s/v Far Niente - Cruising Log

Spring 2015 - The Florida Keys

11 March 2015 | Marathon, FL
19 February 2015 | Marathon, FL
09 January 2015 | Vaca Key - Marathon, FL
10 December 2014 | West Palm Beach, FL
01 December 2014 | West Palm Beach
20 November 2014 | West Palm Beach, FL
05 October 2014 | Port Royal, SC
24 February 2014
17 February 2014 | South Carolina
01 June 2013 | Port Royal Landing Marina
16 May 2013 | Anchored Cocoa, FL
26 April 2013 | Marathon, FL
21 December 2012 | Harbour Cay Club, Marathon, FL
07 December 2012 | Mooring #30, St. Augustine Municipal Marina
31 August 2012 | Dataw Island Marina, SC
13 June 2012 | Conch House Marina, St. Augustine, FL
08 June 2012 | New Smyrna Beach, FL
03 June 2012 | Harbour Isle Marina, Ft. Pierce, FL, USA
29 May 2012 | Old Bahama Bay Marina at West End

“I’m sorry it’s ending, oh it’s sad, but it’s true. Oh darling, it’s been a lovely cruise.”

12 June 2015 | Lady's Island, SC
Jimmy's classic played on the stereo as we turned into Tampa Bay to dock the boat a final time at the Whiteaker Yacht Brokerage.

Today, June 12, 2015, Far Niente is sold.

And so it ends.

This is the very last entry in the s/v Far Niente cruising blog/log as our 5 year sailing and cruising adventure has come to an end.

When we left southern Lake Michigan June 19, 2010 we thought we were headed to the BVI via the Caribbean 1500 in November. Life and complications got in the way of that remote destination, so we headed south to the Florida Keys. I call it the 'reverse three quarter loop'.

It was a great decision.

We came to love the Keys and spent several of our last 5 winters in Marathon at the spectacular Harbour Cay Club. So many great memories from cocktails at the Tiki Hut and a few less brain cells too.

During our 5 years aboard we cruised back to the Chesapeake, ran the ICW through NC a few times, ate our way through Charleston and worked very hard to find a good reason to leave Hope Town in the Bahamas. Traveling at 7 knots makes you stop in many places you would normally just drive by and discovering those small towns along the shores of the Great Lakes, the Erie Canal, the Chesapeake, the southeast (NC, SC, FL) coast and the Bahamas was a gift.

Most certainly the highlight of these last 5 years has been meeting the great community of cruisers. We ran into to each other over and over the last 5 years; it is indeed a small world on the water. We also made many new friends that I am sure will be friends for life. We are so very thankful for that.

Thank you all for reading about and following our adventure. We wish you health, wealth and happiness.

Adiós and vaya con Dios,

Jeff & Marjorie Graham

Teak-ey Time

11 March 2015 | Marathon, FL
PHOTO: Hand rail is complete as is the eyebrow. Just finishing the toe rail - all 90+'!

I love refinishing teak on my boat……you are confined on sloping surfaces, dependent on the weather, spend most of your time on your knees….:-). If I have to do it, winter in the Florida Keys is the place to take it on.

We are almost done with a full sand/bleach/coat job and it has really come out quite nice. Using 2 coats of Cetol Natural Marine Teak and 2 coast of Cetol Marine Gloss, we have a great look that should hold up, with regular maintenance, for a few years.

Winter in The Keys

19 February 2015 | Marathon, FL
PHOTO ABOVE: Self Explanatory (from the infamous "Porky's" - http://porkysbaysidebbq.com)

Winter in the Keys is highly enjoyable. MOST days the temperature is in the 70's, sometimes low 80's.

Currently though it is a bit cooler than usual but it certainly isn't as cold as everywhere north. We have also experienced quite a bit of strong north winds so far this season. For example, last night it was blowing 30-35 knots all night long. We have a nice and somewhat protected slip so don't get me wrong; I am not complaining.

Currently I am in the process of refinishing all 90+ feet of Far Niente's teak toe rail cap, eyebrow, and handrail. Only about 40% complete so far but with a good weather window coming in the next 10 days I hope to make more progress and be close to 70% complete by month's end.

Stay warm friends.

Lake Worth to Marathon

09 January 2015 | Vaca Key - Marathon, FL
ABOVE: Sunset over the Channel 5 Bridge, Matacumbe Key

Jan-1, Leg 1: West Palm to Biscayne Bay (73 nm in 10:40)

Weather looked good enough so we departed Lake Worth on New Year’s day and headed south some 73 nm to Biscayne Bay via Government Cut (Miami). Rain chased us right up until we headed in Government Cut. Easterly to southeasterly winds made pure sailing difficult if we were to set anchor by nightfall. The Yanny cranked away.

Once inside GovCut, the traffic was, well this is Miami, heavy. Recreational boats everywhere in every direction. There is also dredging underway of Fisherman’s Island and of course a freighter was in the process of repositioning as we headed toward the ICW.

We finally passed under the Rickenbacker bridge and made for the anchorage known as ‘Nixon’s Harbor’ just west of Key Biscayne. There were quite a few boats there as we dropped anchor, but it is a large space and we had more than enough room to set anchor and relax. At least we thought we did until the very large motor yacht about 75 yards to our south began blaring music at an unfathomable volume. Not only was it loud, it sounded like fingers nails on a chalk board. Not really sure which middle eastern dialect it was but if I didn’t know better I would think they were having an al Queda birthday party or New Year’s celebration.

Fortunately about 2 hours after sunset the yacht departed.

Jan-2, Leg 2: Biscayne Bay to Matacumbe (74 nm in 10:37)

We hauled anchor just before dawn and motored toward the infamous ‘Stiltsville’ channel that connects the Atlantic with Biscayne Bay. With only partly cloudy skies, we finally could feel some of the wonderful Florida sunshine. As we motored further south and west wind direction (15-20 knots) allowed us to carry the full genoa quite well and we got a good boost in boat speed. We needed it. This shaped up to be another day when we’d used every bit of daylight if we wanted a secure anchor by night fall.

Just past Key Largo large numbers of the infamous crab/lobster pot floats began to appear. Anyone who has traversed the Hawk Channel has encountered these and they are maddening as it always appears there is one on the bow. From that point on there was quite a bit of hand steering while paying constant attention to the waters ahead.

We made the turn and headed under the Channel 5 65’ bridge. If you haven’t been through the bridge before, be aware that the fendered section is west of what is shown on many electronic navigation charts. I was running both a CMAP NT+ chart and Navionics on the iPad as we approached the bridge and both were directing me to the wrong section.

We passed under the bridge and headed northeast toward Matacumbe Key. Forecast winds were ESE to SE 20 knots for overnight, so we wanted to get in the lee of Matacumbe. We dropped the anchor amongst a collection of crab pots about 3/4s of a mile off the Key. There was an immediate and very good set. I mention this because in past layovers in this area we had been to Matacumbe Bight, large with less than average holding, and Jew Fish Hole. The holding here was excellent in about 8’ of water. Also note that when tide is rising there is quite a bit of current through here. On the falling tide not so much.

Jan-3, Leg 3: Matacumbe to Vaca Key / Harbour Cay Club (32.7 nm in 4:37)

This was the least fun leg of the trip. Fortunately it was short. Winds were steady SE 19-22 knots with gusts over 27 knots. Seas were on our port quarter stern 3-6’. We hauled out a handkerchief of the genoa and plowed through the water at just under 8 knots most of the way to Marathon. The swells and waves, when they combined just right, gave us some fairly extreme pitching and rolling as we motorsailed along.

Our destination was first the Moser Cut / 7 mile bridge. As we approached I was beginning to wonder if the seas would make traverse of the bridge untenable due to the severe rolling. As we made the turn up the channel marked out for Moser Cut, the seas flattened out and we entered the Florida Bay without incident.

Forty five minutes later we pulled into Harbour Cay Club, tied off and relaxed.

Next up: BOAT PROJECTS - I have a bunch of them.


10 December 2014 | West Palm Beach, FL
Well we waited a week+ and never got the 2 day window we needed for a nice relaxing sail to the Keys.

We staged out of the marina on Sunday afternoon and anchored in Lake Worth. Winds dropped over the evening and things were looking good for our Monday am departure for Biscayne Bay.

Up at 6:00 am, coffee on, checking systems, getting ready, sun coming up.....oh wait. What the *(^&*%^.


A big, thick, fog bank starts to develop in Lake Worth. Visibility drops to a boat length as the sun officially rises. The fog horns start sounding.

There is a bit of big yacht and industrial shipping in Lake Worth. We can barely see the bow. So we stay on the hook.

Our cruising agenda was to depart just as the sun came up and anchor in Biscayne Bay before sunset via transit through Government Cut. We needed all 11.5 hours of daylight to complete the planned transit.

Fog starts to lift, just a bit, and we can see a barge making way down the ICW channel. Glad we are not in front of it.

9:00ish fog lifts enough to see things, but now we are 1.5-2 hours late for our planned agenda.

Plan B.

We pull into a marina. We stow the boat for a couple weeks. We drive back to enjoy Christmas with family.

We'll give it a try again, after Christmas.

Merry Christmas to all!

Weather Window?

01 December 2014 | West Palm Beach
Looking like we might get a nice 3 day weather window early next week.

Day 1 West Palm to Miami (Biscayne Bay)
Day 2 Biscayne Bay to Matacumbe Key
Day 3 Matacumbe Key to Marathon

Fingers crossed, as they say.

Beaufort, SC to West Palm, FL

20 November 2014 | West Palm Beach, FL

Far Niente sailed south to Florida. Captain Jeff with his good friend Dale, from Port Royal Landing Marina, headed out with the goal of making landfall in Marathon Florida in 3 days.

But this is cruising. We had an electrical issue and some question about fuel usage 2 days out, so we headed into Ft. Pierce, FL. We fueled up and got great information on the electrical problem. We McGivered the electrical issue and headed back out on the ocean on Sunday with hopes of making Marathon late Monday afternoon.

Long story short - weather. The window closed and gave us a really nasty ride off the shore of south Florida.

Monday we pulled into West Palm Beach and docked Far Niente to regroup and develop a plan to move to Marathon.

We'll get there - just a matter of when.

Vessel Name: formerly - Far Niente
Vessel Make/Model: formerly - Island Packet 45 (#33)
Hailing Port: Beaufort, SC
Crew: Marjorie and Jeff Graham
About: CRUISERS June 2010 to May 2015.
formerly - Far Niente's Photos - Lake Huron
Photos 1 to 8 of 8 | Main
The rocky and undeveloped coast of east Michigan and Lake Huron
Presque Isle lighthouse.  Constructed in 1840 to assist mariners navigating this part of Lake Huron.  The large bay here was very popular due to the protection it offered sailing vessels and the abundance of timber that could be harvested.
The Fresnel lens of the Presque Isle lighthouse.  This lens has a large aperture and short focal length and allowed old lighthouses to be visible over much longer distances.
Looking NE from a top the Presque Isle lighthouse
Sunrise  on Lake Huron just north of Port Huron, about 43 deg 10 min N and 82 deg 25 min W
Marjorie at the helm as we head south on the St. Clair River.
Far Niente emerges from the St. Clair River to Lake St. Clair
Freighters crossing in the shipping channel on Lake St. Clair.