25 February 2012
After a very pleasant evening and night at Lignum Vitae Key, we head the very short distance (8 miles) through a narrow passage to Islamorada Key. We've been here before and particularly enjoyed a funky open-air bar/restaurant called Lorelie's. So after a sphincter-tightening passage through Bowley's Cut where you look to sand banks just a few feet on either side of you, we safely arrive at Islamaorada mid morning. We anchor in the expansive harbour and note a number of derelict boats which were here two years ago as well as a few cruising boats, notably a boat with a Canadian Flag. On our way to take Chopin ashore for a walk we drop by their boat and introduce ourselves to Pierre and Renee on a proper Beneteau 35 and learn that this is their retirement cruise. It brings Judy and I back four years to when we ventured down for the first time. We invite them for dinner at Lorelie's and true to cruiser form, they accept enthusiastically.
We take poor ole Chopin for his walk then head our for a vigorous walk ourselves. We meet Pierre and Renee as promised at Lorelie's at 5 just at the start of happy hour. We have a fabulous meal while listening to great live music. Judy and I cannot resist having a dance. Then at dusk a Magician puts on a very impressive show. We have great conversation with Pierre and Renee and invite them back to Sea Sharp to continue the exchange. As has been our experience with the vast majority of cruisers, these are intelligent, engaging and interesting folks and we get to know them quite well in the couple of hours we spend with them. We know we will run across them again.
Next day is the one I dread. The twenty five miles between Islamorada and Key Largo contain a significant number of areas with very low water depths. Two years ago when we transited this section we bumped and ground several times and heard that conditions were even worse this year. But, with our membership in Tow Boat US paid up, we head out. I carefully calculated that we'd leave about two and a half hours before high tide so as to get the greatest advantage of the just under one foot tides in this part of the world. I continue to be underwhelmed with this tidal range in contrast to our 26 foot and higher tides in the Bay of Fundy. But, you take what you get.....
We leave at 8 o'clock sharp (high tide is 10:30) and sheepishly work our way through the numerous bays, sounds, creeks and cuts that constitute this part of the voyage. I admonish Judy as we near those which I know to be particularly challenging to "not speak or ask questions right now" as I concentrate on keeping Sea Sharp floating. I've set my depth alarm at 6 feet (we need five feet to keep afloat) an anxiously await that harsh electronic klaxon which signals that you've run out of water. Well, whether by good luck or good management (I'd like to consider the latter) we make the entire passage without alarm or scraping bottom. We round the last bend and head for the expansive Key Largo harbour in Buttonwood Sound, drop the anchor in front of the Marriott and quickly decompress.
It is very
warm and, of course, Judy wants to swim. We recall from two years ago that there is a very nice restaurant/bar which has a pool they make available to patrons. I launch the dinghy and shuttle Judy over. I join her an hour or so later once I'm confident that the boat is well anchored (winds are somewhat brisk). We enjoy a couple of hours poolside before returning to Sea Sharp for yet another sunset and calm evening/night.