Monday, February 21, 2011

A Marathon Race to the Bahamas!

February 14th, 2011
Happy Valentine’s Day!
We have continued our journey through the Keys. We stayed 2 nights at the Marquesas and enjoyed it! Saw some sea turtles, dolphins and incredible water as we sailed and motored our way to the first night’s stop. An amazing way to spend a 29th birthday! Almost 18 hours of sailing! Beautiful, but long! We spent the 2nd night near the inlet to the middle of the Marquesas. We motored in with the dinghy and saw another power boat in there. A pelican came RIGHT up to us...begging for scraps. We only took pictures of the horribly habituated bird.
We made it back to Key West and enjoyed a few more nights. Jay took us out (with another couple) to Sand Key to snorkel and fish. Really cool stuff! Sharks, lots of Parrotfish and tons of other ones I don’t know. Stayed for a couple more nights and then left out on the 8th to Bahia Honda State Park. Amazing place with perfect views, water and beach! We spent a day getting to know the park, especially the beach. 
On the 9th we packed up and went out to Looe Reef to go snorkeling. We ended up lobstering more than viewing. HUGE Baracudas, the size of my calve. Shark and lots of schools of fish. Beautiful, protected place. We took 2 lobsters from near by and motored up to Marathon. We came in at sunset and stole a mooring ball. Not supposed to, but I think it was fine. We grilled 2 lobsters and had it with angel hair and alfredo sauce! An amazing moment. We’ve been here now for 5 days (Marathon, FL). The winds came and went. 20-30 mph winds were forecasted and we barely rocked. We did swing a bit, but it was a GREAT anchorage and harbor. Everything at the marina was set up for cruisers and boaters. The water spouts on the seawall so you don’t have to lift your water cans. A library, TV rooms, internet, showers and bathroom included with your dinghy fee, laundry and even a goody bag! Every morning they had a radio channel devoted to cruisers, the cruisers net. They welcomed new folks, let people ask for help, had stuff for sale, and even a daily trivia question or two ! All great stuff. Laid back town, relatively small, but very friendly, LOTS of boaters.
We spent today renting a car and traveling to Key West. We had to get a “fast title.” Their office is the only one that does it in the Keys. So we got a VW Jetta with a sunroof and drove down in the nick of time. Got a new title and our boat registered. What a relief. We lost our first title in the Montana mail!? We had Willi, the previous owner get another copy and sent it to us. That is our ticket into the Bahamas. We’re looking at traveling up towards Long Key or Islamorada. Then to Key Largo. We’re hoping to jump out to the Bimini Islands and then around the Bahamas a bit. Here we come!!!! Passports ready!

Great Blue Heron in the mudflats at Marquesa Keys

Crazy Habituated Brown Pelican

Mangroves Sprouting anew

Horseshoe Crab, long gone from it's shell

Nice beach flower, not sure the species yet

Relaxing at Marquesa Keys as the sun goes down

Dub fishing off of Jay's boat, headed for Sand Key Reef

Sand Key Reef Light, Awesome snorkel!

Sunset at Bahia Honda State Park

Sunrise at Bahia Honda State Park

Our boat, Jay's boat, and Bahia Honda State Park (US 1 and our boat to the left)

Amazing beach! 

Looe Reef

Hand caught lobster dinner at Marathon

Ah, delight!

Our backyard at Marathon

348 Months Down, Many More Ahead

 February 1, 2011
Me, on my day of birth.

Sitting here in the Dry Tortugas, on the Eve of my 29th birthday. Got to thinking about some visitors I saw today. A couple ladies in their 70’s, complaining about how the sand was different than their it hurt. I couldn’t help but laugh because it never fails for someone to be in paradise and find a fault. I know I can do that sometimes and that’s why I’m vowing to be more positive and (somewhat) risk taking in the future. It’s not like I’m going to do crazy things...its just that I’m going to think twice about a denial to do something. I want to do as much as I can to experience as much as I can in this lifetime. I may be young, but it doesn’t mean I have to wait until retirement years to do what I want!

The reason they call it the Tortugas!
We’re planning on heading out tomorrow morning. Winds will be a bit against us, but I think we can manage. Might spend two nights at the Marquesa Keys, might not. We’ll see how the first night treats us. I’ll be spending my 29th birthday sailing into an east wind. Cheers to that!

A Pelican that wouldn't leave us alone, at sundown.

Dub watching the sun fade.

The beautiful pastels of the sea.

Sunset on my 29th birthday, well worth the wait!

Rock and Water - The Dry Tortugas

January 30th, 2011
We’ve enjoyed Key West for several days now...its starting to add up, 13 nights. We headed out from Key West yesterday morning at about 9 a.m. We went out the night before to a few bars with Vashe, our Czech friend. He’s a sailor too! Showed us his boat that is a work in progress--amazing beautiful boat. It will be perfect when he’s done. Hope we get to see it! We’ve been re-supplying and stocking, in preparation for the Dry Tortugas. Got more canned foods, few perishables. and eventually more beer and ice. Restocked - Check! 
There’s been so many days here at Key West that I can’t remember all of them. We’ve spent several days on the boat, with no motor on our dinghy to travel ashore. We also spent several days dealing with high winds. Since our new anchor (with lots of heavy chain) we’ve felt very comfortable with the higher winds...although you can never really feel comfortable with a CRAZY rocking boat! Most uncomfortable to sleep on! Anywho. We’ve restocked, made a few friends and now is the time to move on to the Dry Tortugas. So we did. 
We left out, 9 a.m., and traveled to Marquesa Keys. Good anchorage on the east side.  Scenic sunset and grilled out with hotdogs! Yep. Hotdogs! We’re goin’ gourmet! Went to bed at 8 p.m. and then woke up at 4 a.m. This morning we were lucky to have wind and raised the sails. Got movin’ by 4:45 a.m. Took us ALL day at 4 knots. Made it into the Dry Tortugas anchorage at sundown (6 somethin’). The entry was tricky, a new channel was open and one part of it was only about 8 feet in depth and probably 75 feet wide. It felt very tight and shallow, but we made it. Anchored out--here we are to listen to the Terns squawking outside and watching the sun set and rise. 

Sunset at Marquesa Keys, trip out

300 degrees, the number I stared at the WHOLE way out to the Tortugas!

Arriving at Sundown.

Black Skimmer

First Night - Sunset

Our boat anchored (second from right)

Brown Pelican

Fort Jefferson Lighthouse

Magnificent Frigatebirds

Royal Tern

 Lots of Magnificent Frigatebirds!

View from inside the Fort, looking out at the moat.

Inside the Fort

Amazing masonry!

Dub looking out on the blue water

 Lincoln assassination conspirator, and a man who helped with doctoring folks as a prisoner here.

Loggerhead Key dock

Ancient coral beds, Loggerhead Key

Little shell guys!

Our friend, Jay, at the boat house, Loggerhead Key

Little hermit crab

Loggerhead Key Lighthouse

Sunset - Second night

Sunset - Third night