Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dead Conchs In The Sunset

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
34 42.54 N 081 05.58 W

The Florida Keys, and especially Key West, are famous for their spectacular sunsets. It's a lovely part of the day here in winter to sit out in the cockpit and watch the sun go down.

It is also a keys and a Bahamaian tradition to blow a single blast on your conch shell horn at sunset.

Tonight, I was first off the mark. I blew when the half the sun disappeared below the horizon. That started a chorus of other blasts from around the harbor -- perhaps two dozen all told.

Some people are more accomplished at conch blowing than others (including me). I'm judging quality by the volume and duration of the blast. All modesty aside, while I'm not good at it I am getting better.

Few or none of them are able to get the modulation and note playing as the lock tender Robert at Deep Creek, VA. Robert told me part of the secret is to find a smaller shell with thinner walls. I'm going to try to find one.

Here in Marathon, there is a man who lives in one of the harbor-side apartments. He comes out on his balcony and fires a cannon, then he plays taps on a loud speaker. I always visualized him as a retired Marine general, or the ghost of General Patton. He used to do it every night, but not it's only occasional.

Newcomers don't always get the point. A few days ago, I overheard a woman on a nearby boat remark the first time she heard the sunset seranade. She said, "Is it happy hour?"

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