Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Marathon - Got stuck on the way out of Tavernier

Nah, I think I'll keep my Fleetwing
Well today was not just the long it was the loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong haul. We started the trip of with a nice sand bar and then had a nice dish of sand bar in one hour. And topped it off with anchorage mayhem. Dessert was a nice good pee on the dock from Hoolie. So yea that’s how the day was. But we had a smooth landing and decided to dock. I was relived when the cool air swooped in. Tonight’s menu is jerk chicken and some beans and asparagus that’s all I got for you today.         

We had 6.1 ft on the way into Tavernier on Monday with a 1.8 ft tide so I thought it was safe to leave the next day with a 1.0 ft tide. I was thinking 6.1 - 1.0 = 5.1 which is enough for my 4.8 ft keel. However, overnight the east wind eased off and that allowed the water pushed up against the southern edge of the Keys to drain away. I had figured may 0.5 ft but it was more like 1.0 ft of less water due to the subsiding east wind. So the right equation was 6.1 - 1.0 (1 ft less tide) - 1.0 (1 ft less water pushed up by the failing east wind) = 4.1 ft. That was not enough for us to clear the bar across the entrance with my 4.8 ft keel.  So there I sat, waiting for the rest of the tide to come in.

Eventually, the moon did its job and brought enough water in for me to get moving, after about 45 minutes of sitting. So off we went with not much wind which was both good and bad. On the good side the waves were minimal but on the bad side, what there was hit us broadside and slapped the boat from side to side and since the wind wasn't much, there was no steadying effect from the sails. So we slopped along to Marathon.

The docks are fixed and raised higher than the sides of Fleetwing. Sturdy but not especially boat friendly
Coming into the anchorage, we called the city marina and found there was an eight boat waiting list. The anchorage looked as crowded as ever (where are all these boats coming from !) With a front coming through, the anchorage was going to be chaotic to say the least.After last year's experience, we wanted no part of it and took a dock at Marathon Marina and Resort (it's not the city marina, it's the one on the west side as you come in).

So we are fit for the night but we have to decide what to do on Wednesday. The front won't come until later in the day so we could make a run for Key West if our dock is free. We won't know that until the morning. Otherwise, we'll stick around here and wait out the high winds and rough seas in Hawk Channel.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Blue Waters Marina - at a dock

A sunrise greeted us in the morning at Caesar's Creek
Today was awesome. We got underway at about 8:00 am. When we got to blue water marina we saw a pavilion and said, ”that would be a nice place to do school work."  Then we saw a stove and said that we could cook diner there. Then we saw some fans there and said lets eat at the pavilion. Sadly Nana is a bit pooped so we are eating here. But at least we are eating hamburgers. We also met 2 men at the pavilion. They told old fishing trip stories. I thought it was entertaining. One of the older men told a story of how he won the fishing championship a third time in a row. The radioman told him he had to give everyone else a chance so he hasn't done it in a year. That’s all I got for you.    

The dock was very well protected
The anchorage at Caesar's Creek was calm and out of the worst of the current. When I took Hoolie ashore in the morning, I got a photo of the sunrise over the ocean. We had to wait a little to get over the  bar on the exit to the ocean side but we made it with room to spare with a 1.3 ft tide (4.8 MLW).

Sailing or not, Finn has his studies to do - this time in a cabana by the boat
We had a reservation at Blue Waters Marina in Tavernier where we've stayed  before so we headed west and arrived just at high tide. There is a 4.3 MLW bar across the entrance so we needed some tide to get in with our 4' 9" keel.

We are getting into the tropical flowers, finally
The marina here is mostly liveaboards but they occasionally have an empty dock. In our case, we had the dock of someone who had to haul his boat to be worked on. The area used to be a quarry so it's plenty deep once you get past the entrance. It's said that once they quarried what they needed, a trench was dug out to the ocean and dynamite was used to open the last 20 feet and the ocean flooded in. The depths are generally 20 to 30 ft except right at the entrance where it's 4.3 MLW.

We will leave in the morning for Marathon where we will wait out a cold front coming down that will result in some high winds for several days. Once they subside, we'll move on to our dock at Key West.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Caesar's Creek - at anchor

On our way south, we passed by Stiltsville. It's still there but taken over by the National Park Service now
Today was fun. We started it of with some biscuits for breakfast. I had Charleston honey on mine. It’s the best honey in the world not including my uncle commando’s honey. He owns a bee farm in Pennsylvania. We were under way at about 9:30 am then we left Miami. We are now at Caesar’s Creek. And we are at a no wake zone so we got a plus added. But theirs always the occasional speeder but the other boats help by yelling slow down at the top of their lungs. Tonight’s menu is pork tenderloin with cranberry syrup. That’s all I got for you today.      

Ann had a rider part way down the cruise today
We took the bay side route to Caesar's Creek. The entrance to the creek from the bay side is rather shallow to say the least. We only try the entrance at a dead, high tide of 1.3 ft or more. Even with that tide, the entrance has a 5.1 ft bar to get over which we can clear with our 4' 9" keel. The bottom is not forgiving, it's rock, not mud.  However, we've used this anchorage for years which we like for the good protection from adverse winds and the free park dock for Hoolie. The docks have a ladder at one end for easy access. Even though it's about a four foot jump, Hoolie manages to make the leap onto the dock.

The Park Ranger has a nice house on the island
Going ashore today, we were met by another Brittany! He was as energetic as Hoolie as they pranced and hopped around the area. It turns out that the Brittany was owned by the park ranger who lives in a house on the island. I asked him about the dock and he relayed that it was a day-only dock and not for an overnight stay. That's fine with us, we anchored anyway just off the docks out of the channel.

Here's the reason for our stay, see the ladder at the right end of the dock, that's our easy in and out
Our goal on Monday is Tavernier at Blue Waters Marina. It's a long term marina but they occasionally have dock space when renters leave for awhile. That's the case for us on Monday. There's a 4.3 MLW bar to get over so we'll need some help from tides which we will time for our entrance. Once inside, the place is a hurricane hole. The next day we are all set for Marathon.
Finally, a decent sunset

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Miami - last day

More water
Well today was a blast. We started it out wit some pancakes. They tasted delicious. I also snorkeled. I saw lots of rocks, a few crabs and a big fish. And we went on a ride in the dink. After that was it. We had a lazy day. We did some math to catch up with our class. Tonight’s menu is a tilapia sandwich with rice and beans on the sides (sorry this one was short but like I said we had a lazy day) that’s all I got for you. 

We have a beach nearby so we took Finn ashore, yet another day of boy + water = fun. He got a chance to snorkel and splash about. The anchorage here was proven to be excellent, at least in an east wind. Last night was as calm as being on land.

A nice ending to the day
Sunday is moving day again, this time to Caesar's Creek. We have to make the approach at dead high tide in order to clear the shallows with our 4' 9" keel from the bay side. We'll spend the night and move on the next day to Tavernier. The ocean exit has a little more water but not a lot at 5 MLW so we can scrape through even at low tide. We're then headed to Blue Waters Marina which has an approach of 4.3 MLW so it's another more than low tide passage. After that, it's Marathon.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Finally, summer has arrived with temps in the 70's during the day and 60's at night!!
Today was fun. We went on the ocean for the first time. It was a rough ride until we got to the inlet. Then we saw some big ships. They were huge. You could fit our house on there. When we anchored I went swimming only to find a dingy headed straight for me. Then they came to the stern and started talking to us about our Blog. What surprised me was that one was from CANADA. That was long haul. The other one was from Michigan. Then they left. Tonight’s menu is CHICKEN RICE AND BEANS. That’s all I got for you today.         

I don't quite know why Finn capitalizes our dinner menu. I asked him and he said, "Because it's CHICKEN RICE AND BEANS!". He sure didn't leave any on his plate so I guess it's okay. It was a surprise to be visited today by a sailor who's been reading my blog for the last five years and just this year set out for his own adventure. Yesterday I heard from another sailor with the same story. I guess you never know how many people you influence over the years through the internet.

The lights of Miami are always a sight at night
We have Finn with us so we're trying to take it easy on the passages to keep them short and with as little wave action as the weather permits. Today's trip from Ft Lauderdale was much more bouncy than we would have liked but Finn persevered without getting sick.

We found the Marine Stadium anchorage off limits due to the boat show so we went around the corner, under the bridge and anchored on the south side of the stadium. It's protected from a north or east wind which is fine for now since that's the direction of the winds for the next few days. On Sunday, we will sailed to Caesar's Creek for an overnight anchorage, then Blue Waters Marina followed by Marathon. The winds are still a little high for our 11 year old but doable. Once we're inside Marathon, it's totally protected (except from a Cat 4 hurricane!)

We are due in Key West 1/28 and we still intend to hold to that schedule.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Let's see, at home this morning it was 1F with snow. I think I'll take the weather down here!
Today is our last day in Lauderdale. Tomorrow we will be on the open ocean. I will be equipped with my Sea Bans and my old pal (start humming heroic music) the slayer of motion sickness the vanquisher of mal de mer DRAMAMINE (you can stop humming now) so you know the rental car. Well I left my phone in there and the company got it out and had it at the front desk we picked it up and at that moment grandpa remembered to pick up some artisan bread. So we went to the bread store and bought some. I got some myself. It was delicious. That’s all I got for you today.   

The new mooring field was put in yesterday, seven moorings in all and one is still unoccupied
I got a call from Enterprise saying they found a phone in the car we had rented. I replied that I had my phone so it couldn't be ours. About that time we both looked at Finn and asked him if he had his phone. After a little looking around it turned out that he didn't! So Enterprise described the phone and sure enough, it was Finn's. So for the second time today we hoofed the mile or so down to the Enterprise office, this time to get Finn's phone. In the end, all is well.

The winds have calmed down enough for a ride in the ocean with an eleven year old. There will be a few waves but nothing serious and the wind will be at our backs. We plan on two days in Miami anchored out south of Marine Stadium and then sail to Caesar's Creek for an overnight before taking a dock at Bluewater Marina in Tavernier.  After that, it's on to Marathon. I called them this afternoon and learned that they even have a mooring available. This time last year they had a 55 boat waiting list! It looks like the sailing in the Keys has thinned out. Even if we can't get a mooring, the anchorage can't be as full as last year. We are staged well. Key West is an easy ride from Marathon. On top of everything else, we are finally getting into warm weather once we reach Miami. All the forecasts are from highs in the 70's and lows in the 60's which is normal weather for down here, I'll take it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ft Lauderdale - Provisioning (again - he's a growning boy)

Finn saw this guy hanging on, Ann and I walked right by
Today was fun. We started it of with a good morning walk. Then did are normal morning stuff. Schoolwork was easy. After math, we went out to get provisions. It took a little while to get it all but we pulled through. We are having chicken rice and beans for tonight’s dinner. (Editor's Note: We did not! Nana bought a rotisserie chicken).  We also took a drive to go see downtown Lauderdale. It’s just the place I want to live when I grow up. Full of people and cars and traffic. It’s perfect. Tonight’s Nana's night off so we got already cooked chicken bon appetit. That’s all for tonight.     

If you intend docking at Las Olas, then this dock map might be useful when you're assigned a slip number
Finn is doing well on his homework. His school at home had the day off due to snow but not Finn here! Nana and Finn spend the mornings doing his schoolwork. They keep records of his tests and work for reentry into school upon his return In February.

We saw some good color in the sunset tonight.
The marina had divers out all day putting in the new moorings. We counted seven and there were still two unused at 7:00 pm today. There are almost a dozen boats in the anchorage just north of the bridge so there's a demand for space without having to dock.

High winds are predicted for Thursday so we'll stay put  but they are supposed to subside on Friday. If the winds obey the forecasts, then we'll move down to Miami and await a weather window to going down the Keys. With the Marine Stadium anchorage being unavailable due to the Miami Boat Show, we'll try the anchorage on the south side of Virginia Key given the predicted north winds.