We use one of the Naples City Dock lines already on the pylon to switch out with our bow line holding us in place so we can just toss it when we are ready to leave, what a muddy disgusting mess that made but it made it much easier leaving the slip with the 15 + knot winds. By 11 am we are on our way but I am still on the bow washing the mud off. Once out in the Gulf the spray from the 2--3 foot waves coming over the bow wash off anything I missed & any other dirt on deck. We have 15-20 knot winds on the nose, so we sail to wind with 1 reef in both main & jib doing 6+ knots bouncing through the waves heading a little west before turning south to the Keys. Later the winds start clocking east so we have full main & Jib out, still sailing 40⁰ to the wind but closer onto course. By dinner time we are sailing to course but still have 15 -20 knot winds, doing 7+ knots so we put 1 reef in both jib & main but still going too fast (will put us at the entrance of Key West at 3 AM) so we put triple reefs in both jib & main which slows us down to 4-5 knots. Now we are having trouble steering to course as the wind has shifted again so we are tacking our way down through confused rolling seas. Moon is a third full so we have great visibility, but nothing to see. We do see a huge school of fish just skimming the water looks like silver drops on top of the water. Either they are having a feeding frenzy on something floating on the surface OR they are trying to get away from something underneath them. It is amazing what you see out there on the open water. We try 3 hour on 3 hour off watches thinking that 4 on might be too long, and that gives us a little time to rest. By 8:30 Sunday morning we are right on course for the entrance to Key West with the wind on the nose so we roll up the jib & have the main out for stabilization. Start seeing fishing boats headed out for their day of fishing. As we get a visual sight on Key West we are both surprised to see that the Island has mountains. As we get closer & with the binoculars we finally can see that what we thought were Mountains are two cruise ships, which makes much more sense than Key West having mountains. As we go past the docked cruise ships it sure makes us feel really small as our 68’ mast does not even reach their first deck. We see all kinds of boats anchored out in several anchorages, but we will be going around the Island to a mooring field on the Northeast side. This will be my first time using a mooring so we talk it over & decide Steve will try to grab the mooring ball while I drive the boat. As he grabs it with the hook & tries to pull it up to get a rope looped in several things go wrong, one the mooring ball does not come up & two the boat starts drifting away & I forget to use the bow thruster to keep us close so the pull is too great & Steve cannot hold on, so the boat hook goes overboard. At least it is floating next to the mooring ball so Steve comes back to drive while I try to grab the boat hook and then the mooring ball. I am positioned on the swim platform to grab the hook as Steve Backs us up to it, but I can’t quite reach so I yell up “I’m going in” & jump in & get the hook hand it back up to Steve & he puts the ladder down so I can get back on the boat. So we have a new plan to back up to the mooring ball and get the line looped through than run it up the side of the boat to tie it to the cleats. That works BUT Steve then sees an orange tag that we THINK means that mooring ball is out of service so we release that ball & go look for another. As we are looking for a new one, one with more line to be able to pull it closer to the boat we see several without any line just a chain that does not look inviting, so we call the office asking for some help in finding one to use, and learn ones out of service have an orange flag that say do not use NOT an orange twist tie tag AND since we are at high tide there is NO slack in the mooring ball to get it any closer, and do not use the ones with chain as they will chafe your rope and are tagged to be replaced. So now we know that the first one we hooked was good to use and we have a system to grab it from the back of the boat. We go to that same mooring ball and the third time is the charm as we get our line through from the stern and run it up to the bow to tie it off. By 12:30 I have changed into dry clothes and we are having Bloody Marys on deck. After relaxing for a few minutes we have lunch then get the dinghy out & blown up and ready for use. Take showers to get cleaned up – I am very salty from my little swim. As I am in the shower I hear Steve talking to some people who came up by dinghy, who had just helped someone new coming into the mooring field, and came by to say they were sorry they were not out to help us when we came in – so was I. We take the dinghy into the “secure “dinghy dock to check in then walk into town. Sure could use some of those 20 knot winds now as it is a hot walk so first thing to do is find a place to get some water and a drink to cool us off. We walk around finding our way to the tourist hot spots, finding the piers where the cruise ships were when we came, Duval St & and Mallory square. Checking out things to come back & see & do while we are here. Enjoy a great Cuban dinner then a late night dinghy ride back to the boat. Monday morning we were expecting rain but it looked like it was going to be a nice day, but the weather prediction came true & by late morning till late afternoon it rained washing the salt off the boat from our trip down. Used the time to catch up on emails, etc. etc. and make plans for touring the Island on Tuesday. 4 PM sun comes out & it clears up. Spend a relaxing late afternoon in the cockpit reading & watch another beautiful sunset.
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