Monday, January 24, 2011

Southernmost Point Continental U.S.A.

January 19th, 2011

We made it to Key West! We found (somewhat) favorable weather and started off at about 7am on Saturday morning (1/15), with winds out of the NNE - great to push us south! Days before, I was trying not to think about the trip too much. That way I wouldn’t get nervous about the long trip. It was an 80 mile trip total, plus some motoring up and down channels on each end of the trip. At first everything seemed great, smooth sailing, wind at our backs (and in reality is was ok)...but then the wind died back. We found ourselves going back east at a very slow rate. Eventually we were almost standing still. One o’clock and the heat of the wind. a.) it’s hot. b.) we weren’t getting anywhere and c.) it was wasting our time. The forecast didn’t call for “light and variable” winds, they called for 12-15 knots. So we swindled as much air as we could and made our way slowly. We even did a few 360’s because the wind just didn’t cooperate. 

Dolphins saying Hello!

More dolphins!

Sunset over the Gulf, no land in sight!

Nothin' but Beauty!
Overall, it was good. No major problems, just long: 37 hours total. Dub brought us in to the Northwest Channel cruising along. Our afternoon consisted of cruising along at about 5 knots...even getting up into the 7 knot range. It kinda scared me because it makes me nervous when we lean over because of the speed (and sails pulling us). It’s just hard to believe the boat will stay upright, but Dub assured me: it’s made for this, there’s 6,800 pounds in the keel of the boat and that should keep us upright. I believe him, but’s its crazy. It’s like your instincts tell you you’re leaning over too far, but you learn that sailboats are all about leaning (and rocking for that matter). 
So, we came in and anchored in the dark. We woke up to LOTS of sailboats. Within the vicinity, probably 50 the whole area, probably 100 total. We’re anchored by Wisteria Island, which is just west from Key West proper. It’s quite the paddle, too. About 1.1  miles from our location. We’ve ordered a motor for our dinghy, so we’re prepared for things like this. It will be great for exploring the different places we go. We also ordered 2 Crazy Creek chairs (camping chairs) for lounging about. I can’t wait! We’ve wanted these self-supporting chairs for a while. It’s going to give us a portable, small option for sitting and will be a bit cushioned! We also ordered a dozen Clif bars for extra survival food, just in case. 
Lately we’ve been fine tuning our Luxury Yacht (ha!). We found curtains and sheets at a thrift store. The curtains are flowery and Dub’s not crazy about them, but he’s ok with the shade they provide. The sheets are necessary because its warmer lately. We found a twin set of SpongeBob Squarepants. Funny stuff and somehow perfect. We also seem to have a routine down for nights, days and the time in between. Dinners are gaining more variety due to some canned goods. Water and electricity usage is getting fine tuned. I think we’re getting the hang of it, but there’s still some new things. 
Some of the views from our boat.

We weathered our first storm. On January 18th we paddled ashore to get ice. We really needed it. It was over a mile and I have to say, not too bad. I wasn’t sore at all. Just hot and sweaty. We got lunch at the Conch Republic Seafood Company-- fish tacos, my new fav! Our bartender gave us two free drinks and we made a new friend. He wants to call us and meet up and talk boats. He has a sailboat on a dry dock and wants to chat about it, I guess. He’s Czech and seemed very nice. We’re supposed to get a call tomorrow and hang out. 
Anywho, we paddled back out and enjoyed the steamy day. About 4:30pm we started to prepare for a storm. We set a second anchor JUST in time. As Dub let go of the rode, the wind blew us and the front came upon us. Wind and rain blowing sideways. We barely got inside before it rained on us. About an hour of rain, wind, waves while we watched our movement at the windows. It rocked us a bit at first, but didn’t seem too bad. It moved through pretty fast. We survived!
Sunsets are worth gold!

Today we were awaken at 4 am to some rocking of the boat. We somehow got our rode (anchor rope) wrapped around our keel (the bottom of the boat). We were only able to rock a 20 degree distance and eventually our anchor rope got cut by the boat and movement. We were about to try moving the boat, when we noticed we were free. We dropped the  motor and got the other anchor out. We set it and I stayed up reading for a bit, just to make sure it was set. It was. I went back to bed at the ripe hour of 7am. Slept til 8:30am. Sind then we realized the tide and current was moving us around. We went swimming off the boat and we were practically swept away. We had to hold onto the dingy just to stay by the boat. So we researched and found out you can send a weight down the rode, that will hold down the rope, even if you swing around it. Dub put a small anchor down twenty feet to weigh down the rope. We’re going tonnight to get a half gallon of sand to add to the weight. This will hopefully help us out. We’re also going to get a new anchor and rode. Chain works best, but rope is cheaper. We’re going to splurge and get about 40 feet of chain. The chain lays down better and will help hold the anchor in place better (with its weight). 

It's all about the Sunsets, here at Key West!

And the moon rises, too!
Overall, we’re fine tuning and cleaning up a bit. We’ve enjoyed a few sunsets from the best unobstructed view in the Keys! People are out here paying for this and we live here! For now. 

Full Moon at our Anchorage,
Meet our neighbors.

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