02/24/2011, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
It's been a while since my last blog update. We have been here in Boot Key Harbor for a little over a month now, starting to fall into a kind of routine each day.....start the day starting the Honda Generator at around 8:00, listen to the Boot Key Harbor Net 9:00 until around 10:00, around 11:00 turn off the generator, dinghy into shore, run some errands (either Bill by himself or both of us). Some days we have an early dinner then go on our sunset dinghy cruise around 5:00, other days have dinner after the cruise. Then in bed by around 8:30.
Our friend Craig Horn visited for a couple of days last week. Craig spend 2 weeks with us earlier in our adventure, on Lake Erie and the Erie Canal. Good to see him again.
We purchased rebuilt engine fuel injectors and had them installed by Marathon Diesel. The other diesel company here in town told us they would only work on the engine if it was at a marina and estimated it would take about 4-5 hours. Marathon Diesel came out to the boat, removed the old injectors and installed the new injectors for a total of 1 ½ hours. Huge price difference between the 2 companies. Going with Marathon Diesel saved us at least $400. Based on our experience we would use Marathon Diesel again.
Dean on 'Autumn Bourne' has given me a couple of lessons on Celestial Navigation and how to operate my sextant. Thank you Dean for volunteering - very much appreciated. I definitely need lots of practice though. Bill bought me the sextant about 10 years ago but this is the first time I have found anyone willing to teach me the basic. Ever since we became interested in sailing I have wanted to learn about Celestial Navigation, I guess in a way to honor my father. He was a quartermaster in the Navy, which means he was the navigator aboard the vessel (in his case Destroyers), long before GPS, so they still used sextants back then.
We went to Sombrero Beach by dinghy yesterday. Water is getting warmer, hopefully only another couple of weeks before the water is warm enough to go diving or snorkeling.
During our sunset dinghy cruise a couple of days ago a dolphin surfaced right next to the dinghy, close enough for me to touch him/her. Lots of dolphins in the harbor here which is great.
We still haven't decided exactly what our plans are yet. Our current ideas are to leave here the first or second week of April and head back to Key West. While there sail down to the Dry Tortugas for a few days. From Key West, around middle of June, head up to the west coast of Florida and find some inexpensive marinas to stay at during the hottest months so we can hook up an air conditioner to shore power and be tied up in case we (as in Bill and I, not the boat) need to evacuate due to a Hurricane. In November, towards the end of hurricane season, head to the Bahamas and possibly south from there. All of this is subject to change of course.
02/06/2011, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon FL
We left Silver Bay 6 months ago today. Reflecting on our expectations, knowledge and abilities 6 months ago - wow, were we naïve! Both Bill and I read a lot of cruisers blogs before we left to try and gather as much info as we could. I can now say that for the most part (including my blog) there is a lot unsaid about the day-to-day reality of living aboard a boat - guess you have to experience it to understand.
Some examples of realities:
- Living hooked to a mooring ball we have to cart our water from the marina to the boat in water jugs with each one weighing about 40 pounds. Plus it never tastes great after being in the water tank for a while.
- Energy conservation. We go to bed at 8 or 9 each night (all the fresh air we're ready anyway). This conserves on the power needed for lights, computers, etc. Even boats with solar panels and wind generators run their Honda generators for several hours each day.
- Bed is wet. Everything is damp, worst is the bed sheets.
- The head. Not only do you need to be constantly monitoring the amount in the holding tank but so far no matter what we have tried it smells! We are definitely not the only ones since someone announced on the Boot Key Harbor Net that they found a product that not only eliminates the smell but also gets rid of the sludge buildup. There were about 50 boats that jumped on wanting some when someone volunteered to order some cases of the stuff.
- Boat maintenance. We spend more time than we thought we would on boat projects. We always knew that our knowledge of boat systems was really lacking. We have a 30 year old boat and it's starting to feel it's age.
- Waking up in the middle of the night - it's great when it's by dolphins next to your boat breathing and moving in the water, it's not so great when it is checking to see if your anchor is dragging.
- Literally every day is a weekend. We are constantly loosing track of what day of the week it is.
Off to the Marina to watch the Super Bowl.
Today is also my Mom's 86th birthday - HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!
02/03/2011, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
We have been here in Boot Key Harbor for a little over 2 weeks now. It is a great harbor but wish I could put this mooring field in the heart of Key West. Our first Sunday here we rode our bikes to the Hurricane to watch the Packers beat the Bears, pretty good game. Ryan, an old friend of ours from our Lake Pepin (Mississippi River) days joined us. Ryan sailed his 28 foot sail boat from Lake Pepin to Marathon 6 years ago. Ryan works at the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key and was able to get us in for free along with a 'meet and greet' with the dolphins. It was great. Thanks Ryan!
Good to see some other familiar faces here in the mooring field - George and Carol from 'Traumerei' (met them in South Carolina) and Jack and Chris from 'Renaissance' (met them way back in Cleveland).
We went to the Traditional Music festival (Irish music, folk music, Cajun music, etc.) at Sombrero Resort and Marina last weekend which was very good. There is the Cruisers Net each morning at 9:00 that we listen to. The Net announces activities going on in and around the harbor, boats coming and going, buy/sell/trade items and people needing help with something. So far we haven't joined in on any of the activities such as the Wednesday night 'Meet and Greet' potluck, guess potlucks aren't our thing. Neither Bill nor I participated in potlucks when we were working so don't see us doing it here either.
Possibly some more boat projects in our future. Had someone come out and do an energy assessment of the boat and tomorrow morning a diesel engine guy. Depends on what the diesel guy comes up with as to what we will be doing in the future. Hope to be able to afford to add dinghy davits and solar panels.
Waiting for a string of nice days to take Walk A-Bout out to Sombrero Reef, which is only about 5 miles away. Do some diving or snorkeling out there. There are several mooring balls near the reef to tie up to, not supposed to stay the night there but we will see. Bill wants to do some fishing as well. You can't fish at the reef since it is a marine sanctuary but you can fish just outside the reef.
Bill is at the marina doing laundry at the moment, when he gets back we will do our sunset cruise - dinghy cruising around the harbor.
01/20/2011, Marathon, FL
We left Key West yesterday at around 7:00 am and arrived at Boot Key at 4:15. Little to no wind but waves on the side which made it a very rollie ride. I am much happier with the dinghy ride here in Boot Key. I believe I said this before - love Key West, did not like the mooring there. We are at mooring ball K8.
Dan & Pam in Minnesota - We need you down here with Dan's conch shell. Each night at sundown people on their boats blow their conch and serenade sundown. You would love it here.
01/17/2011, Key West, FL
So, we decided to ride our bikes to CVS Pharmacy to buy some cold medicine for Bill and a few other things...........5 hours and about a dozen bars on Duval Street later we went to CVS Pharmacy. We all know that drinking and driving is not a good thing, but as we discovered, being intoxicated and riding bikes and attempting to get off a dinghy onto a boat is also a very dangerous thing. We crashed our bikes at least 3 times each from Duval Street to the dinghy dock. Bill scraped his arm pretty badly just as we entered the parking lot for the dinghy dock. A couple of good citizens stopped and asked us if we were alright and my reply was "yes, thanks, just too much Duval Street". We get into the dinghy and we get to the boat, I get off okay then I get in the cockpit and hear a big splash. My first thought was, oh my God Bill is in the water, how am I going to get him out. I look and sure enough Bill is in the water swimming towards the dinghy. It did answer a question that we previously had of whether or not we could get out of the water into the dinghy without a ladder. Bill made it back into the dinghy and onto the boat but his cell phone did not. Don't try calling him any time soon.
I was trying to remember why my arm hurt then remembered a sign post that jumped out at me and hit my arm. I also vaguely remember telling some guy he had beatiful eyes - I think his male partner was okay with that.
Looks like a day of rest for us today.
01/13/2011, Key West, FL
Still on a mooring ball here in Key West, currently with 25+ mph winds. High winds expected for the next couple of days. Bill had a very wet dinghy ride in this morning, I opted to stay aboard and stay dry.
My son and daughter (Chris and Laura) were here for 6 days, we had a great visit with them. Their flights back were cancelled several times due to weather here, Atlanta and Minneapolis. But they finally made it back to Minneapolis, one a day late. We stayed 3 nights in a marina, 2 nights at the Westin and 1 night at Key West Bight Marina. I can definitely say that I prefer being at a dock than being on a mooring ball.
Bill, Laura and Chris fished from the boat here in the mooring field and almost caught a baby hammerhead shark, did catch 2 small nurse sharks and a bird. The bird decided to go for the bait fish and took the fish, hook and bobber with him. It was one of those extremely funny then sad experiences. Once they reeled the bird out of the sky they tried to get the hook out, with no luck it was stuck in the beak. Finally let the bird go, did get the bobber back though.
Saturday is the start of race week here in Key West, not sure what the activities are but all the marinas are full with incoming race boats.
Starting to think about moving on - probably Boot Key mooring. Key West has been good but think we have visited all the bars at least twice, some several times and I am ready to leave this mooring field. It is really exposed to northerly winds and it seems like that is all we have been getting. The other issue is there is really no cruising community to speak of here, at least not that we have found. Boot Key (Marathon) is known more for it, with a cruising radio net each morning. We will probably look for a weather window early next week to head up there. It is only about 50 miles so don't know yet if we will go in one day or stay at an anchorage one night.