Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mostly Marathon

After five glorious weeks on the dock in Key West, Passage finally set sail for Marathon on Friday, March 8th.  The forecast was for north winds about 10; so once we reached the Hawk Channel, we prepared to raise the main sail.  At that exact moment the wind built and shifted to the northeast.  No sailing for us!  We motored into a building chop, spraying the boat with a liberal coating of salt. We reached Marathon at three in the afternoon and elected to take a dock at the City Marina during our one night wait for a mooring ball. Saturday morning we washed the decks, and early in the afternoon we took a salt free Passage to mooring ball P 3.  That evening we enjoyed our first sunset in the mooring field.

On Monday evening we took a five dollar cab ride to Sunset Grill to listen to, you guessed it, Brian Roberts. We shared the evening with Jim and Bonnie Cleary off SV Dana and their friends Ed and Pamela, who sail a large catamaran.  Brian was very good, and the spring break crowd made the evening more fun.

Another highlight of our time in Marathon was a late lunch at Castaways with Dave and Nancy off a 56 foot power vessel named Stayin Alive.  They were docked behind us in Key West, and we dingied over to Castaways to enjoy more fresh seafood.

Dave and Nancy are a lot of fun, and Katie was pretty entertaining too.

Another highlight was going to Key Colony to hear John Bartus at Sparky's Landing.  We rode in a cab with Jim and Bonnie, and enjoyed another fine meal and excellent music.  Jim liked John Bartus so much he purchased two CDs.

John has a distinctive voice, and sings many original compositions.  A good time was had by all.

On St. Patrick's Day we once again went to Sunset Grill to enjoy Brian Roberts one last time.

Brian was decorated for the holiday by some visiting spring breakers.  We were joined by a solo sailor from the harbor named John, who jumped up to dance with Brian as he strolled around the pool while playing his twelve string guitar.  We bid farewell for the season to Brian, and he gave us both big hugs.

Life in Marathon was not all one big party.  We depend on our dingy and outboard to get ashore, and our outboard was anything but dependable.  After a week of struggling with constant carburetor adjustments, our less than trusty Mercury 2 stroke decided not to run at all.  With only three days left until we left Marathon and would have no further need of the outboard this winter, we decided to head to the dock.  We got the last open space, so we did not have to depend on the dingy to get us to shore. We were immediately greeted by a long time fixture in Marathon, Captain Jack, who was docked right in front of us.

Captain Jack may be getting up there, but he still knows how to sweet talk the ladies.

Wednesday, March 19th, was the last day of winter and our last day in Marathon.  After prepping the boat for our voyage north to Ft. Myers, we met Tammy and Jerel from SV Osprey and Bob and Uta from SV Imagine 43 and headed across US 1 to Keys Fisheries.  We enjoyed happy hour and then ate a meal of fresh fish which was excellent.

We met Tammy and Jerel here in Boot Key Harbor seven years ago, and consider them close cruising friends.  We have so much fun with this upbeat couple.

Canadians Bob and Uta are buddy boat cruising with Tammy and Jerel, and we met them a few weeks ago in Key West.  They are also fun to be around.

Tomorrow, March 20th, is the first day of spring.  We will depart early for the first leg of our sail up the west coast of Florida.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Last Days in Key West

On February 25th Kim flew out of Key West at 12:22, and Gary Horvath landed at 5:00 and joined us for a few days.  Of course, the next day, after lunch at Sloppy Joe's,  we took Passage out for a long sail on the Hawk Channel.

The sailing was excellent, and on the way back in we spotted SV Sampatecho, our long time Canadian friends Bradd and Maeve Wilson from Port Colborne.  We talked on the radio and agreed to meet  later.
That evening we all went to Mallory Square to enjoy the street performers and another sunset.

 The five of us then walked to Finnegan's Wake, where we enjoyed very good Irish food.

During the rest of Gary's visit, the weather was not conducive to sailing, so we played the tourist, spending time on Duval street, shopping for souvenirs, and bar hopping.  At some point, we did enjoy another sunset from the deck atop the Galleon Resort.

All too soon Gary's visit ended, and we found ourselves waiting for a taxi at the Galleon.

Soon he was on the plane, and a week of enjoyable visits with Kim and Gary was over.

With the conclusion of our month in Key West, we elected to stay another week.  We explored the Truman Annex, which was a long time U.S. naval base.

Since the navy left in 1974, the annex has become an exclusive residential area.  In the midst of the lovely housing sits the Truman White House.

President Truman spent a total of 175 days working at the Truman White House while he was President of the United States.  The house is furnished in the original decor of the late 40's and early 50's.  Photos are not permitted inside since it is still considered an official presidential residence.  Tourists are not allowed to sit on the original furnishings, which Sue says look much like the furniture in her parents home.  The tour was excellent and educational, and we would recommend this to anyone visiting Key West.

After strolling through the Truman Annex and admiring the lovely homes and landscaping, we made a brief stop at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center.

The center has many interactive dioramas which illustrate ways in which the land and reefs contribute to nature's life cycle, as well as the threats of pollution and climate change.

We enjoyed socializing with cruising friends old and new during our time in Key West.  We met a wonderful couple on a Gemini Catamaran called Dawn Patrol.

Pictured here are Susannah and Paul, with their son Townes and furry companion Shadow. Paul and Susannah run Kill Devil Coffee Company on Roanoke Island.  In the category of  "its a small world", Paul ran the Ski Haus in Cleveland Heights back in the late seventies.  He sold Sue cross country skis, and they have several friends in common.

Tammy and Jerel Roe of SV Osprey anchored in the harbor, and we have enjoyed getting together with them several times.

 We have known them since meeting in Marathon 5 or 6 years ago, and we always have a great time together.  We hopped on a bus and went to a local park to hear Howard Livingston and the Marker 24 band.  What a great concert, made better because Tammy and Jerel are also big fans of the band.

Sue and I lunched at Sloppy Joe's both Tuesday and Wednesday this week, joined Wednesday by the crew of SV Osprey.  The food was good, but of course we were there to listen to Brian Roberts, who always puts on a great show.  Brian and Sue, naturally, are good friends.

So our time in Key West is about up, maybe.  We just learned from a mechanic that the problems with our dingy outboard motor are bigger than anticipated.  Hopefully, he will be able to finish it tomorrow.  If not, it looks like our time in Key West will be extended.  Talk about bad luck!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Over the Reef

After attending an art show on the street near the Truman annex, we cast off for a day on the sparkling waters of the Keys.  At first the wind was so light that the current actually took us backwards!  However, it filled in nicely; and we enjoyed a wonderful sail towards the reef and the open Atlantic Ocean.  Kim really seemed to be enjoying the almost perfect weather.

While crossing over the reef, the water was an incredible bright blue.

Patches of coral appeared as darker areas in the bright blue water.

One could tell immediately when we crossed over the reef into deep water because of the dramatic change in color to a gorgeous deep indigo blue.

With 8 knot breezes and gentle seas, we were able to enjoy sailing and observing the ocean from all points of the boat.

It was a great day to discuss whatever came to mind while enjoying the sound of the water on the hulls.

Our sail was enhanced by the sighting of several dolphins.  Kim was especially excited when she spotted a sea turtle with a shell at least 3 feet long.  Unfortunately, it dove before we could get a photograph.  After five hours on the water, the conclusion of our sail was made more exciting when a cruise ship turned turned around right in front of us as we entered the harbor.

While she was here, Kim met with a high school friend, Sara Signore Hallett, and her husband Joe, who live right here in Key West.  They enjoyed lunch together and caught up after not seeing each other since graduation.

Naturally, we visited Mallory Square and enjoyed the antics of the Cat Man.

Of course, no trip to Key West would be complete without seeing Brian Roberts entertain

After performing for 90 minutes at the Pier House beach bar, Brian sat down and ate lunch with us.  He is a truly down to earth person and a great guy.  Kim seemed to enjoy his music.

We capped off the day with some shopping , and Kim even enjoyed a swim at the Galleon Resort Pool. Tonight we will once again go to the roof to enjoy another Key West sunset.

Kim Wings in to Key West

Just after five p.m. I stood on the deck and watched my daughter Kim's plane fly in to Key West.

At the same time, she was taking my picture here in Key West Bight.

Her first night here we enjoyed a fine meal at Conch Republic Seafood Restaurant.

We also strolled around town, enjoying the very active night life at places like Sloppy Joe's.

We have enjoyed sunsets, like this one from the roof top deck of the Galleon Resort and Marina.

We had an especially good time at the Hemingway Home.  To get there, we had to pass this fabulous Banyan tree which spread over two lots on Whitehead Street.

We also passed the beginning or end of US Route One, depending on one's perspective.

After a long walk, we finally arrived at the former home of Ernest Hemingway.

We took a guided tour of the home, which we found to be both informative and entertaining.  The house is pretty much as it was back when the famous author lived and worked in Key West.

This is the room where Ernest Hemingway wrote nearly three quarters of his work.

Apparently, a typical day was write all morning, fish all afternoon, and drink at Sloppy Joe's all evening.  According to Joe, the Key West light house, located close to his home, guided Ernest home from his bar.

There are 45 cats at the home, all descendants of the 6 toed cats that Ernest kept for good luck, just like the one enjoying a literary life in the bookstore.

Just after we finished the tour, we met cruising friends Jim and Bonnie from SV Dana.  We had met them in Chesapeake City, and then enjoyed their company again in Annapolis, Manteo and Oriental.  After introducing them to Kim, we spent a little time catching up at a local watering hole.

Hopefully, we will be able to spend more time visiting when we reach Marathon.

Stay tuned, the further adventure's of Kim's visit to Key West will follow.