Monday, February 29, 2016

Cutting the cord!

Hallelujah!  We're leaving the marina!

We might just go around the corner and drop anchor but at least we're cutting the cord and moving out.  We have several options.  We'll probably do all of them eventually so it doesn't really matter what order they happen in.  We'll just let the weather continue to dictate what we do, or rather, DON'T do.  Dry Tortugas, Middle and Upper Keys, and the Bahamas are the short list but we'll see how far we get.  We finally have Kipper's pet permit from the Bahamas so we just need to get him checked by a Vet and get a form from them.  The Vet form is only good for ten days so we'll have to commit to a weather window, visit the Vet, and get over there!  Fingers crossed...

Here's a few photos of what we've been up to in the meantime.  Sorry they got a bit fuzzy going from phone to email to computer to blog... there's probably a better way to do this...

Lot's of beautiful sunsets

Boat Maintenance

A nearby botanical garden has a collection of these Cuban refugee boats.
Pretty impressive ingenuity went into making some of these.  There were lots of wooden boats but also several of these foam constructed types.  Someone used tarps to give it shape and reinforced it with rebar.  That's the engine sticking out, borrowed from a Fiat car and mated up to a propeller!

We loooove our boat but sometimes miss the simplicity of camper van travel.
Seems like every time we turn around we're being taunted by a cool van!

Checked out the downtown art festival with friends, Dave and Wendy.

Cool tree

Amigos Tacos
Go here if you visit

We participated in the "Wrecker's Race" as crew on our friends, Joe & Lisa's boat, "Borrowed Horse"
Great fun!  It's a treat to see so many great boats especially the classic schooners.

They really fly!

Also, spent some time with family (thanks Christy, Paul, and Kitty!), got our tax docs off to our CPA, and some other constructive stuff while here.  All in all, time well spent.  It's been especially nice to meet experienced cruisers, gather information, and get all sorts of good advice.  It's a great community.
We'll continue to do more frequent updates on Tumblr, whenever we have phone signal.

Cheers to all!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Stuck Island...

We're still in Key West, technically Stock Island, the neighboring island.

I like to call it "Stuck Island" because we can't leave until the weather is absolutely perfect, which might never happen!  It's a nice place to be stuck so I'm not complaining.  We have everything we need and are learning a lot talking to experienced cruisers.  Mainly that our timing is wrong to attempt the Bahamas and the weather pattern has been unusual on top of that.  In the meantime we're reading cruising guides and gathering all the documentation that we didn't know we needed.  There's a decal for the boat, a boater's card for us, a Bahamian permit for Kipper, and we're waiting for our USCG documentation paperwork, for Wings, to catch up with us.  The marina has been very accommodating, considering we didn't have a reservation, and this is the busy season.  We have to change slips occasionally but they always find somewhere to put us!

Here's some photos of where we're spending most of our time:

Most of the marina looks like this.

Some of the local charter catamarans and fishing boats.

There's also a fleet of shrimp boats nearby...

...and a boat yard across the way.

We've been watching this Wharram designed "Tiki 30" take shape over in the boat yard.
The owner built it from scratch over a year and just launched it!

On the other end of the spectrum are yachts such as "Erica" from New Zealand.  179 feet long, 130 foot tall mast, and a 15 foot deep keel...

...and the mega motor yacht, "Atomic".

Teak decks, very classy...

There's a dog park...

...a community garden with this cool rain water cistern...

...and a flock of Guinea Hens?

Of course, feral roosters and hens are everywhere, it wouldn't be Key West without them!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Punta Gorda to Key West

We left Punta Gorda on January 24th and arrived in Key West February 2nd.
Suffice it to say we took our time doing our first 200 or so mile sail.  A distance that could have been driven in a little over 5 hours or sailed in a full day by someone that isn't afraid to sail after dark.  We're not there yet.

We experienced rain, fog, thunder, and lightening.  Large waves and heavy wind that were scary, I won't lie.  We were forced to move a couple of times from anchorages that became exposed to wind and waves (see #3).  We've gotten really good at handling the anchor and we're still married.

We learned a lot on the way:
1. This is hard
2. This isn't easy
3. You can't trust any of the weather forecasts
4. The paper charts and even the electronic ones aren't trustworthy either
5. There's a lot of random stuff randomly floating about (or just under the surface)
6. Florida waters, at least on the West coast, are SHALLOW
7. Wings is very forgiving and we're so glad she only drafts 3.5 feet...

We are now safely docked in Stock Island Marina, taking a break, and enjoying our time in Key West.  We'll be doing boat maintenance, provisioning, and deciding where to go next.

Please enjoy some photos from the cruise!

Angie at the helm with first mate KP

We love our candy cane sail!

Our dinghy is not up to the task...

If I'd known about all the math I might not have done this.  The other fun math is estimating our diesel fuel consumption with our goofy fuel gauge.  We're getting pretty good at using the hour gauge like an odometer but it's not a perfect science.

Kipper napping underway.
He actually likes to sail and prefers it over running the engine.

We had some great days!

But some grey ones too.

We hunkered down in the Everglades for a couple of days waiting out some bad weather.

But a little rain doesn't keep us out of the dinghy!

It really doesn't matter if it rains because our dinghy is always a wet ride...

Anchored at Shark River.  Our first sunset, at anchor, without any land in the way.
Too cloudy for a green flash but we'll have plenty more chances.

We must have passed a thousand of these crab trap buoys, no joke, there was a mine field of these things almost everywhere we went.  We got pretty good at adjusting our course to avoid them...

But we didn't miss them all!
This one got wrapped up in our prop and we had another one get caught in the rudder when we were under sail.
Good times

Anchored at Turkey Key.  This was a good one.  Well protected with a beach nearby for KP.

The underpass at 7 Mile Bridge.  We made it!

More to come...