Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Dry Tortugas to Key West

Safe and sound at anchorage and, according to Mark's notes, the winds were still 22 knots, but everyone slept the sleep of the dead.  Mark slept from 3:00 p.m. right through till 7:00 a.m. the next morning, which is unheard of with him.  Looking back at the log book, we only used 45 gallons of diesel for the entire trip, so we didn't have to stop at the Caymans to refuel, and still had 55 gallons of water.  With the weather, we would have been stuck in the Caymans for at least a week, so glad things worked out the way they did.  Oh, and we did shower more than the two times I noted.

Looking out to sea
Dennis at the Fort
On Tuesday, the 17th of April, the seas finally calmed down enough for us to put the dinghy in the water and go ashore to explore.  Dennis had been to Fort Jefferson 30 years before, but the rest of us hadn't, so it was a great experience.   And, great to get off the boat after 12 days on the boat!!  Walked around, stretching our legs, and learning some new history for we Canadians.  Most of our time was spent reading, relaxing and watching the sea plane land and take off.
Where Dr. Mudd spent his prison term
He unknowingly treated John Wilkes Booth

On Thursday, the 19th, the winds and waves had finally calmed down enough for us to leave and head to Key West.  Anchor up at 7:30 a.m. and out we went with all sails up.  At 9:30 we ended up rolling in the Yankee and staysail and motored with the main since the wind promised to be on the nose all the way to Key West.  Thankful that we had such a wonderful sail from Panama, so I guess we can put up with this last bit of bad weather.  Well, until the autopilot quit.  Must have been that 8-10' wave that washed over the deck and down the side during our horrible night, or maybe the next morning.  Mark took over the helm, wanting to get his last bit of sailing in.

Headed into the anchorage at Key West, Wisteria Island, right as the sun was starting to go down.  Every tour boat and catamaran were out, so lots of things to avoid.  Lots of tricky manoeuvring with so many boats and shallow spots -- and why is it I'm always at the helm for that?  Called the Coast Guard to get the number for Customs, then phoned them to check in.  Have to report in tomorrow with Homeland Security downtown Key West. Relaxed, had dinner, and cracked open those two bottles of champagne to celebrate our true arrive in the U.S.

Took the dinghy in the next morning and found somewhere to tie up.  Oops, forgot we were in the U.S. and should have life jackets in the dink.  Luckily, made it back without being stopped.  Stopped and had a muffin and coffee, checked in with Homeland Security, and then were off to explore.  Checking in was amazingly easy and everyone was friendly and helpful. Although, I told them things would be easier if they could make the office stop moving!  That's what happens when you're on the boat for 2 weeks, rocking and rolling, and then get to land.

Another front coming in, and Dennis and I have been in Key West before when that's happened (on land, but watching boats at anchor), so we all decided we would go to a marina and split the cost just to be able to get off the boat and not get soaked.  First pulled into the Conch Harbor Marina, where we got our first pump-out in 9 years.  Hmmmm, took care greasing everything on the boat, but forgot about that waste tank. Ended up stripping the cap trying to get it off, so that's on the list of to get items.  Left there and headed into the Westin Key West Marina.  Nice place, with all the amenities of the hotel.  Unfortunately, we're too far from the hotel to get wifi, but we can go into nice air conditioned lounges and we're all set.  The big plus was getting laundry done.  Again, the wind picked up, it poured rain, but we were able to get things done and walk around a lot in between squalls.  Glad we came in here after we looked at the anchorage, where everyone was looking like the pirate ship ride.

We've all loved Key West..  Lots of walking, exploring and shopping, and a restaurant or two is nice after two weeks at sea.

We took the marina for an extra few days because the weather just wasn't calming down, which turned out to be a really good thing.  Mark and Deb got an email that they needed to get home ASAP - his dad was still in the hospital, not doing well and asking for Mark.  They got on the internet at 10:00 a.m., got a ticket and flew out at 5:00 p.m.  We'll miss them and are so glad that they were able to make it this far with us, and hope Mark's dad improves.
Deb and Mark getting ready to fly out 

Could not have asked for better crew -- Mark and Deb were so, so great to travel with.  And, they put up with us ;)

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