Monday, January 31, 2022

Key Lagro - Delays, delays,...


We spend more time at the local free park, nice views of the bay side

Fleetwing is finished and will be ready for launch Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, the travellife operator had to go to the hospital for Hepatitis. He's to receive some sort of treatment and he's due back operating the travel lift by Wednesday. Evey delay of one day costs us $300 in motel fees (not a cheap area!) 

We took a trip to see the ICW on the bayside and found lots of boats, some tied up for the winter

So now we sit and wait and hope everyone is healthy enough for a Wednesday launch! I'm sure Key Largo is a lovely place but we yearn for Key West and our slip of 10 years. We explored the area, a park and the inside ICW where it's so shallow. The boats there tend to have very shallow drafts. 

With a Wednesday launch, we'll spend the rest of the week right here waiting for good weather to continue down the Keys to Key West. It now looks like a Saturday departure for Marathon and a Sunday arrival at Key West. We can't wait to get there!

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Key Largo - D Day on Monday


The Cuban restaurant was founded by those that crossed over from Cuba in 1985. 
They have run a successful restaurant ever since, very good, "Fernandina the Bull"

Monday is when all the work on Fleetwing is due to be completed and ready for launch on Tuesday morning. At least, that is the plan. However, the weekend has been very cold, not conducive to drying of the paint on the fiberglass so when I go to the yard on Monday morning, I'll get a better feel on whether they are on schedule or not for a Tuesday launch. 

The flowers are starting to come out, even though we're not in Key West yet

So today was spent in suspense, wondering on the fate of Fleetwing. The winds have abated somewhat but the temperatures remain in the 50s, very cold for the Keys. Everything else has been completed on Fleetwing, the fiberglass repair is the last item to be done. 

With that, we will arise Monday and put out feelers on Fleetwing's status. We hope to launch and then we'll take a slip at the same motel we're at now and wait for good weather to proceed onward to Marathon and Key West but probably not until Friday or Saturday, such are the fronts coming down from the north.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Key Largo - We visit Pennekamp State Park


Pennekamp was a beautiful park

Work was proceeding on Fleetwing so we thought of doing some sightseeing. Pennekamp State Park was nearby so we spent the day hiking around and talking to boaters moored there. It’s a state park, not a national park so our Golden Passport did not apply, we paid the $9 to get in for the day. 

This guy was not enjoying the new temperatures! Huddled, we was. 

We saw some large boats tied up to the docks, bigger boats than we thought could come in the shallow channel. We will have to rethink our hesitancy on shallow waters on the way in. It’s appears that boats with a draft of less than 5 ft will have no problem, at least to the dock. I don’t know about the mooring field.

The mooring field had a few boats - I wonder what the depths were?

The wind was howling but we were protected in amongst the mangroves. Hoolie went wild with all the smells and sights of other dogs. We took a few of the trails, short paths of less than 1/2 mile through the woods on an elevated ramp or on pebbled walkways. The state has taken good care of the place. 

There were some big boats at the dock there - 5.5 feet at high tide on the way in?

For dinner we tried a Cuban restaurant founded by new Americans as of 1985 from Cuba. The Cuban sandwiches were truly authentic! The restaurant was Fernandez the Bull and appears to be going strong. We would highly recommend the place. 

We are hoping for Fleetwing to splash on Tuesday but it is not certain due to the cold weather. It affects the drying time for the fiberglass repairs so we won’t know the status until Monday morning. Even if Fleetwing does refloat on Tuesday, we can’t leave until the winds subside, possibly on Friday, still a long wait. 

Friday, January 28, 2022

Key Largo - still on land in a motel room


The original African Queen is in the yard for maintenance - the one from the movie!

The yard continues to make progress on Fleetwing. The keel has been derusted, the cutlass bearing fixed, and the sides are still being polished. Work continues on the damage to the aft section of the swim platform. The major work there is done, it’s now a matter of painting and smoothing the work completed. 

Brett Roach is the general contractor for the job and he’s been terrific

We were able to find a canvass guy. That seems to be a rare commodity anywhere in the US. All such providers seem to have work for a least 6 months out. I found a person through the contractor for my Fleetwing repair job that promised to squeeze in the repair of two zippers on my enclosure. Those are the most used part of the enclosure, used every time we enter and exit the cockpit. After 15 years, they eventually show wear and tear. 

At least we were successful in renting a car, this time from Enterprise - never again from Hertz! With the car at least we can get out once in a while.The cold air will even reach us tomorrow - down in the 50s for a high, and that’s cold for the Keys!! With the cold front comes high winds which will force us to stay put longer than we wanted too. Fleetwing is still due to be launched Tuesday morning but we won’t be able to leave Key Largo due to high winds until Friday at the earliest, oh well. So close (to Key West) but not there yet.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Key Largo - at a new room


If you have to wait for your boat to be repaired, at least get a nice place - even if it is expensive

Great progress was made today on Fleetwing. The keel has been sanded, rust inhibitor applied, barrier coat applied, and a coat of bottom paint applied. It looks great! Meanwhile, the fiberglass is taking a day to cure and will be finished over the weekend. Tuesday still looks like a good day to launch but not so good a day to go west. High winds are due all next week, more so than we want to deal with. 

We're in the tropics, huge plants that can't stand frost

With the coming winds, we have a dock reserved at this motel (which is also a marina) for next week after the boat is launched. Eventually, we will reach Key West sometime this winter but probably not by next week unless there's an unexpected weather change. 

On Friday, I will meet with the insurance adjuster from Progressive. We had already received a go-ahead to start work provided lots of photos were taken along the way. The adjuster I meet with tomorrow, will examine the damage and repairs in person and we hope all is fine. A word to those who might be in a similar situation - be sure to get insurance coverage for housing (hotel) costs if your boat needs repairs in a marina where you can't live on the boat! We had our problems in a very expensive area for short term rentals. I hadn't know about such a "rider" but now I know and will be sure to have it added in the future (the barn door is closed tight!)

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Key Largo - repairs have started!


The start of the roaming chickens!

The yard got the formal go-ahead to start repairs on Fleetwing  today so we were ecstatic. If repairs proceed as planned, they will be finished Monday afternoon and we will leave for Marathon on Tuesday morning. That would put us in Key West on Wednesday. 

A sailboat was anchored on the bay side by the park we visited today

The main progress today was on the fiberglass repair to the aft section that impacted the tugboat. The location was where the majority of the water came in while under power. They will also get rid of the rope marks on the side of the hull caused by the anchor rode rubbing.

We plan on taking the extra time to do some exploring of the area. We usually just bypass the middle Keys  on the way to Key West, not stopping to look around. It feels so good to finally have an outlook for  moving again!

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Key Largo - awaiting a repair estimate


We didn’t realize the damage was this bad at first

We are in waiting mode for an estimate for how long the repairs will take. I made contact with Progressive and they gave the go ahead to start repairs before the adjuster did the on-site inspection, a great time saver. We are hoping for a quick repair but we don’t know yet.

The cutlass bearing looks pretty bad in this closeup.

Meanwhile, everyone's complaining about the cold weather - it didn’t even reach 70 today. All that is supposed to change in the coming days, we’re extending our stay in the motel, no choice there, which is quite nice but it’s not a boat - and Key Largo is not Key West.

We just received the news that two of our grandkids (who are now in college) will fly down to visit us in Key West over spring break. That will be great fun. Sarah will have the aft cabin and the two boys will sleep in the cockpit or main cabin. We will have a crowd!

We hope to receive the news tomorrow in the repair date, waiting.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Key Largo Marina - Fleetwing in slings, a wild night


We were all over the anchorage, very disorienting in the dark

We had backed our anchor in at Caesar’s Creek and felt secure for the night and went to bed. Little did we know of the “excitement” ahead. The fun started when the tide turned and we had wind against tide. Normally that’s not so bad except it was a 20 kt wind against a 3 kt current. The boat danced around the anchor, turning circles. 

Damage to the aft section

After an hour of this, I noticed the boat wasn’t returning to its previous location. In fact, it was slipping and we were dragging - with the area right next to us being very shallow. In addition to the wind and current, we had wrapped the anchor line around the keel which prevented us from turning the bow to leave the shallow water, leaving the only option left of trying to back out - which didn’t work very well. 

Anchor line rubbed one side

We alternated skidding through water about as deep as our keel and occasionally getting into deeper water only to return to the shallow. It was pitch black outside, no moon. Opinion all the commotion, we hit the tug that was parked that was in the work detail repairing the Adams Key docks.

We’ll never know we wound up here - pure chance, secure for the rest of the night

After what seemed forever, we found ourselves next to the ranger station docks, purely by accident. Seeing the piling next to Fleetwing, we quickly threw lines and secured Fleetwing. But the adventure wasn’t over yet! In the morning after testing the prop for damage (none) we decided to continue west towards Key West. About a hour after leaving Adams Key, I noticed water in the bilge - where was that coming from?

The bilge pump was having trouble keeping up so I called SeaTow for help. Between us, we secured a haul out at Key Largo but we had to travel two hours to get there - with a leaky boat. Ann was at the wheel while I manned the pumps below. With the help of the one built in manual bilge pump in the cockpit, we stayed abreast of the incoming water while SeaTow paced us, high volume water pump at the ready.

Fleetwing us now in slings, awaiting repair of the leak, hopefully by tomorrow. Fleetwing is otherwise undamaged and we’re both safe and sound.

Oh the adventures of boat - more details to follow at a later time. I have photos to show but my WiFi connection will not work, later.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Caesars Creek - at anchor


The docks for day use are being renovated so there's no tieing up there

The winds were going to pick up tonight to almost 20 kts so we wanted to be secure in a protected anchorage on the way down the Keys. Caesars Creek in Adams Key is such an anchorage. There is a ranger station there with a dock for taking Hoolie ashore. Unfortunately, the dock is not available while they are renovating it. I knew of a place used for launching kayaks with a small passage through the mangroves that I used instead. It's behind the docks and a little north. It's not obvious unless you know where to look. 

There's a hidden shore through the mangroves that I used for Hoolie

We're anchored out of the channel on the north side very close to the ranger station and docks in 12 ft of water. There's current coming through but that's no big deal. The best thing is the 360 protection from wind and wave action. On the downside, you can only enter at high tide from the bayside. There is only 5.1 to 5.8 of water even at a 1.3 ft high tide at Billy Point - it varies with the wind direction. Today I saw 5.8 ft as the minimum before it deepened once into the Ceasars Creek channel. 

A brief sunset

We will wait for some tide to leave on the ocean side for Rodriguez Key for tomorrow night, then it's on to Marathon the next day. According to the weather report, we expect calm winds on Tuesday afternoon and night, perfect for Rodriguez Key. There's a public boat ramp there for Hoolie, another necessity. If all goes according to plan, we'll be in Key West Wednesday. 

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Marine Stadium in Miami - at anchor

 It was an easy ride down to Miami and we made it through Government Cut without it being closed.

You would think these cranes would be busier with all the backlog in the supply chain

The port was a bustle of activity with container ships being unloaded (see photo) and barges passing by. There was a security zone established just after we entered the cut but we couldn't tell where the security zone was established (entire cut, just a part?) so we continued unchallenged. 

The Miami skyline - a beautiful sight at night from Marine Stadium

Turning the corner into Marine Stadium, we saw dozens and dozens of boats but from past experience, we knew there was lots of room farther in so we motored forward. Sure enough, we found room about 3/4 of the way in with over 100 feet of clearance between us and our nearest neighbor. We dropped the hook and we were secure for the night. 

I took Hoolie into the sandy beach, no problem there. There's a sign posted now declaring the area a no-wake zone and while we watched from Fleetwing, a police boat (blue flashing light) pulled over a jetski for going too fast - so it's being enforced. However, people can still play their music much too loud although that's mostly a weekend problem and it quiets down at night.

The view of the Miami skyline is spectacular, I always love the view. We will make a short trip to Caesar's Creek on Sunday and time our arrival at high tide to get over the shallows on the approach. We like the anchorage there due to easy shore access and a 360 protected anchorage that we need for the expected 20 kts winds overnight. On Monday, the winds will subside and we'll spend the night at Rodriguez Key which has a public ramp for Hoolie relief. 

Friday, January 21, 2022

Ft Lauderdale at Bahia Mar - at a dock


I tell myself - people want to see what the docks look like (floating, condition, fixed, etc.) 
So I usually include a photo of Fleetwing - but the real reason is just I like looking at my boat. 

Today was the day to check all the boxes: laundry, ice, minor provisioning, take on water, pump out the dink (boy did it rain last night!). We already took on fuel and had a pump out so now we're all set for our run down the Keys. The weather has warmed up nicely, in the high 70s everyday and the nights don't go below 60, perfect. 

The beach is deserted. On spring break - you can't see the sand.

The we took a walk along the beach this afternoon and it looked strange so deserted. There was full sun and it was warm but no crowds, at least not yet. The stores were all open and full of people but not enough people apparently to fill the beaches. In the CVS store, they only had self-checkout. I don't know if that was a response to covid or a problem getting help but it worked fine. 

The forecast for Saturday morning is flat water and virtually no wind, just right for a calm ride down the coast to Marine Stadium. As soon as we get a weather window, we're off to Marathon for a day or so if we can get a dock and then on to Key West. Great to be south!

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Ft Lauderdale - at Bahia Mar


The anchorage next to Las Olas is packed

We went through 14  bridges today and hit every one on time, not waiting an extra 30 minutes due to a miss. This timing is possible if you can maintain 7 kts, even against an adverse current. We can do that, so it's no problem inside on the ICW through this stretch. We avoided the weekend crowd so it wasn't all that crowded until we got close to Ft Lauderdale when it got thick. 

I thought the Las Olas mooring field was discontinued - but there are boats 
here and even one open mooring. I wonder what the story is?

The anchorage on the east side of the ICW by Las Olas was packed (see photo). To our surprise, the old mooring field was still there and occupied (see photo)! We were told that it had been discontinued. If anybody is in Ft Lauderdale and can find out the real status of that mooring field, it would be useful to us cruisers. 

We had made reservations at Bahia Mar at $3.75/ft, on the high side of expensive but everything in Ft Lauderdale is expensive. We'll be here one more day since Friday is predicted to be rainy with Saturday morning clear with no wind and no wave action on for our outside passage to Miami to Marine Stadium. For now, we'll take a rest day after three days of moving.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Lantana - at anchor


To the east is the Gulf Stream which usually has lots of clouds which 
makes for nice sunrises.

For once the genset worked without a hitch and we had warmth in the morning with hot water for a shower. We'll see how long the nuts and bolts of this machine hold together, so far, so good. Today was the first day of "the bridges" and we made every one without waiting. You can only do this if you can maintain 7 kts, even with adverse current - which you'll run into at times. 

Hoolie's sandy beach at Hobe Sound

We pulled into the Lantana anchorage looking forward to a take out meal at the Olde Key Lime House restaurant. Upon going to the desk to order, I was told that they do not allow take-out anymore. I said, I'll order the meal at the bar, just put the meal in a bag and walk out. Oh no, can't do that. What if I bring my own paper plates - that's not allowed either. Okay, serve me a meal on whatever you use for your sit down customers and I'll take the plates to the boat and bring them back later the same night - oh no, we can't do that either. All this was rather disappointing. I highlighted my experiences on Traveladvisor, Yelp, and Google so others would be aware if they ever wanted take out at the restaurant. 

There's a boat ramp we use for Hoolie at the Lantana anchorage

Back at the boat, Ann defrosted two chicken breasts and we made do. Our trip tomorrow includes the rest of the bridges on the way to Ft Lauderdale where we'll take a dock at Bahia Mar on Thursday and Friday nights and then leave for Miami and Marine Stadium on Saturday morning. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Hobe Sound Anchorage - Only two of us here


Only two of us tonight, plenty of room

It was a much shorter day than yesterday. We started around 9:00 and reached the Hobe Sound anchorage by R38 by 3:00 pm. What a difference a day makes! The winds were light and the sun was bright, all day long. We were in shirt sleeves in the cockpit while others in open boats were still huddled up in jackets and sweatshirts

Nice and calm

There were no surprises on the Bob423 track so it was uneventful in that respect. Navionics SonarChart has caught up to the depths in the anchorage and now makes a good reference for finding a good spot. There was only one other boat and he was far away, plenty of room. 

A peaceful end to the day

I took Hoolie ashore at the sandy beach which is nice because there's no mud. It's as still as on land at the moment with winds of less than 5 kts all night. We will head south to the Lantana anchorage by the Olde Key Limehouse restaurant and I think the crew wants a takeout dinner, I'll see what I can do!  

Peaceful night!!

Monday, January 17, 2022

Loggerhead Marina at Vero Beach - 30 kt winds and cold


7:0 am just outside of Titusville, heading south - too early!

We had originally intended overnighting at Vero Beach on a mooring but as the day progressed, it became apparent that the night was really going to be cool, down in the 40s. If we were at anchor, we would just run the genset to power the reverse cycle A/C and hot water and be comfortable. On a mooring, it's rather impolite to run a genset early in the morning, especially impolite to the boat you're rafted with. With that, we opted to take a dock at Loggerhead Marina in Vero Beach. 

The docks are high and fixed so hang your fenders accordingly

The fairway into the marina has a reputation of being shallow and they advertise 6.0 MLLW. When I came in the lowest I saw was 6.8 MLLW but that was with a clearance of 63 ft on the height boards for the Wabasso bridge. If the boards read 64 ft, then the approach depth would only be 6.8 - 1.0 = 5.8 MLLW. So if you coming from the north, take a look at the height boards for the Wabasso bridge to adjust the expected approach depth accordingly. 

It's a beautiful area and even has a pool - too cold now but in the summer it must be great.

We met quite a crowd this afternoon of people that wanted to say hi. Many used the Bob423 tracks in a variety of apps and programs, not all Aqua Map or Navionics. The GPX tracks will work with all navigation programs. 

On Tuesday, we will set out for the Hope Sound anchorage by R38, one of our favorite anchorages. It has Hoolie relief at a nearby sandy beach and since we're anchored, we can run the genset to stay warm. It also has beautiful sunrises, I'll take a photo. 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Titusville - last day


The morning before the storm!

In advance of the coming storm, I took Hoolie out for his morning constitution and the entire southern sky was red! You know the saying, "Red sky in morning, sailors take warning..." No truer words were spoken for this day at least. 

A peaceful photo from our day at the beach

We beat the rain by 30 minutes and basically holed up on the boat all day with the rain coming down. It was finally over around 2:00 or so, the sun came out, but it never warmed up, time to go south! I did the last of the boat chores for the trip and now it's early to bed for a first light leave in the morning. It's a little over 60 NM to Vero Beach and hopefully, we'll find someone willing to pony up since all the moorings will probably be taken. 

I included a photo from when we took a trip to the beach and saw this scene that looked so peaceful. A guy fishing although it didn't look too strenuous. I never did see him move while we were there. He sat in a comfortable-looking chair looking at the ocean. It looked like a nice way to spend and afternoon.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Titusville - Calm before the storm

The flowers are starting to bloom!

 You would never know a storm was on the way. It was a beautiful day with temps in the 70s and not a lot of wind. I took on water and did a few odds and ends but we're getting impatient to move. We have to sit out Sunday with the front coming through but after that, we're off to Vero Beach. I called ahead to be sure there would be a place for us and was told that they are rafting so it's no problem. 

You see these signs all over Titusville

The winds are predicted to be out of the northwest, veering, to the west during the afternoon which is a good direction for going south given that the ICW hugs the western shore most of the way south. It's also a good direction for the marina since it blows off land. A northeast wind is the worst, it blows waves directly into the marina through the opening. 

Sunday will be a day on the boat. It's predicted to rain all day long, starting at 7:00 am with high winds as the front moves through the area, then we're out of here!

Friday, January 14, 2022

Titusville - DDay minus 2


I always like the strong coloration

We're just waiting out the expected storm coming through on Sunday, after that we're out of here. We plan on reaching Vero Beach Monday afternoon and hopefully will find someone to pony up to. I called Vero Beach this afternoon and they are rafting boats again so it wouldn't be a problem. The only problem would be if no one wanted to raft up. We've both had our two shots and also a booster so we're about as inoculated as we can be. 

One last sunset

We're leaving at first light and should reach Vero Beach by 4:00 or so. Meanwhile, we're just cleaning up odds and ends on the boat. A few birds insist on leaving their calling card - which I attack to rid Fleewing of. We gave Hoolie his last run in the dog park this afternoon, his chance to be a dog - with all the other dogs. Until we reach Key West, he's going to be pretty solitary. 

I have to fire up the A/C as a heat pump which is more powerful than our 1500 watt heater. I was going to do that this morning but then I remembered Fleetwing was out of the water and so it lost the prime on the A/C line. I'll reprime it tonight so I'll have it ready on the cool morning predicted for Saturday and for the days on our way to Miami. It's warm in Miami but not so much on the way down. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Titusville - Rental car and Black Point Drive


The first order of business for the day was a launch by Space X at 10:25 am

Enterprise seems to have cars to rent again but due to Covid, they're not picking anyone up. However, they had an exception for Titusville Marina which saved a 1.7 mile walk. The car I had from Hertz for the trip down had 77,000 miles on it, the one today from Enterprise had 21,000. Both are a little more than usual but the one from Enterprise was in much better shape.

Naturally we wanted to drive through Black Point

The morning was highlighted by a Space X launch which included a return landing by the main rocket to the Kennedy Space Center. Usually, they land on a ship in the ocean but today was different. It's still neat for me to see the launches even if they have become rather routine for residents. 

I wished we could have gotten closer, it a beauful bird!

We got some last-minute items from Publix so we're now ready to go. Having a car, we had to drive through Merritt Island and take photos of the birds, one of our favorite things to do in Titusville. We are not avid birders and we don't know the names of most of the birds - we just enjoy the sights.

Birds all around, well we enjoy them

Looking at the weather, we now are going to leave on Monday instead of Saturday. There's a strong storm front coming through on Sunday with high winds and lots of rain. We didn't want to be out in that so we're staying put until it passes through. Monday is predicted to be clear with no rain sod we'll be leaving around 7:00 am for Vero Beach. It's about time we started heading to Key West. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

On well, a not-so-good sunset - but I didn't think photos of laundry or a pump-out cut it...
I'll have birds tomorrow!

 Lots of odds and ends to get ready for continuing south. Laundry, of course, but also one more delivery of groceries, this time from Walmart. We signed in to order this morning but the next delivery date wasn't until 7:00 on Thursday. One has to plan ahead more than that to get a decent delivery time. But then there's an option for "Express Delivery" for $10 more which you can get in two hours or less. 

So being the sucker I am, I ordered the express delivery and sure enough, it came within two hours. I could even track the delivery car in real-time with my iPhone. The car must have had the smartphone plugged into their network so I could see the little car icon proceed as it tottled towards Titusville Marina. Such wonders. 

What more could a boater want? Groceries delivered to your door, laundry done, and a pump-out - boater heaven. To top that off, we plan on renting a car Thursday and taking a drive out to Black Point on Merritt Island to see the birds. It's our day off from planning ahead. 

Then it's getting down to the final checklist on Friday for leaving Saturday morning. The weather still looks good, it will feel good to start moving again.