Monthly Archives: January 2016

The people we meet

Harbour Cay Club, Florida Keys, Marathon FL
Posted by Bill

We meet so many different kinds of people in this lifestyle, and it is one of the really cool things about cruising. You meet people from all walks of life and varying degrees of investment in the cruising lifestyle. One of the things that I like best is that most people don’t talk about their life before cruising unless you ask, and there is not a lot of how much do you have or not have, how big your house is, or how expensive of a car do you drive. Most people just kind of meld together as a community in a level playing field, helping each other out with what ever they can offer when someone is in need. I wish society and the world in general was more like this. I think a part of it is that living as close to nature and the sea as we do tends to humble you, and help you see beyond the societal facade that has been created in the more economically advanced countries. It is very liberating and puts life in true perspective.

A great example of the diversity of people that we meet came most recently. We met a young couple, Tom and Vanessa, that was staying in our marina on their 27 foot sailboat. It didn’t have a lot of the amenities of most of the other boats you see, like running water, refrigerator, stove, but it allowed them to travel through the keys and conduct business (he is a professional photographer…and a very good one…let me know if you need someone and I’ll hook you up). We got to be good friends with them and really enjoyed their company. They were finishing up some work here and heading north to the next job, so they put the boat up for sale. They must have good Karma because it sold just before they had to leave. They sold it to a group of 3 street performers from Key West who have never owned a boat or sailed one. They were taking it to Key West and planned to live on it with their 2 dogs. Tom took them out for some lessons and they had a friend of theirs who knows how to sail, help them take the boat to Key West. They were very young and fit the image of a typical Key West street performer, and lived a very different life than most people, so they stood out in our marina. We talked to them a few times and they were very nice, respectful people.

They left the other day with seven people, three dogs, three kayaks and a bunch of personal affects, all in a 27 foot sailboat. Our friends Hayden and Radeen helped them get out of the marina using their dinghy to tow their bow, and a bunch of us wished them luck, and saw them off. Many were worried about them making it to Key West, us included, and they agreed to let us know that they made it. At first you might think …. these guys are crazy! I know that it is not something that I would be comfortable doing, but hey, that is the beauty of it all…to each his own. They are out there experiencing life, leveraging the resources at their disposal, and I respect them for it! The coolest thing about the whole event was that, despite the fact that they are at opposite ends of a spectrum, people were not judgmental and were genuinely concerned for their well being. I point this out not because I was surprised by it…the people here, like most cruisers are wonderful; but because this is very different than what happens in society at large. I just wish we could make this mentality as contagious as the flu and spread it around the world.

We later heard that they made it without incident and are looking forward to checking out their performance the next time we go to Key West.


Rock’n and Rollin’ again…and a trip to Key West

Harbour Cay Club, Marathon FL, Florida Keys
Posted by Bill

The weather in the Keys has been very abnormal this year. First off…this is the dry season, but we have been having several days of rain every week, sometimes every day. It has also been much cooler. The average high is in the low 70’s normally and we have had many days in the 60’s. The worst of it has been the northerly fronts. In a normal year, a front will move in with strong north winds every 10-14 days, and within a day or two the wind will move to the northeast and then east. Winds are usually only blowing into the mid 20’s (knots) or high teens and then within a few days will go back to the normal 10-15 knots. This year we have had fronts move in every 5 days or so with winds into the 30’s, and they have been sticking around with a northerly component for 4 or more days. We are well protected here in the marina unless the winds are from the north or northwest, in which case we get waves rolling in to the marina that will rock you senseless. In the last month we have had a couple of the fronts with extreme weather, winds over 40 knots. The last couple of days we had one come through with a max of 47 knots (54 MPH), and then 2 days of 30+ knot winds out of the northwest and north. Needless to say, we got our asses kicked. It is just now starting to move a little to the east and calm to under 20 knots. When these conditions exist, the front and back of the boat pitch up and down rather wildly and a distance of up to 4 feet. Very hard to sleep, or even stay on the boat, or even get on and off the boat. This does not do it justice, but here is a still shot of the scene:

We had 2 and 3 foot waves rolling in! The people who live here full time in the marina are saying that this was the worst they have seen it here. Our friends in the Bahamas had an encounter with winds of 70-100+ knots, causing boats to break loose from anchor, running into other boats and crashing on rocks and reefs. This is why we don’t go to the Bahamas early in the season. It has been crazy. The experts are blaming it on the strong El Nino in the Pacific.

The weather has put a severe damper on our ability to get our boat projects done in preparation for traveling to the Bahamas. Our goal was to go early in February as soon as a weather window opened, but we need to get the work done before we can make it.

We took a day off Saturday and went to Key West to visit Kurt and Sharon on Byrd Ketcher, and Mark and Jan on Island Bound (the other Island Bound). Kurt’s sister and her husband were staying with them, so we all went out bar hopping and had a great time. Random street scene on Duval:

Since we don’t have a car we had to take the bus. There was a seafood festival in Key West so the bus was crammed full of people, to the point that it seemed dangerous. Tricia got a seat and I stood by the rear door. A short, fat guy crammed in in front of me with his large ass pressed into my crotch. It was like getting a lap dance for the 2 hour trip to Key West…not a fun time for me! We both got a seat for the ride back but had to stare at this guy the whole way:

The joys of public transportation!

This week we are renting a car and driving to see Tricia’s sister Diane and her husband Mark. They rented a house in Bradenton FL and we will visit for a few days. On the way there and back we will pick up a new air conditioning unit that I need to install, and make runs to Costco and Walmart to provision for the Bahamas.

Exploring the mangrove tunnels

Marathon, FL
Posted by Bill

Today we took a break from boat projects and took our dinghy over to Boot Key to explore the mangrove tunnels. Our Harbour Cay friends Jim and Lanny led a flotilla of dinghys under the 7 mile bridge, through Boot Key harbor and into the mangroves. The tunnels are very narrow paths through the mangroves and are marked by private buoys and orange painted branches. You really have to know where they are. Most of them are accessible only by kayak, and we encountered areas that were just wide and tall enough to let us get through. It was great fun!

Path we took to where the tunnels were:

Lanny pouring mimosas to toast our departure:

Dinghys getting ready to depart:

And we are off:

Motoring through the canals and creeks of Boot Key:

Entering the tunnels:

Working our way through the mangroves. Most of the areas where very narrow and low, and we had to frequently duck down and pull ourselves through:

After several hours…making it out:

And then we motored to a local bar on the water, Dockside:

On the way back, we stopped at Sunset Grill for a few happy hour cocktails:

And then we had happy hour and watched the sun set at the tiki hut at Harbour Cay Club:

A great day! Thanks to Lanny and Jim for leading us there and through the tunnels. We would never have found them on our own.

Bringing in a new year

Harbour Cay Club – Marathon, Florida Keys
Posted by Bill

First…happy new year everyone! I haven’t posted since Christmas so I thought I would write an update. Generally, we have been enjoying a period of fantastic weather for the last 3 weeks! Today another front is moving through and the temps have fallen to the high 60s…brrrrrrr, and as usual, we are rocking and rolling in the waves of the north winds. Most of the last week we have been working on the boat. Seems like we are finding one project after another, but most of the time has been spent trying to get the air conditioner condensation draining properly. We finally broke down and figured a way to run a drain tube to our shower sump, so we could bypass using the venturi condensator that has been problematic. After some adjustments to the tube, we were able to get a solution and have been enjoying cooler temps in the cabin. Tricia built some shade curtains out of a shade material we bought at Home Depot. It works great to shade the cockpit and it was much more cost effective than buying the usual material (Phifertex) that is used in the marine industry. Next we tackled installing a new stern light on the dinghy davit cross bar. When the dinghy is hanging in the davits, the standard stern light is obscured, which is not good! We bought a mounting bracket, a new stern light, and the wire to add a light higher on the davits. Problem was…the clamp they sent me is too large for the cross bar….oh well…we will finish that one later. I’ll try to get a few pics of the last 2 projects mentioned for other cruisers looking for similar solutions, and will post in a future post.

A couple of days after Christmas we went to the Marathon Craft Beer and Bubbly festival at the city park. We rode our bikes with friends Hayden and Radeen on Island Spirit, and Maris and Linda on Amekaya. They had craft beer, wine, champagne, good food trucks, and live music. It was great fun! Here is the gang:

A couple of days before new years, friends here at the marina, Lanny and Jim, fired up their smoker and we smoked a pork tenderloin. Tricia marinated ours with the rib rub she makes, and the result was outstanding!!! Here is half of the tenderloin:

Tricia cut it up into portions and used our Food Saver to vacuum pack it, then put most of it in the freezer. We have been enjoying, and will be enjoying delicious pork for a while.

New Years Eve, we joined several other couples here at the marina and had hor d’oeuvres and drinks to usher in the new year. Lanny made a southern traditional “good luck” meal that was really good, so we should be real lucky! All of the food was good. We were in the club house, which has a nice wide screen TV with a surround sound system. We watched football and then the ball drop in Times Square. Hayden, Radeen, Maris and Linda, coaxed me in to getting my guitar and everyone joined in singing while I played. The party finally broke up around 2:40 AM. It was really fun, and I think that is the latest we have stayed up for new years eve in decades.

We pretty much stayed here at Harbour Cay Club over the holidays, as there were hordes of tourists here for the holidays. We are glad to have things get back to normal…as normal as it gets in the keys! Tomorrow some friends are coming in from St. Pete, Florida, and I am sure the happy hours at all of the local haunts will become a larger part of our activity once again.