Party of Three

The Sansbury’s are officially a party of three.

Introducing Bimini, our nine week old Irish Goldendoodle, who is a tiny bundle of awesomeness covered in soft auburn fur.  Fur that doesn’t shed.

#winning  #nomorelintrollers

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We honestly wrestled with getting another dog for a very long time… We really missed having a fur baby in our lives but felt like we were cheating on Yingling & Corona, even though they were happily living their golden years with their foster family who loves them to pieces.  Even after we ended our sailing trip and moved back on land, we knew that taking them back wasn’t an option.  They have a new home in which they are loved and well cared for, and that’s all we could ever ask for.  When got the news this fall that Corona had passed away after 13 wonderful years, we were devastated.  The end of an era had come.  Perhaps it was time we allow ourselves to move on as well.

Welcome, Bimini.  Named after one of our favorite islands in the Exumas, she entered our lives and filled it instantly.  She’s the fresh start that we’d been searching for since we moved to Key West almost a year ago.

But boy, did we forget about the puppy stage!  The razor sharp teeth and new puppy smell; the boundless energy; the crate training.  Oh, how I hate the crate training!  She’ll cry and whine to be let out, but we want to avoid any accidents in the house.  It seriously breaks my heart  to hear her get so worked up.   But I know that proper training is absolutely necessary to having a well behaved companion dog in the future. It just kills us to have her unhappy 🙁

So far she loves socializing with people and strutting her stuff down Duval Street.  She’s already an Island dog who enjoys the beach, chewing on coconuts and chasing the roosters that roam the streets of Key West. Funny, because most of them are bigger than she is right now.  Wonder how she’d do at the Hemingway House with all of those six toed cats?

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Conch Livin’

Oh, hey there!  Remember us?  The crazy couple who quit their jobs, bought a boat and sailed away into the sunset? Yeah, we’re still here.

I know…. it’s been forever since I last posted. Forever being almost three months. Eek. What a slacker. I used to freak out about not posting at least once a week, and here it’s been several months since the last entry. It seems the Conch Life has relaxed us more than I thought. Guess we’re more like Type A-minus people now.

We’ve been getting quite a few emails from followers and many (not so subtle) hints from family members about the status of the blog. Will it continue? Were the Bahamas the series finale? What about the fate of Foxfire? How’s life in Key West? So many questions. So much to cover.  We really don’t think we’re that interesting, but it’s sweet that y’all do.  So, the short answer is, YES, the blog is still alive (barely. I had to give it a little CPR, but it’s recovering nicely). This is the forum we chose to document our journey for ourselves, so we can look back and smile at all of the crazy things we’ve done, and living in Key West is now another chapter in our story. It won’t be focused on sailing anymore, but there’s something about living on an island that still inspires that same sense of reckless abandonment adventure in which we now live our lives.

So what about Foxfire? Well, with a heavy heart I report that she has been SOLD. Yes, it seems that we’ve gone full circle, from Suburbs to Sailing back to the Suburbs. We tried to figure out every way possible to keep her, but with boat slips for a 23′ wide catamaran at a premium down here in the Keys and dockage fees ranging upwards of $50/ft (per day – hello!), plus the fact that we both have jobs again (what?!) means that we didn’t have the time nor the funds to keep her cruising as much as she needed.  It was a bittersweet decision for us, and we nearly backed out at the last minute, but in the end selling Foxy was the best thing for us and for her.  We’re not ruling out ever living on a boat and cruising again, but for right now, we’re landlubbers.

We’ve slowly integrated to living on land again these past few months.  I’ll admit, it IS nice going to sleep at night and not waking up regularly to check to see if our anchor has dragged.  And every time I load up our dishwasher instead of spending an hour doing piles of dishes by hand in a 12″ wide sink (with or without hot water, depending on if our generator was running or not), you may catch me doing my happy dance.  Plus I no longer have to wear cheap flip flops so my feet don’t touch the scuzzy floor of a marina shower or the fact that I don’t have to pay upwards of $4 per load of laundry is a pretty nice touch as well.  However, no more waking up and going to sleep with the gentle sound of waves lapping against the hull or having 24-7 spectacular views of the water.  Unless we want to pay some serious coin to be loaded onto a party boat with 50 other tourists all vying for deck space to take sunset photos.  Trade offs.

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Life in Key West is pretty interesting.  I’ll admit, it’s very different actually living here versus being here for a week on vacation.  You need to have a high tolerance for just about everything – quirky residents, throngs of tourists, traffic, boys that dress like girls – you know, the usual stuff.  It’s all just a little different down here.  We drive scooters instead of sedans (at least the seats are still leather!).  Sunsets are a big damn deal and are celebrated nightly.  The chickens and iguanas that roam the island and are like our pets. Expect any sort of repair or service work to take at least a month.  Suits and heels are best left on the mainland.  It takes a little getting used to, but there’s all sorts of shenanigans going on every day that reminds us just how fabulous life here can be.

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I guess the only way to describe it is…. What a life.

Catch Ya Later, Key West

 

Alas, it’s come time to say goodbye to Key West. I guess it’s not truly goodbye, rather more like a reluctant ‘see ya later’. We plan to return to this crazy, wonderful slice of paradise after we complete our Bahamas trip, and may even have the distinction of becoming “Fresh Water Conchs” (the term for non-native residents living here for seven or more years).

It was actually a lot harder to leave than I thought it would be, even with the bitterness of our stolen bikes fresh in our minds. We’ve met a ton of cool people and have done so many neat things during the two months that we’ve been here (wow, it’s really been two months already?). We’re a bit reluctant to leave, but there’s another adventure to look forward to, and as excited as we are to put down roots here, if we don’t make it to the Bahamas, we’d be kicking ourselves in the asses forever.

So what makes this little salty piece of land so special?

The People

The people here are by far, the friendliest, most welcoming group that we’ve ever found in one single place. This is a very small island, and it’s evident that people take care of one another ‘round here. We found that no one is actually from KW (although we did meet one “Salt Water Conch”, who was a true native), and hearing people talk about where they came from and what brought them here is a natural conversation starter that inevitably leads to some pretty interesting stories. We’ve heard everything from ‘I came here on Spring Break back in ’88 and never left’, to ‘I never wanted to shovel snow again’, to (my personal favorite), ‘It was as far away from HER as I could get’. It’s like a little band of misfits who are all inevitably running away from something or the other, whether it be the cold weather, responsibility, exes, the law – you name it, we’ve heard it. And that just makes us love it here even more.

The Food

From five star restaurants to food trucks, seafood to spaghetti, this place has it all. We love, love, love going out to eat, and have discovered some amazing food nearly everywhere we’ve been. We’re not ashamed to admit that we’ve happily surrendered a good chunk of our cruising kitty to discovering delicious places to eat. Happy Hour specials are definitely the way to go here, with most places offering 2 for 1 drinks and half price appetizers somewhere between the hours of 4-7. We like to hit some of the pricier spots, like Martin’s Steakhouse for HH, and are able to get a nice dinner(surf and turf) and drinks for under $40. Not bad. Some of our favorites are off the beaten path, like The Cafe, a quaint vegan cafe with amazing salads, and Kojin, a Japanese noodle bar that reminds us of something you’d find squished in a side alley in NYC. And of course there’s the key lime pie. The debate’s still on whether it’s best topped with whipped cream or meringue, but just know that authentic key lime pie is yellow, not green.

The Attitude

The saying ‘the lower the latitude, the better the attitude’, definitely applies to Key West. Everyone is just so damn happy and chill here. And why wouldn’t they be? They’re basically living the Caribbean lifestyle while still under the safety of US laws and protection. You can wear cutoffs and flip flops everywhere. Bikes are the preferred mode of transport. There’s palm trees and beaches at the end of nearly every street. Time moves just a little slower here. Add to that, the constant cash flow from happy tourists ready to surrender their money for pretty much anything. Here, you get a do-over from whoever you were in your previous life. Ex-CEO’s are cab drivers. Teachers are bartenders. Guys who like guys can dress like girls. Anything goes. One big human family living down here in Paradise. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, then maybe you’re better suited for life on the mainland.

So alas, we say ‘See Ya Later, KW’! We’ll be back to zippin’ around your streets on our old crusty conch cruisers (bikes) again in no time!

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Happy Christmas & Merry New Year

So… I’m about four days late in writing this post.  In fact, it’s been nearly two weeks since my last update.  Don’t judge.  I’m totally admitting to being a complete slacker here.  Truth is, we’ve just been enjoying the time we have left here in Key West before we head out in a few days.  We had some very productive days (Provisioning done! Boat clean! Tanks topped off!) and some very un-productive days (four books read in the past two weeks, Matt is now a master of Boom Beach, and interactive Sims like game – hello!), but we’ve absolutely loved our “de-compression” time here and can’t wait to come back for good after our trip to the Bahamas.

Christmas was tough for us this year, since it was the first time we haven’t spent it with our families.  Funny, because nearly every year prior, as we spent weeks trying to plan the logistics of dividing our time between multiple houses, we dreamed of taking a vacation to just escape it all.  This year we finally had that chance… and it sucked. The waves of homesickness we felt as we Facetimed our families doing their thing without us was something even the decorated palm trees and warm balmy nights of being in paradise couldn’t soothe.  There’s nothing quite like being home for the holidays, even if home comes with a few days of chaos and freezing temps.  As we watched our adorable niece and nephews hold up the goodies that Santa brought them, we made a vow that we would try to get back home every Christmas to come.

However, the day wasn’t all doom and gloom for us.  We got to experience our first cruiser Christmas, thanks to Bob and Linda aboard s/v Storymaker, which happens to also be a Lagoon 410 (same exact boat as ours!), and hails from Bel Air, MD, a town just a half an hour away from where we are from.  How funny is that?  We weren’t too sure what to expect, seeing that this was our first “cruisers party” and we’d only met them for about 10 minutes prior while doing laundry at the marina facilities.  Our apprehension dissolved within about two minutes after climbing on board.  We spent the better part of Christmas day aboard their boat, meeting new friends, swapping stories, and making what I’m sure will be lifelong friends.  Just what we needed to pull ourselves out of our funk of being away from home for the holidays.

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The festivities continued the day after with another connection to home. Long story short, my mom’s childhood friend Gina, along with her husband Skip and daughter Lindsay, moved to Key West from Maryland a little over a year ago.  They’ve pretty much been our foster family, and have embraced us with open arms and introduced us to all the island has to offer.  They’re absolutely awesome and we couldn’t have been more thankful to meet them.  Matt and I have become good friends with Lindsay, and decided to do a little Christmas party of our own at her house since Gina and Skip went back to Maryland for the holidays (Lindsay had to work and stayed behind – lucky us!).  While our parents were partying it up together back in MD, we were having our own little misfit Christmas with a few others down here in KW.  How funny is that?  We were all apart, but still together at the same time.

Here, Matt is wrapping Lindsay’s Secret Santa gift (a bottle of wine) in an entire roll of paper towels, laughing that whoever got it would have a hell of a time opening it.  Guess who got it?  Matt.  Ha!

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Check out the view of their neighborhood.  Can you get anymore Key West than this?

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The festivities flowed right into New Years Eve, where the day was kicked off by a wiener dog parade downtown.  You read that right.  Hundreds of wiener dogs (aka dachshunds), paraded their little legs down Duval Street dressed to the nines.  We figured with a start like this, the day was going to be pretty epic.  Or at least extremely bizarre/awesome.

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Keeping with the bizarre/awesome theme, we were excited to see the dropping of the shoe at the Bourbon St. Pub on Duval Street.  In case you’re not familiar, the 800 block of Duval is the hub of the gay community here, and Bourbon St. Pub is pretty much the epicenter of it all.  We caught them testing out the pulley system on the shoe earlier in the day.  The last thing a lady wants is for her heel to break on her big night.

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As the sun set, the festivities really got lively.  We wandered down Duval and just took in all of the amazing sights before our very (wide) eyes.  Bull riding, girls in over-the-top outfits, boys dressed as girls in over-the-top outfits, lights and music everywhere.  It was fantastic.  Around 11:30 we ducked into Bourbon St. Pub and watched the shoe – with the famous Key West drag queen, Sushi onboard – drop right in front of us.  We were literally standing inside the bar, just behind the shoe.  It was amazing. We even made new friends who taught me how to do a ‘fierce’ pose and who thought Matt was just beautiful. Ha!  He took it all in stride for a while, but as the drinks flowed, the advances got to be a little too much and we decided to call it a night.  I was just happy that, just once, the line to the girls bathroom was shorter than the one to the guys.

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Needless to say, New Years Day was spent being extremely unproductive. Hey, you only live once!

So, as we wrapped up 2014, and welcomed in 2015 with a hell of a bang, we’re ready to move on to our next adventure – the Bahamas!  Looks like we’ll be leaving Key West on Wednesday and will hopefully (weather permitting) be over to Bimini by this time next week.  We’ve been keeping busy the past few days prepping and provisioning for our trip and feel like we’re in a good spot to leave.  We’ll miss KW, but are super excited for next leg of the trip.

Hope you and yours had a great holiday and are looking forward to getting back to the grind tomorrow.  Wait… too soon?

Reel ‘Em In, Rich!

We had our first visitor aboard last week when Matt’s Uncle Rich flew in for a few days of fun, sun, and lots and lots of fishing.  He’s been coming down to Key West on and off since the 80’s, so it didn’t take much convincing on our part to have him meet us down here for a few days.  It was so much fun spending time with him and exploring the Island, discovering some fun new places, and did I mention the fishing?  I’m not over exaggerating when I say that he and Matt had a rod in their hands for 75% of his stay.  I wasn’t complaining….  this meant fresh fish for dinner and some guilt-free reading time for me, so I wholeheartedly encouraged it.

The first day was spent fishing off the back of the boat right here in the mooring field.  It’s amazing what a difference it makes having a block of frozen chum in a mesh bag hanging in the water.  The fish were just swarming the back of the boat. They caught a freezer’s worth of ballyhoo, a small bait fish we can use to troll with across the Gulf Stream to pick up larger fish, like mahi-mahi, Matt’s dream catch (besides me, of course).

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They also snagged TWO baby sharks that were eating the fish swarming our chum block – a nurse shark and a bottlenose, which looked a heck of a lot like a hammerhead.  They threw them both back, but not before taking a few pictures of the catch.  Not sure where their mamas were, but I’m glad they didn’t make an appearance while we were posing for pictures.  The sharks, along with a 3ft barracuda we had hovering underneath the boat the other day, has made us think twice before diving into the water.

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Later that night we went into town for dinner at Blue Heaven, and surprised Richard with tickets to a Christmas show… a burlesque Sexy Santa Sing Along, which looked way more entertaining than any Christmas show we’ve ever seen before.  Unfortunately, the show was more drunken crowd sing alongs and panhandling for tips and a lot less sexy than we had expected.  When ‘Sexy Santa’ (dressed in a tight lycra santa suit with more bulging below than on top) asked the crowd to come up and stuff money into her beard, we took it as an opportunity to get the hell out of there.  We all agreed there was nothing sexy about that show.  Oh well, you live and you learn. At least we got a good story out of it.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

The next day we took boat out to Eastern Dry Rocks, a reef about five miles south of Key West in the Atlantic, to do more fishing.  You can’t actually fish inside of the reef, since it’s a protected area, so we got as close as we could to the perimeter before letting the lines fly. The boys ended up catching a whole bucket full of Yellowtail Snapper, which ironically, is what we spent $25 a dish on at Blue Heaven the night before.

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After fishing for a few hours, we headed back just in time to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the water.  On our way past the cruise ship dock, we saw the big crowd at Mallory Square had already gathered for the nightly sunset celebration and two old schooners were on their way out with a deck full of tourists paying big money to see the sun set on the water.  We tied up to the mooring ball just as darkness fell, and the guys immediately went back to casting out their lines again, this time catching just one lone mutton snapper.  It was a great day and Matt learned a lot of good fishing tips that will hopefully be put to good use in the Bahamas!

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After we said goodbye to Richard, we decided we should get around to some of the boat projects that were patiently waiting for us, one of which was to refill our propane tank.  That was an adventure.  We had to go to two different places before we found a gas station that could actually fill our little 2.5 gallon tank.  We got some odd looks driving around too.  Not sure if it was the propane tank inside of the milk crate on the back of a mountain bike that did it, or the fact that both of us were absolutely covered in sweat thanks to the humidity that’s been hanging around here like a fog the past few days.  Ah, life on a boat.  Sometimes I wonder why we even bother to shower.

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Big news!  We just discovered Cuban Coffee Queen, which is by far our favorite breakfast/lunch spot on the Island. This is big news, because we both like a good breakfast spot, and this one was delicious and cheap. In fact, we had both breakfast and lunch there yesterday, for a grand total of $30 for four meals.  Not shabby at all in a town where that’s the cost of a round of drinks. Huzzah!

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Today we tackled laundry, and met another couple who are cruising on a Lagoon 410, which is the exact same boat as ours.  We pass their boat each time we dinghy in/out of the marina, and we just noticed that their hailing port is Bel Air, MD.  How funny is that?  Even crazier?  They’re cruising with another couple that also has a Lagoon 410, which happens to be the exact same boat we saved from dragging anchor and crashing into a very expensive looking power boat this past fall in Annapolis.  It really is a small world, isn’t it?  We’re joining them for Christmas brunch tomorrow on their boat.  This is our first cruising potluck, so I’m wondering what the heck to bring.  I’m sure anything that comes in a bottle will be much appreciated by all.