The bunker barge delayed our departure by an hour in Tampa as for some unknown reason they pumped slower then normal. We loaded a 1000 tons of fuel and in the end we sailed 1 hour late. When we rounded the Dry Tortugas the wind picked up, blowing straight against us and for awhile I thought that we would have to cancel Key West. Due to the above, we arrived 90 minutes late at the pilot station. However when the pilot advised that there was about 20 knots of wind at the dock, I was willing to give it a try.
In the end it all worked out, although it was an interesting docking. 20 to 25 knots of wind blowing over the dock trying to push the ship away from the dock, a flood current trying to push the ship past the dock and a dock that is really too small to park at. On top of that we had to sail by the Enchantment of the Seas, who was docked at Pier B 150 feet behind us.
We were at Mallory Pier, which is the downtown dock. Walk off the gangway and there you are. Sloppy Joe no more than 10 minutes away. This is a lot better than being docked at the Navy pier, where the shuttle service, although fast still costs time. As most guests were back on board by 5 pm. anyway, I do not think that there was much inconvenience caused because of the delayed arrival. Although I extended the all on board time by 30 minutes, only one couple took advantage of it, and hopped back on board 30 seconds before the deadline. Being docked at Mallory Square has one disadvantage; you have to be away from the dock about 30 minutes before sunset. In the evening Mallory Square becomes an open air Vaudeville stage with cats jumping through hoops, jugglers, singers, dancers, little shops that sell alternative trinkets, it is a whole Flower-power revival. The tradition is that you gather on Mallory square to see the sunset. With a clear sky, the sun setting over the Keys is indeed spectacular and the viewers do not like a cruise ship blocking the sun. Even if it is the Veendamâ€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦
So we get away from the pier at least 30 minutes before sunset and so avoid the evil eye of the holiday makers gathering on the square. We blew out of port, as fast as we came in the port, with even more wind this time and by 7 pm. we were back in the Straits of Florida.
Another thing that we have to contend with is the Florida Tax zone. The State of Florida has instigated a tax ruling that apart from that ships casinoâ€™s are not allowed to be open within the 3 miles zone around the State, also Florida taxes have to be paid on the drinks sold on board. For that we receive an official Florida Liquor license and the purser calculates the proper amount of taxes to be paid. To make sure that this works correctly, the officer of the watch phones the purser and the casino manager when we approach the tax zone limit, when going in and coming out. So that we do not forget it ourselves, we have made a line on the electronic chart that shows up on the Radar display. When we do our daily Navigator meeting for the next port, the tax zone limit is part of the discussion.
So apart from navigating the ship, preventing collisions, avoiding whales, keeping the ship upright due to shifting winds and checking fire alarms, the Officer of the Watch now also makes sure that the State of Florida gets its taxes. Who said that a navigatorâ€™s job was dull????
Tomorrow we have a sea day and tonight we have go one hour back. We have following winds and tropical storm Noel is faraway to the East creating havoc in the Dominican Republic so of no concern to us (yet).