We spent the weekend having some fun with Lauren, Floyd and Archer of T Maru. We are so glad Michelle George made sure we met up with the Gallegos. Saturday night, we had some sangria in the cockpit while they caught us up on their fun day at the Dry Tortugas. We sat around and ended up missing the Cruisers potluck which we had loose plans to attend. Instead, we walked over to Keys Fisheries for dinner and had some more great seafood.
The bartender provided Lily and Archer generous portions of raw fish to feed the Tarpon and several showed up for the easy meal. Tarpon are pretty easily identifiable because of the large, silvery scales that look sort of coat-of-mail like and they look even creepier grouped up under the dock lights at night.
Sunday, we all headed over to Sombrero reef for some more snorkeling. The southeast wind was blowing up plenty of breaking waves so we knew it was going to be rough. We got moored and sat for 30 minutes trying to decide whether to jump in the churning water or not. The kids were for going in. The parents were for watching the one or two snorkelers in the water to see if they were able to reboard their boats. Finally, everyone jumped in except Lauren and I, who were good with sitting on the boat and keeping watch. As it turns out, we got to watch the Keys Marine Sanctuary Law Enforcement boat slowly approach our boat and yell out to us that we needed to hoist a dive flag.
I went below to consider the challenge. Was our Mexico, Belize or Guatemala courtesy flags red enough to put a white stripe on and haul up the line? Negative. I did, however, have a piece of red cloth which I was going to try to sew up for a Bahamas courtesy flag. Lauren and I quickly pinned a white stripe across both sides and I got a couple of plastic cable ties to secure the rustic dive flag to the hoisting line. We agreed that it would easily look like a bonafide dive flag from 100 yards. As I was cinching our handiwork to the line, Mr Marine Sanctuary Law Enforcement yelled out the following:
“That will not meet the marine regulation for a dive flag hoisted from the vessel. A compliant dive flag must be 20 x 25 inches unless mounted on a float on the water.”
By this time, everyone was out of the water, drying off. I looked at my flag trying to think if it could be mounted on our floating buoy currently deployed behind the boat as a rest stop for tired snorkelers. However, the gang seemed pretty done for the day and I have a feeling the Marine Sanctuary Law Enforcement boat was equipped with a ruler. We ate sandwiches while watching him approach a neighboring, unflagged private boat. “He’s just doing his job,” we said politely. “It is rough out here today,” we acknowledged. We weren’t going to argue that is was our right to endanger ourselves by snorkeling ten feet off the back of our boat. Lauren and Floyd did a perfect mimic of an Alaskan fisherman’s self-assured interpretation of “Marine Regulation” once delivered to his fellow regulation-harried mates at the bar. The girls scouted around the boat for larger pieces of red cloth but Floyd would not give up his swim trunks. I guess we will go shopping for a dive flag. Maybe it will double as a Bahamas courtesy flag if I pin on some blue and yellow stripes in the upper left corner. Randall says “Marine Regulation” also requires the flag to have a stiffened edge so it does not flutter around. I want to read this myself to see if there is another, favorable interpretation.
Lily went off to see Key West with the Gallegos family last night. She has tons of pics from some street performances we missed so I need to figure out how to download them. Randall and I went for a bike ride. The converted military ambulance (we think) caught our eye as the driver whipped a U on busy Highway 1. Looks like a fun way to play in the sand.