Friday, January 06, 2006

Chapter IV, Part 5. Miami to Marathon

Chapter IV: Tarpon Springs, Florida to Marathon, Florida, plus 20 miles (cont.)

Part 5. South from Miami to Marathon Key, Days 19 to 22

Mar. 14, 2004 (Sun.), Day 19

This morning, Robin and I woke to rain on the cabin. It has rained one other time today and we were able to don our Frogtogs rain gear. It has been very cloudy the entire day. We left Miami this morning and only had to clear two high bridges today before staring our crossing of Biscayne Bay. Today was a wonderful day of sailing. We were able to sail with an average speed of 7 mph for about 5-1/2 hours.

It was more like open water sailing but we did follow the course of the ICW. Robin set a waypoint on the GPS receiver and we followed it for most of the day. Where there were no markers, the GPS system is a wonderful navigation tool. Robin and I would take turns at the tiller of about 30 minutes each. The wind was blowing about 35 to 40 mph at times. Spirit Song has developed a heavy weather helm and it requires a certain amount of physical strength to hold a course. We were both a bit tired so we decided to drop the anchor in the wind shadow of Pumpkin Key at about 3:30 pm. Pumpkin Key is a small island in Card Sound just about ½ mile west of Key Largo. There are nine boats anchored in the area. We sailed 38 miles today.

Mar. 15, 2004 (Mon.), Day 20

After a good night’s sleep and coffee we sailed away from the anchorage we were in. We sailed for two hours before bringing down the sails and starting the motor. The reason was an upcoming land cut plus a draw bridge (the only one for today). We passed through the drawbridge and spotted a fuel dock and restaurant. Both Spirit Song and we were in need of re-fueling so we tied up. This was also an opportunity for Robin and me to telephone home. We were able to sail off and on throughout the afternoon, only motored through several landcuts. The weather has been beautiful today with scattered clouds and temperature in the high 70’s. We are now at anchor in Ramshorn Bay which is just north of Plantation key.

Robin and I were sitting in the cockpit after the sun was down and it was completely dark. We were stargazing when Robin looked into the water and notice a pale green glow. Upon further investigation we noticed about a dozen green glowing things in the water. Some were glowing steady while others were blinking. A flashlight revealed a group of what appeared to be illuminescent squid.

We are traveling more west than south along the Florida Keys. We traveled 31 miles today.

Mar. 16, 2004 (Tues.), Day 21

This was a day of several varied boating conditions. We started off this morning under sail using only the jib. We did not start the outboard motor until entering a very short landcut. We proceeded from one body of water through a land cut into the next body of water. When we were in open water we were very often dodging a colored Styrofoam float attached to a line. The other end of the line went down to a crab trap placed there by many different commercial crabbers, each one identified with a specific color. We put on our Frog Togs once again when we approached a rainy area. It rained very hard for a bout 3 minutes and then slowed down for another 15 to 20 minutes. We had some sunshine today but mostly it was cloudy. We were able to sail more than half of the day. We are now anchored on the north (Gulf) side and West end of Vaca Key, which contains the town of Marathon. (There are only three other boats anchored in this immediate area. We traveled 44 miles today.

Mar. 17, 2004 (Weds.), Day 22

This was a day on shore. Robin and I started the day by using the inflatable dinghy to travel about 200 yards to a public facility to leave the dinghy. We enjoyed a good cooked breakfast at a restaurant called “The Stuffed Pig”. We then talked with some people at a local yacht club and were given directions to the nearby Marathon City Marina where we could take much needed showers and do a load of laundry. We then attempted to return to Spirit Song to pick up dirty clothes, etc, only to break a sheer pin for the propeller on the 3-1/2 horsepower dinghy motor. We then located a nearby West Marine store and purchased and modified a replacement sheer pin (the new one was too long). We were able to return to Spirit Song and collect the items needed back on shore. We then proceeded to take our showers followed by doing the laundry. While I was tending to the laundry Robin returned to the West Marine store to purchase replacement lines for the jib roller furling and both jib sheet, which were getting old and needed to be replaced. We then went to a nearby restaurant for a fried shrimp dinner. We then returned to Spirit Song in the last few minutes of twilight. The wind was picking up a bit and it was a wet ride back. The fetch was coming from the Gulf of Mexico with the wind coming from the west.


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