Ho! Ho! Ho! Christmas in the Keys. We arrived in Marathon after a beautiful two day sail with an almost full moon anchorage in Rodriquez Key off of Key Largo. We have settled into our marina and we were immediately greeted by friends and dock mates from last winter. We were also greeted and entertained by a very large manatee that spent about an hour swimming and feeding next to our boat.
We have been busy washing and scrubbing the salt and grime that had accumulated on the boat from our travels south along the eastern seaboard. We now have a beautiful, shiny and clean boat. One of our former dock mates took us to the local Publix market for provisioning, another loaned us their car to pick up Christmas decorations and we have already riden our bikes a good 30 miles or more to get our boat license renewed, attend church, go to the beach, mail Christmas cards and presents, pick up boat parts and buy groceries. Tonight we are going to attend a Christmas concert. We have certainly been busy the first four days back in the Keys.
Since we left Galveston on February 25th we have traveled approximately 2583 nautical miles and we have used 420 gallons of diesel fuel. We have been in and out of 6 different states multiple times and 17 different ports or anchorages. We have attended wonderful churches, met new and interesting friends and dock mates, explored interesting historical sites and have been blessed to see some of the most fascinating communities of this great country. We have seen some of the most interesting wild life and have been blessed with experiencing some fabulous sunrises and sunsets along with memorable all night sails under gorgeous full moons and skies full of millions of stars.
2011 has certainly brought us some great memories, reunited us with old friends and blessed us with meeting so many new and interesting friends and dock mates.
We will miss our family and friends during the holidays. However, you will all be in our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers at this special time of the year.
After our arrival in Cocout Grove we were fortunate to be able to meet with old friends from League City, Bill and Donna Read. Bill and Donna moved to Miami about four years ago when Bill was promoted to National Hurricane Director for NOAA weather. Saturday they chaffuered us around Miami and Bill gave us a personal tour of the NHC. It was a truly fascinating experience touring the facility and meeting some of the staff. It gives me a very positive feeling on hurricane forecasting after seeing not only the computers but all of the forecasting tools and the dedicated staff under Bill's leadership.
Afterwards, we were able to pick up some provisions, see the new Marlins stadium and have lunch with Bill and Donna at a waterfront cafe. Hopefully they will be able to join us in Marathon this winter.
We walked thru downtown Coconut Grove (Cocowalk) one evening to see the Christmas lights and decorations. Looking at the decorations in almost 80 degree weather with all the palm trees in a very tropical setting falls a little short of creating a tradional feeling of Christmas. The weather has been fabulous, although a little windy.
I met a long time former business associate, Connie Fox, on the docks. He asked us about our dog while we were out walking one evening and then we both recognized each other. Connie lives on his boat in the marina. It had been about 20 years since I had seen him. Connie then treated me to lunch last Friday and we were able to catch up on old times and associates.
Cathy, my personal barber and dentist, has been busy. While in Ft. Lauderdale my front cap broke again and I was able to get it rebonded when we got to Coconut Grove. The dentist said if it broke before I could get a new tooth to just super glue the cap back on. My cap came loose again that night, so Cathy applied her dental school skills and my super glued tooth is doing quite well. Shortly therafter she cut my hair. Wow! What a woman.
If the weather projections hold we will leave here early Tuesday AM for Rodriquez Key (Key Largo). We will anchor there Tuesday night and then sail into Marathon on Wednesday. We will then spend the next three to four months at Marathon Marina. We are looking forward to getting active in the local community and the Methodist church.
The attached picture is from the media room at the NHC.
Since we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale last Wednesday we have been waiting for high winds and rought seas to calm down so we can make our next sail to Key Biscayne. We had a great Thanksgivig dinner a day late as our arrival into Ft. Lauderdale on late Wednesday did not give us time to find a restraunt for Thanksgiving dinner. We did have a fabulous dinner on Friday night overlooking the ICW. Great venue, fabulous dinner and gorgeous bride made for a very special evening.
We have had the opportunity to take several nice walks on the beach at Ft. Lauderdale. Our marina is directly across the highway from the beach. Our only problem is Ft. Lauderdale does not allow dogs on their beaches so we have to leave Sassy on the boat. Due to Thanksgiving weekend the beaches were quite crowded.
We are looking for a possible Tuesday or Wednesday trip to Key Biscayne. This is our shortest destination sail on our travels down the east coast (only 36 nautical miles). We have now decided to leave tomorrow morning (Tuesday,11/29). We will have a northwest wind with trailing seas to help push us on our ride south.
We had a fisherman on our dock give Cathy some fresh caught Mahi Mahi today. She says it should be enough for at least 4 meals. She has sealed some of it in her food saver packets Cathy does a good job of advertising to all the fisherman that she will be very pleased to take any of their excess fish.
11/19/2011, West Palm Beach
We arrived in West Palm Beach (WPB) on Thursday after an enjoyable but startling sail from Ft. Pierce. We left early morning (shortly after daybreak) and had a pleasant close to shore sail that was an approx 8 hour trip. Just before we arrived at the Lake Worth Inlet to WPB we heard a loud crash on our fore deck as our boom came loose from the mast and crashed to the deck. Cathy took the helm and I rigged a line to lift up the boom and secure it temporarily. We were then able to furl the main sail and motor on to WPB. Today we were able to reset the pin that holds the boom in place and we are now able to sail again.
Went to a wonderful Farmer's Market located in a park in the heart of WPB on the waterfront. We enjoyed a good breakfast, then shopped for fresh fish, veggies and fruit. Last night we walked downtown for fish and shrimp tacos and some much needed ice cream.
It looks like we will have another good weather window this Wednesday to sail to Ft. Lauderdale (an approx 50 nm journey). We will then spend Thanksgiving in Ft. Lauderdale and await our next weather window so that we can sail to Key Biscayne (Coconut Grove). That will be our last stop before the Floriday Keys and our winter home in Marathon.
I was watching a classic power boat navigate the ICW yesterday from our dock and I noticed that it was going to go under a draw bridge without waiting for it to open. I could tell that it would be a very close call. Well, it did not make it. The top deck of the boat that had all the electronic equipment not only rearranged the lighting structure on the bridge but was crushed by the bridge and is no longer on the boat. That was certainly a high cost of impatience.
There is an Occupy West Palm Beach encampment directly across the street from our marina in a city park. They have a beautiful water front view and great facilities at the park including large gas grills, bathrooms and a beautifully landscaped area. Not a bad place to spend the winter.
More to come soon as we explore the West Palm Beach area.
A view from our dining room.........
We have been having most of our meals in our cockpit since arriving at Ft. Pierce on Sunday. Tonight we grilled tuna and were able to watch the pelicans dive for their dinner while the dolphins surfaced to breath and redive for their dinner. All of this happened during a quiet and beautiful sunset overlooking the Ft. Pierce Inlet and surrounding islands.
We arrived at Ft. Pierce on Sunday after an overnight sail from St. Augustine. We had the added challenge of navigating the Cape Canaveral shoals in the middle of the night. Seas were calm and winds favorable when we left St. Augustine but by the time we arrived at Ft. Pierce the seas had built significantly and the winds were a bit more challenging. These were definitely the most turbulent seas we have encountered with just Cathy, Sassy and myself aboard.
A beautiful day today in Ft. Pierce. We took a long bike ride to West Marine, CVS, the fish market and the historical district. We are definitely feeling the extended ride tonight. Yesterday Cathy scrubbed and washed the entire boat after our salt spray ride from St. Augustine while I worked on anchor and windless problems. Tomorrow we rewash the forward deck as several birds did a great job of personally autographing Cathy's hard work.
Tomorrow is household chores and time to get ready to move to West Palm Beach/Lake Worth on Thursday. We have a possilbe one day weather window before the next cold front passes thru South Florida.
We left at first light on Thursday 11/17 for West Palm Beach
It is a cold and very windy Saturday in St. Augustine. We have only had one opportunity in the last two weeks to make an overnite sail to Ft. Pierce and that was marginal. Offshore for the next several days is forecast for small craft advisories and gale force winds. We are tied up at a floating dock and we are still rocking and rolling with the waves, wind and tide. We may possibly be able to make our sail to Ft. Pierce later this week.
St. Augustine is a great town to be "grabbed by weather". Great history, sites to explore, good dining when Cathy is not preparing great meals, interesting shopping and a very good gelato store. We have enjoyed Sunday evening contemporary church services at one of the historic Methodist Churches. The congregation has been very welcoming and the messages insightful. We are doing a lot of reading, working out and bike riding along with catching up on chores.
Several days ago we were able to watch four Manatees (looked like two adults and two calves) swim under the dock ramp. Guess what? Camera was on the boat.
We have met a lot of cruisers who are heading south for the winter with most of them bound for the Bahamas. We have been gathering a lot of cruising and navagational information for our first trip to the Bahamas this sping. Our interest continues to grow as we hear so many great stories and tales of the Bahamas. It will be a good skills builder sailing in waters that are not only clear and beautiful but offer so many challenges due to their shallow and variable depths and tides.
We are looking forward to getting back to Marathon in the Keys. A great town to spend the winter. Beautiful blue waters, scenic and interesting wildlife (that is wildlife in the Keys and wild life in Key West), great bike trails,a great church, Key Lime pie and enjoyable dock mates that have all spent multiple winters in the Keys. We are hoping to get to Marathon for Thanksgiving if the weather will give us some breaks between a steady flow of Nor'easters moving down the coast. If not we will be blessed to enjoy Thanksgiving somehwere along the way. We will miss sharing this special holiday with family and friends.
We have been fortunate to be able to be taxied around St. Augustine for supplies and groceries by Roger and Linda Mullins and being able to enjoy several meals with them at some of their favorite restraunts. We met Roger and Linda in Marathon last spring and they live on Anestasia Island here in St. Augustine.
The weather was so severe over the weekend with strong winds and tides that we were challenged at times to walk on the docks. There was considerable damage to the docks and most boats had to be secured with extra lines.
I am amazed at the number of boaters that we meet each day that are heading to South Florida, The Keys and the Bahamas for the winter. This is an annual trek for many. I was very fortunate to sit with our dock neighbor (Bill Miller in a Krogen 48) and review their travels over the past several years via his chart plotter thru the Bahamas. He was a world of information and ideas. First hand knowledge is far better than all the cruising guides available. Now if we can just get some decent weather and start our travels south......looks like Sat 11/12 is a possibility.
Last night we went to a wonderful Patriotic concert at the Trinity Episcopal Church in historic downtown St. Augustine (11/10/11). An annual event on the eve of Veteran's Day. Very well attended and a very moving service and concert
We should be leaving on Saturday for Ft. Pierce. Forty five degrees this am in St. Augustine and at least 10 degrees warmer in Ft. Pierce. South Florida looking better all the time