less We Yell

Since a few days now all that needed to be repaired and fixed on the boat is repaired and fixed. Fata Morgana is ready for sailing. And we sail pretty much every day, not more than a few hours, keeping close to shore.

Fata Morgana under sail.  -Photo by Tyler Bullock

Fata Morgana under sail.
-Photo by Tyler Bullock

Sometimes, our friend and boat-neighbour Tyler is coming with us, helping us and teaching us what to do and how, and sometimes we go sailing just the four of us in order to see if we can do it without help. We did it, all right, but we almost killed each other the first couple of times.

Everything in the beginning is stressful and difficult: anchoring and pulling the anchor up, hoisting the main sail and bringing it down, unfurling and furling the jib, adjusting the sails, tacking and jibing, reefing, even keeping a straight course, are all maneuvers that excite much screaming and panicking among the four of us.

– I told you to go port, not starboard!

– I did it! I am all the way to port! The boat doesn’t listen to me!

– Pull that rope!

– Which rope, what are you talking about?

– Use your common sense, god damn it!

– Fuck, we lost speed!

– It’s your fault!

– Watch out that other boat!

– Don’t scream at me, this is not a car, it reacts slowly!

– Don’t talk to me like that!

– We are drifting backwards!

– It’s not my fault!

– I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!

I remember once reading a heated debate about guns on board: should we have some or not. Well, let me tell you, I wished I had a gun those two initiation sails, so I could kill everyone on board, believe me.

But then, we come back to the anchorage, drop the anchor in our usual spot and all goes back to normal. Life is beautiful again. Love is in the air.

Mira suntanning and enjoying the view on board Fata Morgana

Mira suntanning and enjoying the view on board Fata Morgana

People tell us all this is normal. “Happens to everyone in the beginning. You can tell the newbies when you see a boat approaching a quiet anchorage and everyone on board is screaming and panicking. It will get better as you learn, though. The yelling and hating will slowly diminish, your skills will improve, and sailing will be fun.

And I believe this is true, as each time we go sailing we do a lot better than the previous time. Now anchoring is a routine two-minute operation, hoisting the main sail is a few steps job which Maya and Viktor can do by themselves. As we are getting better at sailing we are also getting more relaxed and we begin to enjoy the ride. We don’t need guns on board any more.

Ivo at the helm, Mira and Viktor raising the mainsail -photo by Tylor Bullock

Ivo at the helm, Mira and Viktor raising the mainsail
-photo by Tylor Bullock

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Happy Birthday Tony

Tony's B-day cake

Tony’s B-day cake

Tony was born thirty something years ago on June 6 sometime in the afternoon. Legend has it that he was born with tiny baby dreadlocks which grew longer, darker, and thicker as the years passed. He uttered his first baby words when he was only a few months old, still in diapers. With determination and a very serious expression on his face, he said: “beer” and “bike” (in that order). People thought that he would grow up to be a prophet or a genius. They were pretty close to the truth; he became a sailor, adventurer, punk-rocker, anarchist, freedom-seeker, beer-drinker, and biker. He became Tony Beerbike. He also became our good friend.

Chopper and Tony

Chopper and Tony

We met him and his trusty companion, Chopper, in Stock Island where he is working on his sailboat Pisces, a 28 feet Cape Dory, getting her ready for ocean travel and adventure.

On June 6 this year, we improvised a small birthday celebration and went out for a short sail on Fata Morgana with Tony and a few other friends. Tony made a huge pile of Mexican rice, so good, from now on this is how I will make it.

Tony making Mexican rice

Tony making Mexican rice

The sailing was fun and pretty much uneventful. We had a bit of waves that made the boat jump up and down. At the end we tried to anchor without using the engines, but a minor storm came out of nowhere, wind and rain, and we ended up using them.

The birthday celebration at sea ended with a traditional dinghy ride in the rain to a near-by uninhabited boat which was dragging her anchor quite a bit in the direction of some other uninhabited boats, and so an intervention was needed. Cherri, Tyler, and Ivo went aboard the stray boat and successfully deployed two more anchors to stop her from dragging and crashing into any of the other boats. We received thank you calls from some of the neighboring boats who witnessed the whole thing. We felt good about ourselves. And tired.

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