The funny thing about this shared blogging is the opportunity to compare what we choose to include on our respective writing days.
Believe me, we are having shared experiences, but they seem to resonate differently. For example, our last post referred to the “roughest seas yet” and then moved on without adding the color we had spray coming over the fly bridge. Look at a picture of our boat! That means spray coming up over 14’. BTW, that same day in the same water we saw about a 60’ boat on the horizon going about 70mph. Hmmmm…. maybe it was the guy from the boat show with the four outboards and 2,500+ horsepower.
Anyway, we’ve decided to calm down a bit after that and do a better job of picking and choosing our weather windows on the trip back up the Keys. Really, this trip is a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve found a few helpful apps for weather and wave forecasting (passage weather and sail flow) and now we’re much better informed. And it’s a good thing we figured it out because we learned there were going to be 30+ knot winds gusting to nearly 35 this weekend.
That might not sound like a big deal from the comfort of one’s living room, but try it in a 29’ boat about 15 miles off-shore. Yep, that’s where those lost at sea articles come from!
With the option of heading north on either the Gulf or Atlantic side we opted for the former considering predicted winds from the east. Although that route afforded the best wind protection, we still had to go miles off shore because it’s so freaking shallow in Florida! If we’ve mentioned it once it bears mentioning again, there is nothing relaxing about skimming along at 25mph in crystal clear 6’ water even if the charts and depth sounder(s) say you’re fine. And that’s 2 miles out.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, there’s not a lot to write about on travel days and we spent the last two doing 100 miles from Key West to Key Largo via Marathon. As reported last time, we made it to Blackfin Marina at Marathon (now some diverging color). If you’ve ever driven to Key West, you know Hwy 1 skips from island to island (or keys). Along the way, you pass tons of sandal shops, t-shirt outlets and rundown looking motels on each key. What you can’t really see is the water side, and it’s pretty cool. Blackfin is a sketchy looking motel from the road, but a neat funky marina from the water.
OK, it was not big and super fancy, but a nice spot. Ironically, we tied up to another boat from Washington…. a 27’ Ranger Tug there with five other Ranger Tugs. These Ranger Tug people seem to travel in packs. Anyway, this WA guy had sold his 61’ Ocean Alexander and was delighted with the decision.
We liked the marina, but were running ahead of weather so we took off early the next day for the leg to Key Largo. Along the way, we stopped for a swim and some “fishing”, before deciding to anchor in Tarpon Basin.
The area was really shallow, but with plenty of sailboats around we knew we wouldn’t be the first to go aground. The water is so clear we could find and plonk our anchor down on an ideal holding surface which is good because we were “on the hook” in 15 knot winds.
Yesterday we made our way a short five miles to John Pennekamp State Park via the Marvin D Adams waterway which required passing under a 14’ bridge with our 13’10” air draft (which we’d measured the night before to be sure). Anyway, got up early to make it before high tide and passed underneath with 2” to spare…. yeah baby, that’s chart readin’!
The big boats here didn’t even know the cut was there let alone have the faintest chance of getting through. Even N must admit that’s sort of cool about being in a small boat.
We’re leaving the boat for a few days to visit with one of N’s old work colleagues from Ventana. No doubt a lot of red wine and “remember when……” blah, blah blah stuff! Oh well, more later!