Sunday, May 30, 2010


Thursday we stop by the Fresh Market & marine store that are close by as we walk to the Coconut Grove “downtown” area to check out what is there. The Fresh Market has a fabulous selection of items (even better then Whole Foods) & we decide it is a good thing we won’t be here long as we would want to try out just about everything they have to offer. Downtown we find a wide variety of restaurants, boutique shops, and clubs. Enjoy the sites and find a nice place for lunch. Stop at the market on the way back to the boat for a few goodies. Friday we have made plans to tour the city on a bus tour in the morning & a boat tour in the afternoon. We are up & out by 8:15 as we have get a taxi to one of the hotel pick up places since our marina is not one of them even though they drive by it later in the tour. The tour starts in the art deco district of South Beach, and the holiday traffic is already starting as they prepare for a busy weekend by closing off lanes of traffic for pedestrian use. The tour takes us around South Beach to Coconut Grove (right past our marina) to Coral Gables stopping at the Biltmore Hotel & Venetian Pool then on to Little Havana and back to the Bayside Market Place, making a big loop around the city pointing out all kinds of neat things, it was a good way to see a lot of the city in a short time. We catch the afternoon boat ride from the Bayside Market Place & we get to see the city from a different perspective. We see the Miami skyline from the water, very exclusive Fisher Island & “star” island where many “celebrities” have homes. The added commentaries from the boat & bus guides made both fun. The boat tour ends at 4:30 at Bayside Market Place & Miamarina one of the marina’s we thought about staying at, but opted for Dinner Key. We take a walk around the open air mall looking at the shops & restaurants. As we walk past this couple sitting at an outside table having a drink, the man asks about my knee surgery. Turns out his wife just had the surgery done 3 months ago. I am wearing my sailboat pendant necklace (thanks again Elena) so she asks if we are sailors. Turns out so are they, having just sold their house to do some cruising also. We join them for drinks & later a bite to eat exchanging boating stories. They are heading up the east coast but we exchange information in case we happen to be in the same area down the road. Taxi ride back to the marina just in time to watch the beautiful full moon rising. Saturday is spent reading and studying cruising guides and maps to get our plans in order for where we will be going next. After going to the stores on Sunday to provision we will head out on Monday. Catching the south east winds & the Gulf Stream to head over to West End on Grand Bahama Island, checking in with customs at Old Bahama Bay Marina. Then spend June cruising thru the Little Bahamas Bank and the Abacos before heading for a “safe” area for hurricane season.

Link to Pictures

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Key Largo to Miami

Our Key Largo departure was delayed a day due to UPS misplacing a package to be delivered on Monday. Still did not come on Tuesday so now it will get delivered to Miami. Tuesday was put to good use doing boat maintenance, changing the oil & anti freeze then finding a place to dispose of the fluids, buying more oil filters (running through the spares faster with more engine use). Passing the pool Steve sees one of the dive instructors giving a lesson in the pool, and he is wearing a mask with ear muffs. Since I have trouble with my ears, he asks about the mask and finds out that it is just for people like me that have trouble equalizing. Later we find him again to get more info on the mask. He was told he could never dive again due to a ruptured ear drum and with this mask he has no trouble diving. We learn the name is pro ear and find the web site then find an outlet store for one on SALE $39.99, so I order one to be delivered to Miami. Will see how it works next time we dive. Better then taking non drowsy Sudafed, which worked great on our third day of diving, but I would prefer not to have to do that every time I dive.

Wednesday 5/26 by 7 AM we are away from the dock and heading out the channel, just in time to see a big rain cloud moving over the marina behind us. We hope that we can stay out of its path, but by 7:45 it catches us & we get a 30 minute shower. The winds pick up then even out so we put the sails out to give them a rinse. We see more rain up ahead, but it is moving in the same north east direction as us so we are hoping it stays ahead of us.
 By 11 most of the rain clouds in our path have dissipated along with the wind, so we roll up the jib. We can also now see the Miami skyline off in the distance. As we travel through 16-20 + feet of water we are still shocked that we can see the bottom! By 12:45 we turn into the channel leading past Key Biscayne into Biscayne Bay, passing some old houses out in the middle up on stilts. Kind of looks like some of the old platforms around Galveston Bay.

There are rain clouds & rain all around us as we are approaching the marina, but somehow we make it in without any rain.

 Of course we did get some 15 knot winds just as we are getting ready to dock. Still manage the docking and are tied up with power by 3 PM.

Have a nice cold drink & a bite to eat then go check in with the marina office. Take a short walk around and the rain finally catches up to us while having a drink at a local restaurant, we wait it out but on our walk back to the boat we get caught in another shower, at least it is cooling things off. We will spend a few days here at Dinner Key Marina in the Coconut Grove area of Miami checking out the sites & planning our next move.

Link to pictures;

Monday, May 24, 2010

Key Largo

Key Largo

We delayed our departure from Marathon until Monday, leaving the dock at noon & high tide. At low tide you could see the shoals right outside the channel so we wanted to give ourselves room to maneuver. We stop at the fuel dock then out the channel to drop the hook. Pretty funny being able to see the marina we had just stayed at. But we are planning an early departure for Key Largo & it is much quicker pulling up the anchor than getting the dock lines free. Have a beautiful sunset as we have dinner in the cockpit.

 Our pre dawn departure is delayed an hour as first the GPS route did not transfer to the cockpit display from down below, and then we notice that the red/green navigation light is not lit. Steve fires up the computer & re-sends the route info, then finds a replacement bulb to fix the nav. light. We are under way by 6 AM with better visibility. We are motoring at first as there is no wind, later able to put up the main to keep our 7+ knots. Arriving at the entrance at shortly after noon just in time for high tide, the entrance is VERY narrow & at low tide only 5 feet deep. We make it around crash corner with no concerns and are docked by 1.

After checking in to the marina we get the lay of the area and see where all the dive boats are and the three swimming pools we have access to while we are here.

We stop by the dive shop right around the corner from us at the marina and I make an appointment for a refresher course on Wednesday, as I only have 10 dives in & they were over 3 years ago. Wednesday morning I go for my class and we were going to do a couple of dives that afternoon. It gets cloudy & looks like a shower in the afternoon, so we move our dives to Thursday morning hoping for better weather & visibility. Wednesday night we go out to dinner at the Key Largo Conch House, a neat little restaurant nearby with a good selection of unusual dishes to choose from. Steve has the conch & I even taste some & it was pretty good just glad it was not my main meal. Thursday is a beautiful day and we go out and have two great dives. I have trouble equalizing my ears (as usual) but once I finally do & get down I am fine. We see all kinds of fish & marina life. Friday we go out for two afternoon dives, same reef but two different locations.

Saturday we take it easy, and make a trip to the grocery store, & Sunday is clean the boat & laundry day & watch the finale of LOST. Monday Steve has a morning phone appointment and has borrowed a tank to go under the boat and change the zincs on the prop. Monday afternoon two more dives. Tuesday May 25 high tide is at 7:22 so we are leaving for Miami, a good place to celebrate two months of cruising.

More pictures at;

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Monday May 10th we head out at 9 AM for a short sail up to Marathon, passing from the lower keys to the Middle Keys as we sail past the 7 mile bridge.

Before I know it we are turning into Marathon & the marina we are going to is right in front of us, by 11:30 we are tied up at the dock, a really short trip. Tied up, electric power connected we go up to the office & get checked in & see where things are & get the wireless connection code.

 Back at the boat we TRY to connect but are having trouble. After trying several different things Steve calls the guy we got our system from & they go through a few tests & decide that the wireless router has gone bad. It is still under warranty so sending a new one to us. Meanwhile Steve can connect & if I go out and stand in the right spot I can with my computer, as even though we are close to the fuel dock where the signal is coming from we learn that it is not a very good signal. We have not done laundry in three weeks so we have a huge bundle to go to the laundry room with. We need the dock cart to get it all there. Load up 4 washing machines & go to lunch at the marina restaurant a few yards away. Put the clothes in the dryer & go back to the boat. Steve starts washing off the deck & I start cleaning the inside. By the end of the day we have clean clothes & a clean boat but are too tired to go anywhere for dinner so dine on board. Tuesday Steve starts to repair the aft head pump out problem like he did with the forward head a few weeks back. Realizing he needs a different tool for this job he rents the marina bike for a ½ day as it is already late morning. Off to Home Depot, when he returns he informs me that he did not see much to do in the couple of miles between home depot & the marina. So I plan to take the bike for a ride to see what I can find. Steve warns me that it is not a very comfortable bike, & even though I only went for a 2 hour ride, two days later I can still tell what a hard seat it had . We will NOT be using the marina bikes again!! We are at the very end of the Island & it is not the most scenic part of the island. A lot of boat yards & marinas right off the highway. If you need some boat work done or to provision before going over to the Bahamas this is the place. For sightseeing not such a great place. The people here are VERY friendly. Tuesday night we found a few other restaurants that we had heard about and they are close enough to walk to. We go to Burdines that is famous for their French fries. I am somewhat of an expert on French fries & theirs were excellent, but I have not found any to top the ones from the Glass Wall back in Houston. On Wednesday we find a different bike rental place and rent bikes with better seats. After lunch at 7 mile grill & Fat Buoyz pub we first go to Crane Point a Museum & Nature Center that has preserved 63 acres of plant & wildlife from being developed into a development or strip mall. Then we ride a little further to Sombrero Beach. A beautiful beach just not very convenient to where we are staying. Thursday morning we still have the bikes so we go towards the 7 mile bridge. The old bridge is still there (with a section cut out for boats under 65 feet tall to go through) and you can ride bikes or walk the 2 miles out to Pigeon Key an old RR town from the 1900’s when they were first building the RR to Key West. A great ride with great views.

 Heading back towards the marina I go return my bike while Steve continues on to the grocery store to get a few things before returning his bike. Friday we are still waiting for our wireless router to be delivered AND fro the winds and waves to die down. It is looking like we will be here until Sunday or Monday before it is calm enough to continue up to Key Largo. There are always boat projects to do so we are working on some of those, like adding a cable hook –up line for when we are in a marina to be able to watch TV if our antenna does not pick up a signal. As with all boat projects, there are always a lot of things to move and rearrange & or reconfigure to be able to complete the project. I try to tell Steve it is not worth all the trouble but sometimes I think he just likes the challenge.

And 4 hours later with a side diversion of putting the wireless router back in we have 70 channels to choose from! Mission accomplished, now we get to put everything back in place. When that’s done, Steve goes to back up the computer only to find the external hard drive has died. So Saturday we plan on taking a taxi to Office for a new hard drive (too far to walk) then to grocery store for beer, wine & diet cokes (too heavy to carry on bike). Right next to Office Depot is a dive shop, and since we have been talking about getting our equipment we go in to see what they have. An hour & $2000 + later we have purchased BC’s, regulators, octopuses, computers, weights, Steve needed a new mask & I needed new fins. We are officially equipped for diving, except for the tanks which we will get through local dealers when we do the actual diving. Now to find a place to stow them! We are making plans to leave Marathon to head up to Key Largo. We will leave the dock Sunday at high tide, fuel up & just go out and anchor nearby for Sunday night. Monday morning in the pre dawn hour we will leave for Key Largo so we can arrive there at high tide, the channel going into the harbor & marina we are going to is too shallow at low tide, but it’s the only option we have with the expected wind and wave conditions. We may stay there a few days, since there are a number of good dive sites nearby, and we have new equipment to try out! But we can’t linger too long, the tide levels are decreasing, and we don’t want to get stuck until the next spring tides a month later!

link to pictures;

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Big Pine Key, Bahia Honda Key & Looe key

Big Pine Key

We leave Key West at 10 AM on Friday 5/7 for a short sail up the Hawk Channel to Big Pine Key (2nd biggest Island of the Keys). We have light winds on the nose with flat seas so we are motoring, using the time to make water. As we start to enter Newfound Harbor, we pass by Little Palm Resort & Spa on Torch Key. A very exclusive resort, for $1100.00 a night you can stay here OR if you would like your meals included it will only be $1500.00 a night. Check out their web site  in case you are in the area.  As we travel further into the harbor we start to see some skinny water. It is funny how when we were in Galveston Bay and we saw 10 feet of water we thought we had plenty of room but now that we are used to seeing an average of 20-30 feet, 10 gets us worried and we start to panic when we see 7 feet under us. We make it in fine, but it is high tide so we know we will really have to be careful getting out. Later in the day we make contact with Donna & Patrick who just got home earlier in the day from Dry Tortugas. Donna is sleeping but Patrick tells us to come on in anyway and gives us directions to get to their place with the dinghy. It is about a 30 minute dinghy ride from where we are anchored but we find it with no problem and bring the hand held GPS so we can find our way back in the dark later in the evening. As we turn down the cannel where they live we see Mel & Roger at another neighbor’s house, so we stop and visit with them. They are talking about a neighborhood fishing tournament they will be doing on Saturday at Bahia Honda Key, which is where we were planning on going to the state park, so say we will see them there. We get to Donna & Patrick’s have a drink before heading over to No Name Key to go to the No Name Pub for pizza.  ( I HAD SOME GOOD PICTURES TO GO HERE BUT THEY ACCIDENTLY GOT DELETED )
It must be a Florida thing as this is now the third restaurant / bar that we have seen with $1 bills stapled all over the walls. Have a gourmet pizza dinner then back to their home spotting a couple of Key Deer on the way. They’re miniature white tail deer, native to the island, endangered and protected. They’re about the size of a large dog. Our dinghy ride back to the boat is calm with flat water and just starlight & flashlight to see by, glad we have the GPS to follow our path back to the boat. No TV stations available but great internet service so stay up and watch LOST. Saturday we leave our anchorage at 10 since the tide is starting to go out and we just make it hitting bottom a few times but able to get right off & keep going. Another short sail up to Bahia Honda Key, the entrance was made accessible to sail boats by cutting down a section of the old original RR Bridge so we can get to a safe anchorage by the state park.

We are anchored by 12:30. We had the dinghy on the davits so just had to lower her down, but since the winds are so light we decide this would be a perfect time & place to get the kayaks out & use them. We get them out and blown up and we are off to explore the waters around the park.

As we are heading out we see several fishing boats come tearing out of the boat ramp area and see that Mel & Roger & their neighbors have arrived after towing the boats down and have started the Tarpon fishing tournament. Donna & Patrick will not be fishing but have decided to come up with their beach cat (pontoon boat) to watch. We have a fun time with the kayaks going out to a little Island and over to the south side beach for a swim, then back over to the north side beach where it looks like access to the old RR bridge is easier to get to so we climb up to get a look & take some pictures.

 Back to the boat just as Donna & Patrick arrive so we get on their boat & go out to say hi & let Donna take pictures. After a couple of hours we go back to Ocean Star where Steve makes a great Cabbage & roast beef salad (one of my favorites). As Steve is making dinner Donna, Patrick & I are watching a ketch that was nicely anchored nearby pull up anchor and start heading for the dock entrance at a pretty fast rate. All the maps & data info about the park &marina say it is 3-4 feet deep so I am thinking wow I guess he has a full keel and not a very deep one just as he runs hard aground. He tries & tries but cannot back off. Mel & Roger & a couple of their neighbors stop by on the way back to the dock & we tell them what happened by this time another fishing boat is over trying to pull the ketch off and finally does everyone gives a cheer . Donna & Patrick leave, and then the ketch came back over & almost anchored on top of us. Maybe he just needed to rest after his ordeal or he realized how close he was or saw one of Steve’s looks but after a little while he pulled up anchor and moved to a better location. Later that night the boat rocked from a big wake in a NO wake zone, so I go out to see what caused it. I did not see any boat but onshore we see all kinds of flashing lights that turn out to be an ambulance & fire truck. Never find out what happened and do not know if this is related but as we leave the next morning there is a small boat way up on the little island that we had kayaked to.

Sunday- Happy Mother’s Day we are heading south west to a place called Looe Key, it is close by so we leave around 10:30 heading south for an hour to where the water goes from 25-30 feet to 100-130 in just 5 minutes. We then go west and arrive at Looe Key at noon. But as you can see by the picture this Island is quite different than any other Island we have been to or seen as this one is totally submerged.

We were surprised also as we had heard it is a great place to dive & snorkel but did not know it was an underwater Island. No anchoring allowed because of all the reefs in the area so they have mooring balls out. Only this time the mooring balls have a line attached to them so no problem hooking it from the front of the boat & getting our line through to tie off with. We see some rain clouds on shore heading our way so I say looks like we will get a shower, but Steve says it will break up before it reaches us- wrong. By 1 it starts to rain, than we get a nice down pour. It was good to get some of the salt washed off the boat. By 2 it is all over but still partly cloudy, we put on our wet suits & gear & go snorkeling. Even with cloudy conditions we still have great visibility and see all kinds of fish, a lobster that does not like Steve diving to get a closer look. Steve says he sees a shark, but at this point I am not sure I believe him. We go back to the boat & rest and shortly after, the sun is out full blast so we decide to go back in. It must have been dinner time for the fish, because now we are swimming in schools of all different kind of fish. There are thousands of fish all over. And now I see the SHARK. (Yes Cousin Walt you told me) At first I freaked a little but he was just swimming along gently & I thought with all these fish around here, he has plenty of food without bothering me. We did start back to the boat after that though. No overnight out there – no protection from wind or waves and a really bad place to run a ground. Back to Bahia Honda Key only this time we anchor on the south side of the Island as the winds are predicted to come from the north later in the night and our other anchorage had no protection from the north & if we dragged anchor we would go into the old bridge, so we opt for the south side & hope we don’t get any strong winds from the south.

It has been a busy three days since we left Key West!!!

Link to more pictures:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Return to Key West

It was strange being in a “familiar” place, even though we were only here a few days we felt like we were returning to a place we knew where things/places were. Tuesday morning was spent trying to connect to the internet, of all the places we have been this has been the worst connection we have had & this is the only one we have had to pay for – go figure. We made a grocery list, finding some recipes for dinners to be sure to get the right ingredients. Off to a late start it was 1 before we even left the boat on Tuesday. As we were leaving we noticed the coast guard boarding & searching another boat down from ours. As we went by Jim & Roberta’s boat we stopped to talk to them as they were out watching the boat being searched also. After making a few jokes about it the pump out boat swung by and came over to fill us in on the situation. The guy had moved moorings & they noticed he was leaking fuel from his bilge, so they did a total search of the boat. Excitement over so off we went to the dinghy dock then over to the marina office to check in again & pay for the mooring. Then we walked about a mile stopped at an air-conditioned restaurant to have lunch then walked a little further to the Winn Dixie grocery store. Up & down the aisles of the unfamiliar store to find all the things on our list, time to check out. We get a cab back to the dinghy dock load all the groceries in and there is just enough room for us to fit back in. It is 5 PM by the time we get back to the boat from our grocery outing, get everything put away and jump off the back of the boat for a swim to cool off. We have another relaxing evening and beautiful sunset in the cockpit.

Unless we have an early departure that I have to get up for I tend to get up around 8:30 – 9 am, Steve is usually out of bed an hour or so before me working on the internet. We are spending more time than we would like on our computers because of the slow connection that we have to keep re-connecting to, very frustrating and time consuming. Before we know it the morning is gone. Wednesday we again leave the boat around 1 pm, today’s outing is to West Marine. This is a much further walk, in towards town, stopping at ace hardware & Key West hardware on the way to see if they have something we might need. We get everything on our list except one item that can be ordered & have the next day.
 We then go find a place ‘Blonde Giraffe’ we were told to go by for the best Key Lime Pie on a stick (a Key West specialty) & have a nice cool snack.   Spend some time just walking around window shopping & people watching and stopping at a few places for a drink & to listen to some live music when we need to rest & cool off. Go for an early dinner and have a cheese burger in paradise at Jimmy Buffets Margaretville. Long walk back to the dinghy dock and a short 10 minute ride back to the boat. It’s an hour before sunset & it has been another HOT day with light winds so we go for a swim to cool off, Steve using some of the boat soap we just bought to clean along the water line while he is in the water. No wind + high humidity +batteries need charging = run the generator and we can run the A/C to cool the boat. We try to watch LOST over the internet since we have NO TV channels here, but due to our intermittent connection we can’t, will have to try when we have a better connection.

Thursday we leave the boat “early” – 10 AM, and walk to a close by bike rental place. This one only $15 a day & they have a better map showing some bike routes around the Island. We ride around stopping by West Marine to get the part they had ordered for us, then off to explore some more of the Island. It is really nice being away from the main tourist areas of the Island. Stop for lunch then ride around some more & by 3 we decide to head back to the boat & go for a swim to cool off – think the warm weather is here to stay. Spend some time swimming, Steve cleans some more of the boat. Start getting the boat ready to leave Key West on Friday a short trip up to Big Pine Key to visit Donna & Patrick & Mel & Roger before going up to Marathon for several days.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dry Tortugas and Back to Key West

70 miles west of Key West is a cluster of LITTLE Islands called the Dry Tortugas National Park. Garden Key is the main Island & home to Fort Jefferson National Monument. The fort was never finished but they did use it has a prison during the civil war, It has a fascinating history. There are many wrecks to dive amongst the coral reefs surrounding the area, and it is home to many nesting birds and sea turtles. They do have a section of the fort they have converted for the two park rangers and the 4 staff personnel “living” there during their assignment to the Island. Other than that there is no one living on the Islands. There are two catamaran ferries that take people over from Key West for day tours they get there at 10:30 & leave at 3:45, so during that time the Island might have 100 people. A few of those people bring camping gear to stay for a few days. BUT for visitors there is NO running water or facilities (a few porta cans for the campers). You must bring all your own food & WATER. Then there are the boaters that come over for the wonderful experience to be in such a remote and beautiful place. We of course are able to bring water & food, and have toilets on board  .
We left Key West on Thursday 4/29 at 7:30 AM, and getting away from the mooring ball was much easier than tying up to it. It was a cloudy morning and the forecast was for a small chance of rain, but the winds were right so we decided it was still a good window to head over taking the southern route. We have 1-2 foot confused seas so the boat is rocking some, which lulls me to sleep. By 2 we are turning northwest and the winds pick up so we are able to sail doing 7+ knots. The area we’re sailing through is next to a Navy air training zone, and a couple of F16’s (?) do a very CLOSE fly over at about mast height with some wing waggling and inverted flying, then come back for a second pass. Pretty cool, and VERY loud. We wonder if they think we’re someone they know, since they seemed so friendly. By 5:30 we are anchored out in front of Fort Jefferson and it starts to rain. They only get 10 inches of rain a year here and we are glad to get a little shower to rinse the salt spray off the boat.

Friday looks to be a beautiful day, enjoy a leisurely morning get the dinghy out & go ashore after lunch. We meet two other couples traveling together on a Gemini Catamaran Donna & Patrick & Mel (Melanie) & Roger from Big Pine Key, a few Islands up from Key West. They have already toured the fort so Steve & I go on a self guided tour. Afterwards we meet up with the other couples and they tell us to come in earlier on Saturday and blend in with one of the groups from the Ferry for a guided tour, as they give a little more insight to the fort than just reading the different plaques posted throughout. After visiting for a while Steve & I go back to the boat to get our snorkel gear and make plans to go over to their boat later for cocktails. I thought it was warm enough not to wear my wet suit, but after a little while I got cold so got out. Steve wore a wet suit top so was able to stay in longer. Later we go over & enjoy cocktails & snacks & stories on the other boat, before heading back to our boat for dinner.

Saturday we get to the Island just after the ferries dock and hook up with their guided tour, they are shorter than the one Steve & I did on our own but they do point out some things we missed and give some info that we did not read about. Like how many boats they get with people leaving Cuba and the wet foot/dry foot rule. As it turns out IF the boats are stopped in open water everyone gets sent back to Cuba. IF they can get one foot on dry land then we take them in, give them $10,000.00, and Insurance and they can stay. This only works if you are from Cuba, as it is our government’s way to spite the Cuban government. Steve & I go snorkeling again. Then meet up with the other couples and visit on shore and tonight they come over to our boat for cocktails and snacks. And share some knowledge about the Keys, as Mel & Roger live here full time & Donna & Patrick ½ the year.

Sunday morning as we come up into the cockpit, we see a partially submerged fishing boat by the dinghy landing beach. Sea Tow is there with a diver trying to float the boat & pump her out. Then a sea plane is coming in for a landing, so we decide we need to get ashore to see what happened & check out the plane. The other couples had the same idea & were on the beach trying to find out what happened to the sunken boat. The boat is one of 3 small (20 footer) fishing boats that came out from Key West with a group of 12 friends for a couple days fishing. On their way back in from a day of fishing & luckily close by, this particular boat either hit a coral reef OR a container coming in the channel the evening (still daylight) before and it tore a gouge in the bottom of his boat. Knowing he was taking on water he raced into the dock area and got the bow of the boat onto shore but the hole in the stern put the back port side of the boat under water. Sea Tow floated the boat & patched the hole and they towed the boat back to Key West. While the owner & his friends unloaded everything from that boat onto the other two and somehow managed to get all their equipment and gear and themselves loaded except for two cases of beer that Mel & Rodger gladly accepted.  They were really happy since they were running low due to being weathered in longer than expected. After that excitement was over we got to watch the Sea Plane take off, now if just a boat with some Cubans tried to land we would have seen all. We go back to the boat for a late lunch and plan to go over to the other boat for cocktails later. Spend the afternoon relaxing in the shade of the cockpit reading. We get a weather report & looks like the next few days the winds will be right on our nose for the trip back to Key West. We decide that even with 15-20 knot winds the shoals will keep the waves manageable, so we will leave Monday morning. The other boat, being smaller, decides it would be too much for them & will be staying another day or two before heading back. We say goodbye exchanging contact info and make plans to stop by Big Pine Key on our way up to Marathon to visit again.

Monday 5/3 we are heading away from the anchorage by 6:45 AM on an overcast morning, once outside the channel and away from the protection of the Island we are beating into 5-6 foot waves for the first hour. We then turn north, as we will be taking the Northern route back, hoping the shoals will keep the waves down. We try to sail but we are pinched too tight so we are motoring with the main up, the seas are now down to 3-4 feet and we are plowing through bouncing our way back with 15-20 knot winds on the nose. By noon the waves are down to 2-3 feet but wind is still blowing on the nose and it is still a bouncy ride. By 1 we turn south & are heading for Key West, seems strange going back to a familiar port as this is the first time doing that since leaving Kemah. By 3 PM we are at the outer channel marker, 4 PM passing the cruise ships, 5 PM at the mooring field where we pick up our same mooring ball and hook it & get the line through & up to the bow to tie off like we have been doing this for years in spite of the 15 knot winds. After listening to the motor and bouncing around the boat for 10 hours we have a nice cocktail in the cockpit and enjoy the quiet, talking about what a great trip we just had.

More pictures at