Monday, February 29, 2016

Our Longer Than Expected Visit to the Everglades!

So we continued to slowly head north with very annoying winds.  We anchored Friday 2/19 in Little Shark River but only saw dolphins and mosquitos galore!  We then moved on up into Russell Pass which is off the Gulf and is part of 10,000 Islands in Everglades National Park.  One island (or key as they are named) after another, each covered in dense mangrove trees and we assumed gators in the fresh water area and crocs in the salty water area.  But we saw neither, only lots of water birds.
This is what we saw as we entered Indian Pass to get up to an anchorage.
A typical scene as the white Pelicans gather to float.
Another dingy ride to find a beach to walk for exercise and exploration.  We encountered a group of college kids camping on this Key with kayaks.  We thought they were cool to take such a fun trip and they thought we were cool to be living on a boat.  When the mosquitos swarmed at sunset, I decided we were the lucky ones and then when it poured rain in the morning I knew we were!
Another glorious sunset, one of many for the 6 nights we ended up staying on anchor tucked between mangrove keys that blocked the 20 knot winds we were avoiding.  We were a 20 min dinghy ride to access Everglades City which had tacky but passable waterfront restaurants, a tiny grocery store used to augment our lower supply of food and plenty of streets to walk for our daily exercise.  Plus we could access Verizon service when we went ashore so could let people know where we had landed.
This is the Rod and Gun Club, an old established camp and restaurant that is famous for its use by Presidents and other important  men of history as a getaway to hunt and fish.
We had an endless supply of small beaches to explore and find unique shells to add to our growing collection.
Al is furling our looper burgee to keep it quiet in the strong wind!  His balance is quite good these days so climbing on the bow pulpit is an easy task for my ol' Captain.

 One more beautiful sunset to end this saga of anchoring in the Everglades.  Now on to civilization and Marco Island to restock our larder, catch up on laundry and maybe even find another beach!

I'm Gonna Blame it on the Wind!!

Yes, I am very delayed in writing a post but my excuse is that I didn't have many pictures or stories to tell about Marathon so put off blogging and then we headed North and very abruptly lost all service and got waylayed in the Everglades due to windy conditions on the Gulf!  So here is the Keys update. We did go to Key West by bus and had good food for breakfast and lunch but didn't really see any crazy stuff. To me, Key West is just a bunch of tacky shops and restaurants and lots of people.  Our highlight was watching a very large cruise ship release lines and take off from port.  Their stuff is much bigger than our boat stuff!! Sadly, we watched a family of 5 run for the pier as their ship sailed away.  Wonder what happens in that situation?  Those ships don't wait for late comers.
 We went to the southern most point in the USA but there was a long line to get next to this marker so I took a picture of people taking pictures and that will have to do!
Al was on good behavior so I opted not to leave him at this Husband Day Care Center.
Marathon Key was a very crowded place for boaters as seen at this mooring anchorage packed with hundreds of boats.  We used the dingy to poke around this harbor on the only calm day that week. Mostly what we did in Maraton was enjoy the company of looper friends and do fun chores like grocery shopping via bicycle and always more laundry. On the morning of our last day (2/18) we had a diver clean the boat bottom and check for barnacles and the good news was it looked good but the bad news was that the diver found this piece of crab pot rope wrapped around one prop. Luckily it did no damage and taught us to be even more cautious when passing those nasty crab pots!  
This is the potentially damaging bit of rope that could have stopped one of our engines!  So on we went that Thursday heading north to check out beaches and Everglades while picking our way carefully between hundreds of crab pot buoys. 
A beautiful night on anchor off of Cape Sable, 30 miles north of the keys.  We had plenty of wind and chop but enjoyed the solitude.

We took Victory Lap through the choppy water to Cape Sable beach to get our exercise and check out the shells that were abundant on this empty beach.
Not a bad place for a nice walk as Victory Lap waits paitiently for us. 
The tiny speck is the mother ship rolling around in the wind and waves.  Now on to the Everglades!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Loopers Gathering in Marathon

This is a wonderful picture of the sunset that I somehow missed when we anchored between Key Largo and Rodriquez Key taken by Rob on Sanrobber with InSpeyered silhouetted in the background 
We had a slow start to our day on Thursday staying put because a fuel leak was found on Sandrobber so Al and I thought it would be a fun idea to put Victory Lap in the water and zip on over to Key Largo for a walk. We were not thinking clearly because the wind had picked up and the water was very choppy so being in a small boat was not our smartest move!  We made it into the bouncy boat and had a rough ride, stopping at Sandrobber to check in with them.  Magically they had made a successful patch job and were ready to get going and here we were in the dingy in water we should not have been in.  We quickly headed back to the big boat and it took 8 tries for me to get off the dingy and onto InSpeyered 2, nearly falling in several times.  But we moved past that and took off around noon for our Marathon destination.

Sandrobber is heading out next to us, the water is rolling and choppy but onward we go!
Even though the water is wavy, the wind is again at our backs so the ride for 5 hours of cruising is smooth and we are now in sight of 7 mile bridge which we cross under to access our destination.

Our late departure lead to a late arrival but the sunset was well worth leaving my navigation duty to take some pictures.
This is our approach to Faro Blanco Marina as we aim for that little light house. 
We were met by our old travel buddies on California Lady who took this picture.  After getting tied  to the dock by the great staff of this Marina, we were treated to a wonderful dinner to reunite our 3 boats again.  We plan to stay here for a week to do some sight seeing and to visit with all sorts of  looper friends who also are resting in the Keys. So far we have enjoyed daily walks on that 7 mile bridge we crossed under a few days ago and have done a thorough cleaning of all the iguana poop and pee!!  Now for a few more days of R&R!

Views from our flybridge today.  Lots of wind and water chop but it is warm and sunny and beautiful here and tomorrow we go to Key West to see crazy stuff!  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Yeah, We Are in the Keys

Weather luck was with us today!!  We got a very early start (for us) and we were free from the New River wall by 7:15.  This timing had to do with the river current and the tide coming in.  Tides are now a factor that we have to consider when planning our anchorages and the timing of arrivals and departures.
We had light wind from the north so we opted to go through this inlet straight out into the Atlantic for the first time on our adventure.  We had calm seas for the first 2 hours with the wind at our backs gently pushing us along. Then the wind and waves picked up for about an hour sending me to sit in the doorway on the Starboard (right) side so I could sit low, close to the water and keep my sights on the land.  Wish I had my phone or IPad with me because I saw dolphins along our side and flying fish hopping across the water.  But my stomach said no to getting up and climbing up to the bridge to get them!

When the chop calmed down, I ventured back up and managed to take this picture of Miami from the Atlantic.  Not a pretty sight!  
And this shot of the Port of Miami inlet where all the cruise ships and freighters enter the harbor.
Once we passed Miami the Atlantic became as flat as a lake and the rest of our 78 mile trip today was smooth sailing (except for the occasional gigantic wake from a speeding megayacht!!).
So here we sit looking out at the flat Atlantic Ocean barely discerning where the sky stops and the water starts in complete quiet and calm. We are anchored behind a small key next to Key Largo.
And this is taken from  the other side of our boat looking at Key Largo and our traveling buddies on Sandrobber. Beautiful evening but dissapointing sunset so no picture!  The end to a surprising day allowing us to travel way past our planned anchorage since the sea was so calm.  People ask what we do all the time and I would guess we spent 6 hours each studying charts and anchorage information to plan out this part of our trip and then lo and behold, we ended up in a spot we only picked after lunch today!  And the added plus is that I used some of the boring but calm time today when we only had ocean and trees on keys, to see to prepare some things for dinner so that makes for a relaxing night! Only 47 miles to get to our destination in Marathon Key to visit with lots of looper friends!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Iguanas and Megayachts!

A week ago we were on our merry way down the ICW heading to the Keys and we made it as far as Fort Lauderdale.  Then we took a day off to regroup and the wind blew in and stopped us cold.  So we are sitting along the wall of the New River close to fancy shops and restaurants and surrounded by megayachts and much to my chagrin, iguanas!!
 As we cruised toward West Palm the houses and boats just got bigger.  Nice little neighborhood dock
 We anchored in Lake Worth and took the tender over to Peanut Island to take our walk.
This is the anchorage with lots of boats.  If you look closely you can see InSpeyered nestled amongst them all, settled in for a calm night in water with very strong current.
On Wednesday the traffic was heavy and at times crazy while cruising from West Palm to Fort Lauderdale.  We crossed under 20 bridges that day and all but 6 of them had to open for us to make it under as we are about 21' tall.  That means a lot of waiting time and most of them open on a schedule so as not to interrupt auto traffic so if you miss the schedule it can be an even longer wait.   Learned a tough lesson on the second to last bridge because it didn't open when scheduled because no other boat had called and asked for an opening.  So one minute past the scheduled time, I hailed the bridge and he made us wait 30 mins until the next scheduled opening!  What a meanie!!
So here we sit on the New River with a very nice River walk next to us busy with strolling tourists.

And this is our view of yacht after yacht going down the river likely to be part of the upcoming Miami boat show.  The River is narrow and the boats just seem to get bigger so they need tow boats to push them around all the curves.  It is great fun to watch them go by!  We are well entertained! 
So Saturday we took a long dingy ride up and down the river and made it to the beach for a great walk and lunch.  Sandy and Rob from Sandrobber continue to travel with us.  On the way back this was about the largest yacht we passed so had to take a photo.
Then this little fella sitting on our grill was waiting for our return that afternoon. 
And then his buddies also made their presence known!
 This one I spotted way up in the tree hanging over our bimini looking like he would leap onto our decks at any minute!
This one chose to sun bathe next to our dock lines.  They seem to be quite used to people around so are unfazed as we get on/off the boat.  And when up in the tree, they think nothing of pooping and peeing on our decks!!  Yuck, but it is all part of the adventure!  The plan is to head out tomorrow morning to run toward the Keys, may the winds be calm!!

Monday, February 1, 2016

On The Road Again!

Al and I hum the tune to the song "On The Road Again" as we begin our adventure once more.  After a month at home and 2 weeks on the boat at Stuart Yacht Boat Yard waiting to have the upgrades finished on InSpeyered 2, we finally took off yesterday for a whopping 20 mile cruise to our first Atlantic anchorage!
Leaving Stuart Yacht which is on a canal off the St. Lucie River.

This canal is lined with lovely homes with even lovelier boats for each home!

Sunday boat traffic on the St. Lucie River near the intersection of the Inlet out to the Atlantic and the the Intercoastal Water Way.  We took a right turn into the ICW opting not to get into the Atlantic yet.
Finding an anchorage was tricky with so much boat traffic but we lucked out and found deep enough water to anchor in this lovely Peck Lake along the ICW.
 This morning we took our walk along Hobe Sound National Wildlife Sanctuary beach with no people in sight except for our good friends Sandy and Rob who we are again traveling with.  Sandrobber needed some repair work so they joined us at Stuart Yacht and after all repairs and other work was complete, we took off together to head to the Keys.

Today we leave this great beach to make our way along the ICW to Lake Worth, West Palm Inlet.