04/27/2011, Key West, FL
We were in Newfound Harbor for 5 days, waiting for the winds to die down. We only made it off the boat twice while there. We took the dinghy across the harbor to a canal on Ramrod Key that leads to Looe Key Tiki Bar. Definitely a wet dinghy ride coming back to the boat.
The last night there we saw bioluminescence in the water. Best way to describe it is like seeing Fire Flies in the water - very bright green dots floating by in the water. It was probably squid or jellyfish. Bill saw a very large turtle (Loggerhead Turtle?) around the boat. Can't describe how great it is seeing things like this, never gets boring.
We arrived in Key West yesterday, back in the mooring field and plan on heading out early tomorrow to go to the Dry Tortugas. It is about 70 miles from here so we may stop and anchor out at Boca Grande Key, only about 20 miles from here tomorrow night. NOAA only predicts weather through next Monday so hope weather will be good for coming back to Key West middle of next week.
We went to Publix today to stock up on a few things. There are no services at all in the Dry Tortugas so we need to be totally self-sufficient while there. Sure is nice having the Engel freezer - we have steaks, pork chops, chicken, Brats and even 2 flavors of ice cream!
I am downloading a couple of audio books from Audible.com so we will have plenty of listening material while gone. Much to Bill's dismay he has discovered that even though he is not one to sit and read a book he does enjoy listening to books.
Hope to get in some diving or at least snorkeling while in the Dry Tortugas. When we get back to Marathon we need to get our tanks recertified - no dive shops in Key West do the hydrostatic testing (required every 5 years). Dive shops will not fill our tanks until they are recertified. If we do any diving before heading back to Marathon we will need to rent tanks.
Dan, Pam & Craig - maybe we will even try and sail to the Dry Tortugas!!
04/20/2011, Picnic Island, Newfound Harbor, Keys
We are finally on the move again. Left Boot Key Harbor this morning and are now anchored behind Picnic Key in Newfound Harbor. Not sure if this is still considered Middle Keys or Lower Keys. Very windy today with 4-5 foot seas all the way here. Looks like we could be here until Sunday or Monday waiting for things to calm down a little. Should be a little rollie on the anchorage tonight. The good thing about a mooring ball is that we get a good nights sleep. On anchor one of us is constantly waking up and looking to make sure we are solid and not dragging the anchor.
Plan is to go to Key West then to the Dry Tortugas, about 60 miles south of Key West. There is an old fort there and supposed to be excellent diving and snorkeling. No amenities (no food, water, fuel, etc.) there. That's the plan, and as I have said before, always subject to change.
Also something we have not done for quite some time is add another album of pictures. Look for the albumn " Boot Key Harbor " See some pics of where we have spent the last 90 days along with our new solar panels and a shark or two.
03/28/2011, Boot Key Harbor, Maraton, FL
Bill's youngest daughter Mariah is here this week from Minnesota to spend spring break with us. Mike and Francie on 'Anam Cara' are here for a few weeks. Their plan is to head up to the Chesapeake Bay for the summer. We will probably celebrate Bill's birthday on Saturday night with Mike and Francie.
Very hot here today. High 86 outside and 89 down below in the boat. We have 3 fans going at the moment but still predict a wrestless night sleeping. I wanted to get away from the cold Minnesota winters so I can't very well complain (well, not too much) about the heat here.
I am still working on various sewing projects. While I was sewing in the marina workroom today 5 people came up to me and asked me if I would work on projects for them. Turned down all but one. I could make a living doing this if I really wanted to.
Time to get a very large glass of ice water. Really glad we have the Engel freezer to have ice cubes.
03/20/2011, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
We are now starting our third month here in Boot Key Harbor. I am anxious to go again but looks like it will be another 3-4 weeks. Boat projects are coming along. Since arriving here we have: new fuel injectors, new battery charger, new wiring to batteries, new sewing machine and new freezer.
My old sewing machine just wasn't intended for heavy duty sewing. So, I broke down and bought a new Ultrafeed sewing machine from Sailrite. I am very happy with it and have even been asked to work on other peoples canvas on their boats here in the harbor.
The new freezer is an Engel 43 quart freezer. It is supposed to be very energy efficient, only drawing 2.5 amps. We decided to purchase this instead of having a new keel cooled fridge/freezer installed which runs around $3,000. The unit arrived dented in the back, I called Engel and no questions asked, immediately shipped out a new panel to us. Good customer service.
We are still working on building an arch for new solar panels. We have ordered the hardware for building the arch above the bimini and plan on picking up the 1" stainless steel tubing and solar panels in Miami next Friday. We hope to purchase Kyocera 135 solar panels from Sun Electronics in Miami, I say hope since they seem to be very confused as to what they currently have in stock.
Last Thursday for St. Patrick's Day Bill and I rode the bus down to Key West for the day. It's very inexpensive for the bus $6 round trip between Marathon and Key West. Fun day people watching.
Tuesday or Wednesday last week we rode our bikes to West Marine to pick up a couple of things and when we came out of the store it was sprinkling a little. By the time we made it back to the dinghy dock at the marina it was a full down pour. We rushed to get our bikes locked up and into the dinghy and back to the boat since all the hatches were in the full open position. To put it mildly that was a heck of a dinghy ride!!!!! We heard later that the "little" rain squall had winds at 49 mph.
We have definitely settled into a routine living aboard the boat. I have heard this from other live aboards, and now absolutely agree, we each have our own assigned responsibilities. Bill is responsible for anything that requires heavy lifting (water and fuel jugs, sewing machine that weigh 63 lbs, large bags of laundry, etc.) and engine, battery maintenance, etc. I am responsible for the cooking, cleaning, sewing, teak varnishing, etc. I almost feel like I'm living a 1950's existence with very traditional male/female roles.
Bill is supposed to go fishing today with his new friend David. David is a 79 year old retired surgeon from Wabasha Minnesota. David said if they catch any fish worth keeping he will fillet them since he has some experience cutting things up. David was down in the Dry Tortugas last week during the rain squall. His boat suffered a complete knock down from the high winds. He ended up in the water, hanging onto the life lines waiting for the boat to right itself. It took a while since he was under full sail. Did I mention he's 79 years old!
We are still trying to decide where we will spend the summer i.e. Hurricane season. We were thinking a marina on the west coast of Florida, now not sure. We will need to make up our minds within the next 60 days.
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!