Friday, April 20, 2012

Marathon to Key West

I couldn't wait to get back, to resume our trip, but somehow I knew this trip would be different.  On this trip we would push to make it all the way home, back to Gulf Shores.  On this trip we would spend 21 days on the boat and make one of our longest crossings.
 If you were proned to be a worrier, (that's not me, but I have Susie) we were in a target rich environment for that. Most of the things, though, were out of our control (like sea state and weather) and for the others we hoped our experience and planning would get us through.
Art Deco in Miami
_/)   ~~~~ _/)

Quinn, Helen, Susie and I had rented a car and decided to just make a mini-vacation of driving down to Marathon where we had left the boat a month before. We tried for three days to get a good airfare and ended up ditching that idea. We could have driven in the time we spent on-line with airlines and Expedia. It would take us two days to drive if we planned an overnight rest stop, so around dusk on the evening of March 28, 2012 we stopped at the Ocala Holiday Inn. By noon the next day we were in South Beach and took the time to tour the area.
The old becomes new again
South Beach Speed or Age Limit?

My summary of South Beach is "Old Buildings and Young People". The Art Deco style buildings were everywhere, and most of them were in tip top shape, painted in playful colors and adorned with the art of the times. So were the people. I noticed that the speed limit and the age limit were about the same. I promise, I didn't see anyone, ANYONE, over 30.

South Beach business attire

Our first stop in the

Susie at Snappers in Key Largo
Lazy Days waterfront restraurant in Marathon
3/22/2012 O.K., so we are moving on.  We arrive in the Keys late in the afternoon, and after dinner at Snappers in Key Largo, we arrived in Marathon about 7:00 p.m.  We found the boat in ship-shape and spent three days provisioning and doing boat-project work to ready us for the trip.  Our work list included these things:
1. install pad-eye on mast
2. install spinnaker pole holder
3. clean and wash boat in and out
4. work on holding tank problem
5. change both fuel filters & purge lines
6. get groceries and supplies
7. clean bottom and prop
8. install L.E.D. navigation lights
When we turned in the rental car, symbolically, we realized that we were sailors again.  Marathon is like a retirement village of sailors.  The Municipal Marina has about 300 mooring balls that are full of boats from all over the world, and not a soul was under 30.  I didn't see ANYONE under 30!
However, Marathon has lots of good restaurants 'cause old folks love to eat. Side note:  we have spent more on food than on diesel fuel, and we started in Lake Erie.  We have eaten our way South. 
Quinn killing a burger at Burdines in Marathon

3/26/2012 0600. Up and at 'um. Depart Marathon, Burdines Marina, at 0700. We see the sunrise at 0728 as we are entering Hawk Channel.
Leaving Burdines at daybreak

Sunrise over the East Atlantic
Susie enjoying perfect sailing day
 to Key West
The Pennant clinging on to the mast
after it came off the PigStick
 Today is really a perfect day for sailing to Key West.  Winds are NW at 12-14.  Couldn't be better for this tack.  We are sailing 7kts with our main, mizzen and genoa full, winds are perfect, sun is shining, and the water is azure.  Time to put up the Pig Stick!  For you who don't know what a pig stick is, it is a flag mast that hoists to the top of the main mast and flys the ship's private pennant.  So I hoist the pennant that I talked so much about in the last posting, and when it got to the top of the mast, the wind caught it, it came off the pig stick and got hung up at the top of the mast.  The good news is that it sailed with us at the top of the mast all the way to Key West, until we tacked into the KW ship channel and it went into the deep.  So I guess it did it's thing, it did sail at the top of the mast, it just didn't stay very long.  I will re-make it in version two which will have a better "holding" mechanism. 

Hard at work
Now, for those of you who think that sailing is a lot of work, it is, and I have captured a picture of Quinn hard at work sailing the boat to Key West.

OneEighty at anchor
OneEighty docked at Westin Hotel Marina, Key West
Arriving Key West,
6000 passengers ahead of us
Westin Hotel and Museum, Duvall Street
 By 1600 hrs we are entering Key West ship channel and make our way towards Mallory Square docks.   We have reservations at the Westin Hotel Marina which is part of the Westin just off Duvall.  When we get there we find a cruise ship has most of the harbor blocked so we have to go right behind the stern of the Carnival liner and squeeze into the marina basin for the Westin.  There we are tied up on nice floating docks in a great part of town where all of the action is.  Unfortunately most of the action we had was up and down and sideways.  This harbor, though it looks nice and is part of a nice hotel facility, is one of the rocking-est marinas we have been in.  The marina looks like it is protected from sea swells but we learned that what we thought was a breakwater was really only a very large pier for the cruise ships.  All of the swells were riding under the piers and piling into the marina.  We rocked and rolled all night and decided to move to A&B marina the next day over in Key West Bight.
 Quiet slip at A&B Marina,
close to waterfront restaurants

 The A&B Marina has all of the facilities we wanted, nice clean showers, close restaurants, good WiFi, and of course, great sunsets.  This harbor is well protected and we had no waves in the marina for 4 nights.  Now that we had the boat secure as our floating hotel, we could hit the streets and explore.  Key West has lots to see, and of course we see much from the water's perspective since we don't have a car.  We cruised the harbor's perimeter and saw the hotels, shops, the Navy and Coast Guard stations, and got a fix on where the best restaurants were.....that were in walking distance.

Key West Sunset. 

Quinn and Helen at sunset
at Mallory Square
Of course we have pictures of the Key West Sunset from Mallory Square, but we also took walking tours down Duvall and Whitehall streets seeing many of the famous sites, museums and chickens.  We really enjoyed the Mel Fisher muesuem and saw many of the artifacts of the wreck of the Atocha.  For anyone who ever dreamed of finding a sunken treasure, this is a story that you would find very exciting.  The Atocha was a Spanish galleon headed from Cuba to Spain with a "motherlode" of gold and silver, and was caught in the hurricane of 1622.  Susie has a coin necklace made from the silver that was found in that wreck. 
Silver Bars from the Atocha that were used as ballast

Key West Hotel and restaurant

Banyon Tree Hotel
Southernmost Point

Ernest Hemingway's House

We stayed in Key West about a week, then on Friday evening Susie and Helen rented a car and drove to Miami and flew home Saturday morning.  Quinn and I stayed one more night at the marina, and on Saturday morning we fueled up, paid the slip rental, loaded supplies and filled our water tanks before we headed West to the Dry Tortugas, an island 70 miles to the West of Key West.

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