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Summer's Snow
To sum it up
Windy and cool
03/15/2013, Key Largo, Tarpon bay

We are finally migrating back North, destination, St Lawrence River with a lot of stops between here and there. We will post our location and short info on each day's cruise as we progress. We will be stopping on the Chesapeake in May for a few weeks to visit friends and family and then on Memorial Day weekend we will head to the St Lawrence River.

To sum up our travels so far...

The trip down to Florida was fun albeit cold and windy at times. We did enjoy the cruise, we also saw a lot of beautiful scenery that no one could see from the highway or a plane so a boat is a great vantage point. I will say that the nicest scenery was in the Carolina's, the barrier islands and the pretty water made for some scenic vies, they also have a lot of sandy shores, limited numer of derelict boats, and a lot of wildlife both sea and land. Gerogia was the ugliest, the river banks were basically mud and the tides were such large swings that the muddy banks made the water muddy from the tidal flows. Georgia, thankfully is a quick two day transit and it will remain that way for us, nothing worth stopping to enjoy.

Florida is quite nice and in many places there is nice sandy beach to view and if so inclined, we could stop and enjoy on the dingy but we didn't do that too often. We did stop in Fernandina, St Augustine, Stuart, Vero, Jupiter and Miami/Ft Lauderdale (on our way to the keys). Out of all our stops in Florida, our favorite, handsdown is Jupiter. Jupiter is a very clean area with awesome beach access and a nice beach with many parks along the beach. The area is minimally commercial and the traffic was also minimal. We spent a month in Jupiter and without a doubt, if we had to pick now, Jupiter is where we'd prefer to settle; but we aren't picking yet!

The Florida Keys are a nice place to visit but wouldn't want to live here. There are a lot of derelict boats in Florida but the Keys have the most, and a lot of them are eyesores yet, YET, people are living on them despite there need to sink ot be sunk or be towed and destroyed, wuite unsightly. The Keys are also very busy, with minimal beaches available to cruisers and the main road through to Key West is extremely busy, crossing it is risky at best and frankly, living in DC's traffic was enough for my lifetime so the Keys are out for those reasons BUT, even more reason to avoid the keys for settling is that it isn't that warm here. We have had numerous days in the 50's and low 60's, add to that the never ending 15 - 30 (and we saw 40MPH) winds almost every day makes for a not so hospitable place for boating. The water is clear and pretty, but the weather is not so perfect. We also asked around to those who spend Summers here and they say it is HOT and HUMID with no wind.

Now, don't misunderstand, we had a great 7 months so far, we have suffered bad weather but overall, it has been wonderful seeing all the different areas but we didn't get to swim and kayak as much as we had hoped due to winds and cold. We didn't fish at all but we will on the River and next year in the Bahamas and we didn't snorkel very much. Next year, we are going to Winter in the Lower Bahamas, hopefully, warmer weather awaits. To sum up the Keys, it seems an area past its prime, the roadways is old and in less than stellar condition, the businesses, those that are still open, are in old dilapidated buildings in a low state of disrepair, many abandoned buildings, the marinas are old expensive, the natives are not so friendly unless you're a customer, seems the attraction is bars and restaurants, neither of which interest us so, the Keys, in our opinion, not so great. We would come back, but only as we transit through to the Tortugas or the West coast of Florida. nuff said!

03/22/2013 | Mike Fielden
Hi Joe & Bessie, If you are coming through Charleston and are going to spend a night give us a call. Maybe we can have dinner together.
03/25/2013 | joe stooks
Hi Mike, possibly, we will see how the timing and the miles workout when we get closer. If things look good, we'll call you.
Nothing but fantastic
02/27/2013, Boot Key Harbor

UPDATE: We are now staying in Marathon until March 12th...We've been in Marathon a week now as of this post. We are on a mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor. There is a lot to do and see here with convenient shopping and if you're so inclined, many great restaurants. We had a terrific dinner with Mike and Polli from Chinook (we stayed at their dock in VA just before heading South and happened to both be here now). I had Hog Fish and Bessie had Coconut Shrimp. The view from our table was incredible (The picture on this post) and the company was great.

Yesterday, we went to a key's fishery rest. and had a Lobster Rubin, it was unique... wouldn't order it again though.

We went snorkeling out to Sombrero Key, saw lots of fish, a school of Barracuda and LIVE coral. It was beautiful, the water was crystal clear and it was warm. Unfortunately, the rollers were rocking the boat all over and Bessie got a little queasy but she held out and snorkeled with me. Didn't see any Bugs yet but can't take them where we are due to the "Sanctuary" status but that's ok, they aren't as tasty as Maine Lobster so not missing too much.

We are here for another week, we will go see Pigeon Key's museum and some other sights and then start the slow trek North around 5 or 6 March. All is going well, the water maker was a fabulous addition to the boat, it is so nice not having to worry about water, tanks get low, turn on the water maker, easy...

Key Largo
Sunny, 75 and very breezy
02/11/2013, On the iside near John Pennacamp State Park

Well, after spending 3 and a half days on AngelFish creek, anchored in the mangroves and enjoying the solitude and the beauty, we pulled our anchor this morning. Pulling the anchor proved to be a challenge, we had been anchored in 20 to 25 mph winds and 3 to 4 mph currents for three days and apparently, our anchor buried itself to the hilt, maybe even all the way to China. We struggled getting it to break loose and once it finally popped out, it bent the clevis pin, a forged pin rated for 15,000 pounds of pull so we really had to tug on it (the bow of the boat dipped repeatedly when we'd tighten on the chain, but it came out.

Now we are anchored off of Key Largo, jusr West of Largo sound and we are protected from the strong Easterlies we're getting. We plan to stay here a few days, go into Largo sound and snorkel on an old Spanish Gallion that sank many moons ago. should be fun, we will post more as it happens.

02/11/2013 | Bernie
Grab up those bugs, have you done any fishing? Not sure how fishing or lobster licenses work or even if you need one. Been breezy here as well but temps are perfect. Enjoy!
Heading South to the Lower Keys
Sunny and 76, Oh the weather is frightfully perfect
02/05/2013, Elliott Key

We departed Key Biscayne today and traveled to Elliott Key, we will spend a few days here then move to Pumpkin Key, then head to Key Largo area. We will post more with pics as we have internet available, all is well, weather is forecast to be more perfect than it is right now and the water is 66 ( I expect the water to start warming up as we head South). The Pic is of Bessie and I on the end of Key Biscayne with the Stilt Houses in the background.

02/06/2013 | Bernie
So, do you think you are going to go all the way to Key West? St.Pattys day is fun there. Finnigans Wake is a bar off the main drag that has a live Irish folk band, and Irsh Kevins is right on Duval St and is a hoot.
02/06/2013 | joe stooks
Not sure if we'll get to Key West or not, we might even decide to go to Key West then up the West Coast and cross back on the Okeechobee canal, the only thing we're sure about is we have no schedule until first week of April when we want to be in Miami and heading back up North. Time will tell.
02/07/2013 | Bernie
Options, its all about options,enjoy!
Jason's visit
01/31/2013, Key Biscayne to Elliott key and back

We had a great visit with Jason, we picked him up at a boat launch in Miami beach at 1030 AM on 24 Jan and went straight to the boat, pulled the anchor and cruised to Dinner Key where we spent the night. On the 25th, we cruised to Elliott Key which was very nice. the water was crystal clear, we swam some, kayaked and walked on the beach. Jason and I spent some time under the boat replacing the shaft Zinc, the boat was in 5 feet of water and we essentially stood on the bottom and wedged ourselves against the bottom of the boat to take off the old zinc and replace it.

The weather for his entire visit was perfect, 80 degrees, breezy and sunny. Jason tanned up nicely. Kayaking was fun, saw some fish and Bessie saw a 5 foot Hammer Head Shark, I saw but not as good as Bessie, it was swimming right alongside her Kayak about 10 feet off toward the beach.

We the cruised to No Name Harbor, a state park bay on Key Biscayne, stayed here for two days on a weekend which was a bad move but we endured all the Miami ans and their partying. They generally quieted down after 10 so we slept well. After here, we moved back to where we picked Jason up and bid farewell. We returned to No Name and will be heading South to the Keys sometime this weekend (Weather permitting). All systems are working fine, making water, and enjoying the lifestyle; it is quite nice. Took some pics, they are on Flickr (I actually took more than I have been, hard to believe)

02/01/2013 | Bernie
Glad to see you are enjoying the adventure, be safe and keep on having fun. Pictures are good.
02/03/2013 | Polli
How far down the Keys are you? We're in Marathon enjoying a slip (i.e., water and electricity) at Sombrero-Dockside Marina. If you get down here give us a shout. Keep having fun!
02/10/2013 | joe stooks
Hi Polli, we will be in Marathon in about 2 weeks, around the 22nd or so. We'll drop a text and a note on your blog to see if you are still there.
Awesome weather, sunny and 78, water is 70
01/20/2013, FIU Bay

OK, we are fianlly in Miami, ready to launch for the keys. As my BRO said, it is great to be in FL, on our boat and it is awesome to drive around the boat on the dinghy and look at the rudder and the prop, try that on the Chesapeake Bay, never happen. We are thrilled and Bessie and I mention every day that it is hard to believe we are here. The water is amazing, the Manatees are cool to see and the places to anchor are everywhere. We are meeting Jason on Thursday, early in the AM, a taxi is dropping him where we will be anchored and I'll pick him up for a 5 day cruise around Miami, Key Biscayne, dinner Key and maybe out to Stiltsville and beyond ( all weather dependent). Our cruise today was fabulous from Boca Raton to Miami. The pic I put on the blog is our next home and boat. It has to be pretty neat to own a big home on the water near miami worth probably 5 mil, then own a yacht, tied up out front that is worth 10 mil and then, the yacht obscures the house, that is priceless. We are (obviously) thrilled, having a great journey and admit that this is quite the lifestyle. Boredom has been painlessly absent from our lives on the boat, we are meeting many amazing and nice people so as Bessie said several times, I can't imagine not doing this for a long time. I put one pic up here, and two others on flickr.

We are now in Miami Beach and left FIU Bay on the 24th. Thankfully I put a strong windlass on the boat before we started this journey, AND IT IS STRONG, when we left FIIU bay, the anchor snagged a cable (2 inch diameter cable) and the windlass pulled anchor and cable up to the surface, I unhooked the cable and we were free. Tomorrow AM, Jason arrives, we are looking VERY forward to our time with Jason.

01/22/2013 | Mike Fielden
Hi, Joe and Bessie. You must have made it to Key West by now, or not. Sounds like you're having a great time. Maybe I'll sell by golf clubs and buy a trawler. A very small one. Take care.
01/29/2013 | joe stooks
Hi Mike, not at Key West yet, we are starting the journey from Key Biscayne on Feb 2nd. Regarding your trawler comment, I'd recommend this to anyone.

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