Well, we celebrated Abigail’s 4th birthday on the boat. She woke up to a boat full of balloons and presents. Later we baked a chocolate cake together. We decorated it with Barbie. Her friend, Abigail, from another boat, came to play for a while. I think the day was a lot of fun. The cake was a success and I was well nervous about baking in the teeny tiny gas fire oven.
I also had a birthday and turned 30! Yikes! I really just feel 18 with 12 years of experience.
We are still held up in Key West with cold front after cold front coming through. There are worse places to be held up, eh? Looks like we may travel up the Keys a bit to make the whole trip to the Bahamas a little shorter. The plan is to go to Marathon Key and anchor one night. Then maybe one more overnight at Alligator Reef and then the hop over the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. Though, we may skip Alligator. We are planning to clear in customs at Nassau Harbor and then on to the Exumas’ for some swimming, snorkeling, exploring and fun.
We have really gotten to know Key West and our way around. We have met some great people here. It is not as weird as our first impression of it was. We are glad of this and now will move on with some good memories of the place. We have also been able to get some last minute item necessities for the boat without the cost of extra shipping to the Bahamas. We got another anchor and a permanent light for the dingy (we always forget a flashlight for night drives back to the boat). We have stocked up on more milk and spent more time looking over the charts with those folks from `round here with local knowledge (always helpful).
Still, it is time to move on and see new places. Until next time….
February 18th, 2005 by Catherine
We left Key West Wednesday morning 9am. We motored out of the channel and then headed east to Marathon. Winds were on our bow so we motored along enjoying the view of Key West lighthouse and the mangroves of the next islands. Occasionally we could site Hwy 1. It was pleasant. Seas were gentle. Around noon we were getting ready to hoist some sail as the winds were becoming variable and set to become more southerly. We waited and waited but no change in the wind direction. So, we patiently motored along accepting this is sometimes the way it goes. Our channel was 1 mile wide so the whole tacking thing really couldn’t happen, reefs to starboard and land to port. Nevermind, we were due to be in by sunset. I guess it was somewhere between 2-4pm that there was a bump. I hollered up from the galley where I was dutifully making lunch, “What was that!?” Justin replied “No idea”. We had been actively watching for crab pots – they are everywhere and the last thing we wanted was to wrap our propeller up on one of those. The motor ceased to move us. Not good. We threw the anchor out – we were only in 20 ft of water. Jus thought about diving in to check things out but first looked in the engine room. It seems our flexible coupling (a very important thing) was completely sheared. We were immobile. Fortunately we are members of Sea Tow. Captain John arrived within the hour. We then had to make some decisions. Back to Key West or onto Marathon. We were south of Ramrod Key about ˝ way between. Obviously we chose Marathon but then where to go in Marathon? – To the anchorage where Jus will have to dive in and possibly fix a propeller. Also, this flexible coupling we needed to order quickly since it has to come from Holland. Or we could go to the marina. We opted for the marina in Marathon but they had no slips available. Anchoring seemed dangerous – if the northerlies come in blowing at their usual 20 knots + we may drag anchor and we have no power! Haulout was our only option. We arrived in Marathon Key about 7.30pm. The channel and Marathon Marina and Boatyard is extremely shallow for our draft – we couldn’t even get through it in low tide. Our tow boat meandered us into the marina between boats very skillfully. Everyone in the marina was on their boat ready to fend off the big steel boat coming their way. Good thing. We were just about to the travel lift, where there were about 5-7 men waiting to assist us when our tower, Captain John, goes to the left of the channel which apparently is a little more shallow because we got stuck in the mud pretty hard! Now, our neighbors are 3 foot away to starboard and 10 ft away on our portside. The boatyard guys told us high tide would be in 3 hours and to wait it out. About 1.5 hrs later, someone realized we were headed to low tide – not high tide and we needed to get off this bank soon before we listed over into our neighbors, Terry and his wife on s/v Attitude. (Yea, by this point we had been chatting with folks and people were taking pictures of the circus show! We were even asked if we had any boat cards so they could record this in their log books! - Boat cards are business cards that all boaters seem to have with their email info and cell phones etc. No, sorry we don’t have any. We may get some made though because we sure have met a lot of people on this trip so far that we would like to keep in touch with.)– Anyway, back to the story Cap’n John pulls us off stern first and meanders us back through the marina. The 5-7 boat guys have now jumped aboard to assist in fending off other boats. Thank goodness. Going backwards was a lot more tricky – especially around the bend in the marina. They brought us into a slip that is right back at the beginning of the marina. Apparently it is home to a 78ft schooner who is south for the wrecker race now. To make a long story even longer, we got in safely and tied up around 10.30pm – met our neighbors here who happen to have connections with Vitas, our flexible coupling maker, and we will have the part Monday. Jus dove into the 65 degree water (brrrr) and discovered our prop is bent so we will have to get a diver to go down and “unbend” it! Just another day boating!
We have been surprised with the friendliness that abounds in Marathon. 2 people have offered to loan us their cars (I’m not kidding). One lady has offered to show me and the kids to the park. They boatyard guys are always pleasant and one (I wish I knew his name) showed me and Abigail the manatee that is in the marina, a 300lb sea cow that he coerces with fresh water. She came within 3 ft of us! So cool. Our neighbor, Ed, has the Vitas connection and was eager to phone her to see if she could help. We are so blessed. We are staying here until the repairs are completed. Bummer! We have cable tv, internet, nice folks around, manatees, mangroves to explore in the dingy. We may even make a trip to Miami in the car to go to the annual boat show on Saturday. Our friends from Endless Summer in Key West may meet us there. Life is grand. We can’t complain!
Saturday, February 25th, 2005 - Marathon, Fl
Our propeller went to the shop for repairs and "Bear", the diver, put it back on yesterday. The flexible coupling we needed came in Tuesday but the bolts we needed only came in yesterday. We should be underway in a 1-2 wks. There is also a cold front pushing through now so we will wait that out. Bliss to be in a marina during those north winds. We have our new anchors! We picked them up in our "car" - the dingy. Picture, 2 adults, 2 kids, 2 enormous anchors, diaper bag & fishing nets in a 10 ft dingy. Quite funny. Amazing we stayed afloat.
The kids are great! Yesterday we had a bit of cutting and pasting preschool stuff on the boat. Later on, Abigail decided to further her cutting skills and moved onto haircutting -not hers, but Aaron's. No harm done but we were not all too happy. She on the other hand was quite proud of herself.
Today we got a cab and went to Wendy's! The kids haven't had a happy meal in a while so it was a treat. We also went to a children's museum and had a great time. We were surprised to learn, after the fact, that the nature trail we took behind the museum boasts alligators and snakes on the path. Thankfully the only things we met were mosquitoes and lizards. Apparently there is a 5ft iguana there too and we were told "not to be alarmed" if we saw it - YEA RIGHT! We did not see it, thank goodness. There were sharks, turtles and loads of things for the kids to see and do. It was all hands on.
The next stop was Publix for some groceries. We are going to a "Full Moon" Dinner at the marina - I know the full moon was a couple of days ago but Saturday was more convenient. We all have to bring a dish and the marina supplies hotdogs and hamburgers. Sounds like fun.
As I type this, the kids are below watching a gnome cartoon in Spanish! It is local television. Maybe they will learn enough to converse with children in Guatemala when we go there.