Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sailing South

After two months in Ft. Myers, Passage finally departed for the Florida Keys on Saturday, January 25th.  This was the first decent weather window in January.  Casting off at 7:30, we motored down the Caloosahatchee River, soon leaving the condos next to the marina far behind.

Two hours later we crossed under our third high bridge, the Sanibel Causeway, and past the light at the southern tip of Sanibel Island.

As we passed Ft. Myers beach, we realized that the predicted sailing winds were not going to materialize.  We motored past the hotels and bridge, and a fleet of racing sailboats waiting in vain for the wind.

It never did, so we motored all the way to Gordon Pass at Naples.  We saw the usual luxury homes on the waterfront.

Once we turned south on the ICW, we saw some homes which were much more modest.

After seven and a half hours of motoring, we arrived at Rookery Channel, one of our favorite anchorages.  Surrounded by mangroves, we were well protected from the wind, with excellent holding in clean gray sand.

On Sunday we stayed put because of all the local weekend warriors and their many boat wakes.  First we experienced a very nice sunrise.

Then we dingied over to Keewaydin Island and walked the beach in search of shells.  In an hour we collected a large jar of very nice specimens.

On Monday the 27th we  weighed anchor by 7:30 at very low tide and motored south on the shallow ICW.   We travelled through Marco Island and Goodland, reentering the Gulf of Mexico at Coon Key.  Realizing that adverse currents all morning made arrival at the Shark River undesirable,  we motored on mirror flat seas down to Indian Key, then up the channel to our anchorage at Russell Pass, near Everglades City.  We shared our anchorage with a large motor yacht, and a solitary dolphin which spent a long time behind our boat "communicating" to us with clicks and whistles.

The morning of Tuesday, January 29th , we awoke to an incredibly dense fog.  We were unable to raise anchor until 9:45 a.m.  Once again, there was no wind, so we motored the 44 nautical miles to the Little Shark River in Everglades National Park.  This is real wilderness, with no cell phone signal.  The lack of wind meant swarms of nasty no-seeums.  We stayed in the boat most of the time during our two days here.  Our second day on the Little Shark was because the weather radio predicted rain, thunderstorms and strong winds.  Of course none of that occurred. 

Thursday, January 30th brought clouds and occasional rain, which we motored through on our way to Marathon in the keys.  Most of the 45 nautical miles we hand steered the boat because of the numerous crab trap floats.  We arrived in Marathon at 2:00, fueled up and headed for the anchorage.  With a waiting list for mooring balls and no luck finding a dock, we picked a spot in the crowded anchorage and dropped the hook.  After apparently setting, we dragged when we tested it.  Moving to a second spot, we set the hook, but did not back down on it very hard.  The captain was very concerned because of the prediction for thunderstorms with gusty winds.  Then Sombrero Resort and Marina called back and offered us a dock.  The captain accepted, and Sue hauled up the anchor for the third time that day.  It might have been me, but I felt a lack of enthusiasm in her effort.  Dinner and drinks out at Dockside that night made everything good.  The new dockside served excellent food.  The howling wind that night didn't concern us much at the dock.

After a second day in Marathon, we departed Boot Key Harbor at 7:30 a. m.  We motor sailed  45 nautical miles downwind to Key West.  On the trip we dodged incredibly numerous crab floats for the first 20 miles.  It is hard to believe there is a crab left in the ocean.

We also tried to avoid the numerous patches of floating sea grass that tended to wrap around our drive leg and slow the boat down.

Any time we passed a bridge between islands, like the one at Bahia Honda Key, the grass patches were a major problem.

As we approached Key West, we could see the cruise ships towering over the island.

Of course, we also saw the light house.

After motoring against a 2.5 knot current past the cruise ships and Mallory Square, we arrived at the Galleon Resort at Key West Bight.

We backed into our dock at the only marina in Key West with floating docks.

We will be here for a month enjoying the resort and the city.  We celebrated our arrival with a beer at one of the two tiki bars.

After dinner on board, we walked down to Duval street to see how folks party here on a Saturday night.  Wow, that was educational.  Check back once in a while for updates on life in Key West.

1 comment:

  1. I'm jealous you guys! Found your slip on Google Map! - Larry & Jane