Category Archives: Florida

Merry Christmas from Key West

12/25/18
Key West, FL
Conch Harbor Marina
Position: 24 33.766N, 081 48.021W
Posted by Bill

The worst thing you can do when cruising is have a schedule, and we broke the number one rule heading to Key West. Our reservation in the Conch Harbor Marina started on the 13, and we didn’t want to miss any days in our one month reservation period, so we headed out in less than desirable passage conditions…to meet a schedule. It ended up being an all day ass kicking…even being behind the reef in the Hawk Channel. The boat was getting thrown all over, rolling back and forth from side to side. Stuff was flying around in the cabin below and it was difficult to keep from getting thrown around in the cockpit. I told Tricia…we said we were going to keep cruising until it wasn’t fun anymore…and if we have to travel in these conditions, we are on our last trip! We pulled in to the marina and got tied up late afternoon and were glad to be done with that trip.

Key West has lots of activities. Our usual daily routine involves hitting a good happy hour somewhere, enjoying the food and drinks, and then walking around in the evening to people watch and catch some good live music. We have been doing that pretty much every day. We also watched the Christmas boat parade in our marina, which was really good as always. We also spent a few days at the pool at Dante’s which is at the entrance to our marina, taken a few bike rides, rented scooters and went to Stock Island to have lunch at Hog Fish, and have taken walks every day. It is nice to be able to just walk off the boat without dealing with the dinghy, and the marina is in the heart of all of the action, which makes it easy to get into the vibe here.

Our good friends Rick and Barb (who have a boat next to us in Southport) came down for Christmas and stayed in an inn just a few blocks away, and we have been having a great time with all of us together again (like at home). We went to dinner at Mangia Mangia, a great Italian restaurant, for Christmas Eve, and then had an early dinner on the dock on Christmas Day. We had some friends on the dock and some we know that live in Key West join us, and we had a group of about 20 people. Everyone cooked/brought something and we pigged out!
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My favorite shirt in the Key West stores says “Key West…where the weird go pro!” It is pretty spot on, and a great example is this guy wandering the streets sporting his Christmas spirit:
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Also these pictures of street vendor food trucks:
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Mass quantities of alcohol are consumed here, to the extent that hang over treatments are a thriving business:
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And there is no lack of creative expression, including vehicles:
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There are some crazy boaters too. This guy pulled in on Christmas Day, when he knew no staff would be working the docks, and filled up his fresh water tanks with the marina’s water, then took off. Interesting that he had a Victorian couch and wing backed chairs on the back deck…lol!
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Hell’s Angels on scooters:
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A few shots of the Christmas boat parade:
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Cool Christmas lights in the palm trees:
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The weather was a little chilly for a few days while a front came through, bringing 40 plus knot winds, but other than that we have had excellent weather…nice and warm, with little rain. Given that we grew up in the north, it doesn’t give you the feel of Christmas like we know it, but I’ll take it any day over the cold!!!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!! I hope you had a good one! The blog will see you in the new year.

Marathon, Boot Key Harbor

12/6/18
Boot Key Harbor, Marathon FL
Position: 24 42.316N, 081 05.585W
Posted by Bill

Well, the wind forecast was calling for winds in the mid to upper 20s for a few days, and 15-25 for as long as the 10 day forecast was projecting…sheesh! We upped anchor and took a bit of a beating in Biscayne Bay on 12/5. Seas were following, so it helped the boat motion a bit, and I got to put up some sails, which is always enjoyed. When we got into the northern sounds of Florida Bay, we had smaller bodies of water and less fetch, so conditions were pretty good. We made it to Tarpon Basin in Key Largo, and anchored in position 25 07.204N, 080 25.649W. Tarpon Basin is fairly well protected from winds in all direction, but we still had a moderate chop at the anchorage. Many parts of the basin are full of sea grass and it is known for poor anchor holding. We have dragged anchor there a few times in the past. All of us found some sand patches and got a great hold. Good thing too, because the wind howled all day and night. We had small craft advisories that day and for the next couple of days, so we debated about staying for another day or leaving. At dawn the next day, we made the final call and decided to venture out, and if it was too bad we could come back. It wasn’t as bad as predicted, so we found our way into Boot Key Harbor late on the 6th. One of the boats had transmission problems and sea grass clogging the engine intake about 5 miles from the Seven Mile Bridge, and we had about a half hour delay sorting that all out, but we made it in. The day after we arrived, we saw some manatees and then watched the lighted boat parade from Steel Away’s top deck. It was fun. Then we all spent a few days doing boat maintenance and resting up a bit. Since Stuart, we have been running long days in high winds, and everyone is exhausted. We have reservations for a month in Key West at Conch Harbor Marina starting on the 13th, and it looks like the 12th is the best day to travel there, with the 13th being pretty good too. So we are planning to head out…not sure which day yet. See you in Key West!

Sunset from Sunset Grille in Marathon:
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The push to Miami

12/4/18
Marine Stadium Anchorage, Miami FL
Position: 25 44.507N, 080 09.972W
Posted by Bill

We had a great time as always in Stuart. We hit all of our usual favorite places to eat and drink, and also did some grocery shopping. We also got to catch up with good cruising friends Hayden and Radeen on Island Spirit. We haven’t seen them in a long time, and it was fun to get together. I wish we could have had more time hanging out with them. We were watching the weather because we knew that we needed to run offshore (which cruisers call “outside”) to get from Ft Lauderdale to Miami. There is a bridge on the ICW in Miami that we cannot get under, so this is our only option, and actually, it is so much nicer than dealing with all of the bridges and crazy ICW boaters in south Florida. We were also considering running outside from Lake Worth to Miami instead of taking the ICW from Lake Worth to Ft Lauderdale, so a good couple day weather window was what we needed. We have run offshore in winds over 20 knots but have found that we much prefer a calmer sea state, so we shoot for max of 15 knots in our windows. The weather this year has been a lot worse than usual from a wind perspective. This year we have had 15 plus knot winds for a good 90% of the days we have been traveling…very uncharacteristic this time of year, so we ended up staying in Stuart for a week before we could get a window.

So, we left on 12/2. The winds had not died much at all, so we stayed on the ICW through Lake Worth and anchored in Lantana FL at position 26 34.824N, 080 02.861W. On 12/3 we found that one of our preferred anchorage in Ft Lauderdale was empty…amazingly…so all 4 boats got in and we anchored in position 26 08.576N, 080 06.571W. Here is a picture that I took of Island Bound at anchor, from the top of Kurt and Sharon’s boat:
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Every time we run the ICW in south Florida I am amazed at the array of multi-million dollar homes and boats that line the waterway…and it just goes one after another for pretty much all of south Florida. I can’t fathom how that many people can have that much money. Here are some sample pics:
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You do get to see some wildlife at times. Here was an eagle:
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And then this Jurassic Iguana on the bridge:
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On 12/4 we went offshore from Ft Lauderdale to Miami. It was a great day on the ocean and it was really nice to be rid of the damn bridges on the ICW! Steel Away ran offshore with us while Sofia Jeanne and At Ease took the ICW. We floated into Marine Stadium and dropped anchor. This anchorage was an old marine stadium where all sorts of water based competition took place decades ago. Now it is a great anchorage with an amazing view of the Miami skyline:
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Here is a shot from offshore looking at Miami Beach and South Beach:
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Here we are coming in the Government Cut Inlet at Miami:
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Kurt shot this view of Island Bound going into Miami:
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The winds are picking back up and we are trying to decide if we stay at Marine Stadium or tough it out on Biscayne Bay and Florida Bay, which are large bodies of water with pretty rough conditions in higher winds. We will check again in the morning and make a final decision.

Taking a break in Stuart

11/27/18
Stuart FL
Position: 27 11.716N, 080 15.720W
Posted by Bill
As you know from the last post, we waited a day to leave Cocoa because a gale warning was up, and the days afterward showed light winds. Well, we left Cocoa on the 24th expecting light and variable winds…suckers! We didn’t get gale force winds, but we had them in the 20-30 knot range the whole day. I can’t believe they can’t forecast winds any better than they have been. It sure makes passage planning difficult. At least it was warm, highs in the low to mid 80s…yay! We left around 7 AM and were treated to a beautiful sunrise:
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We cruised to Vero Beach and all of us were able to get a mooring ball, the sailboats tied together and the trawlers tied together. We went ashore long enough to check in and pay, and then back to the boats for dinner. We really like Vero and it has appeal to the general cruiser community with the bus system, close proximity to provisioning, restaurants you can walk or dinghy to, and a 20 minute walk to the beach. It is known in the cruising community as “Velcro Beach” because people get comfortable there and don’t want to leave. We opted to stay only one night and move on to spend more time in Stuart. It was a warm night and we sat out in the cockpit and chilled after dinner. We also got destroyed by mosquitoes and no-see-ums, which really sucked the days after!
We left the next morning and cruised the ICW to the St Lucie River, then turned right to go up the river to Sunset Bay Marina where three of us we were able to grab mooring balls (a difficult feat for 3 boats this time of year), and Kurt and Sharon opted for a slip so they could move stuff from their old boat stored in Indiantown to this new boat. Prices have gone up at the marina, probably because their popularity has increased dramatically the last 3 years. It is 8 miles off the ICW, but the marina is very well kept, has a shuttle service that runs every day, is a short walk to downtown Stuart, and a short walk to restaurants, Publix, and liquor store. It seems like it has become “the” place to go, and many cruisers stay for extended time periods, some the entire winter. We are spending at least 4 days here and will consider staying as long as a week. Here is a picture of the mooring field around sunset:
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People often ask, “what the hell do you do all day when you stay for days at a time?” Usually, we go ashore and explore, provision, or do boat work. Today I had to clean out the bilge as it was starting to smell rank! One of the only things I don’t like about the typical Island Packet sailboat, is that the anchor locker drains to the bilge. We anchor in all kinds of mud and sand as we move south, and although we have an anchor wash down pump, and use it religiously, ultimately some muddy water with all of the living creatures gets into the bilge. It doesn’t take long to start to decay and stink the place up.

Here is the Christmas tree in downtown Stuart…it sure doesn’t seem like Christmas yet, in spite of all of the decorations!
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Giving thanks…and pigging out!

11/23/18
Cocoa Village Marina
Cocoa FL
Posted by Bill

Well, we hope everyone had a great thanksgiving! I have always liked thanksgiving, getting together with friends and family, pigging out on great food, and none of the pressures of gift selecting, shopping and giving that Christmas brings. It is always a good time to reflect on the many blessings in your life, and I spent a lot of thought time on it this year. We are so blessed to have been given our lot in life, with great families, wonderful children and grandchildren, and the opportunity to make your own life with the freedoms this country offers. We have been given many opportunities in this life and we worked our butts off to achieve the lifestyle we have enjoyed. The many setbacks and challenges in life are also blessings in disguise, as they strengthen you and also lead you in different directions. We have certainly had our share of those too. There are so many people to thank along the way, especially parents and the people who sacrificed to give us the freedom and opportunity we have, but I especially thank God for all that has been given to me, especially all of the opportunities to earn the life I have. In cruising mode, we miss our family and friends back home very much this time of year. But, we have also been blessed with close friends that we travel with, and the cruising community. Our little flotilla had a great feast yesterday…each boat cooking different portions of our meal, and then getting together to eat and enjoy our friendships on Kurt and Sharon’s boat, Steel Away. Yes, we all have Lilliputian ovens and stoves but you can still cook one hell of a feast!
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Here is a shot of the marina. It is very nice and the people who work here are amazing! One of the best marina experiences we have had in our years of traveling.
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We were going to leave today, but a gale warning was posted for today, and we decided not to get our asses kicked and stay one more!

Back in South Carolina

5/13/17
Beaufort, SC
Position: 32 25.742N, 080 40.757W

Sorry I have not been keeping up with the blog. We are in travel mode along the ICW, and it seems like after a couple of years of posting of the same places in both spring and fall, it is hard to come up with something new, unless something crazy happens. On top of that, we have been putting in some very long days of travel, and it is more difficult to find the time it takes to keep up the posts. Here is a recap of our travels since New Smyrna Beach.

We left New Smyrna on 5/5 at pre-dawn. We had slip reservations at Marineland Marina which was a 10-11 hour trip. We were getting hit with high winds again (again!!!!), and they were forecasting gale force winds out of the west for just about the time we were going to arrive…not good for docking, especially at Marineland. We decided to make a short run up to Daytona Beach and stay at the Halifax Harbor Marina, and leave the next day for St Augustine since the forecast was showing light winds the next day. It was a really nice marina, and we tied up at position 29 12.221N, 081 00.834W. We got there before noon, so we decided to explore Daytona Beach. It was Cinco de Mayo, so we went to a really good authentic Mexican restaurant for lunch and celebrated! We walked to get some provisions and then went to happy hour at the Chart House right next to the marina. It was really windy, and we were glad we held up.

On 5/6 we headed out pre-dawn and made our way to St Augustine, one of our favorite stops. The forecast was wrong, as usual, and we had strong winds all the way until we arrived and picked up a mooring next to the Bridge of Lions in downtown St Augustine, position 29 53.671N, 081 18.536W. Here is a picture of this cool bridge opening for some sail boats:
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We took a long walk and hit some of our usual stops for drinks, music and dinner. The architecture in the city is very cool. Here are a couple of pictures of Flagler College, that are typical of other buildings. In the early 1900’s Henry Flagler had the vision to build the first railroad through Florida all the way to Key West. They would build a section of railway for about 50 miles and then he would build a resort for all of the rich people of the time. It is pretty cool history if you haven’t checked it out. The Flagler College building pictured was the resort hotel he constructed for St Augustine.
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We spent 2 days in St Augustine and then started the tough part of the trip…going through Georgia. If you have followed the blog, you may remember that there are 3 major shoal areas along the Georgia ICW, a couple in northern Florida, and several in South Carolina. You must time the tide for adequate depth, and also work out how the substantial tidal currents will affect your arrival at these spots. There are 8 and 9 foot tides, and currents greater than 2 knots. You may also remember that we have named Georgia “the horsefly state”. We left St Augustine at pre-dawn and made it all the way to Fernandina Beach, where we grabbed a mooring ball at position 30 40.267N, 081 28.145W, a 61 mile trip, which is pretty long day for us. We had fantastic weather finally, except it was record heat in the 90s. We were going to stay for 2 days, but the timing for the shoal areas restricted us to a 1 night stay.

We departed on 5/8 at pre-dawn (you see the pattern here?) and worked our way into Georgia. Just over the Florida border we encountered smoke from a wild fire in north central Florida. They have been having a drought, and nasty wild fires. The smoke was moving east. Much like fog, It was so thick we could not see 100 feet in front of us, and it was not fun to breathe. This lasted for more than an hour, and thank goodness we didn’t go aground or hit anyone. This is a picture of us first getting to the smoke bank:
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We timed the tides perfectly for the first 2 shoal areas, and anchored in the Crescent River close to sunset at position 31 29.397N, 081 19.786W…another long day. We also started to encounter the horseflies, this year starting south of Fernandina Beach Florida. They come, many dozens at a time, and land on the underside of the bimini and dodger canvas. They they dive bomb you in the face, and bite exposed skin, leaving welts. We swatted them all day, leaving a cockpit full of carcasses. Not fun a bit! We tried several things to ward them off, including spraying the canvas with deet, which worked for short periods of time. This onslaught lasted all the way through Georgia and into South Carolina.

The next day we departed at pre-dawn, destined for Turner Creek in the Thunderbolt, Georgia area. We weren’t moving fast enough to transit the next shoal area (Hell Gate) and make it to the anchorage before dark, so we held back and anchored in Kilkenny Creek at position 31 47.521N, 081 11.945W.

On 5/11 we departed at pre-dawn again. We didn’t have to go very far to get to Turner Creek, but we needed to make a bridge opening so we were up and going early again. We arrived in Turner Creek and anchored in position 32 00.851N, 080 59.363W. We could have kept going, but we really like the anchorage. It is quiet, and has a Publix grocery store and a really cool dive bar right next to where we anchor. We wanted to provision for the final leg home, and also take advantage of the really cheap and strong drinks at the dive bar, so we made a shorter run for the day. This part of the Georgia ICW is one of my favorites, with very picturesque estates along the river system.

On 5/12 we departed at pre-dawn and made the push into South Carolina, through 2 shoal areas, past Hilton Head, and up to Beaufort. We got a mooring ball at the downtown marina at position 32 25.742N, 080 40.757W. It was a long and tiring run through Georgia, which we are glad is done. On a positive note, the landscape of the Georgia ICW is very beautiful, mostly marsh land and wide open sounds (which can be nasty in bad weather). We had great weather finally, and we saw tons of dolphins every day. We didn’t go more than 30 minutes without seeing pods of them swimming and feeding, and we saw many mothers swimming with their babies. We are staying in Beaufort for 3 nights to wait out the weather system we are getting today, and to relax a few days. Normally we would push to get to Charleston, our favorite stop along the coast, and spend the extra days there, but the marinas are booked solid with waiting lists, and we couldn’t get a slip. In addition, the anchorages are not very good ones, with holding issues and debris on the river bottoms, and really strong currents. So, we are taking an extra day in Beaufort.

For now, I leave you with some pictures Tricia took along the way, one of a cool sailing vessel in St Augustine, and several good sunsets:
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Checking out New Smyrna Beach

5/4/17
New Smyrna Beach, FL
Position: 29 01.635N, 080 55.233W
Posted by Bill

We spent a few days in Vero Beach and after some high winds blew through we left on 5/2. We stopped in Cocoa/Cocoa Beach and anchored at position 28 21.118N, 080 43.219W, really close to where we have anchored in the past. This is a standard stop going both north and south. There is not much to do there, at least for us, and the restaurants are not the best, so Tricia made homemade gnocchi, Matt made jalapeno popper dip, and Shirley made a salad. We had an outstanding dinner on the boats!!! The next day we made our way north to New Smyrna Beach, just south of Daytona Beach. We have never stopped here before but have heard so much about how nice of an area that it is, so we planned it as a stop this time. Motoring in the ICW can be boring at times, but it was nice to have calm seas for once, but not so fast. We got hit by a nasty squall that lasted around 40 minutes, with 35+ knot winds, blinding rain and 4 foot seas in the ICW!!! It was crazy! Fortunately, waves were on the bow and not on the beam. We saw tons of dolphin and manatees along the way. Here is one of several dolphin that swam beside the boat for about 20 minutes…something we always get excited about:IMG_1899 cmp

We pulled into New Smyrna Beach City Marina and went ashore for happy hour. There are some really good places to eat here. Today we hit a great place for breakfast, and great place for happy hour, and a great place for dinner. All were in a short walk from the marina in the downtown area. Another round of storm fronts moved in, or we would have walked to the beach, where we hear there are some really good places to go as well. We’ll save it for next time. The downtown area reminded us a lot of Fernandina Beach, with many shops and restaurants. We will stop here again for sure. It looks like we have a couple of days of high winds again, and we would stay here if we could for another day, but the marina is booked and we have to move on, so we will take a whopping perhaps. The next stop is Marineland and then on to St Augustine for a few days.

Here is a picture of the marina, and of the downtown area:
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We can’t seem to get a decent break from the weather this year, but next week is looking really good! We are excited!!

Back in the USA

4/28/17
Manatee Pocket, Port Salerno, FL
Position:27 09.267N, 080 11.703W
Posted by Bill

Well…we made it back safely.

Our good friends and traveling partners, Kurt and Sharon on Byrd Ketcher, joined us in South Bimini the day before we left. It was a great reunion and a good time was had by all!! We had a 2 day window of good weather and sea state, and we picked the best sea state forecast. It was supposed to be seas around 2 feet and light winds until the last 1/4th of the trip, and then just over 2 feet with winds in the low teens. We left on 4/26 at first light and had a great passage for 3/4ths of the way…just as forecasted. However, the last three hours sucked bad. For that period we were in the Gulf Stream, which is a 3-4 knot current that runs north. Our one rule that we will never break, “don’t travel the Gulf Stream with any kind of wind with a north component (N, NW, NE)”. The reason is that a wind opposing that strong of a current creates steep, tightly spaced, waves that kick your ass. Winds were supposed to be SE so we thought we were good to go, but they ended up being NE when we got there. We also had a N to NE swell running which was amplified by the NE winds, which were 15-20 knots, and whipped up by the stream. So….once again we had 6 foot BEAM SEAS, short wave period, and steep! You guessed it…ass kicking. It amazes me that we have not be able to count on any forecast data this year. We use 5 different sources and interpolate, but they have all been wrong when we have counted on them.

Needless to say, we made it to the Lake Worth Inlet and ended up anchoring in North Palm Beach at position 26 50.268N, 080 03.326W. We were so beat up and exhausted that we just collapsed on the boat and crashed early. If you are a blog follower, this is the same anchorage that we pulled up the remnants of a house boat with our anchor a few years ago. I was a little nervous this time, but we stayed away from the spot that we anchored before. Yesterday, we went ashore, had a great breakfast and hit the local grocery store. It is always a culture shock coming back to the US from the Bahamas, especially at the grocery store with all of the options available, and fresh produce. Just to give you a general idea, you go from this:DSC_0439 cmp

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Yesterday we motored the ICW to Port Salerno, and Manatee Pocket. We enjoyed dinner and drinks at the Twisted Tuna. It was fun, and nice to have the options and prices that the US offers at its restaurants. Here is a shot of the anchorage:DSC_0053

We are starting the trek back up to Southport, and expect to be there before Memorial Day weekend.

Movin’ on

2/22/17
Boot Key Harbor, Marathon FL
Posted by Bill

Well, Tricia made it back from Ohio on the 20th, and the family event went very well. I got up early that day, walked 3.5 miles to the Marathon Airport, and rented a car for a day. I picked up Shirley, from Sofia Jeanne, and Sharon, from Byrd Ketcher, and we went to Miami to provision at Walmart and Costco. It took longer than we expected, and Tricia’s flight was a half hour early into Fort Lauderdale, so mid-shopping, we went and picked her up. Then we finished off provisioning and escaped the insane “real world” and beat it back to the Keys. We then spent the last 2 days finishing the boat prep for the Bahamas, as there is a decent weather window to cross over coming up. It has been a crazy couple of days, but we are ready!

I always find it true that things happen for a reason, and since I didn’t get to go north with Tricia, I was wondering what the reason was going to be. While she was gone, I came back from the grocery and found that our refrigerator was not on and had defrosted. It does that about once a year for some unknown reason, and all I have to do is switch it off and back on, and it works fine again. So I did the normal off and on and all was fine, but, had I not been here to catch it, we would have lost all the food in the refrigerator, which is a lot of food!

Marathon is a nice stop, but we are ready to move on. There are some crazy, as well as shady, people here living in the harbor on boats. The guy next to us is a great example. Here is the boat:
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And here is the guy in a crazy outfit:
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His is by himself on the boat. He has a little black dog that attacks him, and he yells constantly at him. He also talks to him, and if you closed your eyes, you would think he is having a 2 way conversation with someone answering. The other day he was, as Matt says “slinging buns in the air” at the gulls and pelicans. They were mooching and cawing at him when they wanted more. He talks to them like the dog, and finally says, “You all are lazy beggars. You don’t have Obama any more….you need to get a job!” What a hoot! He is very entertaining. So are the many people that do not know how to anchor properly. The anchorage is a constant source of entertainment.

So the plan is to leave tomorrow, travel up the inside (Florida Bay side) of the Keys, stopping at Tarpon Basin, and anchoring Friday at No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne. Then cross to south Bimini on Saturday. It may be more difficult to get blog posts posted while in the Bahamas, but I’ll keep you posted.

A couple of other pics from Boot Key, our friends Matt and Shirley taking Grady for a Frisbee excursion ashore, and a great sunset:
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Singing the mooring ball blues…

2/16/17
Marathon FL, Florida Keys
Posted by Bill

We have found and seen that one of the most difficult things to do when living like this, is plan a land based trip around a definite schedule. A significant, milestone, family event, popped up on the radar a couple of months ago, scheduled for February 18th, in northern Ohio. This is one of those things that you really don’t want to miss, so while we were in Key West, we started to figure out how we could make it happen. Our original plan was to go to the Bahamas as soon as weather allowed, after we left Key West in mid-January. So, we thought about two approaches: 1) Leave the boat in the Bahamas and fly back to Ohio, or 2) Find a place to leave the boat in Florida and fly back to Ohio, delaying our trip to the Bahamas until we return. As with everything else in our lifestyle, weather is the primary factor in decisions, so we favored option 1 if weather allowed us to get across to the Bahamas. We could leave the boat in 1 of 3 places, based on our planned route and our experience with those areas: South Bimini, Nassau/New Providence, or Georgetown in the Exumas. There were marinas in those areas that we felt comfortable leaving the boat, and there were regular flights back to the States. It really depended on how far we could go in the time we had before the 18th of February, and that depended on the weather. If we left the boat in Florida, we could try to find a marina in Miami or the Keys, or we could get a mooring ball in Marathon. If we could get a marina, we would have shore power, but if we used a mooring ball, someone would have to run the generator for us for a couple of hours every day unless it was really windy (in which case the wind generator would keep batteries topped up). Our traveling partners on Sofia Jeanne graciously offered to look after the boat and run the generator. The one thing we didn’t want to do was leave the boat at anchor…for obvious reasons if you read the last post!

If you read the blog, you know that we ended up staying stateside. The Miami boat show is the same weekend as the family event, so every marina in the Miami area was packed full. The marinas in the keys were also booked, as most of them get filled up 4-6 months in advance of the winter season. There was also a fishing tournament in the Marathon area, which put further demand on the marinas. Our only option was to go with a mooring ball. We put our names on the wait list when we arrived on January 18th, thinking that a month was plenty of time to work our way down from our 38th position in the queue. The mooring field employees figured we had a 3 week wait. We set the trip to Ohio up so that we left on the 14th and returned on the 20th. This gave us time to help buy and prepare the food, and help with setting up the venue for the event, and gave us a short window to see our kids and grandkids. The cheapest flights were out of Fort Lauderdale. We had 3 reasonable options to get from Marathon to the Fort Lauderdale airport: Shuttle service, limo service, and rent a car. The cheaper of the 3 was renting a car. Since it is a 2 ½ hour drive, and our flight was at the “butt crack of dawn”, we needed to go the night before and stay in a hotel. The day before we needed to leave, we were number 4 on the mooring wait list. The weather was really good, so we thought there would be plenty of people leaving , and we had a great chance to get one. We find out around 2 PM that we didn’t make it. Since the family event is on Tricia’s side of the family, she has to go without me, and I stay with the boat. I went with her to the hotel and left the next morning, dropping her off at the airport on the way back to Marathon. Three hours after I get back, the marina calls and says “you have a mooring”. I think: great…I can fly to Ohio on Friday and return with her on Monday. However, we find that the cost of the flights have tripled, the cost of the shuttle and limo has gone to close to $300, and because of the boat show in Miami, all of the cheap rental cars are taken. I could probably do it, but it will cost over $600. On top of what we were already spending, this is beyond our budget, so I stay in Marathon.

The really frustrating thing, as if the whole thing isn’t frustrating enough, is that the mooring we were given was open on the day before we actual got it, and that would have allowed us to stick with our original plan! I don’t know why it took the marina another day to assign it to us, especially after we told them our dilemma and asked for as early a notification as we could get. The good thing is that Tricia made it! I am working on getting the boat ready for the Bahamas trip, and will do some major provisioning in Miami on the day I pick Tricia up at the airport. We will hit the high seas for “da Islands” as soon as weather permits when she returns.