My little sister Annie and I take an annual road trip to Key West after a week of hard work at the Miami boat show. Traditionally we stay at The Garden House Bed and Breakfast on Elizabeth Street. We frequent our favorite places, not because of the beverages or food they serve, but the people that work there, some I’ve known as long as 20 years; it’s a family reunion of sorts. For that short time we are together in Key West, we slip back into time, surrounded by pictures and portraits of Hemingway hanging on the walls of Sloppy Joe’s, ignoring the mid-morning arrival of cruise ship tourists.
On one of our recent Key West adventures, Annie was hanging with old friends and I decided to wander the back streets to our B&B. Out of an alley came the piano and vocals of Ericson Holt, a local talent I was familiar with. I strolled in and ordered a beer. At the break in the set, Eric and I had great conversation, reminiscing about the various venues I had heard him play in the southeast. He invited Annie and me to be his guest the following day on the Sebago Sunset Cruise he was scheduled to play.
Annie and I arrived early to the dock, meeting Eric and his other two band members and helped load amps, speakers, lights, mics, and other equipment on board Marquesa. She is the largest catamaran of the Sebago fleet at 69 feet long and a beam of 36 feet, 2,300 square feet of deck space offer ample accommodations for 125 passengers. Her mast stretches 100 feet skyward making her sail one of the largest in the Keys. Complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks, and water are included with the fare; a cash bar for booze is available.
All set and ready to go, Annie and I hung out with the band on the foredeck. Sun setters start forming lines to acquire their beverage of choice. Being a non-paying guest of the band, Annie and I linger until all patrons have their beverage. Upon entering the cabin heading for the bar, I notice the main saloon is filled with eight kids approximately 10 to 15 years of age and what appeared to be three sets of parents; every kid and two of the adults had their faces buried into cell phones; I was unable to keep my trap shut!
“Hey guys, here on vacation?” I politely inquired.
“Yes, from Indiana,” one of the male parents, who did not have a cell phone in his paw replied, “and you?”
“My sister and I come here every year after working the Miami boat show, we’re guests of the band playing on deck; I’m in Key West several times a year.”
“You must be in the boat business,” he deducted.
“Yes, Annie works out of Annapolis and I work out of Florida.”
“Must be nice,” he smiled.
“Yes it is, but I still enjoy every sunset. Let’s see, six adults, eight kids, this outing had to cost you about $500 and ten of you have your faces buried in a cell phone, that’s something you can do in Indiana, but you ain’t gonna see a Key West sunset in Indiana,” I said as I walked out towards the deck.
“Thank you,” he replied and took charge, “turn those damn phones off and hand ’em over!”
He came up to me on deck, offering a handshake, “Best advice I’ve had this entire vacation.”