Cayo Levisa to Cabo San Antonio

Close to shore or offshore?

We leave Cayo Levisa together with Harley and April and we get to our next destination, Los Morros at Cabo San Antonio, almost at the same time, after over 30 hours of sailing. Only, Harley and April, who have more than 10 years of experience crewing aboard mega-yachts sailing 4 times around the globe, kept close to shore and stopped to sleep for the night anchored behind the reefs, while we took Fata Morgana way offshore and sailed non-stop the whole time, day and night, battling with current and waves, dealing with squalls and electrical storms. Turns out, sailing close to shore is way faster and the sea is much calmer, with less currents and waves, and about the same wind as offshore.

Lesson learned.

April and Harley

April and Harley

 

Marina Los Morros

We arrive in the afternoon of the next day.

Los Morros is technically a marina, if you can call a small wooden pier and a small concrete building with a couple of toilets a marina. The nearest village is over 100 kilometers away. But, there are the officials waiting for us: customs, immigration, coast guard, the entire gang, and that’s what qualifies a small pier in Cuba as a marina. We drop anchor near by and we clear in for a fourth time… Soon El Karma joins us. We sleep for 12 hours straight and the next morning we are ready to explore.

Mira witha Cuban military truck

Mira witha Cuban military truck

The place is so tiny and charming, so far away from everything, at the end of the mangrove world, it feels like a childhood memory. An immigration officer gives us directions and we start for the beach. A bunch of slow sun-stricken cows roaming around the shore are paying close attention to our actions while chewing their breakfast for the second time.

Fata Morgana anchored at Los Morros, Cabo San Antonio, Cuba

Fata Morgana anchored at Los Morros, Cabo San Antonio, Cuba

 

Bug-infested walk to the beach

Turns out, the beach is at the end of a three-mile road through the jungle, where the bugs live. We need a bug repellant fast if we don’t want only our dry skeletons to arrive at the beach. „Hay que inventar“ (Have to invent) I remember the phrase everyone uses in Cuba, and soon we solve our problem using palm leafs as fans and hats against the insects. We camouflage so the unintelligent mosquitoes think we are some sort of walking trees and leave us alone.

Viktor, Maya, and Ivo walking with bug-repellent palm leaf hats. This is how we showed up at the beach.

Viktor, Maya, and Ivo walking with bug-repellent palm leaf hats.
This is how we showed up at the beach.

 

 

The Beach

Cabo San Antonio Beach

Cabo San Antonio Beach

The one-hour bug-infested walk is worth it. We get to another secluded mini-resort: little bungalows with tiki roofs at the edge of the forest and just next to the beach, little piglets running around.

Piglet

Piglet

There are a total of four tourists and six pigs on the entire beach (before we showed up all covered up with vegetation). We spend the afternoon chilling, having lots and lots of fun in the water. Best time in Cuba!

Ivo, Viktor and Maya, The human pyramid

Ivo, Viktor and Maya, The human pyramid

 

Mira, Ivo, Maya, Viktor: a rare picture of the four of us

Mira, Ivo, Maya, Viktor: a rare picture of the four of us

 

 

Share

Marina Hemingway to Cayo Levisa

 

Leaving Marina Hemingway

After a week and a half in Marina Hemingway, inadequately expensive, noisy, mosquito-infested place with terrible facilities, we are eager to leave and sail west. On the way out of the marina, we have to clear la guarda and immigration again. In Cuba, you have to go through this painful process every time you enter or exit a port. Even if you go for a two-hour sail near the shore and comeback to the same port, which we’ve done once while in Marina Hemingway, you have to check out and check back in with la guarda and immigration, as if you are leaving the country and then coming back. This means: officials on board inspecting your passports, boat documentation, and the boat itself, before authorizing the move. I believe, Cuba is the only country who does this to cruisers. Unpleasant.

 

The Cuban officials will come aboard no matter what; if you are on a dock or at anchor.  Here Ivo and an immigration officer paddle the kayak, El Poderoso (the name of the kayak means The Mighty One in Spanish) back from the boat anchored at Cayo Levisa. Fastest kayak ride ever, said Ivo.

The Cuban officials will come aboard no matter what; if you are on a dock or at anchor.
Here Ivo and an immigration officer paddle the kayak, El Poderoso (the name of the kayak means The Mighty One in Spanish) back from the boat anchored at Cayo Levisa. Fastest kayak ride ever, said Ivo.

 

Our plan is to sail 60 miles west to Cayo Levisa and spend a few days there, then continue to Cabo San Antonio, the westernmost tip of the island before crossing over to Isla Mujeres, Mexico.

We hoist the main sail and the jib early in the morning on August 4, but there is not much wind until noon. The ocean surface is calm and sleek like the skin of a sleeping manatee. The boat barely moves with 1,5 knots.

 

Viktor and Maya are doing some laundry while the boat  gently sails west.

Viktor and Maya are doing some laundry while the boat gently sails west.

 

In the afternoon the wind picks up from the east and we start making good progress doing about 6-7 knots, wing-on-wing. Our autopilot and wind gauges don’t work since we started this journey, so we never know what is the wind speed, and we constantly hand-steer the boat. These are two major things we have to work on as soon as possible, but for now we just make the best of it. We became really good at ‘feeling’ the boat while steering and guessing the wind. They certainly didn’t have wind indicators and autopilots in the old times, is our consolation.

Thus we sail west all day along the Cuban north coast keeping a safe distance from the reef breakers, on the edge of the indigo-colored Gulf Stream. On our left slowly float by soft green hills, deserted beaches, and small coastal villages.

As the sun prepares to dive behind the horizon, we prepare to clear the reef and find an anchorage behind Cayo Levisa. It has been a long day.

 

Cayo Levisa

 

Fata Morgana is the only sailboat at Cayo Levisa anchorage.

Fata Morgana is the only sailboat at Cayo Levisa anchorage.

 

Cayo Levisa is a tiny mangrove island with a long stretch of fine sand on the north side. Tourists, mainly from Italy and France, arrive here daily, but the place is never overcrowded, as there aren’t any hotels, but a few coquette wooden bungalows alongside the beach. I wonder, how much it would cost to come here and rent one of these for a week. The good thing about sailing is that you can visit places like this and stay as long as you want for the reasonable amount of zero.

 

Cayo Levisa Beach

Cayo Levisa Beach

 

We even get a huge pile of fruits and vegetables as a gift from a guy who works here. Marcus is  one of those rare people with open hearts and minds and a talent for kindness and benevolence. „Remember, not all Cubans are like those you met in Havana. In the countryside, people are welcoming, honest, and generous, even if they are poor“, he tells us with a perfect English. This little gesture illuminated our entire Cuban experience and restored our faith in this country’s ordinary people.

 

An unexpected gift.

An unexpected gift.

 

The next couple of days we spend with Harley and April who followed us here from Havana. Together we go snorkeling on the reefs in the morning, feeding with leftovers the thousands of yellowtails and sergeant-majors swarming near the corrals who come and take small pieces of food from our hands. We spend the afternoons on the beach submerged in the warm shallow waters only our heads sticking out, like a family of hippopotamuses, around a small surf board where we rest our beers, exchanging stories.

 

Cayo Levisa

Cayo Levisa

 

And in the evenings, the kids stay on the boat and watch Back to the Future 1, 2 and 3, while we go on shore to the small restaurant and dance on the beach. April brings two cords with scorched tennis-size balls at the ends where we attach glowing sticks because we couldn’t find kerosine and teaches us to fire-dance but without the fire (and a good thing too, especially for beginners). Ivo is natural and ambitiously masters most of the moves in just a few hours. The tourists are sitting at a safe distance, watching us.

 

Maya drinking Cola at the beach restaurant

Maya drinking Cola at the beach restaurant

 

Although we enjoy our time in Cayo Levisa, we get disappointed again when we try to go on the other side to the mainland and visit La Esperanza, a tiny fishermen village nearby. The authorities tell us we cannot go. Even if Harley and April would stay behind and keep an eye on our boat, we are not aloud to set foot anywhere except Cayo Levisa. The explanation is that there is no customs and immigration authorities there to clear us in (although we already cleared three times in Cuba…) It’s ridiculous. Not being able to go on shore and explore the country’s rural interior is the biggest downside of visiting Cuba by boat.

The next morning, we lift anchor and sail off to our last Cuban destination: Los Morros, Cabo San Antonio.

Share

Turtle Nest Expedition

 

 

 

Loggerhead Key is a tiny island in Dry Tortugas, across from Garden Key where Fort Jefferson is. A tall lighthouse, three times the height of a regular one, was erected here in the 19th century, about the same time as Fort Jefferson was being built.

Pier and Lighthouse, Loggerhead Key, Florida

Pier and Lighthouse, Loggerhead Key, Florida

 

There are not organized tours here, and so the island, its white sandy beaches, and the coral reefs around it are undisturbed by people most of the time. The only way to come here is by boat.

Driftwood on a white sandy beach, Loggerhead Key

Driftwood on a white sandy beach, Loggerhead Key

 

July 22, Monday

We drop anchor very carefully on a sandy bottom patch, making sure there are no coral heads beneath. Ivo and I take the kayak to check out the lighthouse and explore the place. Viktor and Maya stay on the boat to play video games…

Fata Morgana anchored off Loggerhead Key

Fata Morgana anchored off Loggerhead Key

 

On the island we stumble upon Mark and Suzy, Marine Biology Students doing an internship and a group of scientists studying the sea turtles.

Suzy

Suzy

Kristen Hart, a research ecologist, and her crew have just arrived to monitor some of the turtle nests on the beach.

They accept our offer to help with the turtle nest expedition. (Our help consists in caring a huge beach umbrella and holding it above the excavating researchers, taking pictures, and asking too many questions.)

Excavating a recently hatched turtle nest

Excavating a recently hatched turtle nest

 

In the next couple of hours, under the hot tropical sun, Kristen and her crew excavate turtle nests marked by a pole indicating a recent hatching.

Kristen Hart holding unhatched turtle eggs

Kristen Hart holding unhatched turtle eggs

They count the eggshells, mark the nest GPS positions, take samples from the unhatched eggs by opening them and collecting the smelly rotten yolks in a jar.

An unhatched baby turtle

An unhatched baby turtle

 

The nests contain exactly one hundred yellowish eggshells each, of which a few unhatched eggs in various stages of development, and couple of baby turtle body parts, meaning that most of the baby turtles successfully hatched and made it to the ocean sometime in the past couple of days.

We are so grateful to be part of this expedition… It is an amazing learning experience; we only regret that the kids didn’t come. We learn about the green turtles and the loggerhead turtles, their habitat, behavior, and reproduction first hand.

We spend the evening and a night of a full moon on the boat watching the light of the lonely lighthouse lazily circling around us. Tonight, enormous creatures will emerge slowly from the warm dark waters of the ocean hauling their heavy shells across the sands to find a familiar spot. A place where many many years ago they awoke buried among their one hundred brothers and sisters and with much effort their journey begun. At this spot, they will remember, their old mother came, many many years ago, and gently covered with sand one hundred round eggs, her most treasured possession. They will remember, yes, and they will do as she did. Tonight.

Full moon over the lighthouse

Full moon over the lighthouse

 

The next morning we go back to the island, this time with Maya and Viktor, to investigate the sands of the beach for new nests. Another short expedition.

Suzy leads us along the beach

Suzy leads us along the beach

 

Suzy leads us along the southeast beach showing us fresh turtle tracks and nests, explaining the difference between the green turtle and the loggerhead nesting behavior. I am glad the kids are interested and participate. This is an example of how they learn valuable lessons outside school, thanks to traveling. A natural history, ecology, and biology lesson they will never forget.

A recent turtle nest and tracks from the night before. The eggs are under the little hill.

A recent turtle nest and tracks from the night before. The eggs are under the little hill.

 

They learn that green turtles and loggerheads have different patterns of walking on the sand and making their nests. That they dig sometimes a few nests before choosing where to lay their eggs. That they do this in the dark of the night to avoid being discovered and bothered by birds and predators. That they lay a hundred eggs or more, of which over 90% hatch successfully, but only a small fraction of the baby turtles make it to adulthood. The rest become easy prey for marine predators. That, if they make it, they can live to be hundreds of years old. That people hunt them in the past for they were an easy pray and had delicious meat until their numbers diminished dramatically. That today hunting and killing a sea turtle is a crime. That pollution, oil spills, and destruction of their habitat continues even now to endanger them. And that there are now programs and individuals out there who care about them and try to preserve them.

 

You can read more about the sea turtles of Dry Tortugas and the research and conservation efforts of scientists like Kristen Hart in Implementing the Dry Tortugas National Park Research Natural Area Science Plan: The 5-Year Report 2012.

 

 

 

Share

Laundry On The Boat

Ah, the laundry post!

There isn’t a respectable sailing blog without a heroic laundry post, explaining how it is a huge achievement to wash clothes aboard the boat with seawater and dry them in the breeze hanging them from the mast…  And the pubic is full of admiration and esteem.

We, Americans, Canadians, First World, First Class citizens, are addicted to certain technological comforts and doing without is an act of bravery.

So here we, go:

We, the Nomadiks, like to announce to all: we are doing laundry on the boat! Washing clothes by hand with seawater, rinsing twice in rainwater which we collect through a very complicated system in buckets and coolers. Then, we hang the laundry from lines and rigging, and the sight of this colorful installation amazes the tourists piled up on sunset cruises, who turn their cameras toward our boat, neglecting for a short second the setting sun. I mean, it must be quite a sight if the sunset becomes secondary.

And we don’t limit ourselves to shorts and t-shirts. When Ivo steps in, Ivo steps literally IN (in a 5-gallon bucket where he stomps with his feet bed sheets and even blankets!)

The electric washing machine was invented in 1908 by Alva J. Fisher, Google told me. How did people live before that is no longer a mystery.

.

.

 

Share

Visit by a German Journalist

A few days ago, a journalist, Ann-Katherin Eckardt, came all the way from Germany to write a piece on Boat Punk for NEON magazine, a magazine targeting readers in their twenties and thirties, reflecting the young generation’s issues, aspirations, and viewpoints of the world. With her came a photographer Charles Ommanney, and they stayed for 3 days in Key West interviewing and photographing kids from the Boat Punk community.

Tyler, who is one of the founding fathers and nucleus of the community, helping everyone, organising Boat Punk events and meet-ups, and who was also featured in a French reportage by  Anne-Cécile Genreand , was the official host of the event and the star of the article which should be published in NEON soon.

Tyler introduced us to Ann Katherine and we had the chance to talk to her a few times during her short stay even though we felt we don’t truly qualify as Boat Punks, or at least as Punks: we have no tattoos nor piercings, no Mohawk haircuts, and we don’t listen to the right music. The only reason we are part of the Boat Punk community here in Key West is our common ideas and ways, shared experiences, as well as our friendship with Tyler and the others which is now fathoms deep.

Still, we all felt a bit flattered by the attention. By the recognition that what we, as a community and as individuals, are doing is interesting to others, unique and exciting, but also valid and rebellious, worthy of international attention and recognition. That people across the Oceans will read about us, the Boat Punks, and maybe get inspired.

The last day of their visit, we all gathered for a sunset sail aboard Tyler’s boat Rocksteady.

.

.

The Photographer

.

Tyler

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share

How to Eat Poisonous Fish for Supper

That particular evening started with a benign game of chess between Ivo and Tyler aboard Rocksteady.

.

.

But then Ryan and Stacie showed up with a bucket of fish a friend gave them.

„Lionfish, Ryan, who loves animals and nature more than anything in the world, explained, is a non indigenous invasive species here in Florida, and you can catch it and eat it all you want. It has poisonous spikes, but if we manage to cut them off without getting stung, we can eat the meat and we will not die! “

This sounds almost reassuring…

.

.

So basically, you need to fillet the fish without touching it much…To do so, you need to stab it with a knife in the head using a coffee pot.

.

.

…Use pliers, knifes, forks, and all available instruments…

.

.

…and band up with others if necessary. Team work pays off.

.

.

Discard all bones, guts, and spikes. Keep only the fillets.

.

.

Repeat as many times as fishes there are in the bucket. Do not forget: Operate with caution!

.

.

Then cook the fish! Add salt, lemon, some pepper, and it is delicious! And ask a friend to make the salad!

.

.

What’s left to do is eat the fish, with lots of salad, beer, friends.

.

.

 

I tried it and I loved it!

.

.

„Lionfish are an invasive species that threaten Florida’s saltwater fish and wildlife. The FWC encourages people to remove lionfish in Florida waters to limit negative impacts to native fish and wildlife. Lionfish can be speared, caught in hand-held nets or caught on hook and line.

A recreational fishing license is not required for recreational fishers targeting lionfish while using a pole spear, a Hawaiian Sling, a handheld net or any spearing device that is specifically designed and marketed exclusively for lionfish. There is no recreational or commercial harvest bag limit for lionfish.“ (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)

I just want to add to this that it is extremely tasty and safe to eat if correctly prepared and: Thank you Ryan, this was the greatest tasting poisonous fish ever!

.

Ryan and Scabs

 

Share

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!

Share

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

 

.

.

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.  

.

.

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.

.

.

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.

.

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.

.

.

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

.

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.

.

.

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.

.

.

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?“ 

.

.

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.

.

.

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:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

(the end)

Share

The Wreckers

.

.

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
.
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
.
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
.
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
.
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

 

 

Share

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.

.

.

 

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…).

.

.

 

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

 

Share