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Brac Cat Leg 2

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2001-2002 Voyage, Leg 2
Sebastian Fl to Key West Fl.
12/20/01 - 1/29/02

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The Dream!

David & Bonnie Juall 
 on The Brac Cat, Packet Cat 35' 
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Sparky the hiding crew!

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A great way to travel

Life aboard
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Now that is a dinghy dock!

     "All in all, we would highly recommend the experience of traveling completely on the ICW, with all the scenery, cities and towns and also all the beautiful remote anchorages."
e-mail TheBrac@HotMail.com or call our cell at (860)-841-9431

Note: Click images for a larger view.      (Return to review Leg 1 or read Leg 3)

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.
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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.
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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.
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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 responsible.

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 there.

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 everything again.

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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Last modified: April 05, 2006