27 December 2012 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Jake- Warm and Sunny
Days 21-29: Thursday- November 29, 2012-November 7, 2012 (The Work Days in Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
The bridges in Fort Lauderdale on the New River are closed from 7 to 9, so we waited until after 9 to leave the side tie before the 7th avenue Bridge. We had two bridges (7th avenue and the Davie Bridge) before we reached the Lauderdale Marine center and Just Catamarans. The wind and current were strong so it took luck and strength to arrive and get into a slip at the Center. We were met by Just Catamaran’s Crew. We were starting the final days of work, engine overhaul with replacement of filters and other necessary parts, watermaker overhaul with new filters and necessary parts, and Just Catamarans. They were replacing the main halyard, sealing some areas that had minor leaks, replace the radar reflector, replace the piece of rub rail of on the port stern that had been torn, build the internal salon ceiling covering for the motor for the electric winch, rerouting the pump system on the Gen Set and several other small jobs. The key to success was to push all three contractors to work quickly at a reasonable fee. This would be a first for boat work, especially in Florida.
While the work was being done it was important to stay out of their way but to stay on top of everyone so that we would be out of Fort Lauderdale as quickly as possible. In addition to boat work, we were working on inventory, flood and supplies. That has to be the job that I hate most. Shopping has never been my thing but shopping, inventorying, and storing on a boat makes household shopping look better, especially when you have a lot of space and you have a house that won’t be rocked by wakes from other houses.
By Thursday, November 6, 2012 the work was completed. It was time to finalize everything bill wise, fill the propane tank, and return the rental car. This was done early Friday Morning. Back to the Marine Center- Ready to go.
Day 29- Friday- December 7, 2012 (Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Miami (Hurricane Harbor), Florida)
The plan was after everything was final, we would move KiKeKo to the outside dock and follow the Jungle Queen down the River. Lyle, a friend of Seth and Judy, was the Captain of the QJ. Judy had recommended that we speak to him about our plan for hitting all of the bridges close behind him. Lyle was great and the trip on the River was by far the easiest that we have ever had. Totally uneventful since we were just a traveling buddy of the Jungle Queen.
Leaving the River, the next stop was fuel at Lauderdale Marina. We stopped for fuel and in so doing missed the opening of the 17th street bridge. We floated for half an hour and made the 12:30 opening. Next stop the Atlantic and Miami. The wind was non existent 3 to 8 knots. The seas were calm and the sun was bright. It was a beautiful day under power. We entered Government Cut around 3:30 and had the anchor down in Hurricane Harbor by 5:30, the beginning of a pleasant evening before hitting Hawk Channel in the morning. Key Biscayne was quiet and uneventful.
Day 30- Saturday December 8, 2012 (Miami, Hurricane Harbor to Rodriequez Key anchorage)
The anchor was up by 7:05 and we’re traveling down the street of homes built in the waters of key Biscayne. We would be entering the Atlantic, going to Hawk Channel and heading to Marathon. The winds were ranging between 10 and 15 knots. We put up the Genoa and power sailed all day. It was good to get Tim and Jan used to the concept of sailing since, hopefully, we’ll be doing a lot of Ocean sailing. The seas were calm. It was an uneventful day. KiKeKo sailed beautifully under the genoa. It was very smooth and much quieter.
The only issue was the port issue and the bilge pump. There seems to be a problem with the pump sticking. The real problem is moving inventory to get to that engine. I amready to throw things overboard at this point. Oh well, I’ll calm down eventually.
We anchored at Rodriequez key a little after 3. We have been here before> It is one of those anchorages that is actually in the ocean just off the Channel. It would be difficult with heavy seas or winds but this was a calm day and night.
Day 31- Sunday December 9, 2012 (Rodriequez Key Achorage to Boot Key Harbor in Marathon)
The perfect day for sailing with both the main and the genoa. Winds were 12-16 knots out of the NE. We were moving gently and with speeds in the 6-8 knot range. It was so quiet for a change. The sun was bright and the temperature was very comfortable.
We pulled into Boot Key Harbor around 1:45 and took mooring ball J1. Michael and I took the Dinghey in and registered for one week. One week at Boot Key is $110. We didn’t plan to stay a week but were keeping an eye on the weather window and had some errands, especially medical errands for Michael, to run. Boot Key has improved a lot. The two dinghy areas are much improved, as are the heads and the laundry room. J1 is on the main route to the office so it would be hard to lose KiKeKo if we’re out and about after dark.
Mooring in Boot Key is one of the more pleasant places to moor and you are joined by many travelers. People spend time talking, sharing information, and being pleasant. We met the usual canine sailors.
Day 32-36 Sunday-Thursday- December 9, 2012-December 14, 2012 (Boot Key Harbor)
The plan was to spend a few days in Boot Key Harbor, visit BJ and Ed, have Tim and Jan check on Lamb Chop and visit with their Canadian friends, last minute provisioning, and handle medical issues. Michael needed a blood test for Dr. K and prescription renewals. We also needed to follow up on Hepatitius A and D boosters.
Believe it or not, Fisherman’s Hospital is very fast. We arrived on Monday, a little after 9, expecting to spend the day. We were out of there by 10 with all tests completed. If course, we were the only one’s signing in and needing blood tests but still we were shocked and pleased.
The next step was the health department of Monroe County. The lady at the desk said that we could not get shots until Friday, because the nurse was only available on Friday. However, she said that we didn’t need Hepatitis boosters until March. We questioned her. She made some calls, showed us some documents and talked about out anticipated trip. Another issue handled.
The next step was CVS for prescriptions. This was the experience from hell. It was along walk from the hospital. When we arrived they had not heard from Dr. Mathew. I called Dr. Mathew and showed some annoyance. They would handle in in the next hour. We went to MacDonald’s for lunch. When all else fails, try MacDonald’s. After lunch we walked to the K Mart. That store does not improve. It is really bad but thankfully, we didn’t need anything so we just wasted time. Back to CVS, all prescriptions were ready but were for 90 days. We began a battle with CVS, the pharmacist and moi about our insurance coverage. It was a bad day for me and I caved and paid for sixty days worth of medicine only $350. Michael was very annoyed that I caved so I said “OK, I’m back together”, let’s go back. We did so with my “lawyer” personality intact. Within ten minutes, we got our money back, the problem was it was in the form of a CVS card, paid $17.80 for two 90 day prescriptions and we were out of there. I really needed MacDonalds again but we were having dinner with BJ and Ed so I caved on that to.
It was a long walk back to the boat and I really needed a shower. BJ and Ed picked us up at 6 and we went to the Wreck for dinner. This was probably one of the most pleasant evenings that I had had in a long time. We talked about everything, enjoyed the dinner, and relaxed. We also made plans for Wednesday, since their Condo/Marina was having a Christmas Party.
Wednesday, Ed loaned us their car and we made the necessary trips to West Marine and Publix. Wednesday evening was our only 2012 Christmas Party in Marathon. It was a great affair with a lot of food and meeting many new people from various sections of the US who were now living in Marathon, at least part of the year. These people have a very different attitude from the people who live and work in the DC area. The main question for me is “where do I fit most comfortably” and at this point I don’t know.
Thursday was laundry day, get ready to leave today, make those final calls from the USA. Past days in port were “lay days”, however, such days in the Keys are frequently called “waiting for the weather window”. I am not sure how true that really is since I have met people who are into a six month or more weather window, but it is, at least, a reason to relax in the Keys. One conclusion that I have made is that it is almost impossible to do anything but relax in the Keys.
Day 37- Friday December 14, 2012 (Boot Key Harbor to Key West)
There was discussion of the weather window based on the various inconsistent forecasts but when we looked out and checked our instruments, the window opened. First stop was Marathon Marina for fuel, both the boat tanks and the six yellow containers, fuel for the dinghy, and water (106 gallons at $.15 per gallon). It took forever to fill the water tank since I was using a filter. Our port tank gets water from the water maker, however, the starboard tank must be externally filled. We have been running the water tank for several hours every day since Fort Lauderdale to keep that tank close to full.
We left the marina around 10:30 and it was a perfect day for a run under sail. Key West is just over 38 miles from Marathon. We had both the main and genoa up and were on a very broad reach all day. Our speed under sail was between 6 and 7 knots. It was a very quiet and beautiful sail. I am reading one book a day without problems. I need a library with me. I may have to reconsider the Kindle/Nook approach.
By 4:30 we were off Key West and it was time to take the sails down and motor in. It was the beginning of the fantastic sunset on Key West as we turned the corner into the downtown area of Key West. We had called about a mooring ball and were told to pick up one and come into the City Marina in the morning to pay for it.
Key West has a very famous but somewhat frightening mooring system. Most mooring balls have a long line attached, the boat pulls up to the ball; someone, standing on the bow, snares the line; and attaches it to the boat. This is not easy when there is a current or you have a catamaran that needs a bridle but everyone is on the boat working together. In Key West since there is no line attached to the ball, someone must get in the dinghy, go to the ball and wait (ideally at a location where they will not be run over by the boat), while whoever is on the bow of the boat will throw the boat line and the dinghy dweller will attach it to the ball. This was exciting with Michael at the helm, Tim in the dinghy, and me on the bow. Success.
However, we immediately found out from a neighbor and his cat who were on a private ball behind KiKeKo that we were tied to a private ball. According to him, the owner of the haul had not been on it for over a year so he saw no reason why we couldn’t stay. One concern was the close proximity between the two boats. His only concern was that if the boats got close, his cat would abandon his ship and jump to ours. He asked that we keep an eye out since his cat was his “primary interes” and he didn’t want to lose him.
While eating dinner it became obvious that we were too close so the decision was to move. Before we could get organized there was loud pop. We had broken free of the ball. The very short connect on the ball had torn and we were free. It was too dark to find a ball so we moved away with the plan to anchor in Key West Harbor. Twenty minutes later we were anchored outside of the channel.
The only real issue was going into a marina in the morning to get some ice and to mail Christmas cards. There was talk of the weather window, but Chris our router reported that Saturday was a good day to leave key West and that we would be in Mexico, Isla Mujeres by Monday. The plan was to set out early the next morning.
Day 38-40 Saturday, Sunday and Monday –December 15, 16, and 17, 2012 (Key West, Florida to Isla Mujeres, Mexico)
Saturday morning we were up installing the jacklines and moving out of the anchorage by 8:30. After a quick stop at the marina, we headed east out of Key West. Michael has always complained about the lack of waypoints in blogs, so I am going to begin with the three waypoints on our route from Key West to Isla Mujeres. Just as a starting point we were sitting at 14,556 miles when we left and when we arrived we were at 15,020 (so we traveled approximately 460 miles). The waypoints were traveling W/SW to 24-15 N/85W: S/SW to 23N/84W; and N on the 21st parallel. What does all of that say?? We left Key West and sailed south of the Dry Tortugas, then turned farther south heading for the Northwest coast of Cuba; off the coast of Cape San Anotonio make the turn north to cross more with than against the Gulf Stream heading for Isla Murjeres.
Saturday was a great day for sailing. We were able to put up both sails just out of Key West and sail without engine assistance all day. It was a sunny, pleasant day with winds ranging between 13-16 knots and from the NE.
The Ocean (Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Yucatan Channel) at night is unbelievably black. The only thing that you could see was the bow of the boat with the bow lights seeming to be a very small red and green pin lights. There was no moon light for the two that we were heading to Mexico. We would see ships on the AIS, especially as we moved closer to Cuba. We could watch them and by checking information on the VHF system find their location, speed, and distance from KiKeKo. During the day we saw very few boats but at night they appeared.
The Ocean is also very loud. We were standing two hour watches (I had 1AM to 3AM). Everyone else slept in the cockpit but I went below. Loud , yes but much more comfortable.
The Ocean is so big that when you are on a 43’ by 23’ foot rectangle in the middle of, you get a real sense of smallness. It is a lonely feeling. It was an easy trip but not an enjoyable trip. Because of the sense of being alone even though I was on a boat with three others, it made me think a lot about who I was, who we were, and the rest of my life. The three day trip was boring but it also made it possible to think and reconsider what I wanted in my life. I was not sure that a long sailing trip was going to meet those needs. I’ll give Mexico a shot.
We arrived Monday evening. It was too late, the sun was down, to go into the anchorage. There are reefs in this area that are not always clearly marked. We anchored out with a plan for going to the northern anchorage in the morning. Cancun was on our western side and Isla Mujeres on the east. The lights from the hotels were visible. There were only two boats anchored outside of the anchorage. It was a peaceful night. Leg one had been completed. The next step would be the registration and check in procedures for Mexico.