Friday, February 22, 2008

Key West to Melbourne, FL

Later in the day on Saturday, February 16, we pulled back in to Boot Key Harbor at Marathon, FL. The trip was made outside in the Hawk Channel...and though we were prepared for rough riding (like we had on the trip coming down!) we were pleased to find a "moderate chop."

Sunday, February 17, we left Boot Key Harbor, taking the Hawk Channel, again, to the John Pennecamp State Park Marina. The weather report was calling for winds 10-15 (dying down as the morning went on) and waves of around 2 ft. About what we've come to expect at this time of year down here.


We had the worst day of travel since we've been on this trip. Worse than "the crossing" because it was rough all the way for 5 hours. The waves were larger than 2 ft. (we estimate 3-4 ft.) and they were coming in pretty much on our beam which means the boat was rocking side to side. We had done our usual "lock down" on the items downstairs ... take lamps and do-dads off of the tables...basically anticipate what could move and immobilize it. Hadn't counted on the pantry door slinging open with all that side to side action. Nothing glass hit the floor...only some paper containers. And our bedroom (OK, stateroom) door kept closing and shut Lucy up inside. While she was in there a few more things fell off in the bedroom floor. (She wasn't hurt, but have I told you she's developed a nervous tic since we've been gone?) One huge swell rocked us so hard the dinghy shifted on its platform. I would have taken video of THAT wave action but couldn't have held the camera still long enough. Besides, we were taking in saltwater spray up on the bridge with only one window panel open so the cameras were tucked away safely.

Things calmed down somewhat by the time we started our Pennecamp approach and we were more than ready to be tied up to a dock and still for a while. The dockmaster said the weather report had actually changed mid-morning for them as a front had come in ahead of time. The marina there is very small and transient slips for our size boat were limited. We ended up between two charter boats and over by the glass-bottomed boat. Pennecamp also has a mooring field and we met two sets of Loopers the first day we arrived who were staying on the field.

....The area around Pennecamp.

And the marina...

All in all, not bad, though. The setting was beautiful and we took our bikes out daily for long rides up or down Key Largo's portion of US Hwy. 1. One day we lunched at a favorite Cuban diner called Denny's and another day we went to Sundowners. We'd planned to stay 2 nights at Pennecamp, but the weather (winds, basically) kept us there a couple of days longer. We had one more run out in Hawk Channel to get onto the ICW and we were determined to get the best possible conditions.

Thursday, February 21, was the day. We left early and made our way up to Angelfish Creek where we left Hawk Channel and joined up with the ICW again on Biscayne Bay. The trip was good...not rough. :-)

Lucy enjoying the ride.

We'd chosen an anchorage for the night just south of Miami called the No Name Harbor. The harbor is next to a state park so the area was nice and scenic. It was a popular place that day, too. We nosed into a spot up close to the dinghy dock, let down the anchor and then watched for a while to make sure we were holding well. Seemed we were. Wayne lowered the dinghy and we took Lucy in for her afternoon walk. Wayne stayed near the dinghy while I set off down the walkway to help Lucy find the perfect "spot." As I was walking I glanced back at the boat. Hmmm. I can't believe we anchored that close to the sailboat behind us. Wait...we didn't!! The boat was slowly slipping back! I signaled for Wayne to look and with both of us alarmed I jerked Lucy up and hurried to get back to the boat ASAP. Fortunately, another sailboat saw what was happening and alerted the sailboat in our path so they were on deck when we came up on the dinghy. The couple was so nice about the whole thing. Our boat never actually touched theirs...but it came mighty close. We apologized and took off to reset the anchor. When I pulled up the anchor it had a large rubber raft-like thing around it and I wonder if that's what caused us a problem. At any rate we set it again and waited MUCH longer before we finally felt brave enough to take Lucy back to finish up what she hadn't started. We left the next morning before we saw any sign of the sailboat couple. I wanted to go over and say something like, "Nice running into you..." Here's a picture we made AFTER the anchoring episode. The sailboat behind us is the one we were sliding into.

Friday, February 22 - Captain Sterling, a fellow Looper from Key Largo, had advised us not to run out in the ocean for the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale stretch because we would see such great sights there on the ICW. How right he was! We thoroughly enjoyed the spite of the number of low bridges we encountered. (If the bridge opening is too low for our boat we have to wait, usually, until a certain designated time to have the bridge opened so we can go through. Just like with traffic lights at home, you can't always time it just right and sometimes end up just missing an opening and have to float around for maybe a half an hour before you can proceed.)

I kept taking pictures. Here are only a few.

.....Coming into Miami

One unusual thing we did while going through Ft. Lauderdale area was purchase fuel from a fuel barge. We called ahead and met up with the barge near the Bahia Mar Marina. The barge "anchored" itself by dropping a couple of poles down into the river bed. We tied up to it and loaded up with diesel at a better price than we would have paid at a local marina.

Lake Boca Raton was our anchoring destination this night. We arrived at around 4:30PM (because we'd had to go much slower than we thought, what with bridges and "no wake" zones.) The wind picked up as we entered the area...which had a shallow spot in the middle that allowed for little boats to drift onto it and let the occupants walk around. Anyway, we picked our way around...dropped anchor...and it began to slide. We pulled it back up and went out in the ICW again to consider our options. We could have probably stayed at a local marina, though the only one I could locate nearby was accepting only boats larger than 65Ft. The next bridge in our path was very close, but wouldn't be open for 20 mins. By this time it was after 5 and our daylight time was dribbling away. We decided to just go back in and make the anchorage work for us. We skirted around the outside edge where we could see larger boats were docked and found a position that kept us clear of other boats in the anchorage. The anchor held...though we watched it all evening. We didn't feel secure enough (after our last anchoring experience) to leave the boat alone to take Lucy ashore, but promised her we would get her some grass first thing in the morning. She agreed, reluctantly. What a sweet, obliging dog!

Here's Lucy's favorite spot now on the back deck....

The next day, February 23, was a Saturday. We'd been warned by a fellow Looper in the Lake Boca Raton anchorage that traffic in that area would pick up "big time" come 10 AM. We left early and made our way pretty quickly to a city park dock at Delray Beach where we walked Lucy and got sandwiches to go. Delray would be worth a visit. There was an art show going on in the park and it was a pretty area.

We anchored that night at Peck Lake and took Lucy to the nearby beach that evening and the next morning.

February 24 - Jeff and Dana Dobson joined us in Ft. Pierce this evening. Dana grew up in Ft. Pierce and her brother lives in the house her dad built there. We got into the Ft. Pierce Municipal Marina at around 1 o'clock and they arrived around 6. We were able to "put our house in order" before they got here...and rinse off all the salt from our last run "outside."
We lunched at the Tiki Bar, which was a fun experience.

That evening we met Dana's brother, Steve, and his family (Karen, Steve's wife, and Jesse, their daughter) at the Ramp Restaurant in Ft. Pierce. The seafood was excellent and everybody enjoyed their meal. Dana then kindly took me to the grocery store for some provisions and we met the rest of the crew back at our boat to visit a little longer.

February 25 - Segue pulled out of the Ft. Pierce Municipal Marina at around 9 AM with Dana and Jeff as extra crew. Our destination for that evening was the Melbourne Harbor Marina in Melbourne, FL. As a side trip we decided to meet Dana's sister, Vicki, at a restaurant for lunch on the way. Finding a few of the restaurants either not open or in shallow quarters, we ended up at a place called Squid Lips at Fin's Marina, Sebastian, FL. The approach channel was challenging...but we were able to get all the way up to the dock by the restaurant to tie up. The food was excellent and I think Jeff and Dana were looking forward to re-visiting this place later in the week when they would spend some time at Vicki's beach house in Sebastian.

To the right, Dana, Jeff, Vicki, Doris, Wayne, and Lucy.

Below, Jeff driving with Dana by his side.

Navigating takes attention...

Dana caught me doing my Captain Marvel imitation. Wayne and I wear these headsets when we're docking or embarking.

Jeff didn't realize "crewing" for Segue included tending Lucy...but he was a good sport about it!

Melbourne Harbor Marina is right next to the historical downtown area of Melbourne. It's a beautiful setting in a natural harbor. We enjoyed watching dolphins laze around in the water nearby. That evening we walked into town and enjoyed another great meal at Island Pasta.
The view from our bow looking out towards the entrance to the ICW from Melbourne Harbor.

Tuesday, February 26 - Jeff and Dana had left their car with Steve in Ft. Pierce, so he came up that morning to pick them up and take them back to his house for a visit. We all walked into town and had breakfast at the Depot Cafe before we saw them off. We'll see them again in a few days when we're hitching a ride back to Knoxville for a 2-week visit. We had such fun showing the Dobsons a little of what our life has been like over the past couple of months!

Wayne and Steve checking in out....

Jeff, above, extracting "Dana's big suitcase" from the boat. Turns out it's Dana's suitcase...but holds a lot of Jeffrey's clothes!
Dana and Jeff aboard Segue at Melbourne, FL.

It was around 10 o'clock by the time we started to consider our next move. We had originally planned to leave Melbourne and head out for an anchorage further north, but after 5 days of traveling we were both in the mood for a day of rest. We checked with the marina to make sure they could accommodate us for another night and settled in for a catch-up day. We called a couple of marinas further north to settle on a place to leave Segue while we go home...and made reservations at Adventure Yacht Harbor in Daytona, only 85 miles away.

We took our bikes out that afternoon and rode around Melbourne on the bike trail...then back through the historic downtown area. The power went out over a large area of the city (according to the dockmaster) so we spent time in the afternoon reading and relaxing. We felt even better about not having traveled this day when it started to rain and tornado watches were out for the area all evening.

Wednesday, February 27 - We woke up intending to leave Melbourne for Titusville today, but on a check of the weather decided to wait one more day. Winds were 20 mph and bay waters rough. AND...we woke up to chilly weather! Around 60 degrees, 20 degrees cooler than yesterday. Gone are the shorts and t-shirts...on with the jeans and turtleneck! We're planning to leave out tomorrow now. Weather permitting.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Marathon, FL, to Key West

February 4 - Our reservations at Key West City Marina, Garrison Bight, were to begin on Feb. 5. A look at the weather predictions, though, made us decide to leave Marathon a day early and do the 50-some-mile trek in somewhat better conditions. The trip down Hawk Channel was a little rough only because we had a 3/4 sea (waves coming in on our side near the stern). There were many times when we were actually "surfing" the waves. Where the waves wanted us to go, we went! Quite a challenge considering the number of crab traps we dodged!

The closer we got to Key West the more the winds picked up and by the time we got to our slip we were glad to have help from Dave and Joy Olsen as we tied up. Dave and Joy are from Minnesota and have been coming down to Key West during the winter for years. They were a great resource of information on local eateries, services, etc. Here we are at the dock, bow out, fourth boat from the left. This picture was taken from US Hwy. 1.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

We waved goodbye to Key West, Florida this morning around 8 AM. We stayed 12 nights at the Key West City Marina, Garrison Bight, and had a great time. Our slip was between the historic houseboat row and US Hwy. 1. It seemed a little noisy the first afternoon, but, as a Dave Olsen advised us, after a while we considered the road noise and the roosters crowing at all hours just part of the ambiance.

John and Lil Clinard joined us in the southernmost city on February 8 and left on the 13th. Together we scouted out some of the best meals we've had on this trip: Ricky's Blue Heaven; Mangia, Mangia; Hogfish Bar and Grill; Hurricane Joe's; Banana Cafe; El Sibonay; (and Bobby's Monkey Bar). (Wayne and I had lunch at B.O.'s yesterday. We were craving cheeseburgers and they were great! Can you tell food is a big part of this whole adventure???)

We had such a good time! We miss Lil and John already...but hope to lure them our way again somewhere else along the trip. We had dinner a couple of times on Segue and here's a picture we took on the boat the last evening.

Here's some of our favorite shots from the Key West album:

On Monday, February 11, Lil, John and I drove to Islamorada to see the HGTV Dream House. It was quite a setting...and a lovely home. We all agreed we were going to be delighted to "receive it." Lil and John already look quite at home. Notice how they are trying to perfect the, "Oh, my goodness!! We won!!???" look.

We went to Mallory Square one night to take part in the sunset festival. Unfortunately, the sunset sort of fizzled as clouds swallowed up the sun and the horizon. While we were watching the sun begin to set boats were parading across our view...either trying to hog our attention or catch their own good view of the sunset. In the midst of all this commotion comes this loan guy paddling on a surf board. We all watched him make his way across our view...mainly to see if he hit the water after one of the big boats jetted by.

We did get some pretty pictures, in spite of the clouds. And, as you can see from the picture below, we had a good time anyway.

This was the sunset we saw most evenings from our boat. Pretty spectacular!

The wind could get a little chilly down in Key West this time of year, in spite of the warm temps. Here's Lil doing her best Unibomber impression.

The water right by our boat was a neat place for catching sea life. These little jellyfish were all over the place one day.

And how about this for an abstract shot. I see a painting in this....

There was even a manatee in the bight that was a regular visitor. He came by one day and I patted his head.

Key West is so "arty." This little vehicle has been lovingly decorated with seashells.

And, lastly, remember those $25 bikes we bought in Marathon? Here they are, in all their glory! They've come in so handy...we've biked all over Key West. And, no, John Littleton, I don't have a little bell and pink horn yet...but I'm in the market!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Marco Island, FL, to Marathon, FL

January 30 – As we left Marco Island on that Wednesday morning I caught a picture of this sailboat that was sinking (is sunk?) A reminder to all of us traveling in these waters…all it takes is one wrong turn…
Today was a long run, about 65 miles, from Marco Island to an anchorage on Little Shark River. We left Marco at 8 AM and got to the anchorage by 3 PM. We had to dodge some crab pots along the way, but they were mostly in organized strings so we could figure out easily how to avoid them. For those who aren’t familiar with crab pots, fishing people put out cages to catch crabs. The cage is left on the ocean floor (so it’s usually in “shallow” waters, by ocean standards) with a rope/string attached to a floating ball that marks the trap’s location. Occasionally the fishing people come back and check the “pots” for booty. And, occasionally, boats run into the lines and get rope/string all wound up around their propellers or shafts...making said boat not run as well as it normally would. We hit a crab pot coming into Clearwater and had to have a diver remove the line that was wrapped around the propeller. Below are pictures of what we see of the crab pots…

The Everglades!! We’re in it!! I spotted a large reptile in the water, but couldn’t get the camera focus quickly enough to get a picture. Birds everywhere. There are 2 other boats in the area right now (6 PM).

By the time we got into the anchorage and made sure the anchor was set well (there’s a pretty stiff current in the river) it was too late to start exploring around in the dinghy. (Besides, we were requiring Lucy to use a “puppy pad” on the back deck tonight. I can just hear her complaints if the two of us took off in the dinghy.) I can see I’ll need a trip back down to the Everglades to round out my experiences.

I noticed on the chart for this area an Everglades National Park Wilderness Waterway:

The recommended Wilderness Waterway route from Flamingo to Everglades City is indicated by a magenta line. Navigation of the route is not advisable for boats over 18 ft. in length, or for boats with high cabins and windshields, because of the narrow channels and overhanging foliage in some areas.

The entire route can be traversed in a minimum of six hours with outboard motor, or in seven days by canoe. One day round trips are not recommended. Campsites are available along the route.”

A seven day canoe trip in the Everglades…camping out in the backcountry.
…Jeff Dobson, this has your name all over it!!

I decided this was the perfect venue for the “Where in the World is Smokey?” picture. UT has this thing going on their website to highlight “where” UT people (staff, students, grads) are this year. I had written in and received the T-shirts we are to wear in the photo…and what better background than the Florida Everglades. It took a few tries (dodging the sun) but we got it! And here’s another picture of Wayne loading up the Thermacell unit to ward off the “no-seeums” that had set in as the sun began to set. It didn’t work. We’re inside with the windows shut now. Mosquitoes, no. No-seeums? Yes!

January 31 – We were up and out of Shark River by 7:15 AM. We would have been out sooner, but wanted to let the no-seeums scatter some. The trip down to Marathon was pretty uneventful. We spotted what looked to be a rain storm to our east, but it didn’t come over where we were. We dodged a bunch of crab pots, though!

Coming into the Atlantic Ocean under the Seven Mile Bridge we were greeted with the beautiful turquoise waters of the Keys… And tonight we enjoyed our first Keys sunset (this year!) Beautiful!

February 1 - We are settled onto our mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor until next Tuesday. This place is really set up for “full time cruisers,” as we’re called. The field is managed by the Boot Key Harbor City Marina. For under $20/day we have dinghy docking available and pump outs at the boat. There are 226 mooring balls in the harbor…so there are a lot of boats here. There’s even a water taxi service run by the Smorgasboat ( to taxi people by water to areas on the harbor (West Marine, grocery). The Smorgasboat comes around to every new boat in the harbor and presents a welcome packet with information on the area…and a handy cloth bag from West Marine.

Every morning at 9 AM they have a “cruisers net” broadcast on VHF channel 68. The cruisers network offers an opportunity for people to ask questions, swap/giveaway/sell merchandise, make announcements of interest. Pretty neat! We listened in this morning for the first time and introduced ourselves as being new to the harbor. As a result of our announcement we were visited later by William Mayberry from Knoxville who’s staying in the harbor until mid-March with his wife Judy on their sailboat Optimystique. We met William at Blue Springs Marina back in October when we were just diagnosing the fuel tank problem.

We had a very productive day today (not something we're striving just happened. A side note, here: Wayne is such a Type A that for a while he kept thinking, "Now we could complete this loop in much less time if we..." He's come to his senses now and settled into a leisurely pace. Change of latitude, change of attitude. It works!)

Anyhow, we had planned to rent a couple of bikes today for our stay...$10/day per bike. Very reasonable, we thought. William mentioned that there was a little shop down the road that sells used bikes for $25. Well, we just had to check it out. We need a bike here...and in Key West. And, who knows, maybe we'll just keep 'em! We bought two bikes, a lock and cord, and had a basket installed on the front of one bike...for $65. What a deal. Wait 'til you see the bikes! I would have snapped them today but the little camera's battery was gone... I'll show you in the next post. We then happily biked to the Publix supermarket and got a few fresh items. Life is good!