Thursday, January 31, 2013

Storm, Eco-Center and Schooner Wharf

This guy is in trouble - I had fenders for my boat at the ready!
We had intended to sail today but the weather had other ideas. The front came through at 9:00 with 32 kt gusts and a steady 25 kt wind. It had been calm in the morning and a couple of boats went out, after all they had paying customers - but it was not the thing to do. One of the local charter boats tried to return to their slip and the wind caught their bow, swinging it around against the pilings. They were pinned! After a few anxious moments (including me since they were upwind of Fleetwing with a potential for inflicting damage) they managed to enter a slip, just not their normal slip. The wind was maintaining a steady 25 kts all through this time. He should have waited for calmer winds but then he had paying customers aboard that perhaps had to catch a bus or a plane.

One of the Eco Center exhibits, there were dozens - great stop
We were ever so glad that we had decided to remain at the dock, safely tied off. The temperature plunged to 68, chilly for there - everyone was wearing sweatshirts with hoods (including Leathen!) With the wind still howling, we set off for the Eco-Center, a free collection of exhibits on Florida reefs. It is an outstanding introduction to the reefs, I would absolutely recommend it - a not to be missed exhibit! New this year was a 3D underwater swim, the  best use of 3D I've ever seen. The movie loops on a 42 inch 3D TV and you just pick up a pair of polarized glasses lying in front to view scenes of the reefs. The fish come right out in front of you!

Schooner Wharf, looking toward the audience. Notice the flag (no ceiling) and sand floor
Next on the agenda was a visit from Bill and Ruth McKeever from the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club. We chatted on the back of the boat (with the enclosure we were toasty) and headed for BO Fish Wagon for dinner (a fish sandwich, very good) and then over to Schooner Wharf to listen to the featured band for the weekend, The Southern Drawl Band which was to my liking. Schooner Wharf always seems to have good bands and they attract a crowd - even in this freezing weather (69 at 10:00 pm). It was just a great day.

On Friday the Mehaffeys leave for northern climes, getting tired of warm weather I suppose (boring?) We'll stay here for February and our son is coming down with his family later this month for their annual visit, lots of fun coming up.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Key West - A day at the beach and Blue Heaven

Sun, sand - put yourself in this picture
Fort Zachary is a state park in Key West that is a favorite of both the local crowd and the tourists. The beach faces south but is protected by a reef further out and also a curve of rocks forming a breakwater near shore. No matter how rough it is, there's always a calm spot inside the breakwater. Today we took advantage of the sun and waves for a day out on the beach. The winds continue to pipe up in the 20's out of the south. There's a front coming on Thursday that will bring even more wind and cooler weather.

The entrance to Blue Heaven
We had planned on going for a sail the last day the Mehaffeys were here but the forecast for the coming front crossing the Keys was not good (wind from 20 to 30 mph, 2 to 5 ft waves) not to mention getting back into our narrow slip under those conditions! So we decided to remain in our slip and go to B.O.'s Fish Wagon that night with the McKeevers.

With Thursday settled, we headed off for Blue Heaven. The restaurant is on the expensive side but the ambiance is unbeatable and the food is out of this world. There is no roof, it's open to the stars and the floor is crushed stone. There are chickens wandering around with ones just hatched, cats underfoot, etc. However, the real attraction is the food. I had the best Yellow Tail Snapper I've ever had, actually the best fish I've ever had! The sauce was perfect with just the right amount of tartness, hard to describe. If you're even in Key West, you must go to this restaurant! The dessert was Key Lime Pie which you will find at many places in Key West and elsewhere - all claiming to be authentic and the best - they are all misled, the best Key Lime Pie is to be had at Blue Heaven!

Blue Heaven under the stars
Now, on the back of the boat, it's calm but that's going to change with the coming front passage. We'll sit it out in a peaceful harbor, there's plenty of time left for a good day sail later.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Key West - Lunch at Sunset Key

Big ship - little shuttle 
Today's adventure was a trip to Sunset Key for lunch. It's an island that's now a setting for exclusive condos and a very nice restaurant, Latitudes. Part of the fun is the free shuttle to the island if you make a reservation for the restaurant. You pick up the shuttle at the Weston Inn for a scenic ride out to the key. There is a fleet of boats  north of the island on moorings and also just at anchor. The area is not very well protected and they must have been rocked by the high winds and waves over the last few days. Nevertheless, there must be 50 or more boats out there. The only shore access is in our harbor so it's a wet ride if the wind is blowing.

The restaurant is nestled in among the palm trees in the distance
A cruise ship was in town today which we had to avoid on the way out to the Sunset Key. It seemed much too large to us, we're used to much smaller boats. There was a small gap that the shuttle navigated through and we were off.

One of the many schooners on a day sail for tourists
Arriving at the key we found the dock is right at the restaurant. From our table we had a spectacular view of the turquoise ocean. We had grouper that was caught right here in this morning. I have to admit that the food in Key West has always been of the highest order. They do have excellent chefs and they come from all over the country -must be the climate. Leathen and I walked around after lunch and wondered how much one of these large condos would go for, some are full houses. Everything was immaculate!

We've really eaten too much this trip (but we're not done yet!!) We couldn't take in anything for dinner, we were all full. Wednesday it's a day at the beach followed by dinner at Blue Heaven. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Key West - The Aquarium and Mallory Square

The unicycle is very poipular
Key West has a surprisingly good aquarium for such a small town. They specialize in rescue marine animals. They had several very large turtles that had suffered from prop damage that they provided a place for. There was a marine petting zoo for the kids, feeding time for the skates where the spectators did the feeding and many exhibits of local life. I would high recommend it for anyone visiting Key West.

In the afternoon I took Leathen for the obligatory photo by the buoy marking the southern most point of continental US. There was even a line of people waiting their turn for the photo session, never saw that before.

Yep, Leathen was there!

Around 5:45 we headed over to Mallory Square for the 6:08 sunset. As usual there were many performers showing off their skills (unicycle while juggling three knives, acrobats, breaking out of chains, tightrope walking, fortune tellers and several other performers). Lots of things to look at, many kiosks set  up for selling wares. Unfortunately, the evening was cloudy but the sun just barely peeked out of the cloud bank as it set.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Key West - High winds and a dismasting

Not what you want to see when going out for an afternoon sail
The winds topped out today at 35 kts with 4 ft waves according to those who went out to race today. We were not among them! One of the sailboats that go out for a day sail came back and the captain lost control of his boat in the high winds, resulting in tee-boning the boat next to us, we were not touched. He eventually warpped his boat into the slip but only after a few scraping sounds on his fiberglass.

Mast split halfway down
Then we saw one of the two masted schooners that take passengers out for the day come back with the taller of this two masts split in two places! The wooden mast split at the top where the top shrouds connect and also about halfway down. This resulted in everything coming down (a gravity storm - as the mariners say). One person was carried off with a temporary cast on her leg and another was getting treatment for a foot injury. Neither incident was serious. The boom was also split. There was a sign posted saying there were no serious injuries and the ship would be repaired and will be sailing again soon!

I was in the main marina office when another sailboat came in, a 30 footer, looking for a slip for the night. They were also out racing and related that it was a wild ride! They were taking water over the side and thought caution was the better part of valor and headed in for a calm harbor.

Not just anywhere!
So there was a lot of wind - but the temperatures are still in the mid-70's and there's still Key West to explore so it's not too bad. The first day that looks somewhat calmer is Thursday but it's wild until then. We got to Key West just in time!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Key West - a 42 mile sail!!

Notice the platform at the bow for stepping off the boat
We pushed off the mooring at Marathon at 7:00 am, first light. The sun came up, the wind piped higher, the waves were mostly smooth, the temperature at 75 - what a glorious day! The wind was out of the northeast which put the wind across land before reaching us, resulting in much less wave action. So for 42 miles, we sailed with winds from 12 to 20 kts just aft of a beam reach - perfect for a comfortable sail.

Key West was alive with action, people everywhere and a cruise ship was in the harbor. We made it into our slip without mishap and tied up with our usual arrangement. We dropped the anchor and placed a wooden platform across the bow roller to provide an easy step from the bow to the high dock. We were offered a side dock but we prefer the bow in dock for the privacy it affords. We don't find getting on and off the boat to be a problem.

Nothing like Schooner Wharf - always with a band
For dinner it as off to Schooner Wharf for drinks and food and to listen to the night's band under the stars. Schooner does not have a roof and the floor is gravel - such is Key West. It was just great to sit and listen to the band, we were about 10 ft away. After returning to the boat, Leathen and I took a walk down Duval Street, the main drag in Key West, a unique experience - hard to describe. As you walked down the street, you would notice one band only for it to fade into the next band as you passed the bars along the way.

On Sunday we plan on having Cuban Coffee Queen Cuban Mix sandwiches and then visit Mallory Square for the sunset - hard to describe a better plan for Key West.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Marathon - the Mehaffeys arrive

Crossroads for lots of boaters!
Ann and Leathen arrived around 4:30 and we had a whirlwind of activity for the next four hours. Out to eat at Keys Fisheries for dinner (sandwiches and some sushi), then to provision for the trip to Key West at Publix, then Leathen had to take his car to the airport for parking. He'll take a bus back from Key West to pick it up for the return to Key West. With that we'll have a car for sightseeing for awhile.

Key Fisheries, good eating
We'll leave at 7:00 am on Saturday, hoping for good weather and fair winds. Late tonight, more tomorrow.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Marathon - getting ready for crew and moving day on Saturday

What a great store for boaters in Marathon!
Mostly we spent the day continuing getting the boat ready for crew. By now, the aft cabin is clear of all the accumulations gathered over the past four months. We heard yesterday from the Mehaffeys and they're due to arrive around mid day on Friday. We had planned on spending several days in Marathon  but the weather window is now, not later. If there's one thing we learned, it's to take a weather window when it comes - never mind what you wanted to do instead, take the window!

Flowers everywhere - even at Home Depot
Within a 10 minute walk there is a Home Depot, a full sized store and a treasure for the area. You can even buy a palm tree for $99 if you have a mind to. So I shopped for odds and ends we might need - you can never just go in and look...

Here's the reason for the great LTE speeds!

I continue to be impressed with Verizons's LTE high speed internet. I'm consistently getting 15 to 20Mbps, as fast as my cable connection at home which is no slouch. However, my connection in New York has no download limit where I'm currently in the 4Gbyte plan with Verizon so I have to watch my usage. No watching of movies like from Netflix or Amazon Prime but it's fine for mail, the blog and surfing the internet - just no YouTube and no movies.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Marathon - at a mooring, getting ready for crew

Post Office - marina style
We have an aft cabin which we only use when guests are aboard so you can guess what happens when we have no guests - everything get piled there, it's so convenient. However, with guests aboard, it's time to have the aft cabin look like crew could actually live there! So we're in the process of emptying it out (where to put all the stuff?) and it will find a new home somewhere on the boat.

Otherwise, all components of the boat are doing well, including the cook who doubles as the helmsman when docking. Hoolie has settled back into his role as our boat dog, making sure no birds or dinghies get too close - especially the pump out boat today! He goes ashore three times a day and seem content with that although he really gets excited when the time comes - he guards the dinghy closely during the day.

Looking for a book?  Leave one, take one. 
The marina, as does most marinas, has a postal service. You can have a package sent to the marina's address and they will hold it for you. It's the honor system as everyone pores over all the packages to find the ones addressed to them. There is also the most extensive book exchange area that I've seen at any marina (see photo) and it gets a lot of use. All in all, it's a great place to spend some warm, winter time but I'd still rather be in Key West. The weather continues to look good for a Saturday sail down the line. Strong winds come into play Sunday through Wednesday at least. We expect the Mehaffeys to join us on Friday for the sail to Key West if they're not delayed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Marathon - now at a mooring

Sand, palm trees, warm breezes, what more to want?
In the morning everyone came back from vacation and we called in for a mooring. There were plenty available and in fact there are still at least 15 free, probably more. I remember when moorings were very scarce this time of the year. The usual response from people on the councils who never took an economics course is to raise prices in the face of falling demand to make up for lost revenue - and then they are surprised when even with increased prices they don't meet their revenue targets due to even more boaters finding other places to put their boats - so starts the downward spiral. Experience is the only teacher.

Oh well, we're on a mooring now and waiting for good weather to make the trek to Key West. It still appears that Saturday will be a good day for going east with the next two days not so good. Leathen and Ann Mehaffey are due to join us on Friday for the sail down the next day if they don't run into delays.

The area is crisscrossed with canals, all with condos and homes lining the sides
Key Fisheries supplied us with the fish of the day, Hog Fish, a local fish that's very good for eating. There are restaurants down here that serve nothing but Hog Fish and are famous for it. We found it tasty and we'll have it again for sure. The weather here continues to be pleasant, 73F at the moment at 8:00 pm with a high tomorrow of 78, not bad for wintertime.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Marathon - at anchor

Enough wind for cats

We used the last of our three day weather window to reach Marathon today. We had 50 miles to go but the seas were flat and we had just enough wind to keep the boat steady. It was a holiday so there were lots of boats out racing - we threaded our way through the fleet.

Along this stretch there are lots of crab pots. They tend to be deployed along the exact same line we would like to follow - the shortest distance between harbors. So our path and the crab pots seem to always be the same resulting in lots of dodging - nothing like Maine but still an annoyance.

A weather change is coming
We came into the harbor at Marathon and called the marina and was told by another boater that the marina was closed!! The marina is run by the city and the city closes for national holidays - today it was Martin Luther King day! No answer on VHF 16, no answer on the telephone. No marina other than one run by a city would ever be closed on such a busy day for boating. All the private marinas and fuel docks along the way were open (love the entrepreneurial spirit!). So we anchored to await the opening on the next day, such nonsense. It's a taste of the future if the government runs everything.

The weather is settled for the next few days but we have to look ahead to the weekend when we have to decide just when to leave for Key West. It looks like high winds are due to arrive Sunday through at least Tuesday, not good for moving on to Key West. We may leave on Saturday if the forecast stays the same later this week. The weather rules. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rodriguez Key - at anchor

The water here is very clear! We can see our chain rode.

Caesar's Creek is a good anchorage as long as you have a shallow draft so entry over a 5 ft bar is not a problem (at high tide). This time we found it to be buggy, more so than our last experience. One downside is the flow of boats from the Bay to the ocean and vice versa. We don't mind the traffic but others might.

The high tide was late in the day so we had either a 7:00 am departure on a falling tide or a noon departure on a rising tide. After much hemming and hawing, we picked the rising tide. The advertised depth on the exit to the ocean is 7 ft but we've found it to be more like 5 ft or even a little less so we  settled for the rising tide later in the day. The route to Rodriguez Key is only 27 miles, about 4 hours. As it turned out the lowest depth we saw was 6 ft but it was with a 1 ft tide so the water is definitely not what's advertised on the nautical charts (7 ft at low tide). With our 4 ft 9 inch keel, we made the exit without incident and turned south.

Back of the boat, wine glass in hand, music in the background...
Hawk Channel was perfectly flat. There were no waves but there also was no wind so we motored to Rodriguez Key and dropped anchor in 7 ft of water knowing that we had a 1.5 ft tide with us (5.5 ft at low). Monday is our last leg to Marathon where we'll pick up the Mehaffeys late this week for the trip to Key West on Saturday or Sunday. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Caesar's Creek - at anchor

We're just outside the channel but safely anchored
Last night there was considerable disagreement between the NOAA marine weather prediction and grib. Grib predicted a much calmer day than NOAA. This morning the discrepancy was resolved in grib's favor. Now it appears we have a three day weather window to reach Marathon without any severe conditions, a relief after several of our outside passages were rougher than we wanted and also a relief for Ann who's still in recovery mode from her cold.

The day was perfectly calm which was good but the chancy part was crossing the bar before entering Caesar's Creek. We always time our passages to Caesar's Creek at absolute high tide and we need every inch. Today on the way in at high tide, we saw 5.1 ft on the depth meter but since we draw 4.8, we had 0.3 inches to spare, enough but tight.

From the ranger station - a calm sunset
The anchorage here is just off the main channel inside the creek. It's protected from the north and northeast so we're fine. Part of the attraction is the ranger station with a dock for our use to take Hoolie ashore. On Sunday we'll sail for Rodriguez Key for another overnight anchorage before making the final leg to Marathon on Monday.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Marine Stadium at Miami - at anchor

The world comes here to practice

We scattered chicken bones we found along the beach on the floor of the cockpit and divined the weather for Saturday. It's about as accurate as NOAA! The chicken bones and NOAA both agree that Saturday is a good day for going south, at least using the inside passage to Caesar's Creek. Both of these techniques are only slightly more reliable than flipping a coin! So when we get up in the morning, look up at the sky (wind, rain. do a dance?) and we'll finally decide on whether we go or not. You may conclude we have lost some faith in NOAA - and you would be right. Oh well, we'll use what works, if anything.

Not all boats make the grade...
Caesar's Creek has a ranger station with a dinghy dock so it's very convenient for dog relief, a requirement for us. Once again we'll be coming in on the highest tide and gliding through (we hope!) with inches to spare. When we see 5 ft on the depth meter (as we have in the past here), we have 3 inches of leeway under the keel! It's a tense few moments until we pass over the bar and into deeper water. So far on four passages, we haven't hit bottom.

Changing tacks
The Marine Stadium was home again to lots of sailing sleds. They're pretty to watch. It seems they are on the edge of disaster most of the time. Canada, US and Norway were represented today. We'll say goodbye Saturday morning, going south!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Miami at Marine Stadium - at anchor

We snuck in between these two behemoths (passed him when he slowed down waiting for a dock) 
After much studying of the weather charts, grib, marine forecasts, we opted to go outside today from Ft Lauderdale to Miami. The ride turned out to be rougher than expected. It is really a wonder to behold how the wind can follow you around the bends in the coast so it can be directly on the nose all the way! The ride wasn't unsafe, just uncomfortable. Ann is still in recovery mode so she remained in the cockpit, resting on the port cushion.

Sail competitors out again
Coming into Miami, we had to sandwich ourselves between a giant cruise ship and a cargo carrier following behind. Both were outfitted with AIS so we knew our clearances and slipped right in. This time it was not  very rough since the tide was coming in - current with the waves - which flattened the water. The entrance to Miami can be challenging otherwise, look out for wind against tide if you ever have to run an inlet. 15 minutes after we passed through the inlet, the Coast Guard closed it! They will do that if there are a series of large ships coming in at the same time - meaning they closed the inlet for everyone except the very large ships!

I always love the night view of Miami from Marine Stadium
The next few days are not due to be good for moving. High winds and lots of wave action is predicted when the front comes through. So we're going to be here until the weather settles again, probably Monday at the earliest before we move again. We plan on getting to Marathon in two steps:  first to Caesar's Creek and then the long stretch in Hawk Channel to Marathon. As always, it depends on the weather.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ft Lauderdale - at a mooring

Sunrise - a good start to the new day at Hypoluxo
Today could be described as "Bridge Day". In this stretch of the ICW we had 15 bridges to pass through. As I've said in the past, if you can maintain 7 knots, then you have a chance to make all the bridges without a delay. The only caveat would be concerning current. If you have 1.5 kts against you, it's really tough making the bridges. We had that situation on one of the bridges, otherwise we made them all. Additionally, this section of the ICW is known as "The Canyon". It gets its name from the bulkheads along both sides of the ICW. The waves created by passing boats reflect off both sides and result in confused wave action in the middle. The wave action is especially strong on weekends so it's advised to only pass through the area during a weekday.

The bulkheads are on both sides of the ICW along here
Compounding all this is slowing of Fleetwing due to some buildup of marine growth while being docked at Stuart for 1.5 months without being used. We've lost about 1/2 knot which is a lot for a sailboat. I tried getting the bottom scrubbed by a diver but so far have run out of luck. They are either too busy or hard to find. We'll have the bottom scraped for sure before we leave Key West.

Our mooring field is just south of the bridge - boats slow down for the bridge so it's not so bad for us
Ann continues to improve as evidenced by our move south today, she felt good enough to travel. We're carefully looking at the weather and either Thursday or Monday look like good days to make the outside passage to Miami. Needless to say, the weather report will be a popular read tonight and tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Palm Beach Yacht Center - last day

We've had some high tides due to the new moon, but it's passing now with the moon higher

Ann continues to improve and today we visited the Cleveland Clinic of Florida, one of the four top rated hospitals in the US according to US News and World Report. We wanted a Pulmonary specialist to take a look at Ann before proceeding further away from good medical help. He essentially agreed that she was on the mend so we plan on leaving the marina for Ft Lauderdale on Wednesday morning.

Joe Mastri once again came to the rescue on providing transportation and waiting while Ann was seen by the doctor. The traffic was surprisingly dense in West Palm Beach, the location of the hospital. We couldn't negotiate the downtown area at all, it was at a standstill, so we skirted around the downtown area.

Even the moon is smiling now...
Meanwhile, my phone contract came due so I upgraded to an iPhone5. I found the internet speed to be amazing (15meg), the same as the Optimum line I have at home. The downside is that you pay by the gigabyte so you can't watch HD TV streams unless you have a lot of money. You can forget about most YouTube offerings too. Otherwise, it's fine for e-mail, blogs and casual web surfing.

With Ann still under the weather somewhat, she'll be at the helm upon exit and entry into a marina and I'll handle the helm at all other times so she can rest and fully recovery. On Wednesday it's southward, 15 bridges and all!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Palm Beach Yacht Center in Hypoluxo - at a dock

Lots of flowers in bloom down here
Ann is feeling much better, what a relief! She'll see a pulmonologist on Tuesday to be sure she's doing everything she can to rapidly recover. Once again Joe Mastri is taking us to the clinic, bless Joe. Meanwhile we spent a very quiet day with Ann on the back of the boat basking in the 70 degree weather.

Radiant greens everywhere...
I've been calling around for a diver to scrape the bottom of the boat. Fleetwing sat in Stuart for 1.5 months when we were in New York and the bottom accumulated growth, enough to slow our speed by almost a full knot! That is not good news if you trying to maintain 7 kts to make the 15 bridges between here and Ft Lauderdale. Less than that speed and you'll spend time waiting 1/2 hour for the next scheduled opening at many bridges, it can make for a long day! It also makes for a very long day when traveling from Caesar's Creek to Marathon.

And in the end, a sunset
The weather here is  calming down. We had some high winds until today and we hope to take advantage of the break in the wind to make our way south, depending upon Ann's session with the pulmonologist Tuesday. Hopefully she'll get clearance to travel south on Fleetwing.

 Meanwhile, we're sitting at our dock enjoying the view of  boats coming and going. Several charter boats for fishing operate out of the marina, we wave, they wave... Mostly we're along out at the far end of the marina which suits us fine, nice and quiet. .

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Palm Beach Yacht Center - Urgent Care

The fish monster
Ann took a turn for the worse this morning and we found the nearest urgent care center. The good news is that she tested negative for the flu but still has a very bad cold. After a battery of tests, she received prescriptions for an antibiotic among others. So now we'll wait for her full recovery here in Hypoluxo. On our next leg we have 15 bridges to make to reach Ft Lauderdale and then an outside passage to Miami so Ann has to be in good shape.

Border Patrol - Florida Style
Joe Mastri has driven us around like a true friend. We greatly appreciate his help in our time of need. Meanwhile the order of the day is rest for Ann. At least the weather is cooperating with temps topping out at 80 during the day and only down to the low 70's at night. We have a comfortable slip to wait out the malady.  So we've been watching the pelicans fish. They chased a school of fish jumping out of the water to escape whatever was underneath only to find the pelicans having a feast from above. Tough being a fish in Florida.

Hopefully, Monday will bring better news. We still have a window to get to Key West if Ann gets better within the next week and a half.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Palm Beach Yacht Center - at a dock

The docks are very unforgiving - but we made it okay. Sharp edges all around. 
The closest marina for a visit to Joe Mastri is the Palm Beach Yacht Center. All the docks are fixed which is mostly the rule once you reach Florida since the tides are not very high. I called ahead but it turns out they do not take reservations! Oh well, we weighed anchor around 9:00 and headed south through 10 bridges. As I mentioned in past blogs, if you can maintain 7 kts, then you can make all the bridges without a layover for an opening. Unfortuntely for us, today was a new moon which caused greater than normal tides and currents with the current being against us all the way (puzzling since we passed inlets along the way...) The adverse tide caused us to miss one of the bridge openings.

Florida leads the nation in these parking spaces
As we arrived at the marina, we found what is called a "drain tide" which means the low of the low tide is even less than normal, 0.5 ft today. We inched in and was able to clear the bar across the marina entrance and Ann guided the boat into the slip - by just the two of us since there was no one to help us which sometimes happens down here. Ann did well guiding the boat in. She still has a terrible black eye (no photos!) from her head knock but she's gradually getting over her cold.

Since the flu season started early this year, even in Florida, although it's less here than elsewhere. Considering the advanced flu season and Ann, we decided to eat in instead of going to a restaurant with Joe. So after a dinner at Joe's condo, we're back for the night. We'll do more provisioning with Joe on Sunday and then leave for Ft Lauderdale Monday.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Hobe Sound - at anchor

One of the many spans over the  ICW - just call ahead for an opening
We had some trepidation about leaving the slip we're been in for 1.5 months. When we arrived, I put the dinghy in front of the boat, using the unoccupied side slip for entrance. Now there was a boat in that position so I had to tie the dinghy to the bow of the boat and hope that it followed the bow out and didn't get hung up on the nearby pilings. I had eight lines I had to release (!), better safe than sorry for the 1.5 months the boat had to fend for itself. Ann backed the boat and I tracked the progress of the dinghy and everything turned out okay, not a done deal but it worked out. Having been through the backing out procedure many times, we knew it was important to check and double check that all the lines were released and  brought aboard and that the fenders were pulled up and put on deck before the boat started to move out. More than once we've had a fender get caught between a piling and the boat - stopping the boat dead in its tracks - with the wind and waves taking over the boat, not good! Now we put all fenders on board before moving out.

Successfully passing that test, we headed out and noted the shallows right at the entrance to St Lucie River, down to 5.8 ft at low tide. We scooted through with our 4' 9" draft and turned south. Hobe Sound anchorage is not a particularly popular anchorage which is one reason we like it, we're usually the only boat here. However, tonight there are two other boats far away so we still have lots of room and privacy. It's dead calm now and we expect a peaceful night. Ann is definitely getting better from her cold but we surely do not want to catch the flu, it would hit Ann very hard.

We're starting to see some good color in the sunsets as we move south
On Saturday we'll head for a marina near Joe Mastri's condo for visiting and provisioning for the rest of the trip to Marathon. We heard from John Kwak, a fellow Poughkeepsie Yacht Club member. He's in Brunswick, GA for the next month as he continues working on his boat. I don't know if he'll get any further south or not, we'll look out for him.