Everglades and Keys
10 February 2013 | Tarpon Basin, Key Largo, Florida
On Sunday, February 3rd, we raised the anchor from Smokehouse Bay in Marco at 10 AM and headed out into more westerly component wind driven waves than forecast. After turning onto our intended course and the seas on our beam dumped food and dishes all over the cabin floor, we turned around and headed back into Marco, closer to Factory Bay this time, dropping the hook at 11:15 AM. After cleaning up the mess, we dinghied to the waterfront restaurant within view of Grace, for a meal and live entertainment. A second sailboat pulled in to the anchorage for the night.
Monday's weather forecast was more accurate, and the waves were much tamer when we departed at 10 AM, allowing us to motor-sail for much of the day, dropping the hook as the only boat anchored in Russell Pass in the 10,000 Islands, Everglades National Park.
Tuesday we took the dinghy ride of about 4 miles into Everglades City for our first time. Following a visit to the Historical Museum and a walk about town, we enjoyed a riverside lunch on the porch of the Historic Rod & Gun Club. On the dinghy ride back, we go to see a sea turtle surface and stopped by to meet fellow Morgan Sailboat owners, Jeff & Anne, whose blog of their travels and projects on s/v C'est la Vie we have followed since before we began cruising. Three additional boats pulled into the anchorage that night.
At 9:30 AM on Wednesday we hauled anchor and motor-sailed for most of the day, hanging the cockpit screen even before we concluded the passage at 4:15 PM in Little Shark River as we dropped the hook behind Joe & Deb, on s/v Kajon, whom we had met up with in various places on previous voyages. The insects prevented us from an in person visit; so, a chat on VHF would suffice. However, the numerous manatee, sea turtle, and dolphin surfacings we got to hear and witness during our stay there compensated. Grace was one of 5 boats anchored there that night.
Thursday morning all the other boats departed, and when the wind against current created an unfamiliar noise and sensation, we decided to raise anchor and move across the river; in the process we brought up a barnacle-covered pole and reel on our anchor chain. Six other boats pulled in to anchor for that night.
Despite bouncing in the fetch, Grace's keel was on the bottom on Friday morning as Kevin discovered when he moved the tiller and stuck a pole in to confirm as we were preparing to depart at 7:45; our depth finders were not reading accurately and it was (thankfully) an hour after low tide, which was supposed to be one foot below the charted depth of 12 feet. We were easily able to move forward as we brought in the anchor chain and headed for our 10:30 AM anchoring for our first time at East Cape Sable on the southern tip of Florida's mainland coastline. The engine issue showed up once again as we dropped the hook. Pictured above, ours alone to enjoy...a beachwalk, plus sea turtle and dolphin sightings were part of our nearby shore excursion before raising anchor again shortly before 12:30 PM. The engine issue continued when we dropped the hook at 5:45 PM as the only boat anchored for the night just off the ICW, west of Islamorada, for our first time.
Yesterday at 10 AM we were underway through the changing colors of beautiful water, passing by a sailboat regatta with several dozen boats participating, and concluding the passage at 1:30 PM as we anchored near our friends Don and Mango (the parrot). Kevin has been performing carburetor adjustments in attempt to solve the engine issue. In the meantime, we have enjoyed spending time with Don and Mango at the nearby Tiki bar and fish restaurant.
During the above not only have we seen many feathered friends and dolphin, but also a man-o-war and a ray, as well as superbly clear stargazing.