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12/20/01 Thursday, December 20th. Left home in
Durham at 1:00 a.m., this Thursday early morning, Chevy Blazer packed with
us and three cats, pillows, blankets, etc., for non-driver rest periods.
Total of 16 hours to get to Sebastian to the ever-so-patient "The
Brac Cat" and the start of our second leg onto the Florida Keys.
Thankfully, it was an uneventful long journey that found us arriving and
happy to be back at 5:30 p.m.
12/21 through 12/25/01 Friday through Tuesday.
Stayed in slip at Captain Hiram's for a rest from the long travels and to
stay put for the Christmas holiday. Working on settling back into the
routine of cruising and letting the "kids" adjust once again to
being on the water. Seems like it will be much easier this time around,
with a short adjustment period. Jezabelle seems to remember on this boat
she got fed fresh shrimp scraps quite often and is sniffing around looking
for her treat. Kind of chilly, days are high of 65 to 70, but the nights
are dipping into the 40s. Decorated the boat with colored lights for the
holiday and had a nice, quiet Christmas Eve, after enjoying a late lunch
at the marina restaurant. There were two or three other couples in the
marina but otherwise very quiet. Christmas Day went for 17-mile bike ride
to Wabasso and back. Holed up inside for Christmas night, got chilly and
nice to be on board once again fixing up good ol' duckling for dinner.
Preparing to leave tomorrow a.m. after fueling.
12/26/01 Rising early to final prep for departure
further south. Filling water tanks, taking down Christmas lights, putting
everything in its proper storage place, tying up bicycles, etc., then to
fuel dock. Left at 8:30 a.m., and very excited to be back on the water
after all those days in a slip and all the ground traveling. Wind picked
up later a.m., to about 20 to 28 NW. Long trek down the Indian River
through Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, St. Lucie, Jupiter where we landed for
the evening at Peck Lake, after traveling 55 miles and now at MM992. We
went through 3 draw bridges today, tomorrow will face another 19 and
Friday another 17!! Quiet anchorage here, winds have died down. Spotted
our first manatee today. Funny how we have passed so many manatee zones
but have never seen one. Began to wonder if they really existed.
12/27/01 Up at 6:15 a.m. for an early start but…
it's a long story. Woke up and thought things were a little too quiet,
Sparky didn't give us his usual 5:00 a.m. rousing wake-up playing and
running around. Well, I guess he just hid in his usual spot and slept in
for once. Getting breakfast and still no sign. Now Bonnie is really
worried. Started calling, checking everywhere, opening everywhere we
thought he could be. Started to hear little meows but could not located
where they were coming from. Engine rooms, no Sparky; cupboards, no
Sparky; outside, no Sparky, etc., etc. 45 minutes later David opens a
drawer and is leaning down saying, I hear purring. Bonnie opened the CHART
drawer (you have to remember, the chart drawers are very, very short,
probably only six to eight inches deep) and out he pops. Bonnie had opened
the drawer the evening before at around 7:00 p.m., to get Yatzhee to play
a few games before bedtime. Never a peep from him so he slept there for 12
HOURS!! Could not believe it, and without a whimper.
Anyway, so started the day. Still chilly on our run this
morning. Went through Jupiter, Lake Worth, Palm Beach, and now the houses
are getting HUGE and the boats are getting HUGE. On through Boynton Beach
and Delray Beach, and ended up at Lake Boca Raton, of course just in the
City of Boca Raton. Our first stay in a port inside of a city. Very quiet
and clean harbor. Different to see all the high-rises lit up at night
instead of complete darkness, except for moonlight, in the usually remote
places we like to stay. Traveled 56 miles, now at MM1048. Bridges are not
too bothersome as you seem to be able to time them fairly well for timed
openings and some open on request. Being the first trip down the ICW,
would not want to miss this scenic route. Great way to see all the cities
without being bottled up in traffic. Boat traffic is not that heavy at all
and don't know if it is due to holiday week or just that it is a weekday.
12/28/01 6:15 a.m., rising, leaving at 6:45 to
beat the restricted hours of the first couple of bridges, we went thru
four draw bridges by 8:00a.m. David doing superb job at all the bridges.
Went through Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale (what an eye opener for this
country girl, their boats are twice the size of the house we live in!) and
on through Miami. Great to see The Brac Cat getting into some of that
bluer water we are starting to see south of Miami. All in all, would
highly recommend the experience of traveling completely on the ICW, with
all the scenery and cities and towns and also all the beautiful remote
anchorages. It really was a fantastic trip. Traveled 48 miles, found bluer
water and also much warmer temperatures, anchored here at No Name Harbor
at Key Biscayne, Florida, MM1096.
12/29/01 Stayed anchored in No Name Harbor. A lot
of weekend traffic in here Saturday. Good Cuban restaurant at harbor. Rode
the bike trails through the State Park. Did the nasty job of cleaning out
the head piping. (No, it's not all fun and games) What a smelly job but it
needed to be done and we're the only ones who are going to do it! The
"anchor police" gave us a visit, actually very nice state park
volunteers, and they charge $11.25 a night for anchoring. They keep a
really clean operation so not minded at all paying the fee. The travel to
get this far was a bit exhausting with all the bridges so we're also
taking a much needed rest-up. Great bike/hiking trail thru the State Park,
great secluded beaches.
12/30/01 Traveling down the Biscayne Bay and into
the Florida Bay today en route to Key Largo in the Florida Keys. Traveled
44 miles on to Tarpon Basin where we will anchor for a few days, pick up
our forwarded mail and head on into Year 2002.
12/31/01 to 1/02/02 Stayed anchored in Tarpon
Basin for the holiday. Very quiet New Year's Eve, in bed at 9:00. Tarpon
Basin is a very large anchorage, not too many boats here. Most people left
their boats south for a few weeks, traveled home for the holidays and will
be returning after the New Year. We suspect many will be traveling to
destinations further south, most seem to be heading to the Bahamas. It has
been cloudy with scattered rain and a bit chilly. Ventured to the library
and post office in the afternoon on New Year's Eve because we were waiting
for the heavy rain to stop. Cleared out and actually took a taxi to the
post office, got there and they had closed at noon for the holiday. Never
heard of such a thing. Taxi waited for us, took us down to the grocery
store and library. Library was closed also. Got a few things at the store
and in the meantime it started to rain heavily. Had lunch at the Chinese
place in the shopping center and still hadn't stopped raining so on we
trekked and got soaked.
Went out on Wednesday and this time walked to the post
office. By the time we were ready to leave there, started to really rain
again and got soaked AGAIN! Might as well stop at the Chinese restaurant
again and have lunch but stopped and bought a couple of dry, cheap
t-shirts. Snuck into the grocery store first and tried to make ourselves a
little respectable with our soaking hair and clothing. Checked e-mail at
library, killed some time in K-Mart waiting for the rain to stop, it never
did, so on we went.
1/02/02 Left Tarpon Basin in the early afternoon
for a short jaunt to Islamorada. Got 10 miles south, skies started getting
threatening, Coast Guard warned of incoming cells with possibilities of
tornados, we decided to tuck into Community Harbor at Tavernier. Just in
time to get the anchor set and the skies opened up, heavy rains with
strong winds. Community Harbor is a small, shallow, fairly protected
harbor loaded with liveaboards, mostly in vessels that surprised us to
still be floating (not all were floating). This was a start of new
experiences for us. We often wondered what happened to boats when they got
older and lost their usefulness. Now we know, they make it to the Florida
Keys and someone lives on them til they sink they move to the next one.
Cheap living and aside from the ones that still pump overboard, are fairly
1/03/02 and 1/04/02 Wound up staying at Community
Harbor longer than anticipated as the winds just would not let up.
Every evening around 5:00 the winds would pick up strength and not let go.
During our second night here, the winds got up to around 40 or 45 knots.
Checking out the port hole every thirty minutes or so to make sure we are
holding ground. Bonnie woke up at 3:00 a.m., and decided to take a quick
check out the companionway for a better look at the situation. Saw a
smaller sailboat going by us and in her daze from being asleep, thought
that boat was dragging anchor until she looked dead ahead and realized we
were the ones dragging anchor and were about 300 yards from our original
spot and were within 100 feet of ramming into the boats at the marina.
David, get up!! By now the winds are howling and we have to scream in
order to hear one another. David up at bow with anchor and Bonnie trying
with all her might to keep our position until the anchor is up. I'm sure
no one could hear the commotion as the winds was making such a ruckus that
nothing else could be heard. Managed to get the boat back to our original
spot, re-anchored and then took turns for the rest of the night and into
the morning keeping an eye on our position. Very difficult to sleep for
the next couple nights with the adrenaline still fresh in your system that
you can't seem to relax. Stayed put for another night still waiting for
the winds to die down, which they seem very persistent on keeping right up
We are beginning to notice the liveaboards in the truest
sense the further we get into the Keys. There are boats here that have not
been moved in many years. Don't seem to care for these full-time cruisers
at all. Also seeing boats that are half sunk in the water and obviously
done for. A couple of the "more pleasant" fellows felt the need
to blow their air horn at David as we passed in the dinghy going a little
bit too fast for their tastes. Do not like the feel we get here so are
looking forward to moving on. We did venture out and walked quite a ways,
having lunch at Dillon's in a shopping center down the way. Had a sunny
day that seems to be warming up a bit but the nights certainly are cold
(in the 40s).
1/05/02 Left around 8:00 a.m. and fueled up at
the marina (yes, the one we almost ran into at 3:00 a.m.) before leaving
for the next destination of Islamorada. Felt relieved to be leaving this
port! It was only another 10 miles but a very chilly run. Still somewhat
windy but nothing like it was. Anchored at MM1160 around Lorelie's
Restaurant with quite a few other boats. Most of them look like they are
local people that leave their boats moored here. Turned out to be a very
bouncy and noisy anchorage in the sense of the water lopping up against
the hull and not making for very restful sleeping. Anchored and showered
and quickly made our way to the post office for our next pick up, as they
close at noon, and was able to make it. Had lunch at Lorelie's, right on
the water, and was very enjoyable and relaxing.
1/06 and 1/07/02 Stayed anchored here as we are
enjoyed Islamorada. The people here are very friendly and down-to-earth.
Sunday went for a long bike hike and found a very interesting seafood
buffet restaurant, Whale Harbor, that we really intriguing so decided to
go back to boat and shower, change then take a cab back. Almost to the
boat and the skies darkened and very threatening (sound like a recurring
theme?) so speed it up and made it just in time before the skied opened up
again. By the time we were ready to leave again it had cleared a bit,
dinghy ride to shore and took a cab. DELICIOUS food and lots of fun to be
having such a great meal and being able to eat all the king crab, oysters,
shrimp, mussels, and then much, much more to taste. Couple glasses of
champagne and we're all set. Now we didn't need to take that cab back to
the boat, we walked!!
Monday visited the laundromat and got caught up on that
score. Starting to warm up and get clearer days with no rain. Are leaving
tomorrow for Marathon at Boot Key Harbor.
1/08/02 Very chilly this morning as we are
leaving the very bouncy anchorage. Will be nice to get to a place that is
more calm. Went 35 miles to MM1195, Boot Key Harbor in Marathon. We had
visited this town back when we were first married (almost ten years now)
so it holds some fond memories for us and we are looking forward to seeing
1/09/02 to 1/13/02 Staying anchored here for a
few days. Very quiet water and wind-wise so first couple nights it seemed
like we were catching up on some lost sleep. Tons of boats here, upward of
200, but very enjoyable and favorable as far as the many people you see.
Lots of boats again that seem to have people living on them, looks like
the boats haven't moved in many a year. Water is clean and clear, sunny
days and much warmer weather. The days are getting close to 80 now so it's
nice to be able to be barefoot with shorts for a change. Still haven't
gotten to the swimsuits and getting into the water and don't know if that
will come this trip. Had breakfast a couple times at The Stuffed Pig
across the streets, seafood benedict - ummmm. Completed a good deal of
shopping and provisioning at West Marine, Boater's World and others
realizing we needed a few things to make life easier on board, like water
jugs that we can fill at the dock and then just dinghy it back to fill our
water tanks. Eliminates having to go to shore as we now can pump overboard
with the macerator as long as we go three miles offshore, which we did do
on our way here and will also do once we leave heading to Key West. Our
need to visit a marina can now be limited to our rare visits to fuel up.
Thought of renting a mooring ball in Key West to keep
the boat at while we return home this time but the more we thought about
it, did not like the idea of not having the boat in a slip and protected
so we rented a slip at Blackfin Resort and Marina for the months of
February and March. Nice small marina, with only 17 slips on the Bay side,
it's quiet with its own beach. Plan to return to Marathon on the 24th of
January to get settled in and pick up the rental car at the airport for
drive back to PA.
1/14/02 Left Boot Key Harbor 6:45 a.m. headed for
Key West, our southernmost destination for this leg. Went thru the Boot
Key Bridge and stayed on the ocean side for our trip down. Winds NW 10 to
15, decreasing to 8 or 9 by mid morning. It is cloudy and chilly this
morning and we are hoping for clearing skies and warming temperatures as
the day wears on, and glad to say we were not disappointed as it totally
cleared and went up into the 80s. Saw lots of dolphins. Got into Key West
Harbor at 1:00 p.m., made very good time, and decided to anchor in Fleming
Bay which is just a short dinghy ride from the dinghy dock and Old Town.
1/15/02 to 1/22/02 Enjoying Key West immensely.
Paid $20 to be able to dock our dinghy for the week when we come ashore.
The only problem we found was finding an open spot as there are probably
200 boats anchored here. Love the town, great restaurants and the people
are great. Met some fellow cruisers. Had breakfast at Rooftop one morning
and Papa's another with its great outdoor garden patio with lush tropical
landscaping and quite a few parrots. Had lunch one day at Key West Seafood
and Beer Garden, which was another patio outside. Also had lunches at the
Raw Bar and Grill on the water, great oysters (Rockefeller, BBQ and
garlic) and Po' Boy sandwiches, fresh fried fish on a roll with coleslaw
and muenster cheese melted on top, with sweet potato fries. It certainly
was a treat and very good. This is race week here in Key West, lots of
activity both on and around the water. Racers from all over the world are
here and the national press to cover them, quite interesting. Key West
also has what we believe to be one of the best marine hardware store ever
just near Key West Bite, prices are good too. Spent a lot of time shopping
and buying in it. When a store like this is available it is surprising how
many projects get completed.
Checked our e-mail at the Internet Café in the center
of town. Tried the library but they are booked weeks in advance and very
difficult to get a terminal. Paid six bucks for 30 minutes and worked out
very well. Walked Duval Street many times, window shopping and enjoying
the sights (people as well as stores). Our anchorage is by a boating route
for charter fishing boats so starting at 6 or 7 in the morning it gets a
bit rocky and noisy and then in later afternoon when they return, but
thank goodness the nights are quiet. The weather is just fabulous, with
the days being blue sky and the temps in the 80s. Exactly the reason we
traveled here. The kids are enjoying the weather, snoozing outside in the
cockpit most of the time, when we're on board. The cats have figured out
that when we are in dock that they can jump to the dock, so no more in the
cockpit at dock, only at anchorage.
Took bike ride around the island, passing Ernest
Hemingway's home and the "southernmost point" of the U.S. Went
to Mallory Pier one evening and saw all the side shows, much fun!! Very
crowded as there are at least one, if not two, cruise ships that are here
every day dumping a couple thousand people onto the shores. Walked back on
the water side and decided to stop in at A&B Seafood for dinner.
Actually David talked Bonnie into it. It is supposed to be exceptional but
very high priced. It certainly lived up to both reputations. The food was
superb, lobster soup (of course they had some fancy name for it), salad,
yellowtail snapper with black noodle and goat cheese bake, David having
surf and turf. We will have to savor those tastes for quite a while to get
our money's worth but it was a real treat and we loved being spoiled by
the service. David got caught up in the luxury and traded The Brac Cat in
(boy the IP's hold their value well), heads up, on a boat called
"LEGACY', see the picture below (yeah right). Planning on leaving to
head back to Marathon on Wednesday, the 23rd, as we have the slip reserved
for the 24th.
1/23/02 Left Key West at around 7:30 a.m., with
SW 15. Decided to travel north up the ocean side but hit the weather dead
on in the breakers, broke some small stuff, found going out the channel
was too rough so we turned around and headed up the bay side thinking the
Keys would block the wind blowing from the ESE. WRONG!! Wind actually
picked up to 20 to 25 and the water was tough as we were going right into
the waves. Made very little headway in four hours. realizing it would be
way past dark when we reached our destination and being unfamiliar route,
talked it over and decided we should turn back and head to Key West. The
ride was certainly a lot smoother and felt relieved to have made the
decision to return instead of pressing onward.
Got out our marina list our friends from Key West had
sent us and decided to give it a shot at calling a couple to see if
possibly we could find a comparably priced marina so that we could nix the
idea of having to return to Marathon as we felt the winds would not abate
for at least a couple days and would cut short our time getting settled
and getting ready for the ride to PA. Luck is on our side!! First marina
Bonnie called had slip and we were able to get it for three months for a
slight bit more cost, which was good news in that slip rentals in Key West
are VERY expensive. Cancelled Blackfin Marina (luckily we were able to and
they actually had someone in the office looking for a slip so it worked
out perfectly) and changed our car reservation for pick-up at Key West.
After a beat-up day on the water, it was great to be heading to a slip
with no worries.
We are now at Sunset Marina which is actually on Stock
Island, part of Key West but out of Old Town. Nice and clean and feel very
comfortable leaving the boat here.
1/24/02 to 1/29/02 This brings us to the conclusion
of Leg 2 of our trip. It is more of an adventure than
a trip. Not nearly as much traveling as the first leg, many wonderful and
interesting, and not so interesting, places. Six weeks have "flown
by". We did not tie up at a marina since leaving Sebastian. Bought
some water jerry jugs at Home Depot in Marathon and ferry the water to the
boat. Other than water, The Brac Cat is very self sufficient. The next
leg will commence around 3/21/2002 and take us to the Dry Tortugas
then afterwards we are not certain. At some point before hurricane season
we will return north, maybe Maine this summer. You meet and see a lot of
cruisers, some for a moment others for a few days or weeks. Several have
approached us in Key West and Marathon and said "we followed you thru
North Carolina" or "you passed us in Mosquito Lagoon". The
same with us and many others. We traveled for a few days with a guy
traveling solo on TRINKA, a Bristol Cutter, in Northern Florida only to
find him anchored off Key West. He says, "Key West is great !!!, met
lots of people. I am only afraid that I will wake up one morning 15 years
later and still be here like it was tomorrow". It appears that this
is what happens exactly to many cruisers and non-cruisers alike, you find
a place that suits you so well you forget to leave. Enough rambling.
Thanks for following our adventure. Hayden has set up a
website to promote the Cayman Brac property, take a look at it at http://www.caybrac.com
and let us know what you think.
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