Key West tries to keep us there!
329 Days Looping
4,795.8 Nautical Miles Total (5,518.9 Statute Miles)
81.2 Nautical Miles This Week
6.9 Hours Underway This Week
9.6 NMph Average Speed
0 Locks This Week, 154 Total Locks
Monday – Mar 2nd – 6 NM – In: Key West, FL
On Monday morning we checked the weather and it was marginal with 15-20 knot winds, but looking out into the bay it seemed fine. The wave forecast was for 2-3 foot waves on our route which is also doable. We were only planning on going about 10 miles up the coast to Stock Island, so at 10:30 we dropped our lines and headed out. The harbor was okay, but the closer to open water we got, the rougher it became. There was a large oil tanker on its way, and a tugboat waiting for it so we moved out of the channel a bit so that we would not be in the way. As we approached Hawk Channel and open water, we started getting 4-foot waves every 3 seconds, once we were in the main channel, the waves built even higher and we were seeing occasional 6-foot waves and we were really getting rocked around with waves breaking over the bow pretty regularly.
Waves seem to have a pattern, there are typically a series of waves that are pretty even in height, then there are 2-3 waves that are larger. Even though we only had a few miles to go, it just wasn’t safe so we waited until we’d rode out one of the series of taller waves then turned around and headed back to Galleon Marina. Once we’d turned and had the waves on our stern, it was an easier ride. We had to take it very slowly as we were now behind the oil tanker and had to follow it back into Key West harbor.
We called the marina and asked if we could come back. They said no problem, and assigned us a slip right behind where we had been that was a little easier to get in in the wind. We were tied back up at 10:55 and decided to wait until Wednesday when the winds and waves were forecast to be much lower.
In the afternoon, Allison and Gerry from Destination who we had traveled with on the Rivers came to Key West on the trolley, and we got together with them and Gerry’s brother Jim. We had drinks at the marina bar, then went to The Commodore’s Boat House for an early dinner. While we were waiting for our table, we went to watch the “Tarpon Feeding”. The marina comes out with a bucket of fish and tosses it to the huge tarpon swimming around the dock. What actually happens, is that the pelicans come out and catch the fish before the tarpon can get to most of it. It’s more of a pelican feeding than a tarpon feeding. We had a nice dinner and it was great to see Gerry and Allison again!
Tuesday – Mar 3rd – 0 NM – In: Key West, FL
While we were in Key West several people had recommended the museum at the Old Customs House. We had missed it last week, so with an extra day in town, we decided to go visit it.
On the way, we saw the oil tanker that we followed back in on our failed attempt to leave Key West and watched as the tugs spun it around. Then we walked past the Cruise ship terminal. On one of the unused docks, there were some birds that we’d never seen before. They had bright red bands on their beaks, and the top beak was much shorter than the bottom. When we looked it up it was the Black Skimmers. This bird is the only bird with a longer lower mandible than the upper.
The Customs house has a number of exhibits from local artists and a large collection from Guy Harvey the famous fishing artist. Key West was the home of John Hemingway who is probably the island’s famous son, and much of the museum is dedicated to him. There is a nice historical walkthrough covering the early history of the island, its build-up during the Civil War, the effects of the “Maine” sinking in Havana Harbor, and the history of major hurricanes hitting the island.
After the museum, we went back to the boat and did some route planning. It was still pretty windy but the forecast for Wednesday looked pretty good. We had leftovers on the boat and then walked into town for ice cream. On our way back, the fishing boats down the dock were cleaning the day’s catch and the tarpon and pelicans were vying for the scraps.
Wednesday – Mar 4th – 7.8 NM – To: Stock Island, FL
Wednesday morning we got the boat ready to leave. The winds had died down and it looked pretty calm. We waited until 8:00 to call Stock Island and make sure that we still had a slip since we had rescheduled a few times. Everything was ready for us, so we cast off at 8:20 and headed out. We were still apprehensive when we rounded the point, but the seas were fairly calm, just gentle rolling waves. It only took us an hour to get to Stock Island and we were tied up at our slip by 9:30.
We took an hour to settle in and wash the salt off of the boat, then walked around the marina to check it out. We stopped at one of the three restaurants for a light lunch. Right at the end of our dock was a Rum Distillery, so we went up and took a mini-tour and had a tasting, then went back to the boat. As we were getting back on, we noticed jellyfish swimming around the boat!
We got in touch with Gerry and Allison of Destination who were docked just across the road from us and arranged to meet at 4:30 for an early dinner. At 4:30 we walked up to the restaurant and looked for them. They weren’t there. We texted and they responded that they were standing between B & C docks. We were between B & C docks! It turns out that they didn’t get our text that we’d moved from Key West to Stock Island, and were at our old marina in downtown Key West.
We decided that we’d go and have dinner at the marina and as they were staying just across the road, they would come and meet us later on for dessert. We had dinner at the Rib House, and then went back to the boat to wait for them to arrive.
At 6:30 they called that they were close, so we walked up and watched the sunset while we were waiting, then had an excellent dessert!
Thursday – Mar 5th – 69.3 NM – To: Islamorada, FL
Thursday was predicted to be a very good weather day, and the last one for at least a week. While we really liked Stock Island, we decided to get while the getting was good and head back north. We decided to go to Islamorada about halfway up the Keys. The farther north you get in the Keys, the fewer marinas you encounter. Also, there is a choice to go inside on the North West side of the islands, or outside on the South East side of the islands. Our marina in Stock Island was on the Outside side of the island, so we decided to run on the outside until we got back to the 7 Mile Bridge in Marathon and then switch to the inside for the rest of the trip up to Miami as the wave forecast for off-shore on the outside was bad for the next week.
We picked Coral Bay Marina, a small marina tucked behind a mangrove island that was protected from wind and waves as we would be stuck there for at least 4 days until the weather improved. At 7:45 we pulled out of Stock Island and headed north. The weather was fine. There were 2-3 foot swells but they were separated by 8 to 10 seconds and only a light wind so very little chop. We had a nice ride up the outside and at 10:00 we crossed under the 7 Mile Bridge and headed up the inside channel past Marathon and the marina we had stayed at while there.
The inside channel is typically much calmer as there is some shelter from the prevailing South East winds provided by the islands. However, the inside channel is VERY shallow. There are areas where you can look down and see the crab traps and rocks on the bottom. At times our depth alarm was going off every few minutes. We kept our speeds down and watched the channel markers carefully. As our boat only needs about 4 feet (we prefer 6 feet), we were able to make it without a problem. Shortly after we got onto the inside channel, a family of dolphins (we assume by the size that it was a mother, father, and baby, joined us and swam in our wake jumping and rolling for about two miles!
The rest of the trip up to Islamorada was nice. We had to watch the channel and in a few places it got very shallow, but we didn’t touch the bottom. Looking behind us, you could see a plume of sand in our wake that we were kicking up. Our last mile into Coral Bay was interesting. The marina had sent us a hand-drawn map on how to get into the marina. It was basically, go to a specific channel marker, turn to a heading of 330° and follow that heading until you get to the sailboat mooring field, look for a pink house, and head toward that until you see plastic plumbing pipes sticking up, aim for those and stay between them. When you get behind the island, you will see the marina. From the time we turned off the channel until we were in our slip in the marina, we never had more than 18″ under our propellers! We arrived at Coral Bay just before 1:00.
It was Very hot 92° and 98% humidity. We tied up, washed the salt off the boat, and checked in with the marina. At 6:00 once the sun started to go down, we walked across the street to “Bad Boy Burrito”, for an early dinner. The Burritos were excellent!
Friday – Mar 6th – 0 NM – In: Islamorada, FL
Friday the wind started to come up a bit. We decided to do a Publix run and stock up for the next few days. On Islamorada they have a service called “FreeBee” it’s a Free ride service sponsored by the local Chamber of Commerce. The main service is a 6 seat electric car, you request a ride through an App, and they pick you up and take you anywhere you want to go within their service area. In Islamorada, the electric carts can’t drive on Route 1 so they take back roads and in places sidewalks. They also have larger mini-buses that can go on the main road that provide service to the areas not covered by the electric cars.
We requested a ride and a few minutes later the FreeBee showed up, and we rode up to Publix. We did our shopping and requested a pickup, we had to wait 15 minutes, but we jumped back on with our groceries and they dropped us back off at the marina.
We put the groceries away and spent the rest of the afternoon in the air-conditioned boat working on the blog, cross-stitch, and some small projects. In the evening we cooked dinner on the boat.
After dinner, I turned in at 8:30. Around 11:00 I was awoken by a very loud BOOM! And the whole boat shook! A couple of seconds later, there was another one! The resort just down the street was having their monthly Full Moon Party complete with Fireworks!
Saturday – Mar 7th – 0 NM – In: Islamorada, FL
Saturday was very windy with winds in the 20-30 mph with higher gusts. The boats in the anchorage just outside the marina were really bouncing around. In the marina we were fairly well protected and aside from some wave slap, it was fine. We were glad we were not out on the water!
About a mile up the road from the marina is a famous sporting goods store called “World Wide Sportsman”. It’s right next to the Islamorada seafood restaurant, both of which are owned by Bass Pro Shops. (You may remember the Islamorada restaurants next to Bass Pro Shops in many areas) What’s cool about this particular location is that they have Ernest Hemingway’s woody truck and his boat “Pilar” on display in the store! (Along with the requisite huge fish tank).
They also have an outdoor lagoon at the restaurant where they feed the local tarpon, and we were lucky to see a Manatee hanging out as well.
After World Wide Sportsman, we walked back to the marina, even though it was windy, it was still hot, so we stopped at the Islamorada Brewing Company for a cold drink. Brenda even had a cider!!!!
In the evening we got together with Don & Sara from “Knot Duality” for dinner. They have a catamaran that was docked next to us. Don & Sara are from Nova Scotia, and had just bought the boat and were getting it ready to bring it home.
We walked to the other side of the mooring field (around the land side, not across the water, it was too windy! ) to Lorelei Restaurant & Cabana Bar a very popular spot on the island. The place was packed, they don’t take reservations and it’s first come first served seating, so you have to watch the tables to see who’s finishing up, then go hover next to the table and lay claim! We got lucky and got a table within 10 minutes. We had a very good dinner and watched the sunset across the bay.
Sunday – Mar 8th – 0 NM – In: Islamorada, FL
Sunday was cloudy with a chance of rain in the afternoon. We had heard that there was a Farmers Market about a mile and a half up the road. The website showed a large number of vendors, and after seeing the Key West market, we decided to go. The FreeBee bus doesn’t start until noon on Sundays, so we decided to walk to the market. It was a windy walk, but not bad as the sidewalk along Route 1 is separated from the road by a median most of the way.
When we got there, we were disappointed. There were only about 8 vendors, only one was selling fruits and veggies, and one was selling homemade donuts, the rest were selling soap, jewelry, and clothing. None of it was very interesting.
On the way back, we walked down a side street to the ocean side. (The entire island is only about 1/4 mile wide!) We wanted to see what the ocean looked like with the heavy winds. It was pretty rough! Again we were glad we were safely tied up in port!
In the afternoon, I worked on adding a bilge pump while Brenda napped and worked on her cross-stitch. Brenda had developed a runny nose, a bit of a cough, and wasn’t feeling well. She didn’t have a fever, it was just seasonal allergies.
We made a Chicken Bog in the Instapot on the boat for dinner and both turned in early.
NEXT WEEK: Leaving the Keys for Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Stuart Florida
Tom & Brenda