03 February 2013 | Middle Keys -- Boot Key Harbor
I can't believe it's already February! Time is passing quickly. We arrived in Marathon a couple of weeks ago and you might guess, since blog updates have been non-existent, that we're keeping quite busy. It was a spectacular trip getting here, as you can tell from the picture of the spinnaker flying. We left Biscayne Bay on Tuesday, Jan. 15, after a fun week in Miami with the rest of our family. The ICW south of Miami is too shallow for us, so we were back in the ocean again. This time, though, we stayed in Hawk Channel for the duration. Winds were east/southeast at 10-18 knots, on the beam, so we had quite a ride. For most of the day the sun was bright and the sky cloudless, except for a big black cloud that threatened us – but never came close. We traveled with Chanticleer so enjoyed having company on the water. Only about a mile off shore in 35-50' of water, we passed a number of islands in the upper Keys, some with little evidence of activity; others with huge condos lining the oceanfront. It was a delightful day and we got into Rodriguez Key, our anchorage for the night, around 4:00pm – not a lot of protection but other boats were anchored also, which made us more comfortable. We were treated to an awesome sunset. Half-way there – a 40 mile day.
Wednesday morning we got an early start anxious to put the last 46 miles behind us. Chanticleer and a couple of other boats going our way were out of the anchorage by 7 am; we followed soon after. Winds were a bit lighter but still plenty for another day of great sailing. We motored out of the anchorage and didn't use the motor again until we hit Marathon. Winds again out of the east/southeast (the Key's run east and west) so we made good progress in the morning, traveling at 7.5-8 knots. Later in the day, winds got light but we hated to quit sailing so out of the locker came the spinnaker. It's been so long since we've had a chance to use this sail; I had to remember how it all worked! It was a clean hoist and quickly our speed returned and we were cookin'. Two days of spectacular sailing after 1000+ miles of motoring was a real treat. For the two hour spinnaker run, Mike couldn't wipe the grin off his face (and he didn't want to share the helm). However, as often happens, winds shifted, then died – a clean take-down and we were soon a motor boat again, but only about an hour out.
The city of Marathon surrounds Boot Key Harbor. Finding the entrance was a bit challenging but once we spotted the markers, the rest was easy. Our marina, Sombrero-Dockside, is tucked in at the far end of the harbor, past the 200+ mooring balls maintained by the Marathon City Marina. We're a short walk from the Public's Grocery Store and a number of other services and restaurants. Sailboats are in the minority at this marina but we're tucked in between two power boats and some very friendly boaters. It's been nice to have water and electricity at our fingertips again. From our slip we see green water and some very small islands overgrown with greenery, but we can also see the mooring field. At sunset, it's a great view – hundreds of “sticks” hanging on their mooring balls with red skies as the backdrop. We've had a couple of rainstorms, but nothing memorable – mostly cooling breezes, sunshine, and bright skies. So, almost 1200 miles and 3 months later, we are finally here!