01/31/2012, Florida Keys
A month at Marathon, FL
Our stay here at the City Marina on a mooring ball has been very nice and we expect to be here another month or so. This time here has made it possible to get more needed work done on the boat before we, at some future time, head back to the Bahamas and beyond. This cruising area has many resources for sailors. Availability of parts, services, and expertise are many. Being here for an extended time makes it possible to tackle a lot of different issues that we have not always been able to, for lack of time. An example is with the alternator that has been a concern from the beginning has finally been resolved. The charge light on the instrument panel was always on and a small wire had showed signs of melting from overheating. That is now fixed but just as satisfying I now know more about some of the wires running through this boat. The depth finder has been working intermittently for years and by disabling the wind indicator it now is working reliably. We now have a spare starter purchased at a good price and installed to assure that it works when and if needed. Our engine hour meter failed recently and has been replaced. Our RPM gauge is erratic and needs more troubleshooting before a solution is found. I have purchased a used watermaker that will take some time to install. Some new snubber lines need to be made. Some leaks have been sealed, some of the safety equipment reviewed and updated, and some bulbs have been replaced with more energy efficient LED bulbs. We have purchased a portable SSB because the receiver we have is just about worthless. That's just some of the things on the list of which there is always one more thing to add. Just today the Link 10 battery monitor display stopped working.
But not every day is filled working on the boat. Usually half days. On the other half we make a trip into town most every day, and sometimes the beach. We get our walk in and do the necessary shopping along with some eating out. Part of our day is spent meeting and talking with cruisers we have met along the way and others we have met here. Lots of talk of places people have been or plans they are making. We are making plans to visit the Dry Tortugas before heading back to Fort Pierce in April. Lots of interesting people and in this mooring field there is just about every kind of cruising boat. We took the bus down to Key West and spent a day there. We made it to a local nautical flea market and purchased some fishing supplies. It's been fun to meet up with the people who sold us our sailboat 6 years ago for the first time. They came in with their trawler about a week ago and we have visited with them a couple of times. They even took us out on their trawler for a day of fishing! It was lots of fun and we hope to do that again sometime. We tried some fishing from the dinghy as well as our boat. From this port we have easy access to the Atlantic and some great fishing areas. There is a nice beach nearby and kayaks are readily available but we haven't tried them yet. We have bikes that have been lent to us and so we get a bike ride in now and then. There is no TV reception so we get some book reading in and find ourselves listening to Garrison Keillor on Saturday nights sometimes.
01/02/2012, Marathon, Fl
Happy New Year All!
We left the Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart on 12-27 and spent an interesting night at Peck Lake on the hook. Weather announcers told us to expect a front during the night so in anticipation of that possibility we arrived early and Captain decided to put out 90 feet of rode in our 12 foot depth of water. Shortly before sunset a rather large motor yacht arrived and anchored very near us and in front of a sailboat which had been carefully anchored a distance from us. So Captain said to the motor yacht captain, "Capn' I have 90 feet of rode out here." To which the other captain said, "What do you need 90 feet of rode in 5 feet of water?" He did move two more times and re-anchored before we turned in. Meanwhile it was getting dark and later the wind piped up and Captain did an anchor watch but all was well. Upon rising in the morning we wondered what happened to the motor yacht and lo and behold it was in the shoal waters and he had dragged his anchor during the night and gone aground. Seatow was there to assist and we headed off south.
From Peck Lake to Lake Worth with the current in our favor we sometimes made 7 knots! It paid to clean and paint the bottom of Blue Bay!
Next day we headed out of Lake Worth inlet before daybreak on 12/29 and motor sailed until the following afternoon when we arrived at Rodriguez Key on the outside. The Atlantic had 2-4 foot rollers and mild winds from the North which helped us along. We had a chance to check out the new auto pilot and all is working well! Next morning before sunrise we were up and away and arrived in Marathon, Florida after three days and one night of motor-sailing, more motoring than sailing, unfortunately. We did sail from 1:00 AM until 7:00 AM one night, which was a great smooth sail and the most fun we had! Waters were smooth and winds were never over 10 knots. It took a bit longer than we expected and we actually did not keep track of the miles, but our Cruising Guide says it would be around 200 nautical miles. Unknown to us was the fact that the City Marina at Boot Key closed on New Years Eve at 3 PM. We arrived after 2:30 in the afternoon! Timing is everything. We headed over to Keys Fisheries for a fantastic grouper sandwich to celebrate New Years!
The plan is to be here for a month or so.
During our sail we spotted several very large loggerhead turtles and several dolphins followed us especially near inlets and fishing areas. Lots of fishing going on and we plan to get in on it soon!
Hope everyone has a peaceful and happy New Year!
Here we are in Stuart, where we are enjoying access to all kinds of services and hospitality of the Sunset Bay Marina. They certainly go out of their way to make cruisers feel welcome and help you in any way they can! We have enjoyed Meet and Greets, Sunday Potlucks, Thanksgiving dinners, biweekly transports to WalMart, Harbor Freight, Publix and of course, West Marine, use of bikes, a Cruisers' Lounge, reasonable washers and dryers, mail service, and the great long-running hot showers! What more could a cruiser wish for? Well, we would like to move on, go south along the east coast and end up in Marathon for part of the winter months.
It has been helpful to be here in Stuart so that we can work on some important issues before we head south in a week or so. During this time we had discovered that we thought we might have a fuel leak, which we found must have been an overflow, but which involved taking the table out and checking into the bilge and checking over the engine. We also had some worries because the boat had not been in the water for a year and a half, so we wanted to make sure we didn't have any leaks in the through-hull fittings. Also we broke the head which needed a part and it makes you realize how important it is! Several other things have needed fixing but first we had to find the parts. The macerator pump needed overhauling, the outboard motor needed work and the running lights have quit suddenly! These are some of the challenges of the cruising life!
The other part of cruising, the fun part, is meeting all kinds of nice cruising friends. We have met some old cruising friends, and made some new. Sharing meals, happy hours and trips to the stores have all been fun.
We do not expect a white Christmas since we are expecting 80 degrees and sunny! It has been windy quite a bit but being on a mooring ball is pretty safe and mostly comfortable. One night we had between 8-10 inches of rain and when Dick went out to take us to shore he had to bail the dinghy with a gallon bucket! It was full to the top and overflowing with the gas tank floating!
We also have been in contact with Nancy's Mom, who is doing really well so far this winter. Our sons are busy with their lives and probably won't be visiting this winter. We have had a visitor from home and hope for more
We wish you Happy Holidays!