Position: 24 42.524N, 081 05.221W
Posted by Bill
I guess that it has been awhile since I posted….I guess we’ve been pretty busy!
Byrd Ketcher and Sofia Jeanne caught back up with us in Marine Stadium and on the 5th we headed south in Biscayne Bay for the Florida Keys. The winds were brisk and the bay was pretty choppy, but for the first time in a long time, we actually got to sail and turn the motor off. We made good time to Tarpon Basin (Key Largo area) and anchored at position 25 07.222N, 080 25.726W. We went ashore and hit a great happy hour with stiff drinks and good food. It was great to be in the Keys again. For one, it is the land of happy hours. They are everywhere and offer great deals on food and drink. Most start around 11AM and go to 6PM, and you usually get a great view. This is where the water clears up and you start to be able to actually see the bottom. Nothing like the Bahamas, but it is still great. Life slows down when you get here. Fewer boats, less stressed out people, fewer Ass Captains (as in the Ass Captain award recipients).
We had a few days of great weather, but a winter front was forecasted to hit the Keys on Friday and last until Monday. Winter fronts are associated with strong (30+ knot winds) out of the north. The bad thing about the Keys is that they are not a lot of places to get protection from the north winds, so we planned to be in Marathon for the weather event. We picked up anchor the next day and moved south to an anchorage off Lorelei’s in Islamorada, our favorite bar in the keys. They have a great location, good live music every day, and a legendary happy hour. Our anchored position was 24 55.634N, 080 38.024W. We enjoyed our evening there very much.
The next day we moved on to Marathon. Every year we have stayed at a private Marina called Harbor Cay Club and have really enjoyed staying there except for the exposure to north winds, in which your boat gets slammed with incoming waves. They have also imposed a 2 month minimum stay, which is longer than we usually plan for because we are looking to get to the Bahamas ASAP after the first of the year. Marina slips are really scarce in Marathon unless you want to pay out the butt, so we opted to go for the Boot Key Harbor mooring field. The harbor is protected from winds of all directions. The city of Marathon manages 226 mooring balls, and there are a few places to anchor outside of the mooring field. The good thing is that it is reasonably priced and you can dinghy to Sombrero Beach and many bars and restaurants. It is also close walking distance to Home Depot, Publix, Liquor Stores, a movie theater, and many more restaurants. The bad thing is that it is usually full this time of year, and after the new year there is a long waiting list of people wanting to rent a mooring. You can’t make reservations and have to actually be in the harbor to have a mooring assigned. Also, you have to show up in person with a picture ID to get on the waiting list, which means you have to find a place to anchor and come ashore, first come first served. When we got to the harbor there was one mooring available and we had 3 boats, so that meant 2 would have to anchor. We were first in, had the longest boat and deepest draft (not as easy to find a place to anchor as them), and our friends told us to take the mooring and they anchored, hoping we would get 2 more moorings before the weather hit. Thursday was really nice and we took the dinghy to Sombrero Beach for the afternoon:
Well, the winds came on early in the AM on Friday as predicted, but they were’t able to get a mooring until Friday afternoon. It was a little dicey for them because the anchorage was really tight and boats were swinging around like crazy in the wind, but they made it OK and finally got tied up on a mooring. The winds have been howling and our wind generator is making power like crazy!! We have been taking advantage of happy hours, and made stops to Home Depot and Publix. The other day we hooked up with Bob and Cat on Sea Lyon. If you remember, they have stayed at Harbor Cay Club every year and also traveled to the Bahamas with us last year. They are at Harbor Cay again, so we hooked up at a happy hour and caught up on what they have been doing. They were getting their asses kicked in the north winds, and it made me glad we picked Boot Key Harbor!
We earned another Ass Captain award the other day. We had made a run to shore in the dinghy, and when we got back to the boat we had some stuff to take aboard, which I handed to Tricia. Our usual routine is that Tricia climbs out and ties the dinghy up while I negotiate the dinghy along side the boat. Then I hand stuff up. After we got aboard, after a few minutes, someone knocks on our boat and yells “Island Bound?” We come up from down below and here is a guy holding our dinghy. Neither one of us tied it up or checked it (which we always do) because we were preoccupied with getting the crap on board the boat, and it just drifted away! Thank God the guy who found it was cool and brought it back to us. I was extremely embarrassed, but it does actually happen quite frequently, just not to us!
The mooring field is so big that they have 2 sets of dinghy docks:
Here are a couple of pics of the mooring field:
We have a few boat chores to do (pickle the water maker, jug some water from shore, buy a few boat parts), and plan to hit Sunday Fun Day at Sunset Grill, and then will move on to Key West. It looks like we have an excellent weather window Tuesday and Wednesday, so we are planning on taking advantage of it to have a smooth passage.
Not to piss off our friends and family up north, but the weather has been in the low 80s except for the latest weather event. The highs were in the mid 70s for the last couple of days…oh well! Signing off for now, leaving you with sunset pics from Tricia: