07/21/2011, St. Augustine, FL
We have been living on the boat for a year now and decided we needed a break from both the boat and the Keys so we are on a road trip. Bill bought an old 1993 Dodge Caravan for $600 which we are hoping will last for 4-6 weeks. Loaded up the van yesterday with camping gear and left. Today we are in St. Augustine in a hotel, tonight will be General Coffee State Park in Georgia, after that The Great Smokey Mountains for 5-6 nights before heading up to Minnesota. Plan on being there for about 3-4 days before slowly making our way back down to FL. Not sure where we will go yet, thinking primarily back to Smokey Mountains.
My son, Chris, is boat sitting while we are gone. Walk A-Bout is at Sombrero Marina, they gave us a good deal there so we moved from Banana Bay Resort since they wouldn't give us their special rate.
People warned us that Florida this time of year is miserable, and they were right. Don't know how anyone can survive without A/C. During the day it is the heat and humidity, at night it is mosquito's and no see ums. Unfortunately, the van has no A/C and neither does the tent!!!!
We had a good visit with Sarah, Bill's oldest daughter, and her boyfriend Andrew. On Monday we went to the Marine Mammal Conservancy in Key Largo and volunteered to help the one remaining Pilot Whale there that was one of 20 something that was beached on Cudjoe Key a few months back. They still need volunteers to get in the water with the whale to help hold her up to keep her blow hole out of the water. She has pneumonia and a staph infection but is getting better.
Time to head out to our next destination.
06/20/2011, Marathon, FL
We arrived back in Marathon on Tuesday. Now at the Banana Bay Resort and Marina, plan is to stay here until mid October. Within an hour of arriving we walked across the street to Home Depot and bought an air conditioner. It's been more than 6 months since the last time we were at a Marina, nice to not have to dinghy to shore. There is a nice pool and Tiki Hut here but water seems to be about the same temperature as the air: 90+ degrees, not exactly refreshing!
My son, Chris, arrived here on Thursday. He will be staying with us for a while. He recently graduated from college back in Minnesota and decided it might be nice to spend some time in The Keys while he tries to figure out his future. Bill and I already have projects planned for him - varnishing teak, scraping the hull, polishing stainless - all the fun jobs fit for the lowest crew member! I did forewarn him so he can't complain.
It is already unbelievably hot and humid here. I can't complain since I constantly complained about the cold back in Minnesota so I'm technically just stating a fact ; ).
We have decided we will be below deck in the air conditioning between the hours of 11 am and 4 pm each day. We now also have fast internet and cable TV on board, first time we have watched TV in almost a year. Decided we haven't missed much.
06/09/2011, Key West, FL
Nothing much to write about but thought I should update the blog to let everyone know we are still here in Key West. For the most part we spend our days getting off the boat for at least a few hours each day (Bill more so than me). About every third day we ride our bikes to town and get a breakfast bagel at Key West Ice Cream Factory and Cafe located on the wharf. We both agree best breakfast bagel (bacon, egg and cheese) we have ever had.
For the past four Saturday afternoons we have gone to "Aqua" bar to play Texas Hold'Em. It's a group of locals getting together to play a fun, friendly game of poker with no money or winnings just bragging rights if you come in first.
We have been to the pool at Conch Harbor Marina a couple of times. Anyone can use their pool if you buy a drink or food at Dante's. Food is good, not overly priced.
Hurricane season officially started on June 1st. Our plan is to leave Key West next week and head back to Marathon and Banana Bay Resort for the summer. If there is a named storm Banana Bay recommends we leave the marina and tie up to a mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor. We have put together two lists 1. Boat preparation and 2. What to take with us when we leave the boat. We still haven't figured out where we will go when we leave the boat, it will depend on how severe the storm/hurricane is predicted to be. We will either get a hotel room in Marathon or head north by bus or rental car. Keeping our fingers crossed that our hurricane plan will not be put into action.
Kelsey, Bill's daughter, spent a week with us. It was great to see her and we all had a good time.
June 6th was my son Chris's birthday and June 7th it was Bill's youngest daughter Mariah's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU BOTH!!!
By now all our boating friends back in Silver Bay Minnesota should have their boats in the 36 degree temperature water. We miss you all and the booze cruises on "Destiny" but I absolutely do not miss the cold!
05/06/2011, Dry Tortugas
4/28/11 - Thursday
Left Key West at 6:45 am and motored out the main channel to the south channel heading towards the Dry Tortugas. Once in the south channel we were able to actually do some sailing for a short while, mostly it was motor-sailing. Arrived Boca Grande Key at around noon. Anchored off the island and after dinner (grilled brats) took the dinghy to the beach, at that point all the partiers had left to go back to Key West. Two other boats anchored near the island, pretty quiet evening.
4/29/11 - Friday
Motored, sailed, motor-sailed for 10 hours, arrived at Fort Jefferson, Garden Island, Dry Tortugas at 5:00. We had about 1-2 foot waves and winds 0-8 mph so it was a pretty good day. Both of us tired so made it an early night. We are anchored with Garden Key on one side and Bush Key on the other side. Bush Key is a refuge for noddy and sooty terns. These birds come in early April and leave in September. Thousands (supposedly 60,000?) of birds making lots of noise. Bush Key is off limits this time of year since they are nesting.
4/30/11 - Saturday
Took the dinghy to shore, toured the fort for a couple of hours and then went back to the boat to get our snorkel gear. We snorkeled off the beach behind the fort. Only saw some little fish, mostly sand and sea grass. Bill did take a lot of pics so I will have him download them to the website when we get back to Key West.
5/1/11 - Sunday
Wind picked up significantly then at midnight all hell broke loose! Thunderstorm arrived and time to batten down the hatches. Bill let out another 25 feet of chain. Calypso, the sailboat behind us, turned on their spreader lights and we did the same. We thought that was a good idea, easier to see each other. There were only 5 of us anchored in this spot, fairly close together. Not sure what the winds were clocking, best guess gusts to 40. We decided to turn on the motor just in case our hold failed then watched a sailboat loose their hold and go flying by us and Calypso. Winds died a little, and the sailboat came back and set their anchor again. Just when we started thinking the worst was over, it hits again. This time a power boat looses it's hold and goes flying by us and Calypso. I think the people on the power boat slept through the whole thing! Never saw a single light go on inside their boat, must have gotten a big shock when they woke up in the morning to see where they were. We finally went back to bed at around 3:00 am. When we woke up in the morning the power boat was back in their original spot.
It was quite an exciting night.
Winds still blew all day so we spent the day on the boat reading and listening to our iPods.
5/2/11 - Monday
It was another very windy night but not as bad as the night before, no boats flying by. Not sure when we will be able to leave here, difficult to get a NOAA weather forecast on our VHF radio since the closest broadcast is over 60 miles away. Plan is to go into the fort some time today to get a forecast. We are hoping to leave by Wednesday.
As I mentioned before, there are no services at all here. No water, fuel, food, etc. This includes no cell phones or internet. We have been using SPOT each night to let our family and friends on our list know that we are okay. SSB would be a good thing to have, still thinking about getting one before heading to the Bahamas.
5/3/11 - Tuesday
We got our scuba gear on to take a look at what the bottom of the boat looks like - definitely needs a good scraping. Weather forecast looks good for leaving tomorrow morning. The plan is to take the Northern route back to Key West instead of the southern route that we used coming here. Basically the difference is which side of the Marquesas Keys one goes. When I think of Marquesa's I certainly do not think of any where close to Florida, but unfortunately it is. Much rather it be the Marquesa Islands in the South Pacific.
Bill and I are enjoying frozen Margarita's thanks to the Engel freezer!
5/4/11 - Wednesday
Left Dry Tortugas at 7:00 am - light wind and 1-2 foot waves.
5/5/11 - Thursday
Arrived at Key West Mooring at 11:30 pm last night. Comfortable sail (motor sail) all the way back.
Our current plan is to stay here for a month.
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.