01 January 2010 | Angelfish Creek, FL
Sunny, but storm clouds building
Happy New Year!
We have been very poor bloggers, what with weather, waiting, company, the holidays, and the myriad of tasks to do on a boat, all of which take far longer than on land. We left off the blog entries on the West Coast of FL with a plan to head to Marathon Harbor on Boot Key. We now are anchored in Angelfish Creek, FL, on the East Coast, still waiting for the weather window to let us cross the Gulf Stream. (You can see where we are anchored now by navigating to these coordinates using Google Earth or other mapping system: 25°20'12.18"N/80°16'14.64"W.)
When last we wrote, we had spent the night north of Indian Key located south of Marco Island, FL. We then sailed to Marathon and arrived there on December 16, just as dark descended. We had called ahead for a mooring and were assigned S-8, "easy to find in the dark." Fortunately, there were people aboard their boats directing us to its location and one fine soul jumped in his dinghy, motored over, and handed Van the mooring painter as Lauren eased Gratitude up to the mooring ball. Considering the fact that there are some 220 moorings in the field, it was almost like searching for the proverbial needle. The next day was spent shopping, cleaning, doing laundry, etc. Understand that some stores are "a mile that way" and others two miles the opposite direction, all without a car. We certainly get our exercise, but that helps explain why it takes so long to get anything done. We were supposed to have friends join us for lunch on the 18th, but bad weather prevented their arrival. So, we had other friends aboard for dinner - Sue and Mac (from appropriately named Sumac) and Bill Ross, who lives on Marathon.
The weather stayed put with strong winds from the N and NE, so leaving Marathon was not in the cards. Jay and Carol Kenlan were to join us in Key Largo (from whence we hoped to cross to The Bahamas), but that was not to be. Instead, they drove to Marathon, arriving December 21. We played around Marathon the next day, waiting for the winds to take us east. Because we were not destined to sail in that direction and because Carol had not seen Key West, we went that-a-way and arrived at the Galleon Marina at about 4:20 on December 23. The next day, Jay and Carol went sight-seeing and Van and Lauren went to U.S. Customs and Immigration to acquire Local Boater Option cards, which are supposed to enable a faster and easier re-entrance to the US from foreign waters. We were considerably frustrated because we had been told we could make an appointment for Thursday (they usually do it on Monday and Wednesday and we arrived too late) at the port office. Instead, after much cajoling and almost begging, we secured an appointment at the airport "at 11:15 sharp; not a minute later". We arrived at 10:45 and were told by the officer leaving duty that "the officers are at the port office." We explained the appointment and he called to confirm an officer would be arriving. (Van called to confirm too!) We asked if we could facilitate the process by filling in the paperwork - "no, we do not have it here at the airport, it is at the port office." In the end, and after two $20 cab rides, we received the LBO cards. Best of all, the officer who finally assisted us noted our home address and informed us he had been born and raised in VT and was very good friends with friends of ours from Brandon! Small world.
On Christmas Eve, Van and Lauren went to Trinity Presbyterian Church because it was relatively near the port. It turned out to be an African-American congregation with about an equal number of Caucasian visitors. We certainly were in for a surprise, and a very powerful and forcefully delivered sermon by a blind female pastor. As Lauren had said at the outset of the trip, "this is a different Christmas." Lauren told the pastor it was the best Christmas sermon she ever heard.
Christmas day we sailed back toward Marathon, celebrated Christmas en route, and arrived in Newfound Harbor, where we had a delicious dinner (standing rib roast, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, etc., topped off by a cranberry pie - Lauren sees to it that the crew eats well!)
Both on the way to Newfound Harbor and then (on 12/26) en route to Marathon, we picked up a crab pot. There was no sound - only the obviously slowed boat speed to signify we had snagged something. The pots are everywhere and hard to miss. Van went over the side to free the first one and Jay the second. We also practiced Man Overboard drills, which proved quite instructive.
On Sunday evening, we hosted our boating friends Sam and Kayda, Mac and Sue, Dick and Tony, Dennis and Doris, so they could meet each other as well as Jay and Carol. Monday was Jay and Carol's last day with us, which we spent visiting the Turtle Hospital and doing other assorted things - yes, more shopping.
After Jay and Carol departed the morning of 12/29, we did errands, laundry, changed the oil and filter on the generator (early, but easier to be rid of waste oil here than in The Bahamas), re-provisioned, and got re-organized to plan our departure. Along the way, there was another dinner party - hey, you have to eat and what better way than with friends.
On December 31, Gratitude, Solstice, Sumac, and Penobscot departed Marathon at first light. We motor sailed because the plan was to anchor north of Rodriguez Key for the night. En route, Solstice and Penobscot decided to go north through Channel Five to travel up "the inside" (they are shoal draft boats and can travel in skinny waters) while Sumac and Gratitude continued on the outside. We arrived at our destination and invited Sue and Mac (as well as Lola, their rescue Chihuahua) for dinner and Champagne. We never did see any fireworks on shore, so we hope the ball dropped without us!
And that brings us to today, New Year's Day, in Angelfish Creek. We are anchored among the mangroves north of a small island, Sumac is ahead of us, and the other two boats may join us in a day or so (if we stay and they can move in the storm front coming). Next stop? We are not sure. We may keep poking up the East Coast toward Miami, do some more provisioning, and see the sights there. If the weather breaks, there are a lot of folks waiting to cross.
With that, we wish you all a healthy and happy New Year. We will try to do better to keep the blog up to date, but with all we have to do (parties and such) and the likely limitations on communications access, don't hold your breath!
Van and Lauren