Key West and the Carib loop
19 May 2013 | 24 34'N:81 49'W, Key West, Florida
Our pleasant Mexico to Florida passage was accented in a difficult way as we approached the Florida coast. We approached a thick band of very unstable weather off of the coast, and even though the wind lightened enough for us to start up the motors, there were spectacular and powerful thunderstorms surrounding us, with no escape in sight or on the radar. Late in the afternoon the 30+ knot squalls found us, which I suppose I should be grateful that it was only 30 and not more given the potential of this air mass. Since the wind was right on our nose, we took down all sail and powered the rest of the way into the very steep and deep chop; yeah I know kind of wimpy to not sail! But nothing broken, doubt we could have sailed that wind and chop worry-free. Then we entered the Boca Grande Pass after dark, locating the channel markers by radar, laser, and spotlight, finally anchoring about midnight. Without Rich along or the well behaved instruments, I would have had to spend the night outside.
All is well that ends well, so Rich and I flew to Colorado, and I returned about a week later for an extended family gathering including some very fun day sails in the Charlotte Harbor. Nick arrived on Thursday the 16th, and we promptly took off south towards Key West, also making a dark arrival there, spotting channel markers by radar, laser, and spotlight and anchoring at 3am; not sure why I do this to myself! Here we plan to finish up Nick's scuba lesson training and move on. Key West is an interesting town, let's call it a spring break hangout for post-college age adults. Jimmy Buffet sings: "things are going crazy down on Caroline Street..." which we saw in full color. Weather forecast: a hoped-for cold front bringing north or northwest winds to ease our long easterly sail to the windward passage east of Cuba is nowhere in the long term forecast, and brisk easterly winds appear to be settled in for some time. Therefore I will probably reverse the Carib loop and rou nd Cuba to the west, in the Yucatan passage, and make our easting in the Cayman basin, where winds tend to be lighter for our upwind slog to Jamaica, and we have options to stop and the Cayman islands.
Nick reeled in this nice king mackerel outside of the Boca Grande pass, and we also caught a medium size tuna a couple of hours later. Go CSU! Freezer full!