May 13, 2015

Wrapping Up Thee Keys



It’s a Key West moment when you realize
that you are in for a big surprise.
The wind blows from the east today
and every sunset has its day
for the fishermen and the tourists
the locals and the purists
It’s a Key West point of view and it’s smiling at you.

jcg  4-19-15

( Pardon me, but I got a little long winded in this month's post… thanks again for visiting my blog… What a long strange trip it's been. The site here has now recorded over 20,000 hits from people like you… I appreciate your visit and your comments… onward! jcg)

Glory Days rested on a mooring ball in Marathon while I took a short trip back home to Georgia for 3 weeks as a landlubber …. but it's time to get this boat moving once again… Being back on land only serves to remind me how much I miss the life as a cruiser… 

It's time for sails to be raised ... new waters await me as I depart the Keys and head up the east coast of Florida very soon. 

Returning to Marathon, Florida this week is a welcome feeling although the heat is starting to build now… It's sort of like coming home.  Many boats have already departed for more northern locations chasing sunsets at new latitudes… soon I will join their ranks… giddy again.

On April 23, I managed to take a little break from cruising and come back to Georgia to see family and make some extra income to support my cruising kitty.  

I like being near family and home but I sure miss the daily motion of the boat, the endless skies, and the daily connection with the whole outside world and the sweet smell of salt air and suntan lotion.

In case you missed it, here's a little video about my first two months in the Keys… It's hard to sum it up in just 5 minutes, but if you have a spare moment I hope you view it!  YouTube link below: (see video clip below - may not play on all portable devices)

Sailing The Keys In 5 Minutes



This is the dry season for the Florida Keys… (winter/spring).  Long sunny days and gentle breezes seem to never end, and sometimes you wonder if it will ever rain again…  

The only thing raining from these skies over the past month has been sunshine… and lots of it…. The winds have been steady like clockwork out of the east with the occasional southeast flavor.  Soon the summer showers will begin, and in September, I am told it rains about 79% of the month. 
Glory Days

I came up with a general formula for sailboat travel that seems to hold true for the most part…. here's the way it works.

If someone says it's about a one hour drive to someplace, I figure that will be about a one DAY trip by sail.  If its a 3 hour drive from here to Miami, I figure it's about a 3 day sail, stopping each day for a night anchorage… you get the idea…. 

So far my little formula has held generally true.  If a car averages 60 mph and my boat average 6 mph (on a good day), the numbers seem to align. It sort of puts in all into perspective regarding the journey/destination thing. So a 10 hour drive back to Jacksonville, will take me about 10 days minimum… I'll probably stretch it into 15 because I like to stop and stare a lot.

This is me doing my "big man" look on the bow. "Hoist that mains'l you dirty wench!"
My burgee flag line broke… and since I'm such a lover of flags I just HAD to fix it.  Thanks Zach for hoisting me up! Plus I have new flags ordered on the way!  (They do wear out!)

After two years, I final took the time out to grease all my winches… it turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be… now they glide like greased lightening… yum… they have had plenty of use over the past two years.

Here I am with Pete and Shenoa… They are dive instructors in Marathon and just a great couple.  I know her dad as a fellow teacher who retired the same year I did in 2012… small world… good times were had this evening with dinner and laughs…  
Clare and Zach are a favorite couple of mine… we met in the Bahamas last year and are now neighbors in the mooring field at Marathon… Thanks Zach for watching my boat while I'm away in GA! Their new boat, Champagne, will eventually take them to Clare's homeland, Australia.


A Sunday sail aboard their boat, "Champagne" turned out to be a lovely cruise… plus I got some great snorkeling it at Sombrero Reef.

Allison and CJ (Clare)…. enjoying a laugh on the bow of Champagne
It's a bit ominous to approach the tower that marks Sombrero Reef…. the reef is awesome, but it's quite shallow there mind you… be careful on which mooring ball you choose due to the shallow water.  Fiberglass hulls and coral reefs do not play well together… the coral will win every time.

Sombrero Reef is marked by this tall tower.. the water is only a couple feet deep here at the base of the tower… it was some of the best snorkeling I've had since the Bahamas last year...



 I swear, these guys sure look like they were smiling at me… I smiled back.
Doing my "big man" thing again… aarg. (I wonder if I can see the Atlanta traffic back home from up here… hehe.)
A group of dolphins led the way as we approached the tower… such playful creatures cavorting makes me want to dance along with them… I never get tired of watching these guys play.(see video clip below - may not play on all portable devices)



Once back home from our daysail on Champagne, Zach's sister Allison enjoyed a quiet moment on the bow.

Daily reflections like this are an integral and frequent treat of the cruising lifestyle.  My primary reflection and meditation always focuses on two things gratitude and gratitude.

Then came Sherry!
This woman rocks and has been a true natural on a sailboat… so nice to have a great sailor companion even if it  was for only 10 days… more to come, I'm sure.

God's pallet knows no bounds.

Champagne under sail as we enjoyed some buddy boating this afternoon.

It doesn't get any better than this… peaceful still sunset at the end of another day of sensory overload. Anchorage at Key West seen below at the blue dot.

I had heard some horrible stories about anchoring in Key West due to the exposed nature of the anchorages.  I'm sure there are times when the wind wails out of the north or west making for an unpleasant and rocky roll anchorage.  Thankfully, I did not experience any of that and can only sing praises for a calm anchorage near town and a gorgeous view of the sunset each evening. 

Sherry took this shot of an usual boat anchored near us in Key West


Just a little more picking' and grinnin' please… Here's some more lyrics to A Key West Point Of View, a little tune I wrote early one morning while having my coffee… It's a rocking little number. Maybe Jimmy Buffet will buy it one day!


If you ever get a notion to come this far,
You can always find a friend at the Green Parrot Bar
Listen to the music and tap your feet
or you can bring your own beer and sit across the street
with the fishermen and the tourists
the locals and the purists

It’s a Key West point of view and it’s laughing at
        you and it's laughing at me. 
   
 Here's looking through the deck hatch at Bahia Honda State Park… another great anchorage as seen below also

Here's the old bridge from Bahia Honda to Big Pine Key… It was replaced with the NEW bridge in the back ground… imagine that! The cut-away opening is so sailboats can enter the anchorage at Bahia Honda…

It seems like a good idea… but a sailor's worst nightmare would be for an anchor dragging in the night as you are positioned between two bridges… I dove to the bottom to be sure my anchor was well set… nothing worse that dragging anchor into a steel bridge in the middle of the night. 

In Key West, I splurged for three nights at the infamous Galleon Marina in downtown …. what a great location…. My old sailin' buddy, Dixon and his wife Tricia, spent three nights there with us.

Yes, I even broke out my tap shoes for this evening at the Galleon… gosh, those were three incredible days of seeing the sights, learning the history of the island and being with great friends…(see video clip below - may not play on all portable devices)


Dixon and Patricia…. 3 great days together

There's a heap of boats in Key West… this was taken from the observation deck at the Galleon.
Sherry managed to crank out a little artwork while on Glory Days during the week… she paints pictures like I write songs… frequent and uninhibited… sometimes abstract, sometimes comical.

Dinner at the Schooner Wharf Bar… a classic landmark there. Key lime pie vanished from our plates.

These are the dudes that I keep hoping to catch… mahi…. My trolling in the Keys has been far less successful than in the Bahamas last year… my trolling bait must be wrong… some boaters bring this in daily…. but I keep trying every chance I'm offshore.
The dinghy dock in Key West is a bee hive of activity.  There is a small fee ($26/week) for anchored boats to use the dock.  It was a small fee to pay for the perfect location and access to Duval St. and all of the Key West energy.
I like the fact that the Key West zoning rules will not allow you build a "new" structure as a home in Key West… the only option they allow you to do is to "gut" the house, leave the exterior structure, and rebuild keeping the historical integrity of the town…. it's not cheap but it maintains the image of Key West. 

Fellow sailors Nate and Gin joined me for a wonderful day sail on Sail Away Sunday at Marathon…. 17 boats participated in an effort to get sailors "off their butts, away from the marina, and actually sailing their vessels…"  Sadly, lots of sail boats never leave the marina.

We met Justin on the beach and he was one cool guy… son of Gayle M.

  
Yes, we actually did the tourist train car thing… corny I know, but it gave us a lot of good historical information in 90 mins...

I"ve never been a fan of tattoo's but I'm thinking about one now since I figure I'm on the final third of my life, hopefully… here's a prototype….
cute, but not what I had in mind… quite the jokester, that Sherry.

 Dixon and I got into a big argument…. NOT! 

You had a momentary lapse of reasoning
when you thought about leaving the Florida Keys
It happens to us all every now and then
But it’s hard to leave a place where you fit in
with the fishermen and the tourists
the locals and the purists


It’s a Key West point of view and it’s talking to you
        and it's talking to me.

 Wherever you go in the Keys, there's always a cool island you come across… it's gonna be hard to leave… 

Yep…

It was nice buddy boating with Chris and Eilleen for a few days here… They have this cool trawler, "Last Tango".

Here's Chris and Eileen from Louisiana… He's really not this orange… must've been the light…. :)  did he get nuked?!

Key West is all about cruise ships….

 and entertainers...
and cumulous… 

and tarpon…
and more tarpon...

 and grandpas kissin' babies...
and circus acts...

and demure ladies...

and folk singers….

And big ships to dodge at sea...

and clear water….

and naps while under way ...


and happy couples…


So long now!  

I plan to remain in Marathon through Memorial Day, 2015.  Then I get to make the 400 mile journey north to my favorite home port, Fernandina Beach City Marina. Plans are to dock her there for the summer with a strong temptation to sail north to Charleston in September… Lots of factors and things need to align for that to happen…

So stay tuned…  there's still a long journey up the entire east coast of Florida!  Can't wait!  Here we go again.

The summer never ends and the music never dies
Everybody grins, it’s a secret we can’t hide.
It's a Key West point of view and it's living in you.
And it's living in me.

jcg 4-19-15

3 comments:

  1. Another great blog story. Keep on sailing my friend. Someday our bows will pass again.

    ReplyDelete