The Florida Sea Base survived the cold front.  As usual, the wind was more punishing than the cold.  But everyone kept a good attitude.  The wind then tapered off a bit but still held above our comfort zone of 15 knots and clocked to the east making the reefs less comfortable and affecting visibility to some extent.  Monday we broke the 90° mark.


The Florida Sea Base was packed with Scouts the week prior to Easter.  This week is quieter, not only at Sea Base, but throughout the Keys.  I must surmize that spring break is over for most school districts.

After this week, many of the reinforcement staff will be heading home.  The Florida Sea Base is much blessed to have such dedicated supporters.  I, for one, am very aware of the stress this sometimes causes for the parents, spouses and children back home.  If you are one of those people, please know that these folks are doing good work and giving Scouts the opportunity to see Scouting values in action; something I fear they see less and less of.


In the spring in the Florida Keys (a time of year many refer to as winter elsewhere), this is a mecca for tourists from around the world. Many are not used to driving on the right side of the road, many don’t speak English, some are the nicest people on Earth, and some aren’t. Here are two true stories that I observed on the same day.

I was at Burger King for breakfast in Marathon. There is a young man and young lady (20s?) in line in front of me. They do not speak English, but they do understand the menu. (I don’t know how either.) So they decide what they want, the lady uses her phone to take pictures of the items and they show the pictures to the cashier. Ingenious.

Later I was shopping at Winn Dixie in Tavernier. I was on the cereal aisle. I did not need cereal. I did not choose to be on the cereal aisle. But the wave of tourists was guiding me like I was caught in a rip current at the beach and the rip current was going down the cereal aisle – and taking me with it.

Also on the cereal aisle was a lovely family of tourists from somewhere in Eastern Europe (my best guess). Four generations represent by 2 kids, two parents, two grandparents and two great-grandparents. One of the kids told mama he wanted cereal A. The other kid started screaming, she wanted cereal B. The first kid starts screaming back in defense of cereal A. Mama starts screaming no and chooses cereal C. Grandma starts screaming at mama to get both A and B. A non-associated 30 something lady wearing yoga pants and with a small child bullies her way through the screaming match and apparently great-grandpa pinches her on the rump. Now the lady starts screaming at great-grandpa. Great-grandma doesn’t know what’s going on so she starts screaming at the lady. By the way, the lady does not speak the same foreign language as the other family, but they’re all screaming anyway. I abandoned my cart, forced my way downstream, went back to the front of the store, got another cart, and started shopping all over again.

And not to leave out the Americans….. Later, the same evening….. An intoxicated motorcycle operator is trying to turn left onto the highway from the bar parking lot. He revs up the engine, but the bike is not in gear. He picks up his foot and the bike falls on its left side. Many people rush to his aide. He is ok. They help him pick up the bike. The man is holding the bike upright and standing on the left side of it. He fails to put down the kickstand, but releases the bike so he can survey the damage. The bike crashes onto its right side. Now both sides are smashed up. Someone finally convinced him to park the bike and they gave him a lift.

That, dear friends, is just one day of springtime tourism in the Florida Keys. I wonder if the tourism board would be interested in publishing my observations?


I will be on the road again late this week or this coming weekend; Texas is calling me home.  So please be patient if it takes me a couple of weeks to post again.

Capt. Steve Willis
FSB Program Director – RETIRED
Aboard S/V Escape

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