leaving Islamorada heading for Cape Sable using the yacht Channel at this point and Due West. The wind is forecast to be around 10:00 today that's what it's doing and I'm doing about four knots so I am happy now that the engine is off
Part of the appeal of travel and adventure to me is logistics. Part of the process of sailing from Key West to Islamorada was leaving my car at Key West, in the Ocean’s Edge Resort parking lot. I needed to retrieve it after the sail so on early Sunday November 19 I used the Lower Keys Shuttle bus to get a ride to Key West, to get the car. I first rode my motorcycle from the apartment in Islamorada to Marathon. Riding along the Overseas Highway, the route was reversed from part of the sailing route the day before in the sailboat. It is interesting to see the Keys from different perspectives. The weather was cool so it was a pleasant motorcycle trip.
I parked the Harley near the bus stop, and the Lower Keys Shuttle arrived on schedule. I then transitioned from two wheels to four. The Keys has a nice bus system. However it’s 2 separate bus routes, Upper Keys (mainland to Marathon) and Lower Keys (Marathon to Key West). I could have taken a bus from the apartment in Islamorada to Marathon, but I would have had to wait for 2 different buses. So, I took the motorcycle to Marathon. I figured that I would get the motorcycle another time – I want to take it to a dealer in Marathon on Monday to see if Fuzzy at Keys Cycles would want to sell it for me.
As the bus rambled through the scenic Keys, it was tough to fight the urge to take pictures on the bus. Some of the other riders may think it odd. The urge overtook me on the 7 Mile Bridge, see below. While driving in a car it’s hard to take pictures! I had a nice conversation with a couple who were traveling to Key West, we both commented that taking the bus is easier than renting cars and flying. The 70 minute bus trip to Key West was over in an instant. The Lower Keys are different geologically than the Upper Keys. On Big Pine Key, it’s common to see the small Key Deer along the roadways.
Stepping off the bus, it was a mile walk to Ocean’s Edge Resort on Stock Island. Picking up my car, I explored a bit on Stock Island, which is part of the City of Key West. Stock Island Yacht Club is nearby, it’s an enclave similar to Ocean’s Edge Resort. Both are separated from the gritty working marinas on Stock Island by fences and guard gates.
It’s hard to see it in this bus picture, but the 7 Mile Bridge across Moser Channel appears to be a bridge to the heavens.
Sailing from Newfound Harbor at the crack of dawn this morning hoping to make it to Islamorada. Once undersay, I felt I’m going to make it. Wind was about 10 knots early in the day, pushing the boat along at about 3 to 4 knots. The wind picked up quickly, with the boat sailing along at five to six knots. Sailing in the lee of the keys, the ocean was not too rough. Along the 7 Mile Bridge it was more choppy cuz the bridge does not block the wind and chop from Florida Bay. After the 7 Mile Bridge adjacent to Key Vaca (Marathon) the wind will dropped a little and the water a little calmer – a lot calmer actually.
Good wind from the north today. That works out well heading east for a beam reach. The wind picked up as the day wore on, so I had to reduce sail. The main sail was reefed and foresail furled gradually, and the boat was able to maintain 6 knots. Eventually the foresail was reduced to about 25%. The autohelm was in use all day, it’s essential for sailing single handed.
It sure was nice to get back to the dock at the apartment in Islamorada! Here’s a link to some pictures at Google Photos.
Underway leaving oceans Edge Marina on Stock Island Key West headed towards Newfound Harbor which is about halfway to Marathon where I hope to spend the night and then go to Marathon tomorrow. There is very little wind, ocean is flat. Visibility may not be so great because of the recent crazy weather.
I’m off Boca Chica Key going one and a half miles an hour but that’s okay I have all day to go 20 miles and the wind is supposed to pick up later.
I’m near Saddlehill Key heading out towards West Washerwoman Shoal to see if the visibility is okay and I may just jump in the water and see what there is to see do a little snorkeling Etc
off of Sugarloaf Key I’m heading for Ninefoot Shoal in Hawk Channel. According to the hot spots chart that’s supposed to be a nice diving spot. I’m going to check it out. The visibility was not so hot at West Washerwoman Shoal.
I did a little snorkeling at a very nice dive spot – Looe Key Reef. I’m heading into Newfound Harbor to find the place to anchor or grab a mooring ball for the night. I’m thinking maybe Niles Channel.
What luck today… hoping the rain had cleared out, I took a ride on the old bicycle and ended up at the beach to find a little swell rolling in. Oh, and an air show, the Fort Lauderdale Air Show.
I had a nice time hanging with Jessica at the Sand Bar Grille at the Sun Tower which just happens to be pretty much show center! Enjoying a super tasting hummus platter, I had it made in the shade (literally – shade is a big deal for me).
Day 5 of my Keys adventure was a long day on Friday. What started out as a leisurely sail from Key Largo to Key Biscayne ended up as a race to get home. I was planning to spend the night at Key Biscayne and then have an easy downhill half day run to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday. Halfway to Key Biscayne, a possibility of a gig on Saturday morning and money compelled me to make for home. This would involve sailing solo at night, something I wouldn’t do anywhere else but a Miami to Fort Lauderdale run at this point. I am new at sailing. I have made this run lots of times in power boats both day and night and a few times sailing in the daytime. So the decision was made to head for home. When in the ocean I like to let folks know of my progress for safety. Updates on the hour typically via text.
Sending updates to my guardian angels, wife April and brother Dave, I made my way from the relative safety of Biscayne Bay through Stiltsville to the Atlantic. With the sun setting over Miami in the ocean, the wind was wonky, nearly directly behind me so it was slow going (it’s difficult to sail directly with the wind), about 3 knots. It was already about 6pm and Fort Lauderdale isn’t that far – 20 something miles plus making my way home to the dock at 3 knots would have put me in my slip about 3am with a possible 10am charter. I don’t like to run the engine if I don’t have to but I did motor-sail and make about 5-6 knots and made it to Port Everglades about 10:30pm. Part of my progression can be seen in a series of screenshots at Google Photos. I spent the night anchored in Fort Lauderdale a mile from my slip and tied up Saturday about 9am.
BTW the charter never did happen! LOL oh well getting homesick I wanted to get home anyway.
Day 4 of my Florida Keys sailing trip was at TRIP. Time to head home – the wind forecast was east to southeast. Hoping for an early switch to SE wind, I left the Scouts Sea Base and went through Channel 5, between Lower Matacumbe and Long Keys. The bridge is 65′ high, easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and Hawk Channel which is somewhat protected. It’s inside the Florida Reef and the reef breaks up the ocean swells. It was calm at first, because it’s shallow but farther out from land it gets choppy. No big deal – kinda. The wind was 15+ from the east and guess what direction was needed… yup, east. 15+ on the nose is tough going, the sails are useless at that point. My little inboard diesel is 14 horsepower pushing a 6 ton boat, it was working hard to make 3 knots. With no wind and waves, the engine can push the boat at hull speed, about 6 knots but not headed into the wind and waves. Boo Hoo
The wind was to clock around to the southeast, but that didn’t happen yet. And as one follows Hawk Channel, it curves around and eventually turns north. With that in mind, I slogged on. After over an hour in the slop, I gave up and turned around headed back to Channel 5 and the comfort of Florida Bay. Going with the wind and chop, it took me about 20 minutes to cover the same ground into the chop in well over an hour! Florida Bay is on the lee side of the keys so it was a lot less choppy. The engine didn’t have to work as hard, and the sails helped as I zig-zagged through the bay and channels.
I did take some videos as well as pix, they can be seen at Google Photos
As I wandered about the keys the weather was sooo nice, and I had nothing on my calendar so it was off to Islamorada Wednesday. I was running low on food, and I hadn’t had a shower since I left Fort Lauderdale on Monday, adding sunscreen day after day. It was nice that the gang at Boy Scout Sea Base found a slip for me to stay for the night. I was able to stock up a bit and ahhhh – a hot shower, and in the morning hot coffee and stuff.
By the way, the pix above are links to the original images at Google Photos, which have comments for each picture.
On Tuesday morning I pulled anchor and left Key Biscayne and sailed south in Biscayne Bay, passing a few keys: Soldier, Boca Chita, Elliot, Adams, and others. The bay is shallow in spots, so it’s important to navigate through the channels at Featherbed Bank, etc. Leaving lower Biscayne Bay, next is Card Sound and then Little Card Sound. A few “sounds” later, I dropped anchor at Blackwater Sound on the backside of Key Largo near Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill Restaurant where I was able to have dinner and enjoy the sunset over the water.
Anchoring was interesting, it was windy and there is a small layer of mud on top of hard bottom. Using my anchor alarm app I found that I was dragging anchor. Up came the anchor and off to a more protected cove. With 2 anchors out, I set my Anchor Watch Pro / Alarm app and crossed my fingers. The anchors held while I used the dinghy to motor over to the restaurant – I couldn’t see the boat while having dinner as night fell. It was a leap of faith… I dreaded heading back to the cove to find the boat had dragged anchor in the dark. Thankfully the boat was still there!
One recent Monday, the weather report was perfect for a sail south for a few days (northerlies) then predicted a wind switch to southerlies later in the week. So, off I went in the sailboat leaving Fort Lauderdale and heading south in the Atlantic bound for Key Biscayne, near Miami. I anchored for the night near Nixon’s Florida White House
It was a blast to have Troop 8 aboard and watch them progress through their SCUBA skills, and enjoy the salt life. I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, Troop 8 or the BSA Burglar crew!
July 19, 2022 was a nice day for SCUBA diving. With certifications done, all dives at this point are fun dives, no more instruction – time to implement new skills. First on the itinerary was a dive spot named Labyrinth, and spur and groove reef. Then, on to a similar type of reef named Boink. The gang enjoyed both sites and did a great job. It’s nice to see divers progress and become comfortable in the water!
Wednesday Cathy and I went snorkeling at Cheeca Rocks, about one mile from Breezy Palms Resort. I went and got the boat from Caloosa Cove Marina and ran it about 5 miles up to our place. It was a wonderful dive, the visibility was good and the reef was alive with life. We saw: grouper, sergeant majors, a sea turtle lazing about looking for lunch, hard and soft corals. Parrot fish. Angel fish. Christmas Tree Worms, which retreat in to the coral heads when frightened. Some Coral Bleaching <frowny face> but overall healthy coral <smile>.
Then on the Lorelei Restaurant And Cabana Bar
Cathy and April came to the keys for a visit with Ernie and we went out in the boat to make sure the sun went down 🙂
After checking in to the Breezy Palms Resort near BSA Sea Base, we went boat riding to see the sights. We stopped and toured the Boy Scout Sea Base complex. Then we went by the Oceans 305 restaurant and tiki bar, a neat spot located in the Fiesta Key Campground.
Then out to Florida Bay to watch the sunset.
The gang from Troop 5 was lucky to get good weather for 3 days and did a great job in the water getting SCUBA certified!
July 6, 2022 – Keeley, Louis, and Sean got certified by instructors KL and Spencer at Pillars dive site, diving from BSA Burglar! See link below for a Google photo album 🙂
Reggae at sunset at Book Key Harbor – good vibes!
June 19-21 brought nice diving conditions and Troop 70 from University Park in Texas. The gang did great!
Today, I had breakfast at Anne’s Beach. I brought my bicycles to SeaBase, which allows me to take rides in the area. Today is June 13, Mom’s birthday so it was nice to grab some fresh guava with cream cheese pastries from the corner store and some coffee and reflect on Mom’s life.