20 April 2019
First group of dolphins, these were two little ones from the group.
We ended up getting splashed earlier than expected on Monday and they were fine with not charging us for the unopened gallon of paint, we'll have to deal with Pettit for the other two when we get home. Had a nice sail down to Key West and got anchored around 2 or so and just hung out on board ready for our early departure home Tuesday morning.
Well the best laid plans seem to not always work out and Key West has a habit of getting me back for calling it Key Weird. This is the second time we were delayed leaving 2 hours on a long trip where we needed to leave early. Last time was when we were heading to Mexico as soon as we dropped the mooring line and started heading out of Garrison Bight a heavy fog set in leaving us no choice, but to anchor on the other side in the anchorage for a couple hours. The cruise ships come in early and no way was I hitting one of them in the fog. Even with radar we didn't want to take any chances so waited until the coast was clear and headed out only to find there was no fog at all in the Atlantic, weird!
Anyway, this time we started down through the anchorage and there was a cruise ship coming in so I slowed a bit and heard a strange noise. Last time I heard it was backing out of the slip a few years back and the raw water intake was clogged. So I looked over and just saw grey smoke coming out with very little water and yelled to the Capt'n. So he yells, shut it down, shut it down so I did and we were now drifting into the southern anchorage and very shallow water coming up. I'm yelling we gotta drop the hook and finally he agrees and we do so. Well we have forgotten to clean the raw water strainer the last couple times we were supposed to and it was pretty clogged so we thought great that was the problem. Up anchor again and start heading for the inlet and still doesn't sound completely right and not as much water as we think it should be. Temp is up to 160 where it never goes above 150 so again, we squeeze into the southernmost anchorage and drop the hook. So Capt'n says he's going to change the Impeller and while doing so the automatic bilge pump starts going off. I hand pump until it stops then it starts right up again. Capt'n says we have to have water coming in somewhere look around. Well knowing we just worked all the through hulls and sprayed them I'm worried something went wrong, but what. So I run around and check them all (which is not easy some are under the bed) and they are all dry. I take off the front cover to the engine and move the bilge pump hose around a bit and go back up and pump manually. This time it seems to be pumping water and the auto pump finally stops. Capt'n calls Caribbean Soul Bob to see if he has any ideas if it wasn't the impeller since the old one still looks good. Bob has a couple good ideas, as usual and we'll try them next if this didn't work. So fire up the engine and finally the exhaust water looks normal and no smoke this time. Now we are two hours behind schedule and not very happy, but we have some nice wind for sailing.
We were able to sail until around 5 PM doing over 6 knots until the wind finally died. We need to maintain a 6 knot average in order to make Palmetto in the daylight so 2 or 3 knots isn't going to do it. We fire up the engine and motor sail and start our shifts at 8 PM, mine being 1st of course. Winds had calmed way down and the seas were tiny just about 1 or 2' and I'm thinking wow it could be completely flat soon and nice for sleeping below at least for a bit. Capt'n takes over around 10 PM and I tell him the winds are supposed to pick up around 11 PM to about 18 knots gusting to 22. For once they were somewhat right, pick up they did, but by midnight they were 28 knots sustained gusting to 33 or 34 +. We were down to the main and stay sail and doing over 7+ knots surfing into the 8's, which was good for making up time, but not good since high winds create ugly seas offshore. I took over at midnight and think that was one of my worst shifts, no sooner did I get on deck and get clamped in and a huge wave broke in the cockpit completely soaking me. Luckily had a raincoat on, but still soaked for the most part. The seas were pretty big, hard to see in the dark, but they would roll WS over almost to her rails and she'd pop back up. Of course, the auto pilot's like no way am I steering through this, he'd steer for about 5 minutes at a time, enough to give you a little break and that's it. Capt'n came on at 2 am for his next shift and as soon as I got below I heard him yell OMG so I run up, here it's just another big wave knocking us over pretty far that he wasn't expecting. By 5 am the wind and seas started calming down and it wasn't too bad again. By 11 am there was virtually no wind again and calm seas as we made our way up past Venice and Englewood, with dolphins playing off the bow numerous times welcoming us home (at least I think so :) )
Finally got into the Manatee river about 3 pm and you guessed it, it's blowing out of the east directly where we are heading about 18 knots. The good part is the marina is protected from the east and if anything it'll just blow us back a bit coming in. We had left old aft lines on our two back slip pilings and since they didn't rent out our slip had hoped they would be there since the pilings are like 12' tall and almost impossible to get a line over the top coming in. I look and no such luck someone had taken them, so Capt'n suggests just wrapping the line around the piling on the bottom, basically hugging it to get it around while we are on our way in. I think he's crazy, but it works and soon we are completely tied up with no problems.
Oh, forgot the engine quit again off of Siesta Key and we had to switch to port again like the last time. We are now thinking we got some bad fuel and it's gunked up the filters again, luckily we hadn't run much on port so it was good enough to get us into the slip.
So that's it for a while, we are home and WS finally gets a nice well deserved rest in her slip.
Laid back Key West to "Hard" times at Stock Island
14 April 2019
WS (on the "Hard") getting some final touches from the Capt'n after finishing the bottom
Tuesday, April 9th wasn't too bad in the morning. I wanted to see if we could get some vinegar close by so hopefully once we are hauled I can get the salt off the Algrip paint. No such luck, so we walked to Ace in town where they have a nice big gallon and I buy it. Only to find out the Capt'n had other things in mind - like going back to the Mel Fisher museum all the way at the other end to get some coins. I'm like really, had I known that I would have picked up the heavy gallon jug on the way back. Oh well, it's in the backpack now. Capt'n then spots the loop bus, it's a free bus, but we have no idea where it stops. Either way, it's hot I'm already tired so we catch it at the next stop and it literally drops us off right in front of the museum, well that's cool! We finally have a brochure with the stops on it so catch another one back only to find out we could have been doing this all along - not to mention it stopped directly in front of the Blue Macaw, where we did that long hike back on Friday and got back to the dinghy in the dark. Well it was nice that we finally figured it out a day before we were leaving. So now Capt'n wants to stop a this Thai restaurant across from the dinghy dock for lunch and a cold one. Never being one to pass up a cold one on a hot day I agree, but still wondering when those storms will hit. It's on the second floor and overlooks Garrison Bight and while the Capt'n is dilly dallying around I'm looking off to the west and see some ugly weather rolling in. Accuweather had said around 2 the storms would start; weather channel said nothing until 5 pm. It's 2:30 and I'm getting nervous to get back to the boat so Capt'n gets the check and we (I) race back to the dinghy. We get out to the area east of the mooring field where we can plane and of course, that extra gallon of vinegar set the dinghy over the edge and it wouldn't plane again, I'm like you're kidding right! Storms to the left and storms to the right and we are slowly heading back - crap! We barely made it back to the boat before it completely dumped luckily and only rain. We never did get any bad T-storms even through the entire night when they were predicted for Key West.
Wednesday - we dinghy in for the last time to turn in the key and get some ice for the trip as we won't be able to use the fridge on the hard. Capt'n asks if it's okay for us to stay on the mooring until we leave and they said no problem, which was great - it saves us from having to go anchor somewhere until we can leave for the haulout yard. The guy working there also mentions the fire in the mooring field, did we see it early Sat mooring - said it lit up the entire sky and they had water rescue, fire departments, coast guard everyone there. Uh no, we must have slept through it. Well we were tired Friday and got home late Friday night, but cannot believe neither of us heard anything. I heard sirens, but that's always like that in Key West. Turns out it was very early in the morning and the guy went to start his boat and a fire broke out in the engine room. Then one of the diesel hoses came loose and sprayed diesel all over the place making it worse. We took a dinghy ride when we got back to the boat and saw it on the way back - it is burnt all the way to the hull, but still floating. What a shame, it was a relatively new very nice 46' Beneteau, really makes you think of all the crazy things that can happen. Finally pick up anchor around 2 pm and head up to Stock Island, entrance is deep and pretty well marked so no problems going in (opps I meant let go of the mooring). We get to the haul out slip where we are supposed to tie up around 4:15 and see a boat in the travel lift. So now what, we tie up anyway and Capt'n goes and talks to him. It's a dive boat that had some problems and is going to be launched at 8:30 am, that's interesting we are to be hauled at 8:30 am, oh well. So we just stayed where we were figuring we should be able to walk the boat to the end and give him enough room to get out in the morning.
So that's exactly what we did Thursday morning, he got launched with no problems once we moved the boat and we got hauled with no problems. Picked up some supplies at the office, Capt'n got the sander and went to work and I went to work cleaning all the salt off the algrip paint. Oh, while we were waiting to get hauled out we saw one of the Mel Fisher boats go out, still looking for more treasure I guess - either way it was cool to see it. I have a couple necklace pendants from the silver on the Atocha that Capt'n had got me about 30 years ago, not long after they had found the mother lode and were not well known. People hadn't really heard of them, but they were advertising stuff in skin diver magazine years ago and we saw them at a showing at a jewelry store (I think) in Pittsburgh and got to hold one of the gold bars they brought up. They were selling stuff reasonable back then, not now though and doubt they'd let you hold a gold bar now either. You can't even wear a hat into the museum since it doesn't let the cameras see your face. Sadly times have surely changed.
Friday, April 12th, Capt'n still sanding I'm still working on piece of the paint that the stubborn salt won't come off and doing odd jobs for the Capt'n. Ran over (well not really) to Stock Island Marina to get more ice and it was a nice short trip. Decided to put one coat of paint on before calling it a day once the Capt'n finished sanding and turned in the sander before the yard closed for the weekend. Paint rolled on okay to start, but was awfully thick and told the Capt'n something was wrong. We can normally knock out painting the boat quickly, but this paint was odd and wouldn't spread and was a major nightmare trying to get it on. It's now 2 hours past and I finally finish just the port side - and the paint is chunking up on the hull. So, we call it a night and we'll try again in the morning. Took a walk up to El Siboney a Cuban restaurant just a couple blocks away for dinner and their food was awesome. Capt'n was able to get his whole fried fish that he loves and I got some excellently cooked grilled Mahi, really unbelievable food.
Saturday morning we are back at it trying again with the paint. The can says do not use more than a 3/16 nap roller and we had used 3/8 so I walked up to West Marine to get some 3/16's hoping that was the problem. No such luck, those nice expensive rollers did nothing to help our situation. We couldn't get more than one roller of paint on the hull before it turned into chunks. One of the local painters had stopped by the day before and stopped by again. Another painter that works at the yard stopped by and everyone agreed they had seen nothing like it something was wrong with the paint. We tried another can and used one of their paint stirrers on a drill to stir it up more. We had mechanically shaken them all on Friday, but it was worth a shot. Well the new can was the same deal, just extremely thick and just gunked up when we tried to roll it on the hull. I added some water (fact sheet says you can) and it would work for a little then go back to thick almost like it was evaporating out of the paint as it is a water based paint. So, Jason the one painter told us about the paint they use here most and he took the Capt'n up to get 3 cans of it. It's oil based, but from what everyone says it should be fine to put over water based, but not vice versa. So we're back in business and back on track for getting launched on Monday thanks to some very nice people at the yard! Everyone is super friendly here and very helpful. The actual yard office is closed on the weekends, but these guys work 7 days a week during the busy season. We ended up getting 3 coats on by the end of the day Saturday and the hull is just about done except for moving the stands and doing touch up work to the paint stripe. Seems as when the guy was blasting the hull he blasted some of our paint off too - not good, but fixable.
So it's Sunday, April 14th and I'm finally able to sit down and type this a bit. After walking to get ice, then walking to West Marine and a little convenience store to pick up a 12-pack for Jason as he wouldn't take any money for helping us. Capt'n is finishing up the boot stripe and doing the paint where the stands were, which he moved this morning. Tomorrow I'm hoping to get hauled at 1, but we've heard from others it's really up to them and it sounds like a lot of boats are going in the water on Monday. Thank goodness we got on the schedule last week to be launched on Monday at 1, hopefully we do! Tuesday is still a good weather window and we really don't want to miss it. We only have a short sail to Key West where we will anchor Monday night so as long as they get us in that's fine. We did talk to someone for a long time yesterday and he offered us his slip close by if we wanted it (which is really nice since slips here go for $5 a foot), but unfortunately it's further north than we want to be and would add on more time to our trip the next day.
So now we have to deal with the yard tomorrow, we have 3 cans of paint that is unusable, one unopened at almost $200 per can. We had to purchase new paint and not from them since they were closed and it was a little cheaper, but not much. The yard charges $50 per can if you bring in paint from the outside, we are hoping that is not the case since the paint we got from them was unusable, but we'll see. We also called Petit on Saturday, since that is the paint manufacturer, but have heard nothing back yet. This would have been the third time using this brand of paint, we had no problems in the past, but this time it was just garbage. I'm thinking it was sitting on the shelf somewhere in the keys and was way too old. They don't seem to sell much red here of that brand only black and blue so not sure where they got it from as the West Marine here had none in stock nor did any in the keys. We'll just hope for the best and if not it is what it is...
Well that's it - life on the hard is, well, hard and we'll be very happy to get back in the water ASAP! As we can't use our fridge (it's water cooled), nor our heads, shower or sinks while on the hard... Not to mention the ladder trip up and down for everything 😕
The Last Key
09 April 2019
Sunset over the Key West mooring field.
Thursday morning, April 4th, it finally rained overnight, but luckily ended around 8 am. Cloudy and 15 to 20 knots forecast from the ENE to E so we dropped the mooring and headed out around 9 am. We had thought to go to Key West, but with the late start decided stopping half way down was best. We picked on a spot in between Ramrod Key and Summerland Key about 20 miles south. Pretty rolly again when we got out into Hawk Channel and the wind was directly behind us, as usual, so the 15 - 20 knots didn't help that much going downwind, just created the rolly seas. Finally got anchored around 2 after a long slog up the channel with good depth in the 6' areas to start, but little depth the further up. Some charts said 6, some said 7 and we were at mid-tide with one spot showing 5 directly in the middle. We've actually been in there before, years ago on a 30' or so Morgan with a 4' draft, which is a little easier than getting in with a 6+ draft. We dodged all the bullets to get to the anchorage only to have the winds pick up to over 20 now and not so nice looking to launch the dinghy and get off the boat, so we just hung out there.
Left at first light on Friday morning, with a rising tide and didn't see anything less than 7'8" going out where coming in there was a 7'2" so that was a little better. Same as Thursday, winds were directly behind us and over 20 now, which was nice for sailing until they let up and we had to motor sail. We probably could have sailed the entire way, but we wanted to make Key West in enough time to get together with Dave's cousin again as they now were staying an extra day in Key West. As usual as soon as we entered Key West harbor it starting blowing 20+ again, that's the norm for us - winds die while we are sailing then pick up when we are trying to anchor, pick up a mooring or dock somewhere. We finally got tied up to a mooring around 1 pm after trying to find a close one, which we did, but the pennant wouldn't budge to come out of the ball, instead the entire ball was just lifting out of the water. We could have tied up around the ball then tried again, but it made us wonder about the last time they did maintenance on that ball so we moved to the back of the field where there were a couple open balls left. Ted came and picked us up around 2:30 or so and back to the place they were staying for a bit, then out for HH/dinner at the Blue Macaw. As usual, we had a really nice time, but the time had passed so quickly it was almost dark when we left. We now had a couple miles to walk back to the dinghy dock and dinghy back a mile or so to the boat, which would be in the dark. We haven't been here in 9 years and had no clue at this point how to even get out of Garrison Bight in the dark let alone try to find our boat a mile or so away. Luckily we had a light and made it out shining it on the channel markers, then dodged a couple unlit poles on our slow ride back to the boat. WS's Davis light paid off, while most boats don't even have anchor lights on here the ones that do are on the mast. We could see the little stern garden light and the Davis light in the distance and we were able to locate the boat easily. Phew, not doing that again - I hate coming back to the boat in the dark, let alone for the first time in years and such a far ride. Rest of the days have been the same old same old, Key West is still Key Weird - more crowded than ever now and just as shady as always. Since we left home in Jan this is the 1st time we have had to lock up the boat and the dinghy at the dock including a lock on the motor. Very few cruisers in the mooring field, but a lot of unkempt boats.
Ventured in again on Saturday, way too many tourists, but did find a place on Duval to watch the Indy car race on Sunday. Sunday a little less crowed and got to watch the race in some peace. Long walk back to the dinghy dock again, but this time it was light out when we got back. Monday we rented a scooter to go check out the haulout and yard then ride around the island with a stop at the Mel Fischer museum and Publix for a few items. Found out eggs are probably not the best thing to buy for a scooter ride. My backpack was full already, so Capt'n had to wear the little one with the eggs sideways in a little cooler inside, which now meant they were in-between us on the scooter, not good. So I'm hanging as far back as I can trying not to fall off the back or worse yet fall forward and smush the eggs. Luckily it wasn't too far and made it back to drop off the scooter then back to the boat with all eggs intact. I think I like shopping by bicycle with baskets, like in Marathon, a bit better now. Amazing what you take for granted at home - like driving the car to the store!
So it's now Tuesday our last day in the mooring field and it's already looking ugly. Calling for T-storms this afternoon so if we go in we need to get back before 2 or so. Capt'n doesn't want to be around me if he gets me caught in a T-storm on the water in the dinghy. I don't mind being on the big boat at anchor in a storm, but you've got to be really foolish to intentionally be on a little boat on the water during a storm. Hopefully, we can get in and out before the storms roll in. Tomorrow we'll move over to the anchorage for an hour or so then head up to the haulout facility. We can tie up for the night in the haulout slip since we are the 1st boat to be hauled on Thursday morning, but we have to wait until after 4 PM to tie up.
If all goes as planned we would like to be back in the water Monday and have a tentative launch time for 1 PM. That would give us enough time to head back to the anchorage for the night and if all goes really, really well start heading for home at first light on Tuesday. It's 198 miles to the Manatee River from the anchorage, "IF" we average 6 knots we can make it home before dark on Wednesday. Tuesday there's very little wind so it'll be a motor sail either way, but we are both anxious to head back home at this point. If we can't make it all the way, we'll either bail out at Port Charlotte or maybe Egmont if we can make that. We'll know better when we get near Port Charlotte if we can make it all the way back or not, hope so.
So not sure if I'll be able to post again, maybe next Sunday after all our work is done - we'll see. As Thursday on it's going to be work, work and more work to get everything done and get launched on Monday.
Marathon of Lazy Days
03 April 2019
Capt'n with the marina bikes after shopping.
So that classic rock band on Friday was a guy with a guitar - he was actually extremely good and playing in Tampa area soon so we may try to see him there again.
Saturday morning Capt'n called cousin Ted as they had mentioned they would be down this way, heading to Key West for a vacation, but Capt'n (or me) couldn't remember the exact dates. Turns out they were in Key Largo and picked us up and we had a nice lunch with them their friends Bill and Kathy at the Sunset Grill. It would be nice to have been in Key West already and been able to see more of them, but we won't head to Key West until after this last front forecast for Wed as the Garrison Bight mooring field is not the place to be with high north east winds, very uncomfortable. Key West aka Key Weird to some, also charges you to land your dinghy anywhere so it doesn't make sense to anchor unless you plan on not going ashore.
Finally got together with Carousel for HH on Sunday and had a great time. We have lots of things in common with Robin being from Pittsburgh and Gabe spending time there also. Capt'n made his "Sammy Hagar" Margaritas which are really the best Margarita I've ever tasted.
So Monday was the dreaded laundry day, been putting it off, but definitely needs done. After how many months Capt'n finally didn't complain when I pushed him to get me in there early. The Eggs Benedict for breakfast before heading into the laundry might have helped. Robin had horrible luck the other day with the laundry and as usual I feared the worst. Luckily, most of the washers were free so put my clothes in, put the key card in (that I just put $18 on Sunday) and nothing... Well some of the people here are not the friendliest and if your laundry is sitting there without the washer (or dryer) going they'll take it out and toss it on the floor and from what I've heard not even in a nice pile, but scatter it all around, YIKES. So, I finally got a hold of the Capt'n to come back and babysit my washers until I got the office to fix the card. Other than that it was pretty painless and definitely pays to get in there early. Only problem was when Capt'n was supposed to come back and help me he said the motor quit and wouldn't restart on the dinghy. No problem, but ½ hour later I'm done and still no Capt'n, not good. Well turns out he had to row in, still couldn't get it started. Luckily, we are not far from the dinghy dock, but we've got to get the motor going as we will need it in Key West. So he's got the carburetor off and working on it, hopefully it'll run again. Seems like we've been jinxed ever since the Jumentos where we started having problems right after the other WS left. I think it's the outboard engine gremlins, once they knew they couldn't harass Capt'n Tim and his motor any more they hurried up and jumped ship and into our dinghy motor. I'm guessing it probably happened when Capt'n towed back Capt'n Tim and his dinghy for the last time before they left Water Cay. They're pretty smart like that.
Well Capt'n had the carburetor back in and still nothing. He was just about to give up on the motor when Gabe came over to help. Just what was needed another set of eyes and a non-frustrated head. Gabe could tell it was getting spark (which you can't see in the sunlight, you basically have to get shocked holding on to the plug), which made the Capt'n realize maybe he hadn't pumped it up enough. Sure enough it started after that, but we still think one of the jets was clogged, which made it quit to begin with. Capt'n had cleaned them out and put the carburetor back on, just got sidetracked thinking there was no spark. Just in time too as I was trying to convince him to let us rent a car and run home to get our spare motor, but Capt'n was afraid that once we saw all those conveniences of home (like my own laundry, big comfortable bed that doesn't roll at times) it might take us awhile to get back to the boat to bring her home. Like someone we met out cruising said - when you're on the boat you miss home then when you're at home you miss being out on the boat.
So it's Wednesday, April 3rd our last day/night in Marathon as we are heading for Key West tomorrow, but think we'll stop somewhere around Newfound Harbor Channel, most likely Summerland Key, along the way and break up the 40 mile trip into two days instead of one. Had a great time last night with Carousel, first a stop at Castaways for wings, beers and tunachos then a few boat drinks on WS. We have such a good time with them and really hate to leave, but it is time for WS to move on. Marathon normally gets on my nerves after a few days, but this time it's been pretty good. We've been using the marina bikes a lot so that's been fun too.
Back in the USA
29 March 2019
Picture above is some of the Marathon fishing fleet tied up in the canal that leads back to Castaways.
Later Sunday, March 24th, on the Bahama Banks wasn't as nice as last year, the following seas were bigger and rolling the boat around a good bit. Both the Capt'n and I were already tired due to hand steering since the good ole auto pilot just refuses to work much at all any more, not sure if he thinks he's retired or not, but definitely needs looked at when we get back home. We exited the banks at South Riding Rocks about 7:15 PM, just around sunset into the Atlantic. A bit of a rough night hand steering almost the entire way, autopilot did steer here and there enough to take a short break, but that's about it. Seas were bigger in the Gulf Stream, but couldn't really see how big until dawn. The two shipping channels kept us on our toes during the night, with ships crisscrossing us within a mile or two. Thank goodness for AIS as no matter what lights (port/starboard) you see it's so hard to tell in the dark what their intentions are. Most passed within a mile or so, which was not great, but okay. Nice moon rose around 11 and lit up the sky the rest of the way until morning. We got to the Florida Keys, north of Molasses Reef around 9 am, Monday March 25th and rode the coast down a bit then entered into Hawk Channel right after the reef. Both of us were dead tired, but pushed on for Channel 5 (tip of Long Key) since it's one of the best anchorage spots between No Name (Key Biscayne) and Marathon. You can anchor on either side of the bridge and get protection from almost every wind direction. Got anchored in our favorite spot at Channel 5 around 2:30 pm - time for a much deserved anchor beer! All by ourselves and very peaceful, not a lot of boats stop here they always stop at Rodriguez or Tavernier, which offer very little protection from anything but N winds. To my surprise I went up on deck after dinner and 4 more boats were anchored behind us - crap our secret is out... Had a great nigts sleep in a really perfect spot, winds shifted during the night, but we were more than protected where we anchored.
Tuesday I was anxious to get going and get a mooring at Marathon so had a quick breakfast then left the anchorage around 7 AM. We had passed at least 12 boats going north so I was almost positive the mooring field would have some free moorings. Well again, I called about 6 miles out and nope, nothing available, come in and get on the waiting list and there are 6 people ahead. It's kind of annoying as you cannot get on the list until you get here, anchor and physically go in. So we are only a mile or so out of Marathon, winds are light now so we are motor sailing the last bit and the engine just quits. We are sailing slowly, but nicely so that's okay for now - Capt'n runs below and checks and finds nothing wrong. We've been running on the Starboard diesel tank since we left the Bahamas, so he switches to the Port tank. I try to start it; it fires up then quits again. I'm thinking, well if it was fuel starved (if that's the right word?) it may take a bit to get the diesel back through, something like that. So I ask the Capt'n if I can try again and he says yes - fire it up and this time it keeps running, thank goodness! Capt'n thinks it might be the fuel filter clogged on the Starboard tank, all the filters are due for a change, but we've been running on Starboard much longer than Port. Needless to say, if that was going to happen thank goodness it happened where and when it did. Worst case would be coming up the skinny channel into Marathon, which would be a disaster so we are very lucky, but it does stay in the back of your mind coming up the channel anyway. On another good note, we are back in the USA with our good old BoatUS unlimited towing!
Got into Marathon around 10:30, stopped at the fuel dock for diesel and water then off to the dreaded anchorage inside. Anchorage was pretty packed, but kept going to the end and found a spot to drop the hook right off the channel. Looked good until the winds swung and we were literally directly in front of a "permanently" anchored boat. They didn't seem to mind, but knowing the front would roll through with 30+ knots of wind I wasn't really happy about being on top of someone. However, it's either that or go out into the outside anchorage, which would be ugly with the front.
Went into the marina and got on the waiting list, but looks bleak as no one is leaving with the front coming in. While waiting for to get on the list saw someone that looked familiar with a tiny little dog that looked familiar. Last year when we were here we had met Carousel who was from Pittsburgh and actually was best friends with a good friend of mine too that worked at JRMC with me. Neither of us have kept in touch with Laurie lately, but it was wild when I mentioned I only knew one person from West Mifflin and it turned out to be her best friend from the past. Anyway, sure enough it was Robin from Carousel standing there - she had left her sandals and sunglasses on our boat, which we didn't find until half way up Florida Bay last year. I told her I still had them on the boat, she was thrilled that I kept them for her. Talked for a long time then promised to get together again sometime before we leave. Turns out they have been here since last year and have only left a few times here and there. It was getting late in the day, so we headed back to the boat then, of course, to our favorite spot for HH, Castaways by dinghy. Awesome food and great prices during HH, we'll definitely be back again before we leave.
Tuesday night wasn't bad at all, but by Wednesday morning winds started picking up a bit. Capt'n changed all the fuel filters, changed the oil and filter in the morning. It's really not the best time to do that since winds had picked up and if we dragged we had no engine, but I wasn't going to argue, it needed done ASAP. We did go in and check on the waiting list and we are next, wow that's great, but won't help for tonight when it'll blow 35 knots in the gusts. Took our little dock cart up to Publix (about a mile walk) and loaded up on all sorts of stuff that we weren't able to buy in the Bahamas, like BOGO 6 pack of Becks beer, ya ain't gonna see that in the Bahamas, boy it's nice to be back in the USA!
Wednesday night the winds picked up and were howling, but our anchor held nicely and I was actually able to get some sleep for a change. The inside anchorage has super protection so no swells or waves rolling in during the high winds. Capt'n figured I'd be up all night checking on things, but only got up a few times and all was well.
Thursday morning we saw a boat that we "thought" was leaving the mooring field and hoped a spot opened up. Took a walk then a stop at the liquor store across the street and sure enough my phone went off and Vicki from the marina said we had ONE mooring open up and it's yours, YAY! So rushed back to the boat to move her over to F3, which turned out to be a super great spot as it is right near the dinghy dock. We figured we would end up on one of the moorings across from where we were anchored, knowing our luck, so this was really great. We anchor out 99.9% of the time, but Marathon is not a place where you want to have to anchor on the inside. Boats are just on top of each other and that's not any fun, esp. during a blow when people tend to drag. Lots of unattended boats too, if they drag there's no one there to stop them (boat was dragging this morning) and I can bet most of them do not have insurance. The outside anchorage is nice in good conditions, but I heard someone say there were 4'-6' waves rolling through there yesterday, not good at all. Plus, just to land your dinghy at the dinghy dock is the same price as a mooring, so there's no way on earth it's worth it to anchor, kinda of a no brainer on that one.
Thursday night winds were still up and howling, but we are sitting pretty in the mooring field now. We paid for a week, which was cheaper than by day, so we think we'll be here until next Thursday and then maybe head to Key West or another spot.
Friday morning we got our free pump out and I was able to get the Capt'n to run the generator so I can type this and charge all my stuff. I have a great HP laptop, but it doesn't hold a charge for more than an hour or so. It'll be lazy days for a bit, he ran in to get some water for our little jugs and fill up our sun shower then thinking of using the marina bikes if they are available. Classic rock band playing at the Overseas outside bar/restaurant right across A1A at 6 tonight, Capt'n wants to do that. Plus, we promised to get together with Carousel; maybe we can do that tomorrow.
So that's it for now - nothing exciting and probably won't post again for a while since it'll be the same old same old stuff every day.
Oh, next time the generator runs I'll try to get another set of pictures posted from the Bahamas.
Weather to stay or go (whether...)
26 March 2019
Picture is Exuma Land and Sea Park mooriings at Warderick Wells. Horseshoe of deep water surrounded by sand banks on each side, pretty cool spot.
Wednesday, March 20th everyone left the anchorage at Pipe Cay, so we were there all by ourselves again, nice. Planned to leave around 7 and either go to Warderick Wells or Hawksbill, we'll find out from the park around 9am if we got a mooring. Well, luckily the Capt'ns indecision didn't hurt our chances to get a mooring at Exuma Park, Warderick wells. The quote from the last blog, indecision may or may not be his (my) problem, is from a Buffet song and Capt'n says that a lot when he can't make up his mind, which is, well, a lot. Anyway, we left beautiful Pipe Cay around 7 am, tide was still rising and we didn't see anything less than 9 on the way out in the shallow area. Good time to leave too, the "marked" channel is not wide with a sharp bend in it, the last thing we want to see is a Mega Yacht heading the other way there (I still have flashbacks from last year going into Chub Cay). Leaving early definitely lessened our chances of that. We got up to the Park around 10 AM and were assigned ball #10, which was great, in enough to be really protected, but not too far in. The whole mooring field is a horseshoe surrounded by very shallow water on each side, with the sun not fully above it was a little hard to see the shallows, but we knew from last time (11 years ago) we came in on the outside of the moored boats sticking very closely to them. It worked and we were tied up to our ball with no problems. Took a trip to the Park Office, came back for our anchor beer then nice long hike, including a stop at Boo Boo Hill and then a dinghy ride late afternoon to Emerald Rock. So, Boo Boo Hill is named after an old shipwreck where all the people perished close by. They say you can hear their ghosts up there when the wind blows fiercely out of the east, something like that.
We are heading to Highborne today, Friday and left the mooring around 8 am. Boats were facing north (they ride the current not the wind) same way as when we came in so we exited on the outside. Someone came in yesterday when boats were facing south and went on the inside, which makes sense actually. So, we are beating into it right now heading to Highborne, not a ton of fun, but not too bad. We have only CP's weather to go by so far and propagation was again so bad that no one could hear him so didn't get the gist of it all for next week. There is a low forecast for the Southern Atlantic and trail a cold front next wed into to the Bahamas bringing high winds for who knows how long. CP said it could be a day or a week or even more. Capt'n doesn't want to sit in Great Harbor for a week or more so we are thinking of heading to New Providence tomorrow, Chub on Sunday and take the last weather window for quite a while on Monday crossing over and getting back into the states sometime Tuesday. We'll make a final decision when we get to Highborne today and hopefully have cell and internet service again were we can look at more weather models.
I take that back, as soon as I went up on deck weather turned for the worse and we were beating into 20-25 knots and 4'seas, not good. Instead of a 3 or 4 hour trip it'll be more like 6 or 7, not good! CP's forecast was for 12-14 knots, wind finder had 11 and seas 1.7 feet, oh well. Capt'n wants to bail out for Normans, but there's no protection from the N winds there.
Luckily, we didn't bail out as it settled a bit and we got to Highborne around 2:30 pm and got a nice anchor spot close to the marina entrance protected from the wind. Since we were at high revs beating into it we decided to dump the jerry jugs into the port tank and refill them at the marina. Nice ride in, got the jugs filled and some stuff at the not so cheap store then had a very wet ride back to the boat (at least I did standing in front of the Capt'n!). With the two diesel jugs the dinghy again would not plane. So we are pretty much topped off with everything and ready to head back to the states.
Saturday, March 23rd I was up trying to listen to CP as he doesn't broadcast on Sunday and trying to find out about the crossing for Monday. Capt'n was ancy to leave so I got my little SSB out and listened that way with headphones, ever so aggravating the Capt'n since I wasn't paying much attention to the boat and getting the sails up. The only thing I heard worthwhile was someone ask about going from the Berries to Fort Worth Sunday or Monday and he warned them they need to go Sunday and be in port by Monday night. The front will roll off the Florida coast Monday night and bring N winds along with it. Well other weather models I'm looking at just say light winds Tuesday and nothing high until Tuesday night and I'm thinking we'll be okay since in addition we are heading much further south the Lake Worth. However, needless to say, we've got caught out before not listening so that was bugging me about being into port by Monday night. We got caught out on our second night coming back from Mexico with 20 knot winds opposing the gulf stream (forecast was 5-10) and it was not pretty with the bow crashing down into huge waves, of course during the night, always has to be when the bad stuff hits. Anyway, we were doing a good speed heading from Highborne to Nassau and I did the calculations and if we kept up over 6 knots we could make it to Chub Cay by sunset and head back to Florida Sunday and get in Monday instead of leaving Monday and getting in Tuesday. That would also give us a calm anchorage at Channel 5 in the Florida Keys, hoping we make it there again and a short hop to Marathon the next day. So we pushed on and luckily everything worked for us, once in the tongue of the ocean, from Nassau to Chub the wind and waves picked up and we were doing over 7 knots for most of the time. Got tucked in between Bird Cay and Chub and anchored around 6:30 with almost an hour to spare, phew! Oh, I was also really happy not to have to go into West Bay, not only can we never get the anchor to bite on the 1st try, but it would be wind against current leaving, not good and we'd have to use the southern exit adding on a few more miles. Not to mention West Bay, New Providence is ALWAYS rolly in high winds and very uncomfortable. Our anchor spot in Bird was nice and protected and no surge.
So now it is Sunday and we are on the Banks with 20-30 knot winds forecast from the E. Good sail to start, but winds have let up a bit and with them behind us we now have rolly seas and are motor sailing. Either way it always seems to be a motor sail, Monday was much lighter winds, but the seas would be less. Hoping the seas aren't too bad in the Gulf Stream, but probably will be at least 6. Still hoping we did the right thing leaving Sunday, CP had also said that front would bring gale force winds out of the N, something I definitely don't want to see in the Gulf Stream if the front accelerates and moves quicker than expected. Sad to leave the Bahamas, but it'll be nice to be back in the states. Hopefully! We can get a mooring in Marathon and just chill for a bit before heading to Key West to have the boat hauled for bottom paint.