Caprice Cruise

26 March 2017 | Long Key in the Florida Keys
25 March 2017 | BOOT KEY HARBOR
22 March 2017 | BOOT KEY HARBOR
20 March 2017 | Sisters Creek to Sombrero Beach --Florida Keys
16 March 2017 | BOOT KEY HARBOR
14 March 2017 | Boot Key Harbor
08 March 2017 | Pelican Bay Florida
07 March 2017 | Charlotte Harbor Florida
24 April 2016 | El Jobean Florida
14 April 2016 | Key Largo Florida
08 April 2016 | Berry Islands, Bahamas
30 March 2016
18 March 2016 | Boot Key Harbor
16 March 2016 | BOOT KEY HARBOR


26 March 2017 | Long Key in the Florida Keys
Breezy and Pleasant
Sunday morning, we dinghied into shore for an early shower and a last grab of wi-fi before we headed out. It is a beautiful morning, light winds partly cloudy and high 70s. Perfect weather for a short sailboat trip. As is custom we stopped at Burdines to pick up fuel before we headed off to parts unknown. We were pleased to see that we only needed 20 gallons. We ran the motor, motor-sailing 36 hours to get here, and we ran it 30 hours while we were here to charge batteries. The bill was $77.00 plus tip. Not bad for 3 weeks in paradise.
Heading out the wind is steady easterly as predicted light 10-12 as predicted and picking up to 15 to 20 along the way. Our course is due east, and we calculated that staying inside the keys would be a less rough trip than motoring up the Hawk Channel on the outside with seas of 2-3 feet. With winds on the nose, we had a pleasant ride motoring the whole way, dodging crab pots. I felt like a big old trawler motoring around 5 knots. Caprice is a wonderful seaworthy craft, but she doesn’t point into the wind very well and we would have had to go way off course to sail, not an option in our way of thinking. We arrived at Long Key Bight, under the Channel 5 Bridge about 3 pm as expected. The wind is still steady 15 to 20 knots from the east. This anchorage doesn’t offer the best protection from an east wind and the boat is gently rolling, but we have endured much worse and hope to get a decent night’s sleep.
We’ll make an early start to Rodriguez Key tomorrow where we will anchor, hoping to cross to the Bahamas on Tuesday. Nothing is as changeable as the weather so we will make our final decision Tuesday morning at 6:30 after we listen to Chris Parker.
As the sun sets over Long Key Bight, the wind and waves are settling promising a restful night. We will set the anchor alarm as a precaution but hope I won’t hear it. We all know Jack would sleep through it. It’s not within his hearing range, but a stiff jab with my elbow and he’ll be right there to figure out what to do. For now, all is well and the wind and waves will rock us to sleep at Long Key.


25 March 2017 | BOOT KEY HARBOR
Kris / Windy and warm
Starting with the "Cruisers Net" on the radio Thursday morning, the harbor is all a twitter with the impending frontal passage which is going to bring us brisk winds and rain. There was a serious discussion of battening down hatches. I'm not sure we have battens. Just hatches. There were horror stories of how in the last "blow" someone lost the canvas cover for their grill and another intrepid sailor lost a green boat fender. (Still missing) My tongue is now stuck firmly in my cheek. Seriously, we are safe and sound on a mooring, so no worries. We spent the day planning for the bad weather, stocking up on bread, eggs and other comfort food. The bike rack at Publix was full of silly little bikes today as other cruisers decided to stock up for the bad weather as well. It's not that it will be a disaster. The winds are predicted to be over 20 knots tomorrow, so it's just that no one wants to jump in the dinghy and motor to shore. It can be a wet trip with resulting "dinghy butt" to make the bike ride somewhat unpleasant.
Other than storm preparations it was a pretty mundane day. Calm, warm and beautiful. I did laundry which took all morning. Laundromats are great sources of news, gossip and sharing of adventures and pictures of grandkids, but doing laundry steals 2 hours from an otherwise gorgeous day. My friend Phyllis informed me that laundry in Black Point Bahamas was $7.50 a load, so I figured I better get a jump on it. Looking at dirty laundry from the past 16 days is like a trip down memory lane of our adventures. Laundry done, we considered a last trip to Sombrero beach, but laziness prevailed and we sunned ourselves on the aft deck of the boat. Both of us are too fair to spend much time lazing in the sun anyway.
This evening things started getting ominous about 6 pm, just as I was about to interrupt Jack's afternoon reverie and request he grill me a steak on our aft deck. Rib eyes were on sale at Publix today and the bike ride works up an appetite for red meat. This could be a last splurge before we start eating out of cans at sea. By the time he had the grill fired up, the sky was darkening and wind whipped up bit of surf in the harbor. Boaters who don't have brains, or forgot to look up, went zooming past on plane in dinghys (strictly forbidden) to get back to their boats before the rain and lightning started.
We stowed our cushions, rolled down our enclosure, unplugged all our electronics and radio antennas. I don't like to be below when the boat is rocking and swaying, and we don't have a TV, so we sat on deck and watched the lightning show. It's a tiny bit exciting knowing we have a 40 foot lightning rod sticking up from the deck. This lingering stormy weather may curtail our fun but it's all a part of living on a boat.
The weather prediction for today was spot on. After a restless night of several rounds of thunderstorms we woke to a calm morning of southeast winds. Having been awake much of the night, we slept late, almost until sunup, which is about 7:30 in these days of daylight savings time. Jack had disconnected all the antennas to avoid lightning damage so we had no radio communication this morning. We aren't going anywhere today so Chris Parker's Bahamas weather report would be for entertainment purpose only. While I waited for my coffee to perk, I turned on the wind indicator to check the wind speeds. The calm winds were only a teaser, and by full daylight there was no more calm wind or water. It is unusual to see whitecaps in the harbor. In my experience it doesn't happen unless there is a steady wind for several hours.
After breakfast, needing a shower and some Wi-fi time we traveled by dinghy into shore. I wore my lightest weight shorts which dry quickly after the onset of dinghy butt. The ride was comfortably warm and only mildly splashy. Today is the last business day I will be able to get easy Wi-fi, so I wanted to take care of any leftover bills before we sail into the zone of silence.
Back on the boat I entertained myself with my usual knitting and light reading. Both tasks can be soporific so I needed a more energetic project. Yesterday I splurged at Publix and bought a big pack of on-sale ground beef. It takes up less space cooked so I cooked it up, some with onions, some without, in case it lasts until Paul gets here. I store it in my freezer precooked which makes it easy and less messy to prepare especially if the boat is rocking, which it was. Late in the day, the wind persisted in the 18- 20 knot range with gusts to 25 or higher. In these conditions, I'm not good at sitting below deck reading or typing so I'll end this with the hope of reduced winds tomorrow and one last day of Marathon madness before we head up the coast of Florida on Sunday.


22 March 2017 | BOOT KEY HARBOR
Monday was pretty much a goof off day. We dinghied into shore and took care of internet business, paying bills and checking up on the web news, gossip and of course Facebook. Jack treated me to lunch at one of our favorite spots, Burdines. The food is good, and they have an interesting selection of beers in bottles, no drafts. This assures our sobriety. We are too cheap to drink to excess at $4.75 a bottle. One is plenty. The restaurant is on a wraparound deck up a flight of stairs from the marina with a good view of the boats coming and going. It is always windy dining out at Burdines. It finally occurred to me that we are almost always waiting out adverse weather when we are here at Marathon. Someday I’ll have to come here on a calm day.
Tuesday dawned bright and clear without a care in the world. We’ve decided to wait out the next weather front here in this safe harbor rather than winging it in the Bahamas. This morning we made an early hasty trip into the marina office and maybe were still a bit sleepy. No explanation is available here for our haste.
Part way in the dinghy motor sputtered and quit running. “Oops” said Jack, “I forgot to refill the gas tank.” No problem mon’, we always carry a 1 gallon can of gas and the tank only holds about a quart. We don’t even need to pull over. Procedure is to lift the cover off the motor to be sure it was empty, unscrew the gas cap, dump in a little gas, replace the cover on the motor, drop the gas cap overboard and say a naughty word. Problem now! Optimistic Jack realized he dropped it in very shallow water next to a curious little house boat that is a harbor landmark. I can tell he is starting to relax, as he didn’t get upset after the initial expletive. He figured we could take care of business on shore, then come back with a mask and snorkel and find the cap.
Back on Caprice Jack noted that water temp was low 70’s so he suited up. Some call it a wet suit. Jack calls it as a "Grandpa coozie". Suitably attired we packed our diving flag and dinghied back to the houseboat. We noticed the residents were not on board so we wouldn’t arouse anyone from a mid-morning snooze. Amazingly, after snorkeling about and making a few surface dives he spotted and retrieved the gas cap. A cheer went up from the dinghy crew (me). This saved a whole routine of finding a parts dealer for a 20 year old outboard, biking there, standing at the counter rattling off age, make and horsepower and feeling rather foolish in front of a bored parts counter guy or gal.
As long as he was stuffed into his wet suit, no easy task, Jack decided to rid our prop of a recent population of sea life that is attempting to take up residence. This is one of the hazards of staying too long in one place.
This task complete, we planned a bike ride into Marathon to pick up Charlie’s alternator which arrived at the Advance Auto Store. We need some exercise and a 4 mile bike ride on level streets will do the trick. On the way back we treated ourselves to fast food, a first since we left home two weeks ago. One can only smell that grease so long without succumbing to temptation. The Burger King was crowded with boisterous teenagers of all different sizes and shapes wearing matching white tennis shirts. I believe we encountered break time at a local tennis camp. Included in the training routine, I guess, is a healthy diet of burgers, fries and large drinks. Why not? They’ll work it off! We also stopped at the Marathon airport and visited a tiny EAA museum. Free admission was the draw, with donations accepted. We were greeted by a very friendly guy who got our aviation histories and our current boating status, make model type and destination. He made us feel very welcome so we spent a few minutes admiring their resident Beech 18 and WWII posters.
That occupied the middle of our day and we spent the rest relaxing on the boat. "Relaxing" includes checking all our weather sources and we confirmed much to our dismay the forecast hasn’t changed. So we’ll spend another quiet night here on a mooring, and seek new local adventures tomorrow.


20 March 2017 | Sisters Creek to Sombrero Beach --Florida Keys
Kris / Relentlessly Beautiful
Woefully we paid for another week on a mooring in Boot Key Harbor. The winds are relentlessly blowing from the Northeast, the exact direction we plan to sail up the coast of Florida and across the Gulf Stream to get to the Bahamas where we make our first stop at Gun Cay. (Pronounced Key) Our motor isn’t powerful enough to sail into the wind for a 12 hour trip. If we did, when we arrived in the Bahamas there is another front predicted which would bring unpleasant anchoring and adverse winds for a long sail east across the Great Bahama Banks. So we sit.
Making the best of it, we spent the day enjoying beautiful Florida weather. It is warm and sunny for the spring breakers. Just not favorable winds for a long sail. We dinghied to Sombrero Beach and spent the afternoon sunning ourselves. Tonight the wind is supposed to pick up again and be strong with Gale warnings north of us. I can hear the wind howling in the shrouds which usually means it is over 20 Knots. The boat is rocking back and forth on the mooring. It could be a noisy night. We feel secure here and will work hard to spend another few days in this great little boaters community.


We've been here nearly a week and I've tried not to bore my readers with the mundane details of living-on-a- boat life. Survival is basic, but we are in port, so not that difficult. One is spoiled living on land where the necessities of life are at your fingertips. To depart from that comfort and convenience is or can be an adventure. When we were camping in the mountains, often a shower was a walk down a path. Now because it is 10 minute dinghy ride into shore on what can be a blustery morning, we try to combine it with other tasks. Today was such a busy day, I didn't even have time to knit!!! As a favor to our friend Charlie, after our showers on shore, we biked to the Advance Auto Store to see if we could find a suitable alternator to replace his which is making the wrong noises. He is in the Exhumas and not anywhere near an auto parts specialty store. The Advance Auto and Napa stores are about a half mile apart, nearly 5 miles from the Marina. It is Jack's landlubber routine to take a morning bike ride of about that distance so this doesn't seem daunting, except that we have to ride back. I did have a few items on my list to acquire from Kmart, which was on the way. Sidebar. The K-Mart in Marathon is a busy thriving store. Surprise. No Wal-Mart within bike ride distance. Enough said, We jumped on our silly folding bikes and trekked to the Advance Auto store. It was a nice ride. Remember Florida has no hills with the exception of a bridge over Vaca Cut, a beautiful turquoise waterway leading from the bay side to the Atlantic side of this very skinny island.
After a long conversation with the Advance Auto counter parts guy, we are semi confident that we have ordered the correct alternator. It is a special adaptation to nautical use and difficult to explain to the counter guy who wants to know whether or not his 40 hp diesel is a V-8???
That accomplished we had a nice ride bike ride back to the marina. I have never ventured that far in that direction on a bike in Marathon, so discovered a plethora of new stores, restaurants, resorts, bars and touristy gift shops. Things move by slower when you are on a bike so you can check out the landscape.
Arriving back at the marina, we had to quickly travel back to Caprice to get ready for Dave's Birthday. I have mentioned that every morning there is a discussion on the VHF radio channel 68 between residents of the harbor. For the past few days they have been announcing Dave's birthday celebration party this afternoon. Dave is apparently from Louisiana and the party is to be a feast of Cajun food. The protocol was show up bring your own utensils, a bowl for jambalaya, your choice of drinks and a dish to pass. I brought what I call Sally's Salad, a yummy rice salad made with marinated artichokes and a light dressing of mayo and curry. We emerged from our sailboat shell of solitude, and met some interesting folks who are also staying in the harbor for the winter months. A lot of folks just come here to spend the winter months with no further destination. We had good food, conversation shared adventures and laughs. If we have to be stuck by unfavorable winds we might as well make the best of it. The party started early and broke up early. That's life on a boat. After dark we try not to waste electricity. I'm thankful for battery powered cell phones are great for not-so-late night reading.


16 March 2017 | BOOT KEY HARBOR
Nothing feels as good as a hot shower on a chilly morning. Marathon City Marina provides hot showers if one doesn’t mind a 15 minute dinghy ride to get there. This involves dropping the dinghy from its davits (hangars) on the stern of the boat, gathering towels, shampoo, razors etc, and motoring into shore. The advantage of a chilly morning is that everyone who took a shower yesterday figures they didn’t need one today and stayed tucked in until the weather improves. No waiting at the shower house. It really is a beautiful day just cold for Florida and windy enough to endure a cold shower on the way to the hot ones.
All fresh and flowery we decided that as long as we were on shore we would treat ourselves to breakfast at “The Stuffed Pig”, a casual indoor-outdoor café right across the Highway from the City Marina Park. It is spring break in Marathon so on our walk through the park we were greeted by the cheery laughter of middle and grade school kids dressed in matching t-shirts at a one week day camp doing fun stuff which required lots of shouting.
True to its name, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast. It’s always worth taking your life in your hands, to cross US 1, but at 8 am it didn’t seem nearly as dangerous. Possibly the landlubbers were hunkered as well. Refreshed with plenty of coffee and a stiff dose of fresh internet WI-Fi we dinghied back to the boat and went about our morning routine. I added an inch to my afghan, and caught up on some correspondence which was not mailed. No WI-FI on the boat.
On our nightly “chats with Charlie” on the SSB radio, Charlie has done all the talking. Today Jack’s project was to improve our antenna. He rigged up a 40 foot wire and raised with a spare halyard to extend the antenna for our SSB radio in hopes of responding to Charlie’s nightly call. This far, we have heard him but are unable to squawk out a reply. Tonight we expect a call from Norman’s Cay, Bahamas. Phyllis and Charlie preceded us by about a week, and we hope to catch up sometime in the next few weeks and sail together for a few weeks.
Since we were still stuffed from breakfast, we skipped lunch and took the dinghy to explore the harbor. It is interesting to see the other boats, check out their ports of call and snicker at some funny names. The farthest port was Homer Alaska and the closest (to us) was Port Charlotte Florida. With high hopes we motored to the east end of the harbor to see if anyone has resurrected the water front restaurant at Sombrero Marina. We were disappointed to find only an empty shell. In the past, it has been a fun place to gather for a meal and live music. It had been a chilly damp ride and I almost put in a request to return to Caprice when Jack suggested we meander down Sister’s Creek to the beach on the Atlantic Side of the Harbor. Changing directions helped with the wind and as soon as we entered the creek we were protected from the wind by mangroves and other lush tropical trees. It is a pretty ride opening up on Bay Something Park with a small but protected beach. Again we were reminded it was spring break. Young sunburned families and bronzed teenagers populated the beach. More sunning than swimming was happening but it was a pleasant spot. A few minutes earlier I was zipping up my jacket, now I wished I had my bikini on. (Just kidding) We walked the beach and soaked up the calm sun for a short while before hopping back in the dinghy to return to the harbor. On the way back our trusty Nissan 5 horse dinghy motor coughed and protested. Jack pulled back to shore and thoroughly checked it but couldn’t find any problem. He promised to check it out further back on the boat when he was armed with tools and a cold beer.
Back on the boat, we went through our usual late afternoon routine, reading, listening to music and maybe a cocktail on deck. Dinner is usually simple, but I did treat Jack to fresh Cheddar Bay Biscuits baked in my toaster oven while the generator was running. They really hit the spot were delicious.
I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Charlie called at our appointed time and frequency and was able to pick up Jack’s transmission. This was a victory for the amateur pieced together short wave setup that Jack has diligently attempted to install and make operational on a shoestring budget. There are more mysteries to be solved but in an emergency it could save our butts.
Vessel Name: Caprice
Vessel Make/Model: Irwin 37 Ketch
Hailing Port: El Jobean Florida
Crew: Jack and Kris Hinterberg
We retired to Florida in 2005 and learned to sail the peaceful waters of Charlotte Harbor on our Compac 25. In 2007 we upgraded to our 37 Irwin Ketch and decided to prepare for a Bahamas trip. In February 2012 we departed for our first Bahamas trip. [...]
Extra: We took our second and third Bahamas Cruise in the winter of 2013 and 2014 revisiting some of the places we loved and visiting new ports. 2015 is a Florida Coastal and Keys Cruise.
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Caprice's Photos -

S/V Caprice

Who: Jack and Kris Hinterberg
Port: El Jobean Florida