10 March 2010
Well, we've been in Marathon for almost four weeks now and we feel it's time to move on. Many cruisers, having been caught her by the incessant fronts and the lack of a reasonable window to get to Bahamas are also anxious to leave. With the advent of March, the weather should be more clement and the fronts fewer and farther between. There is a buzz around about cruisers heading in various directions; towards Bahamas, Mexico, western Florida, down Island or like us starting the slow trek north.
We plan to leave on Sunday as the weather looks good so we provision the boat and get her and us ready for departure. We feel sad in many ways leaving as we've really enjoyed our stay here and have reacquainted with many cruisers and made many new friends. So, we along with Cathy and Darius from Breeze Hunter plan a final happy hour with the various folks we know from this harbour. We split the invitation list in two and in all we invite something like 24 boats (50 people) to a happy hour under the Tiki hut at the marina.
I decide to do a musical collage of the invitees so from my extensive musical library (I've got something like 30,000 songs on my computer) I select a song representative of each boat invited to the get together. And so, I make a presentation which refers by song to each boat and it is very well received. People had a ball and it was a wonderful way to part company with such great folks. The good thing about seasonal but anticipated continuous cruising is that there is a very high probability that you will run into many of these folks again.
The winds continue fairly brisk on Sunday morning but we know that they'll settle down as the day wears on so Judy and I spend Sunday morning replaying the night before as we do final laundry, take showers, fill the tank with water and the myriad other things necessary to prepare for a self sufficient cruise. Around 11:00 we leave and bid Marathon adieu by vhf and receive a number of send offs. As we head out of the harbour, we note Gust O Wind ahead of us and contact them by radio. They're heading to the west side of Florida while we're going east but for the first while we are on the same course. They have a very nice CS 34 which is quite a fast boat but given the growth that has accumulated on their bottom, they have a hard time making 5 knots. We have not been in Marathon so long and while Sea Sharp is somewhat sluggish from the growth on our bottom, we can make 6 knots and soon overtake them. We hope to see them again as they are wonderful folks.
Our destination is Lignumvitae Key which we stayed at on he way down and we arrive there by about 3:00 and pick up a free park mooring. We are really glad to get back underway but reminisce about they wonderful people we met and have just parted with.
We want to work our way back slowly and revisit some of the places we stayed at on the way down and explore others. Our next stop is Islamorada and it's only ten miles from Lignumvitae Key. We've been here on the way down so I get a bit sloppy with my navigation and about a mile before where we are to anchor we run hard aground. So for the next half hour, with me in the dinghy and Judy and the helm we tug, towand essentially muscle our way over this shallow spot towards deeper water. Judy does a good job at the helm; I'm proud of her seamanship. By mid day on Monday we are at anchor virtually in the same spot we had on the way down. We go for a run I town, shower then to Lorelie's, a great open air bar/restaurant for sundown. They have a really interesting band playing; Mom and Dad and two daughters. They are very talented and captivating. Then a magician does a very professional routine. A very nice evening.
The next leg back, as we know from the way down is one plagued by skinny water and I am quite anxious about this transit. You want to leave on a rising tide so that if you run aground the water is still rising but you also have to plan to get there in plenty of daylight hours so there's a bit of art to this transit. We leave about 11:30 which is a bit early. And, sure enough, we bump many times in the first couple of miles. This is disconcerting to say the least as the perils of running hard aground may be significant. But we manage to keep ploughing though and as we approach the really skinny areas (which we have noted from the way down) the tide is close to high so we are able to make it through albeit or depth sounder is on alarm for most of the trip (recall that I set the alarm for 6 feet and we draw 5). When we make it to Tarpon Basin (Key Largo) I'm a wreck but all's well and we anchor in this picturesque and large basin, intending to spend a few days before moving on.
We miss the companionship of Marathon but are very glad to be back underway.