The Final 48 Hours
15 April 2018 | Southport, North Carolina
Thursday, April 12, 2018
It’s a dewy morning but the sun is shining. We made our preps yesterday so we are ready to drop off the mooring ball around at 8:00am. We wait a couple of extra minutes as there are several other boats leaving at the same time. As we say goodbye to Fernandina Beach, we’re excited at the thought of being home in 48 hours. We enter the St Mary’s river a short 30 minutes after letting go the mooring ball. Immediately we hear a security call from the Navy announcing that a naval warship is entering the river/channel from sea. Also, all other vessels in the channel must observe a 500 yd security zone. I know that means a submarine is returning from a patrol and heading up to Naval Station Kings Bay just over the Georgia state line. We listen as the Navy security boats call each sailboat ahead of us and direct them to exit the channel. Eventually, they call us; we oblige and cut outside of the channel to the north where there is plenty of water for our draft.
We’re heading out the channel at a good 6-7kts because we’re with an outgoing tide. That’s good and bad. The good is the speed. The bad is the choppy waves we encounter once we pass the jetties due to a 10 kt opposing wind creating some standing waves against the current. Once we’re able to turn more northeast, we get far enough away from the channel that the current no longer has an effect and our ride smooths out somewhat. The forecast for our 48 hr passage predicts an E to SE swell, with winds clocking around from the N to E to SE over the course of the next 24 hrs at no more than 10 kts. Seas 2-3 ft. The forecast proves accurate, but the winds are so light that we motor most of the day. We eventually motor sail with our headsail later in the evening and throughout the night.
Sometime in the afternoon we hear the engine slow down and then speed up on its own. I think we may have taken a slug of air into the engine as a result of the choppy, rolling seas we’re experiencing. I visually inspect the primary filter bowl and see no water or debris, which makes me believe I don’t have any contaminated fuel. A couple of hours later it happens again. Now I suspect I might have a clogged fuel filter. The motor runs for several more hours without problems until we sit down for dinner around sunset. The motor again loses power and the RPMs slow dramatically. I quickly reduce the throttle and then ease it back up to our average running RPMs of 2200. The RPMs hold. Now I’m fairly certain the fuel filter is getting clogged even though I continue to have good throttle response. We slow the RPMs down to 2000 so that the fuel demand is less and cross our fingers. I am hoping to be able to wait until the morning when I have more light to change the filter. I’ll be able to see what I’m doing and we’ll also be able to observe the sea conditions so we can stabilize the boat as best we can so I don’t spill fuel everywhere. We also adjust our course to come closer to Charleston in case we need to bail out for engine repairs. Fortunately, reducing the RPMs works well and we have no further issues throughout the night.
Friday, April 13, 2018
As the sun comes up we’re about 3 hrs south of Charleston and about 12 miles off the coast. We’re having an easy breakfast of cereal in the cockpit when the motor loses power again. It is now time to change the filter. While I’m prepping the tools and placing oil absorbent pads around the work area to catch any spills, Lynn takes the helm and steers us down the swells to stabilize the boat. I’m able to pop off the top of the filter canister and put the new filter cartridge in with only a little spillage. I top off the canister with some additional fuel and secure the top. We re-start the engine and it fires up immediately. We run at idle for several minutes and then turn back on course and increase the RPMs back up to 2200. All is good. My first time changing the fuel filter was a success! It’s amazing what you can learn on YouTube!
By now we’re close enough to Charleston for cell service. We check in with our Float Plan holder, Stan. We also drop a quick email to Lynn’s parents to let them know we are on track and doing well. We cross the Charleston Harbor entrance channel right at noon. As we near Georgetown, SC (about 60 miles north of Charleston) we decide it’s time to transfer fuel from the three 5-gallon gerry tanks into our fuel tank. The wind is still pretty light, less than 10 knots, and we’ll take advantage of the smoother seas for the transfer. Lynn steers us to a course down swell to stabilize the boat and we start siphoning from the cans into our fuel tank. The siphon works great and is much better than pouring directly into the fuel deck fitting. In about 20 minutes we have all the cans emptied and we’re back on course.
Now we set our sights on the entrance of the Cape Fear River. Late afternoon, we think we just might have enough wind to sail. We put up the mainsail and turn off the engine. We need to make about 5.5 kts to arrive at the Cape Fear inlet by 8am tomorrow. Unfortunately after only 4 hours of peaceful sailing, the wind subsides and we slow to less than 4kts. We need to crank up the engine and motor-sail with both sails up for the rest of the trip.
Saturday, April 14, 2018
In the early morning hours we are able to see the Oak Island Lighthouse at the Cape Fear River inlet far off on the horizon. A welcoming sight! We’re only 34 miles away. We observe sunrise at 6:50 am and start to ride a little with the swells. It’s as if the sea knows we’re anxious to get home. We enter the Cape Fear River at 8:30 and turn to lower the sails just before entering the ICW. We pull in to our slip at the Southport Marina right around 9:00am. We have a Southport Yacht Club welcoming committee of Chris, Colleen, Steve and Cindy who catch our lines and make the docking easy. We tidy up the boat a bit and walk back to the house. Our cat Nonie welcomes us home and Lynn discovers that her garden is full of the carrots, garlic, mustard greens and arugula that she’d planted before we left. The house is fresh and probably cleaner than we left it, thanks to our house/cat sitters Heidi and Wyatt. They left for Connecticut a couple of days earlier and we are sad that we missed seeing our new friends again.
It’s been an amazing journey of 89 days.
Two Days And A Wake Up!
11 April 2018 | Fernandina Beach, Florida
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
We wake in Titusville to a gentle southerly wind. There are 4 other boats that have joined us in the anchorage. Bob went up on deck around sunrise and observed several boats already underway and moving north. The northern migration of cruisers has obviously begun. We weigh anchor around 8:30 am and enter the ICW. We head north and then jog east across to the Mosquito Lagoon. The winds are now brisk from the south so we let out our headsail. We're making a steady 6.5 kts and sometimes 7 kts with the gusts. It's a beautiful day with little wind chop in the lagoon. A stark contrast from when we were heading south back in January with stiff southerly headwinds on the nose that required us to crab against the winds to stay in the channel. Just after leaving the northern end of the lagoon we start to encounter manatees in and around the ICW channel. Luckily many boaters are pointing out the manatees as they encounter them so that others are aware. You can pick them out when their backs and fins break the surface, but otherwise they can be hard to spot in the brackish waters in north central Florida. We make good time and arrive at New Smyrna Beach City Marina early afternoon. We're assigned a slip at one of the floating docks which is nice but it had only a short finger pier (not the length of the boat). We made the approach nicely but were not able to secure the stern quickly enough and the grill on the back railing hit a piling. The grill looked okay but the mount was bent rendering the grill un-usable for remaining portion of our trip. We're bummed that such a nice day ended in our first casualty of the trip. We shake off our frustrations and review our actions so we can become better at short finger pier docking. We decided that the best way to get over the grill casualty was to walk over to the New Smyrna Brewing Company and drown our sorrows in a pint of tasty ale then have dinner at the Yellow Dog Café. The Yellow Dog had a great vibe and an eclectic menu of funky BBQ selections. Back at the boat, Lynn started working on 2 loads of laundry and most importantly, bonding with the Fritz the marina cat. We met Fritz during our stop back in January and she obviously missed Lynn as she (yes, Fritz is a girl) sat in Lynn's lap almost the entire time Lynn did the laundry. Bob had quiet time on the boat planning the next day's route to Palm Coast.
Thursday, April 5, 2018
We're underway and out of the slip with no issues at 9:00am; navigate out of the marina and into the ICW. There are several shoaling areas today and we want to time our arrivals with a rising tide. First up is Ponce Inlet. We make it through without a problem even though our depth sounder showed as low as 5 feet. We actually had about 6-6.5 ft considering the bottom was silty. As we proceeded north we were riding a flood (rising) tide so we made good time. However, once we got north of Daytona Beach, the tide turned and now, not only were we going against the tide, we were also facing 18-22 kts of headwind. We pushed Interlude a little harder than usual, but it was well within her engine's capability. With the wind, it was probably the coldest day on the water since we left Charleston in January. Lynn was in leggings and a fleece while Bob refused to put on jeans. He eventually caved and sat with a blanket over his legs. We arrive in Palm Coast, our destination for the night, at 4:45pm just as they are about to close the office. Another short finger pier and the crew's docking confidence is waning.
Friday, April 6, 2018
We had intended to stay just one night in Palm Coast and move to St Augustine today, but cannot get a reservation for a mooring ball there until Saturday. So, we will stay an extra day in Palm Coast, do some provisioning and relax. We both enjoyed showers ashore and then pulled the bikes out for a short ride to a nice shopping center. We enjoyed a great brunch at Metro Diner. Afterwards, Bob got a haircut at Great Clips while Lynn killed time at West Marine and a few other stores. Then we converged at Publix where we filled our bike baskets to their limits. A quick stop at the liquor store and we were heading back to the boat.
Saturday, April 7 2018
We had a relatively short distance to go on Saturday. Our destination was St Augustine about 21 nm north and only 4 hrs. We left a little later than usual so we could time our arrival at the Matanzas Inlet at on a rising tide. It's a tricky inlet but generally has good markers. We made it through without any issues. We arrived at the St Augustine Municipal Marina's mooring field a around 2pm after motoring against the current most of the way. The mooring field was full with cruisers moving north, we're lucky to get a reservation. Lynn had some reading time in the cockpit and Bob was able to pick up some tv channels so he could watch the Masters golf tournament. Around dinner time a line of thunder showers moved through, but by bedtime, the weather had calmed down and the crew got a good night's rest.
Sunday, April 8, 2018
In the morning we woke to dead calm waters. All the boats in the mooring field were pointing in different directions. As a result, one of our lines was wrapped around the mooring ball. A few extra tugs free us and we're underway on schedule at 8:15am in time to catch the 8:30am opening for the Bridge of Lions. It's getting a little colder as we moved closer to GA, so I finally breakdown and put on some blue jeans and a wind breaker. We arrived at Beach Marine marina just south of Jacksonville at 2:00pm. We went right to the fuel dock and filled our diesel tank and pumped out our waste tank. We're assigned a slip in a narrow fairway with just barely enough room to maneuver. Luckily, they were floating docks like we're accustomed to, which helped make the tie-up a little easier. We assess the remainder of our afternoon and decide to check out a brewery down the road. Glad we did. We biked to Engine 15 Brewery and they had large selection of beer on tap, including lots of guest taps. They had a small kitchen so we also grabbed an early dinner. There were plenty of TVs to keep up with the Masters.
Monday, April 9, 2018
I got up early to make our same-day reservation at the mooring field in Fernandina Beach. We were on the waiting list but just before getting underway at 8:30am we got a call that there was an open mooring ball. As we pulled out of the slip, I could tell that we were plowing through the silty, muddy bottom. If we'd waited too much longer we would have not been able to leave with the falling tide. It is a dreary day. It had rained early in the morning and stays a little misty most of the day. After several days of motoring against the current, we finally caught a break and had a little push from the current all day. We crossed the St Johns and Nassau Rivers and arrived in Fernandina Beach at 1:30. Lynn did another great job catching the mooring ball. After settling in, we dropped the dinghy and went to check in at the marina. Afterwards, we decided to scout out a couple of places in town that we didn't visit back in January. The Salty Pelican and the Palace Saloon did not disappoint. Our bartender at the Palace Saloon was a retired Navy guy and the Mayor of Fernandina Beach. We get back to the boat before dark and settle in for the evening.
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
As forecasted, today is cold and rainy. We huddle in the boat as it rains pretty much all day. We spend some time planning the next leg of the trip. The next weather window that opens on Thursday looks very promising for a straight shot straight to Southport. It would be our first 2 day passage. Lynn (and I) are up for the challenge. I listened to the weather broadcast and consulted with our weather guy (Chris Parker at Marine Weather Center) and decide that with our three 5-gallon diesel gerry cans we can make the distance even if we have to motor the entire way. There will be winds building from the south on Friday into Saturday so we should be able to get some sailing in as we approach Charleston and on to the Cape Fear inlet. If things work out as planned we'll see the Oak Island Lighthouse as the sun rises on Saturday and be dockside in our slip before low tide (when our slip silts in).
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
I woke up I time to listen to the weather forecast and the conditions are holding for a Thursday morning departure and Saturday morning arrival in Southport. We dinghy in late morning and grab a shower before heading over to T-Ray's Burgers for lunch. After lunch we bike over to the beach. We happen upon a nature trail and decide it's very bike-able. The trail wandered along some fresh water ponds and salt marshes. We saw lots of turtles and birds. Luckily the alligators and snakes stayed away. Before heading back to Interlude we grab a Dairy Queen treat. Back on Interlude we stow the dinghy engine and dinghy for our 2 day offshore passage. We leave tomorrow morning and if all goes as plan we'll be in Southport on Saturday morning.
Moving Right Along
03 April 2018 | Titusville, FL
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Very short entry for Tuesday and Wednesday. We were at anchor just outside of No Name Harbor and Bill Baggs State Park. We spend a couple of lazy days aboard waiting for a weather window to sail offshore to Ft Lauderdale. Bob did some route planning and lots of weather monitoring. Friday looks like a good day to sail north.
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Today the crew needs some time off the boat. We lower the dinghy and head into the park. There are several restaurants in the park, walking/biking trails and an old lighthouse. We headed to the Lighthouse first. It was a comfortable walk up the spiral staircase to the top where we were treated to a fantastic view of the coast and Miami skyline. Afterwards we took a short tour of lighthouse grounds given by the park biologist. I mention this because the biologist was sporting 2 bandaged fingers. As it turns out she was bitten by an iguana. It's mating season and the males are more aggressive. I told Lynn, never send a biologist to do a zoologist's job (me being the one with a degree in zoology). We had lunch at the Lighthouse Café and enjoyed a whole fried red snapper. Delicious! After our adventures in the park we headed back to Interlude and prepared for our sail to Ft Lauderdale/Port Everglades.
Friday, March 30, 2018
The wind and seas have calmed down as predicted. We weigh anchor at 8:00 am and head out to the Atlantic. Once we clear the channel we're able to set the sails and sail all the way to the Port Everglades Harbor entrance. As the winds shifted more south we were able sail wing-on-wing with our head sail on the starboard side and the main sail on our port side. After entering Port Everglades we turned north into the ICW and went under the 17th Street Bridge. We pulled over to the Ft Lauderdale Marina to fill our diesel and water tanks. We hold 34 gallons of diesel fuel which is good for about 55 hours motoring. We hold 90 gallons of water (including the 10 gallon hot water heater) which is good for about 10-15 days depending how much we shower. After topping off our tanks we head 30 minutes north to the Las Olas Marina Mooring field where we catch a mooring ball. We will wait here for a weather window to sail overnight to Port Canaveral.
Saturday, March 31, 2018
We drop the dinghy after breakfast and head over to the Las Olas Marina to check in and take a shower. We then walked over to the little French bakery for a chocolate croissant before jumping on the trolley. We decided to head over to the Winn Dixie for some provisions and a little pizza for lunch. We got back to the boat mid-afternoon and decided to enjoy a couple of sundowners in the cockpit before dinner. Tomorrow we head offshore on a 30 hour passage to Port Canaveral.
Sunday, April 1, 2018 (Bob's Birthday, Easter and April Fool's Day)
slipped off the mooring ball at 8:00am, passed under the 17th St Bridge at 8:30am and by 9:00 am we were out of the inlet and heading north with the Gulf Stream giving us quite a push. We set the sails and were going 8- 9 knots on a close reach most of the morning. As the winds shifted a little we were on a beam reach most of the afternoon and into the night. We observed sunset at 7:30 pm and moonrise at 9:00pm - a full moon which made Lynn very happy. We had maintained a loose 4 hour watch rotation during the day and now shift into a 2 hour rotation for the night. In the Navy when the watch rotation was between only 2 people we called it 'Port and Starboard'. When there is only one person, i.e. no one to rotate with, it's called 'Port and Re-Port'. Okay, enough of the Navy trivia...
Monday, April 2, 2018
The wind held up until about 1:00am when we decided to take down the sails and turn on the motor. The ride became a little roll-y without the sails to steady us. Around 2:00am we went through a downpour for 10 minutes - a great fresh water washdown courtesy of Mother Nature. Bob listens to the 6:30 am weather report on the sideband radio to continue assessing the next few days travels. We observed sunrise around 7:00am, the winds have died and the ocean is like glass. We motor into the channel at Port Canaveral about 11am. We have a reservation at Ocean Club Marina and pull up to their fuel dock right at noon. We top off our diesel tank and take our slip. We're both a little tired but not tired enough to take a nap. We're glad to be dockside and give each other a high five for another successful overnight passage. When checking in to the marina, we're told there's a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral at 4:30pm and it will be visible from the marina. It's an International Space Station resupply mission using the Falcon 9 reusable launch vehicle. With that information in hand, we hit the showers then walk down the street to a fish market and buy a nice Tile Fish filet. We return to the marina in time to join about a dozen folks on the upper deck of the Marina clubhouse to watch the launch. It's our first launch party! The launch takes place on time and is quite spectacular. I'm not sure how far we were from the launch pad but the noise was enough to rattle the windows in the club house. We're saving that fresh fish for tomorrow night, so we take advantage of being ashore and order a pizza for delivery.
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Due to a series of fronts approaching northern FL, sailing offshore from Port Canaveral to the St Mary's inlet (boarder of GA and FL) will be uncomfortable. As a result, we have decided to duck into the Intercoastal Waterway for the rest of our time in FL. We're only traveling 4 hours today so we allow ourselves a leisurely start. We let go the dock lines at 9:30 am and pass under a drawbridge before entering the Canaveral Lock which separates the Port from the Indian River and ICW. We lock through without any problems and start heading through the Canaveral Canal into the ICW. We go through one more bridge before joining the ICW. We are heading north with a nice southerly breeze so we decided to let out our headsail. The headsail gives us another .5 kts of speed. At 2:25 pm we arrive at our anchorage near Titusville, FL. Relax in the boat, write the blog and grill some fish for dinner.
27 March 2018 | Biscayne Bay, No Name Harbor
Sunday, March 18, 2018
This morning we said goodbye to Key West. We detached from the mooring ball around 9:30am and headed north around Flemming Key. Flemming Key is where the Army Special Forces does dive training. There was only one cruise ship docked downtown and the ‘booze cruise’ catamarans where out in full force. It was 5 O’clock somewhere! We made a brief stop at Stock Island Marina Village to top off our diesel tank before docking at the Naval Air Station Key West marina in Boca Chica after lunch. We take advantage of the light afternoon winds and blow-up our stand up paddleboard. The marina has a very nice little beach area and large shallow basin, perfect for paddling. Afterwards it’s time for a long refreshing shower and a relaxing night on Interlude.
Monday, March 19, 2018
This is a workday. First up is to wash the boat. After 10 days on the mooring ball in Key West, Interlude is ready for a bath. Luckily, we have only a few bird droppings that require extra elbow grease. Around lunchtime we head over to the marina’s laundromat with 3 loads of laundry. After loading the washers, we meander over to the bar for some lunch. After all the chores are done, we head back to the beach for more paddle time. (Did I mention that the beach is located conveniently next to the bar and grill?)
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Today we start our road trip back to Delray Beach for Lynn’s final follow-up appt for her torn retina. Around 9:00 am the pump-out boat arrives and we get our waste tank emptied. At 10:00, Bob catches a ride back into Key West to pick up a rental car. (A big thank you to Marti for the ride. Marti and her husband, Jay, are live-aboards at the marina.) Bob returns with a mustang convertible. As Bob tells it, it was the only car available. Evidently, they rent a lot of convertibles in the Keys. That’s okay, we are paying for a Kia! By 11:30am we’re on the road heading north. We hit Islamorada just in time to have lunch at the Lorelei – a favorite waterfront spot we discovered years ago. Our next stop is the Key Largo Kampground where we will stay overnight with some long-time friends, Bill and Nita. They winter at Key Largo in their travel trailer and during the summers they are doing the Great American Loop on their Trawler. Their campsite is on a small canal complete with a dock and an authentic tiki hut. For dinner, we took some of their freshly caught Porgies (a mild white fish) to a local restaurant that cooked them up and presented us with a huge platter of fish, rice and grilled veggies family style. It was easily the best meal we’ve had since we left Southport.
Wednesday, March 21, 2018
After a hearty breakfast of pancakes and sausage under the tiki hut on the dock, we leave Bill and Nita and head to Delray Beach. We arrive at Pat and Tom’s after lunch and decide to head over to Due South Brewery. A fantastic place with a huge tasting room with lots of games for grown-ups. We each grab a pint and head over to play a game of giant Jenga. Pat and Tom have never played so it was a lot of fun watching them balance the blocks. After a couple of pints we head back to Tom and Pat’s for happy hour and a lovely seafood casserole.
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Lynn’s eye appointment is at 9:30 am. We see the doctor quickly and get good news. Lynn’s eye has healed perfectly and the doctor says that she would be shocked if Lynn develops another problem where she was lased. We all decide to celebrate with a quick pizza lunch and a round of putt-putt. We had a blast - the course was well maintained, the on-site bar was well stocked, and they will even deliver food and drinks to you while you’re playing. Next, Pat and Tom take us to one of their favorite happy hour places, ‘Ocean’s One’ in downtown Delray Beach. Once again, a huge thank you to Pat and Tom for their unwavering hospitality!!
Friday, March 23, 2018
We’re on the road back to Boca Chica around 9:30 am. We had an uneventful trip back. We stop at Publix and provision for the next leg of our trip. We get back to the boat just in time to return the car and prep the boat for leaving in the morning.
Saturday, March 24, 2018
We leave at 9:00am and start heading up the Keys. We have a 40 mile journey ahead of us today with a planned anchorage in Marathon. We’re motoring into 15-20 knot winds with seas 2-3ft. We only make about 4-5kts so we arrive Marathon later in the afternoon than we’d planned. It’s been a rough and tiring so we’re happy to be done for the day. On a positive note, there were fewer crabpot floats to dodge than there were when we traveled that route southwards just a few weeks ago.
Sunday, March 24, 2018 to Monday, March 25, 2018
Sunday morning, we weigh anchor at 8:00 am and head towards our planned anchorage at Rodriguez Key near Key Largo. Winds and seas are lighter today and we are able to sail for a few hours before the winds subside more and we need to motor sail. Drop anchor around 5:00pm.
Monday morning, we weigh anchor at 8:00am sharp. Winds continue to be very light and on the bow, so we are motoring. The water is beautiful today - an awesome mix of azure blues as we pass over patches of sand and grass in Hawk Channel. After lunch we pick up a stowaway in the form of a Warbler. The little guy landed in the cockpit and walked around the deck and perched on the lifelines for about 10 minutes before flying away refreshed and rested. The land looked a long way away for those little wings go! We make good time to our planned anchorage and enter the channel into Biscayne Bay at Cape Florida around 4pm. We drop anchor just outside of No Name Harbor. We’re expecting a front to pass through tonight with high winds. We expect to be here a few days waiting for the winds and seas to calm down before proceeding up the Florida coast.
End Of The Road!
19 March 2018 | Naval Air Station Key West Marina at Boca Chica
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
After being on the boat all day Monday, we were excited to go back into town. By late morning the waters in the mooring field were still a little choppy with the 15 knots of north wind. But since we were heading with the chop, we managed to stay relatively dry. We’re lucky to have a hard bottom dinghy with large tubes that helps to protect us from spray. Our first stop is for some lunch at our favorite Cuban restaurant, El Siboney. We’ve eaten here each time we’ve visited Key West. It never disappoints. Afterwards we head over to the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Just as we are locking up our bikes, I recognize a guy walking down the street. I yell out his name and sure enough, I was right. It’s one of my old classmates from my Navy Officer Candidate class 34 years ago. John and his wife Mary are also enjoying vacation time in Key West. We do some quick catching up on the sidewalk and then continue on our separate ways. The Butterfly Conservatory is amazing. There were hundreds of butterflies of all types, a couple of flamingos and great tropical foliage. The admission price is very reasonable and is good for the whole day – you can leave and come back. Keeping with the nature theme, we bike over to the West Fort Martello garden. This is an unfinished Civil War Fort and the home to the Garden Club of Key West. They suffered significant damage from Irma with the loss of a huge Banyan tree that took down some of the old brick structures. The Banyan tree provided significant shade to the gardens and as a result of its loss they now have a much sunnier space. They are working to shift a significant amount of their plantings from shade loving-plants to sun tolerant species. It was a good hour spent and the admission price (free but donations are welcome) was worth every penny. By now, it’s late afternoon and in keeping with the nature oriented theme of our day … it sounds like we need to head to The Green Parrot, an old dive bar away from the crazies on Duval Street. We kick back in a window bench and enjoy some live music and ‘people watching’ before heading back to the boat after a day well spent.
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
We are lazy this morning and take our time getting into town. The weather’s on the cool side so we dress in long sleeves. First stop is the Hemmingway House and Museum. They run tours about every 20 minutes and even though there are lots of people on the property, you never really feel like you’re crowded. That’s probably because most people are outside petting the Hemingway cats. Our tour guide, Steve, was awesome. Probably one of the best tour guides we’ve had on any trip. The house was in great shape after Irma. The walls are 18” thick limestone/coral blocks excavated from the foundation (yes, the house has a basement). The house is also on the highest elevation on Key West. During Irma all 54 of cats were kept safe in the house along with 2 volunteers who stayed with them. For a late 2 o’clock lunch we make the pilgrimage to Sloppy Joes. There’s a guy on stage playing guitar and the place is packed but we quickly find a table near the stage. Not much to say about Sloppy Joes. It’s big, noisy and the drinks are expensive. We checked that block off of our ‘do list’ and moved on to a nice bike ride through the Truman Annex. It’s a gated community ( but open to bikes and pedestrian traffic) that used to be part of the old Navy base and is now a very expensive neighborhood of historic and newer houses and condos, many of which are vacation rentals. Everyone’s landscaping is immaculate and the homes are amazing. It’s also home to President Truman’s winter vacation home. There’s a museum and tour of the home that we decide to save for another trip. Before heading back to the boat, we do a fly by of Mallory square which is pretty calm during the day but pretty crazy at night.
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Today is Key West’s weekly farmer’s market. We dinghy in to town a little earlier than usual to check it out. The weather’s still on the cooler side so we’ll be able to store anything we purchase in a cooler in the dinghy for the day. The market has a great vibe. Plenty of veggie and food vendors. All the vendors were eager to share samples and we gladly obliged. The market had a distinctive Mediterranean feel with lots of humus, breads and such. There was a band playing in the gazebo which kept us hopping along between the booths. We could easily eat lunch at the market but have already planned to try Amigo’s Tacos on Greene Street. Amigo’s Tacos was recommended by some cruisers we met at the Naval Air Station Key West Marina and it did not disappoint. Most seating is counter-style and our counter was right on the sidewalk overlooking the corner of Greene and Duval Streets. Great food and great fun to sit and watch the world of Key West stroll by. Next we take advantage of another free tour. The Woman’s Club of Key West maintains a historic home on Duval street dating back to the mid-1800s. Not much to see, but the home did have a beautifully etched red glass paneled door that faces the sunset – the red color comes from mixing gold into the molten glass. After the tour we decide to check out The Tiki House on Greene Street. It’s across from Amigos Tacos and we had noticed they have BOGO drinks 4-6pm. We’re lucky to get the 2 seats overlooking the street. We settle down with some great live music and more excellent people watching. We dinghy back just as the sun is beginning to set. The veggies and hummus from the morning market held up well in the cooler.
Friday, March 16, 2018
We start the day with a quick provisioning run to the Winn Dixie. We only get dry goods so we can leave them in the dinghy. The temps are getting back to normal today so we’re wearing short sleeves and lots of sunscreen. We check out Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar for lunch. It’s off the main drag and we’re happy to try someplace away from the tourist crowds (which really isn’t possible in Key West). We split some fish tacos and lightly battered deep fried avocado wedges. Amazing! We had never heard of fried avocado. Can’t wait to try some when we get home. After lunch we take in another free tour, this one is the oldest standing house in Key West. The house is from the early 1800s and survived hurricanes and a fire in 1886 that decimated the island. It is owned and operated by the Old Island Restoration Foundation. Next we head over to the Key West Rum Distillery. They’ve got a nice free tour that comes with one free sampling. Lynn really liked the spiced rum (and she’s not a rum fan). We enjoyed the Tiki House so much on Thursday that we end up there again. After a short wait, we are able to snag our favorite seats overlooking the sidewalk. The music today by guy who can be best described as a “Spring Break, get the crowd going” kind of guy, except most of the people in the bar are not spring breakers – they’re older folks just like us. He did a great job keeping everyone pumped up. Another sunset ride back to Interlude.
Saturday, March 17, 2018
We decide to make it a short day, even though it’s St. Patrick’s Day. We’re in town early for a late breakfast at Amigos Tacos. Heuvos Rancheros and Breakfast Tacos… Yummie. After breakfast we walk around a bit to observe the shenanigans along Duval Street. Lots of green on the streets today. Since it’s our last day, it’s time to buy the souvenir shirts and get one last bike ride in around town. On the way back to the boat we stop at the Basilica of Saint Mary, Star of the Sea’s Grotto Garden. Very cool. By mid-afternoon we’re back on the boat and we mount the dinghy outboard on the stern rail and raise the dinghy in preparation for sailing tomorrow. We’ll be heading back up to the Naval Air Station Key West Marina at Boca Chica. We had a great time in Key West and now it’s time to start our slow journey home.
Key West Adventures
13 March 2018 | Key West Garrison Bight Mooring Field
Saturday, March 10, 2018
This is our 3rd trip to Key West. The first two times were in 2010 and 2011 when we participated in an open water swim around Key West (12 miles). We were part of a 5 and 6 person relay team. After both swims we hung out for a day in Key West before driving back to Isle Of Palms. This will be our longest visit to Key West and we're looking forward to doing more things. We got a late start Saturday, which was okay. After a nice shower ashore, we headed over to the United Methodist Church to check out their annual yard sale. Luckily, we didn't find anything we couldn't live without. Then we biked off to the other side of the island to the 'Food Truck in Paradise' Food Truck Rodeo. There were about 10 trucks, a beer tent and live music. I had an awesome Jerk shrimp bowl with coconut rice, beans, slaw and carrots. Lynn had the same but a veggie version. The music was great. The highlight was a local music school with a group of kids called "School of Rock", like the movie. They played some classic rock and then did a couple of songs with everyone playing the ukulele. On the way back to the dinghy we dropped in at Waterfront Brewery for a quick beer before heading back to the boat.
Sunday, March 11, 2018
We make a plan to go to church this morning and head out about 10am so we can shower before the 1100 service. As we enter the basin to the dinghy dock, we discover that we've left the bike seats on Interlude. Rats! Back to the boat we go knowing that we've missed our church opportunity. We get back to the dinghy dock (with our bike seats) and decide to skip the shower until the end of the day. Our first stop is at the Artisan's Market only a few blocks away. Lots of local crafts, some fresh produce and food vendors. All good stuff, but nothing we need. Today we packed a picnic lunch, so we search for a park where we can sit in the shade. The closest park is the Key West Cemetery so we bike on over and find a nice shade tree. We learned that as many as 5 people can be buried on one plot - 2 stacked underground and 3 stacked aboveground in crypts. After lunch we've picked out some open houses to visit. Seeing the open houses is like getting a free home and garden tour of Key West. We saw about 9 very nicely remodeled 'conch' cottages in the heart of old town. In the middle of our tour Bob's bike gets a major blowout. The rear tire has a nice slash and needs to be replaced. We have extra parts and tools on the dinghy but no tire. Luckily there's a bike shop that's open just a short walk away. While Lynn visits a couple of houses, Bob heads over to the shop. 15 minutes after arriving and $40 later, Bob's bike is repaired and we continue our tour. By now it's late afternoon and time for a libation and an early dinner. We decide to check out the Margaritaville Café on Duval Street. We're both old Jimmy Buffet fans and have never been to a Margaritaville restaurant. We're pretty disappointed. We split a gigantic plate of nachos that were mediocre at best. However, the margarita was very good. Before we head back to the dinghy we visit the Winn Dixie to do some light provisioning. At this point we're very glad we've waited until the end of the day to shower. It's been a hot and sticky day.
Monday, March 12, 2018
Today we're sequestered on the boat. Over the past 12 hrs we have a front passing through. We've got 20-25 knot winds and thunderstorms most of the day. There are some nice 2 foot waves moving through the mooring field and not much dinghy action. Lynn uses the day to catch up on her boat cleaning and journaling. I didn't do much of anything constructive other than untangle one of our lines attached to the mooring ball (that required a short time in the dinghy). I also pumped out the dinghy a couple of times with our hand pump just to keep the rain water manageable. We did observe a little excitement in the afternoon. I was on deck when a rowing dinghy with a small outboard puttered by. The man was steering and the woman was bailing (water was blowing over the bow). They seemed okay enough so I waved at them as they went by and went back below. About 5 minutes later Lynn and I saw that they must have capsized because they'd been rescued by another dinghy and their dingy was being towed (upside down). I'm glad someone saw them flip over and was able to respond. It was a noisy and bouncy night with the wind howling.