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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?

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.

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