Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Why would I ever leave...this island?"

Well, that's the question Howard Livingston asks in his song, but it seems that sometimes the answer is...MONEY.
Bev got a temp job at the hospital in Marathon, so Sunday night we enjoyed our last sunset in Key West and on Monday morning hauled in all 3 anchors and set sail for Boot Key Harbor.
It was predicted that we'd have seas running 2 to 3 feet, but as soon as we rounded the point at the west end of Key West we were slammed with waves running 5 to 6 feet. We couldn't use the engine because the waves "hobby-horsed" the boat to the point where the propeller came up clear of the water. So we sailed on as best we could. We had about 3 hours of tough tacking back and forth into the seas and traveled about 4 miles before the seas began to subside. Once the waves backed down to predicted levels, we were able to have a very nice sail for the rest of the day. We even set the mizzen-powered self steering gear and sailed hands free for a few hours.
By sundown we still had 20 miles to go and the wind died out to zero. We started the engine which, after a finicky start ran fine till we set anchor.
The only real trouble we encountered was the old leak in the forward bulkhead. I thought I had that spot repaired, but apparently the pounding we took in the morning opened up the seam again and we started taking on water. For a while the bilge pump handled it, but then the pump burned out. We had to pump manually until the boat leveled out enough to stop leaking. Since we made anchor Monday night, no further water has come in.
We anchored outside the harbor for the night on Monday, and first thing Tuesday morning our friend Scott from "Detroit Copper" dingied out and brought us a pot of fresh coffee. Bev cooked up some bacon, eggs and bagels and we all had breakfast on deck. Then Scott guided us in to our mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor. "Thanks, Scott."
Now we're relaxing and trying to recouperate from our adventure. Tonight there's "meet and greet" at the club house and we will go and meet the other cruisers in the harbor. The boater community here is very active. There's a "cruiser's net" radio program every morning on the VHF radio. We received a nice "welcome package" from the net organizers and the local water taxi. It's a package of information, catalogs and coupons wrapped up in a nice canvas shopping bag.
For those who are "geographically challenged" Marathon is a city on Vaca Key, about half way up the Keys from Key West. It's at Mile Marker 50 on the overseas highway. We'll be here for about 6 weeks or so, depending on how long the hospital can guarantee Bev enough hours to pay the rent and still save a bit.
I've included only one picture today, but it's a humdinger. Yesterday just after our first REAL showers in 4 months we were getting in the dingy to go back out to the mooring when someone shouted "Look Up!" When we did we saw this "sundog" - a ring around the sun. It last for several hours and was visible at least as far away as Key West. Cool!

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