Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Still in Marathon, Hopefully Not For Long (aka Dirty Jobs)

Once again its time to catch up. Yes, we are still in Marathon enjoying our time here but we did get delayed by a "Dirty Job". This is one for the T.V. show and one most cruisers hope to not have to address. We woke up one morning to find the pump out fitting on the rear holding tank leaking into the bilge. Our son Evan summed this situation up in one word...NASTY. Without going into stinky detail, lets just say it took several days but its now fixed with a shiny new pump out fitting and some other convenient tank modifications. It's just another speed bump in the cruising lifestyle. They say the definition of cruising is "fixing your boat in exotic locations". This continues to hold true.

In between addressing the dirty job, we have had a chance to enjoy this interesting location called Boot Key. There are about 200 moorings here and when we got here it was almost full.



There always seems to be some interesting things going on everywhere we go. The first weekend there was the annual Marathon Seafood Festival which was really many vendor booths selling their various wares, a large stage with musical entertainment all day long, and a big tent with several types of mostly fried seafood to munch on. I have to admit my clam boat was tasty.

A short dinghy ride up Sister Creek you get to the ocean side and there is a very nice beach to walk on and swim. We pulled our dinghy up on the shore and went beach combing.










Exploring around in the dinghy we stumbled upon a Manatee hanging around in a marina.




And of course we did find a favorite outdoor restaurant called Burdines that had a wonderful view out the main Boot Key channel.




Next on the agenda was another event we were lucky to be here for, the Boca Chica Key Air Show at the Navy Air Base featuring the Blue Angels. Its very easy to get around this part of the keys. There is a bus that runs throughout the lower keys all day that costs only $2 each way. It takes you all the way down to Key West.

The air show was amazing. There were many different kinds of stunt pilots doing individual shows, there were stunt teams, wing walkers, and of course the Blue Angels. We spent the day there watching non stop shows.

Have you ever seen a helicopter do a flip? The pilot of this specially designed Red Bull helicopter is the only pilot licensed to perform these stunts.




The Blue Angels were very impressive. Everything they did from the ground crew to the announcer was total precision. The way they held their spacing in all the manuvers has to be seen to be appreciated.


Here are a couple videos to give you a taste.








It has been a fun time here but we are itching to move on. As luck will have it once again we just missed our weather window and the north wind cold fronts are howling the winds the wrong way so we will probably be here through the weekend. These cold fronts surprise us with the cold temperatures they bring. Last night I was telling Gayleen that I was getting too cold. She looked up and said "look at you...you are dressed like you are in Florida. Put some warm clothes on!"

Once the cold fronts pass and we get a weather window to allow us to cross the Gulf Stream we are Bahamas bound!! The other exciting part of our trip to the Bahamas is that our oldest son Brandon and his girlfriend Salem will be meeting up with us in Bimini and cruising with us. We have quite a loop up through the Abacos Islands, then up the East Coat of the U.S. in the plans and can't wait to get under way.

Last night the other members of our crew logged a complaint that they don't get enough mentions in the blog so in closing here they are.

Taz


Turbo


Time to change the oil and provision for the next leg of our journey.



Sunday, March 10, 2013

U Turn - The Marathon to Marathon

Its been some time since I have had high speed internet to upload photos so there is lots to catch up on. Last we left off we had a wonderful evening at Pumpkin Key working our way south down the keys on the inside ICW channel. The next day was an enjoyable light wind day sailing our way down to the bottom of Barnes Sound and through Jewfish Creek to the top of Blackwater Sound. The plan was to motor south through the ICW the next day through the narrow channel getting us to a cut to the ocean called Channel Five. That was the plan...BUT..maybe we should have researched this a bit more on the internet. It turned out that the ICW has been shoaling in through the 20 miles we would have had to motor and folks were reporting 4 1/2 ft depths even at high tide in places. That was a bit too uncomfortable for our draft which is just under 5 ft. The hearty of the sailors just said to plow through the soft bottom and bump your way down, but we really didn't want the headaches and stress involved in that. In the best interest of our well being we pulled a U-Turn and headed back north to Miami / Biscayne Key to decide what the next plan should be.

We could either cross to the Bahamas given the proper weather window, or head down the keys on the outside through what is called the Hawk Channel. To make a long story short we waited for over a week for a weather window to do either option and the cold fronts continued to roll in from the North with very strong winds making both options undesirable. Time had been passing by quickly and we were anxious to get under way. With the next weather window to the Bahamas at least another week away we took advantage of a two day weather window that allowed us to make the 100 mile, two day trip down the outside to Boot Key / Marathon, Florida. We arrived on Friday and will stay for a week or so enjoying the community here and planning what our next destination will be. A picture says it best..here is where we have been the past two weeks.

 

Boot Key Harbor has a very active community of liveaboard cruisers. There are several marinas and a mooring field with more than 200 moorings. We are nestled among many other sailboats and trawlers. Some are here for months and some only a day or two. The folks are very nice and everyone here comes together as a community helping each other and meeting new friends. Each morning at 9 AM on the VHF radio channel 68 there is a community get together where new folks introduce themselves, departing vessels say good bye, there are announcements of activities such as a softball game today, for sale / swap announcements as well as requests for help on any issue. The radio get together ends with some trivia questions and the day begins.

The most significant accomplishment for us was the two day 100 mile sail down from Key Biscayne to Boot Key / Marathon. Gayleen is really learning quickly which make the sailing of Pearl much easier. We left Key Biscayne at 6:30 AM on Thursday in VERY strong winds. We decided to trust the weather resources that said the winds would moderate mid morning and get lighter all day. We motored about 5 miles to get into the open ocean where we were going to decide whether we would push on once we saw what it was like on the "outside". It really wasn't much better but we decided to go for it. That turned out to be the right decision and we had two great sailing days with full sail up getting us to Boot Key with a 10 hour overnight stop at the only viable anchorage, Rodriguez Key, which is about the half way point.

It turned out that the biggest challenge was avoiding the many many lobster pot buoys that we had to slalom through the entire second day.

OK..enough with all this typing. The feedback I get is always...more pictures. So..here goes... Our favorite times of the day are sunset and sunrise. We can never get enough of the show. Mother Nature is better than any TV program we remember watching.





One of our favorite secluded private anchorage just north of Jewfish Creek. The mosquitos were relentless at night but it was so nice we decided to enjoy it for a couple of days.


Another great sunset






We motored through the narrow Jewfish Creek channel back north to find that nice anchorage. As we were making our way through all of a sudden there was a roar of engines and jet engines and around the bend appeared many cigarette style racing boats. I first tried moving to the right to give them room to pass on one side but there were too many of them. I just half closed my eyes and stayed in the middle of the channel as at least 25 of these boats passed by on both sides of us. It was quite a show. For the next couple days we got to watch then launch full speed out of the channel north through the sound and back down. It was quite a show.





Miami skyline from our anchorage in the Marine Stadium anchorage.


This picture is for the benefit of our friends up north that think we are enjoying the hot weather in the Keys. We are really glad we brought some of our warmer clothing with us. It has been quite cold at night.






Stilt houses in the ocean just south of Miami. There are several of these and they are now a historical landmark. Evdiently they were built back in the prohibition days when the law said you could have legal gambling 1 mile or more from shore.


That's it for now... time to do some exploring around Marathon.

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