Hello Key Largo!
05 March 2011
Sunny, low 80s, E 25 MPH
What bittersweet feelings the captain & crew had as we departed NAS Key West Boca Chica Marina. After 3 weeks of enjoying Key West by dinghy, by car & by bar and delighting in the camaraderie of the military community, we had to begin our trek north. Besides we were spending waaayy too much money having fun. Time to stop the “bleeding” even if for a short time.
We also requested a USCG Safety Inspection the day before we departed. Word has it if you display your “passed” sticker, while traveling on the waterways , you stand a better chance of not being boarded or bothered by the Coasties or local authorities. Our courtesy inspection was done by none other than an Air Force Guardsman & his wife!! What a great experience. They were thorough, professional & helpful! And, we passed with flying colors! Well, after traveling several thousand miles on our boat to Maine, Bermuda, the Bahamas & in between, we seem to know what we’re doing but a little extra help doesn’t hurt.
Our send-off was a poignant surprise…fellow dock mates came out armed with their conch horns to blow a “fare thee well.” Those without horns stopped what they were doing to join the revelry on the docks. Conch horns, boat horns & folks just waving & shouting “goodbye…come back soon…see you again…safe travels.” I was busy coiling docklines & stowing fenders, while Bill maneuvered us out of the slip. Duties done, we rejoined around the helm & looked at each other. We both had tears in our eyes. A short visit, sure. But, the military family is one you can always count on anywhere in the world. A shared joke, a helpful hand, a ready smile, a safe haven…that has always been our experience while serving in the Air Force. Nice that some things don’t change!
North we went via Hawks Channel (ocean side)& later to avoid building ocean swells we crossed under the Bahia Honda bridges to the Key’s “back country” to our destination for the next two days: Islamorada. So nice having a lil tug that can get under most bridges!
We regret we didn’t stop in Marathon to reconnect with friends Patty & Bill. But the mooring field at Boot Harbor Key was filled with a wait list & the anchorages weren’t as secure as we would have liked. But we’ll see them again on the Chesapeake Bay…many martinis & Manhattans will be necessary to catch up!
Islamorada was lovely. Excellent holding in think, sticky sand & grass. Protection from all but SW, W & NW. And, a short dink ride to Lorelie’s…a fun, funky beach bar! A most enjoyable stay until we realized our alternator bite the big one. So, all the time the engine was running we weren’t getting the benefit of a battery charge. Thank heaven for our solar panels & genset!! Anyway, a rebuild would have to wait until Key Largo.
Left Islamorada but had to backtrack south on the bay side to go through Indian Channel & under the bridge (27’) to go north via Hawk Channel (ocean side). Then continued up Hawk Channel into Port Largo Canal, famous for “Crash Corner.” Crash is a bad word…we wanted to avoid one at all costs, so we gave a “securite” call on channel 16 at the canal jetty & one as we approached “Crash Corner.” We meandered through tight man-made canals with barely a boat width to spare…multi-million dollar homes, yachts & commercial boats lines the canal sides. What we feared was one of the BIG head boats – fishing or dive charters or the mega glass bottom boat coming out! Where would we go, we wondered? No way we could turn around & back out, no where to pull over as these over-loaded behemoths crammed with gawking tourists careened out of the canal. Thus, the “securite” calls. We listened & heard no one departing as we approached. Whew, one more “securite” & that would be at the infamous corner….a 90 degree turn (more like a crack in the canal)& not an inch to spare. We made it! And, even got into our slip without embarrassing ourselves! Time for a cool one!
Today, we await Bill’s eldest daughter, Shayna & two of our grandchildren – Scott (almost 8) & Megan (5) from 18 degree New Market, Md. They’ll be staying at the Marina del Mar Hotel while we stay aboard just a few feet away. The kids will have 4 pools from which to choose as three area hotels share the marina, pools & restaurants with all their guests. Fun! And, John Pennecamp Park (beaches, snorkeling, kayaking) is just 1 mile away while the Mega glass bottom boat (100’ feet away) beckons too. So much to see & do. Just hoping our energy level rises to the occasion. So…excited!!
The gang departs Monday after which we will continue our north-ing…on to Dinner Key (Coral Gables, Miami).
More later on our adventures with the kids. Happiness to you all!