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Would you believe that just north of the Conch Republic’s borders in Miami Beach, a new sport described as scull-vaults-palms has caught on?  No . . . you wouldn’t believe that?  Maybe the heat has addled my brain.  Actually, the foto was taken looking down onto Indian Creek.

I saw a half dozen schooners around Key West, but this one (was at least a mile off) and

this one I could not identify.  They could be anchored just off shoals.

Parrotfish are quite colorful, even if viewed from outside the water.  Anyone have experience with any of these “waterproof” cameras?  I’m toying with #3.  Associated with the non-finny parrot variety, Key West

has enjoyed this place not quite as long as this sign would indicate.  US Route 1 has been around much longer.   I used to drive this road from Massachusetts to Maine, avoiding it in summer, since up there, I associate the name with “tourist trap” congestion.   But when you’re not in a hurry and want to see how one geoculture differs from the next,

the 2000-plus-mile road is the one to follow to here all the way from Fort Kent.  The black-and-white sticker I’m holding here is for  Capt. Joey’s Good Morning Gloucester, whose namesake town lies within 10 miles of Route 1 . . .  close enough for me to consider just off the road.

I’ve long  associated Key West with Jimmy Buffett;  a new name I learned on this trip is David Wolkowsky, an important Buffett patron.    As for “parrotthead” . . . I think it should be “pelicanhead,” given their relative population numbers in the Conch Republic . . .

Until I get an underwater camera and travel all the way back down Route 1, this will have to suffice as a foto of a ballyhoo, a newfavorite word from this trip;  I like worldkid66‘s description of a school of ballyhoo in the last paragraph.    Another “newfavorite” is

chickee, of which this is NOT one.   I just like the word chickee:  a wooden platform over the water, like a duck blind for hunters, where you could pitch a tent .  . . say in the Everglades.

The colors in the waters of the Conch Republic are magical.

and the number of schooners, like this unidentified one . . . surprising.

Hibachi (left) and another unidentified  landing craft  . . .  awaiting cargo?

Some transient islands aka keys near

Fort Jefferson were mentioned by our tour guide:  one island used as a cemetery for soldiers who died at the Fort was no longer there after a storm.   What’s magical colors for us represented hell for 19th century soldiers sent there from northern states.

Closing shot for this meandering series . . .WHEC-35 Ingham . . .  was once painted in dazzle colors like its neighbor WPC-78 Mohawk.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

Click here for more background on the Conch Republic.

A new link on my blogroll is worldkid’s blog.

Unrelated:  Read this in the context of budget cutting talks and weep.  Anyone get a foto of these vessels as they make their way to the Texas scrap yard?

Wifi (why? fie!) issues have delayed this series, but let me begin this “better-late-than-never” post with some rhetorical questions.

If tugster sees a tug and doesn’t have his camera, did he REALLY see it?  I hereby claim to have looked up from snorkeling at Fort Zachary Taylor to spot Ocean Atlas and Ocean Wind . . . groaned about not having my camera . . . and then returned underwater to watch parrotfish, ballyhoo, grouper . . .

I visited the Mel Fisher Museum, but can you believe I missed the Miss Atocha Bikini contest . . .  @!@?  What would Captain de Lugo think about this?  And might Miss Patty Nolan participate one of these years?  Click here for some Patty Nolan history.

And I did hear about schooner Hindu . . . but will have to get fotos . . .  later.  For now, I present  Western Union and Jolly Rover.

Here Western Union headed out for a sunset sail . . . following the tender and two dolphins that JUST dove.

What these stats don’t say is that she was built FOR the cable company in 1939 and ran between Key West and Cuba.

I believe this is Yankee on the far side of Sunset Key, with crew in the rigging, like spiders.

This B & B named for Captain Cosgrove shows how contradictory some historical personages can be:  Coast Guard captain, sponger, and wrecker!!  I read this as “government servant, business person, and  . . . pirate.”

Fort Jefferson, a 35-meter National Parks Service vessel,  is part of a contract to deliver support to the Iraqi Navy . . . .   Am I reading something wrong here?

I haven’t found much more out than that Retriever is attached to Naval Air Station/Key West.

Another foto for the currently elusive  bowsprite:  a landing craft with a camper trailer on board . . . for how long?  And I’m not so sure I’d feel confidence in a boat named “Maybe.”

And a final shot for now . . . is this a production boat or a one-off?  Round . . . a water pod with at least one floor panel transparent . . . I failed to check if there was a propulsion unit anywhere.  Foto was taken at the east end of the Conch Republic . . . in Key Largo.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who has actually just returned, albeit haggard, to the sixth boro.

In case you think life has slowed me down in Key West, you’re somewhat right, but it’s been only 97 here, cooler than some places in the US and as cool as it is for my brothers in the snow belt of upstate New York.

A guide here kept referring to this vessel as a “chug” although I thought he said “tug.”  Guess the story?  See end of post.

Chickens roam everywhere and constant need to cross roads here in the Conch Republic, a micronation with its own passport, coin, and more.  For a list of numerous other “micronations,” created as vehicles for agenda self-promotion, click here.    As the so-called mayor of the “sixth boro,”  I find the idea of declaring micronation status for the waters around NYC very exciting.  Feedback?

Foto of Nav/Air 38 for Rod of Narragansett Bay Shipping . . .   here in her usual setting.

Greetings to the crew of Yankee, built 1982 in Atlantic City.  More Key West schooners . . . soon.

Fotos I missed:   sailing on this dreamlike expanse of Gulf of Mexico, we saw scores of flying fish and ballyhoo . . . but nary a one consented to being on a tugster shot.  Imagine that!

Behold Fort Jefferson, 70 miles west of Key West, 900 … east of Brownsville TX, 200 south of Tampa, and less than 100 north of Havana.

Here’s one way to  get there at just under 30 mph.  The Yankee name caught my attention… not because I live in NYC but because I used to live north of Cape Ann, MA, where a whale watching vessel refers to itself as part of the “Yankee fleet.”  Well, same company has operated in both Key West and Gloucester.  Furthermore, this vessel was built by Gladding Hearn of Somerset, MA, and the captain grew up in Hampton Beach, NH . . . where I lived back in the late 80s!!  Gladding Hearn has built numerous ferries, pilot boats, and other vessels for the sixth boro.

Foto for Bonnie of frogma:  you never told me Sebago had boats here!!

And for the unfrazzling bowsprite . . . herself galivanting where time gets forgotten, a foto of  WPG-78 aka USS Mohawk, resplendent in gray and gray and gray, whose story reaffirms the point I tried to make the other day in reference to vessels in Mayport.

So . . . if you are artistically inclined . . . should an eventual “sixth boro” micronation have its own flag?

OK . . . back to the “chug.”   The National Park rangers have decided to house this vessel, which was instrumental in getting Cuban refugees “dry-footed” onto US soil, at Fort Jefferson.  “Chug” derives from the noise the automobile engine makes while the vessel is underway.  chug-chug-chug . . .  Too bad they didn’t keep this 1951 Chevy truckboat.  Maybe Mel Fisher‘s crew will seek it out one of these days.

How’s about this for a once- and future-newspaper ad?  How many years before this service gets re-established?  Here’s a business idea:  trips across the Florida Strait on replicas of Hemingway’s Pilar . . . on converted 1951 Chvy trucks and vintage Buicks?  I bet it’ll happen.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.  More from the Conch Republic soon.

Oh, also, I hereby claim rights to any and all sixth-boro micronationalistic paraphernalia.

This very quick post from Miami before hitting the road for Key West starts with this question:  can you identify the doodle/logo at the lower right side of this foto?  Answer at end of post.  My first thought I must admit was that a lurking bowsprite had drawn this, unable to resist the artistic impulse.

Quick and dirty of tugboat Florida:  I’ll have to research this upon my return.  Here and here are some youtubes about Miami tugs.

Pilot boat Biscayne returns from sea.

WLIC 801 Hudson is docked around the corner of Dodge Island from

all of these and more.  Vessels here from left to right are:  Chandeleur, Yellowfin, Gannet, Diamondback, Drummond, and at least one unidentified vessel beyond them.

Things I saw but couldn’t foto:  Cargo vessel Caribe Trader escorted into the port, and a pelican that glided past me as I treaded water . . . less than 10 feet from me and with wingtips dragging low less than 6 inches from the water . . . a  prehistoric but beautiful flyer.  And Linda Lee Bouchard pushing a fuel barge southbound about five miles off Miami Beach yesterday.

Things I didn’t see but wish I had:  the Belzona tugs and the banks of the Miami River as it snakes (alligators) toward the northwest through Miami.

And that doodle is NOT bowsprite’s  . . . unless she’s done this work on commission for the Irish Coast Guard.  Check this.  I took the foto in the Capt. Peter Boucher’s study, where I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing the stories behind Nautical Log.  Peter has just returned from his hometown of Waterford, Ireland, which hosted the WTSF.  Fotos can be found here and on two subsequent days.

Places I hope to get to some day:  Waterford, Ireland!

What a treat . . .  swimming beneath the first summer full moon of 2011 in a new climate zone for me.  No matter what other people call it,  I’ll call it “gallivant and relax” moon.

The day before . . .  at the mouth of the St. Johns River, a shrimper, one would hope carries more “swimmy-things” than birds, although  there’s no guarantee.  I love the two pelicans on the portside gear.

Crewboat East River and dredger–either Padre Island or Dodge Island–suggest something of the range of GLD&D vessels . . .  a year ago they might have worked the sixth boro of New York.

This is looking west here along the channel between Fisher Island (south) and Dodge Island, where the container port is located.  Being here has forced me to look at and appreciate the development of greater Miami and Biscayne Bay in a whole new way . . .  Venetian Islands?!@!#!!

Fisher Island, named for an automotive tycoon –still possibly the most exclusive neighborhood in the USA–has its own ferry system.

Truckable tug Toucan and barge auto carrier . . .  I have to find more info here.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who is a bit overwhelmed by Miami . . . and has so far only seen the barrier beach.

A thrill of looking at naval vessels is their uniformity.  To the layperson, which I am, this poorly shot foto shows the stern of a warship of some sort.

Uniformity means anonymity;  it does not mean pusillanimity.  Warships exude power.

But still, imagine my surprise–if wikipedia is correct about this–when I learned that this vessel–USS Simpson (FFG-56) is one of only TWO total US naval vessels presently commissioned that  can claim to have sunk an enemy vessel with its shipboard weaponry . . . aircraft are not “shipboard weaponry.”    Can you guess the other?  A clue is that it cost less than $4000 to build.  And foolish me ..  . I didn’t even get a proper foto!  In the foreground is an unidentified USACE vessel.  Learning the secret of  FFG-56 was similar to seeing–and then immediately knowing the back story of–Turner Joy last summer.

Yet another shot of C-Tractor 5 hooking up to

move USS Klakring off the dock.

Here a launch hurries over to attend to booms after Klakring departs.

Also in port was CG-69 USS Vicksburg, again . . . uniform but powerful would be an understatement.  .

I wish I’d taken more fotos, but copious fotos or no . . . I shall remember and appreciate my visit to Mayport.

Oh . . . that other currently commissioned US Navy vessel that has sunk enemy vessel usiing shipboard weaponry . . . is USS Constitution.  The vessel it sunk was HMS Guerriere, which although was battling for the British was French-built, taken by the British as a war prize in July 1806.

A few more fotos from Mayport include LCS-2  USS Independence, which reminds me of a DeLorean, somehow . . .

and another shot of C-Tractor 5.

On the morning of day 8 on the road, we caught USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the world’s first nuclear-powered carrier  . . . from the eastern end of Beach Boulevard, Mayport.

Later in the day, from Miami Beach, we spotted Jan Caribe and then

a “floating-billboard” on the canal just west of the Beach,

a storm front moving across the Beach from

the Everglades and out to  sea, as

container vessel Sluisgracht heads into port.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who’s now headed out to see what Day 9 can show.

Day 7 away from the sixth boro had found me quite desperate.  I’d started to see tugs everywhere although of an unfamiliar sort:  carved into quartz monzonite,

on road signs, and

even along the South Carolina/Georgia state line on my road atlas !

So imagine my joy today when I finally met face-to-face longtime friend of the tugster blog, JED, who  invited me onto C-Tractor 12 to see

tugs at work doing what could never be seen in the boro up north where supposedly I carry the title of mayor.  Here in the St Johns RiverC-Tractor 12 and C-Tractor 5 assist USS Klakring (FFG 42) as it heads for sea.

More from Mayport soon.  Many thanks to JED for the tour.

Although far from the sixth boro, my thoughts are there, and this is one —deep creatures... including bowsprite‘s–extravaganza I regret I’ll miss.  But you don’t have to.

Unrelated, click on the image below for Keyport Kid aka Jimmy Mack’s haunting set of fotos on the scrapping of Catawissa, a historic East Coast tugboat, scrapped in 2008 after launching 110 years earlier . . . 1898.

The Catawissa

Robert Apuzzo and Norman Brouwer made a video on board the historic tug soon before her scrapping.  Watch both part 1 and 2 and learn such detail as what suit of sail Catawissa originally carried.

Many thanks to Jimmy Mac, Robert Apuzzo, and Norman Brouwer for their work.

In case you worried that Patty Nolan‘s figurefigure would go unrefurbished, check this out . .  and just in time for the holiday.  The 1931 vessel is updated, state-of-the-art, and decent!  More Patty soon.    If you don’t get the “figurefigure” reference, well, this is a “headless” and limbless figurehead.

If you’re really coordinated with screen controls, you can tour 1939 Hudson, the only pre-war sea tug museum in the Netherlands.

Here’s Hudson posing with Elisabeth, Netherlands 2011 tug of the year.  Click here to tour Hudson‘s engine room and see the Burmeister & Wain engine.

Ellen McAllister –that nose packs a terrific punch–rafts up with Nathan E. Stewart –now in the Pacific Northwest?–after the 2009 Hudson River tug race;  the 2011 race will happen in LESS THAN two months.

Barbara McAllister (1969, ex-Bouchard Boys, ex- T. J. Sheridan)  here pushes Bouchard No. 282 out of Port Jefferson.

And back in the sixth boro, here’sOSG Horizon and barge OSG 351 on possibly their first foray in these waters.  Assist tug is Elizabeth McAllister (1967).  Horizon is the twin of

OSG Vision.  Another of the design is planned.  Any guesses on the name?

Credits here go to David Williams, Fred Trooster, moi-meme for Ellen and Nathan, Justin Zizes, and John Watson.

And an announcement, this blog leaves on a gallivant tomorrow and may be silent for the better part of a week.  We hope to surface in Jacksonville, Miami, Key West, and Dry Totugas.    Cheers.

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