graffiti, Key West Florida

Random Images of Key West

Monday February 24, 2014

graffiti, Key West Florida

Sorry there hasn’t been much to update you on here in Key West, but unless you’d like to hear more stories of how we’re constantly getting waked from all the fishing boats and tour boats that whiz by us, there really isn’t much to report on.  Seriously though, it could almost be a post.  These guys don’t even go on the outside of us, as the furthest out boat, to cut down their distance by 100 meters.  No, they cut between boats in the anchorage because it must be such a time saver to them.  Ugh.  I can’t even get started on it.

So, instead of my whining and bitching about power boaters and their manners, I instead leave you with random images of Key West.  Which would have been the better post in the end, I’m still deciding.  But at least this one leaves you with a pretty sunset.

marinas in Key West

Blue Heaven, Key West

house in Key West

Tropic Theater, Key West

riding scooter in Key West

Kermit's Key Lime Pie, Key West

Matt in butterfly cut out

Cayo Hueso Hotel, Key West

Jessica at southernmost point

Hemingway House, Key West

lighthouse, Key West

Red Trouser Show, Key West

A&B Lobster House, Key West

sunset, Key West


Georgie’s Shore Leave

Saturday February 22, 2014


We had plans to leave today to head further up the Keys, slowly making our way to Miami instead of doing it in one quick jump, but we had a little bit of a hold up this morning. The 3M 5200 we had purchased to seal up one of the front ports in the v-berth was not the fast drying tube. Having completed the project around four o’clock yesterday afternoon, we didn’t read the part about needing 24 hours to set until it was too late. Looks like we were stuck in Key West for one more day. Neither of us felt like going to shore, there wasn’t anything we needed, we’d already seen all the touristy things to do there, and truthfully, we were kind of sick of paying the $6 fee to land our dinghy. There was one place we could go though, that wouldn’t charge us anything.

For the past few days we’ve been looking at Georgie and thinking ‘Poor thing, she has nothing to do on this boat’. Even in Isla at least there were always minnows and needle nose fish swimming right next to the hull for her to stare at, here there was nothing. Eying the small an uninhibited Wisteria Island that we were anchored right next to we thought, ‘Sure, why not? Let’s take the cat in to walk around’. We placed her in her harness that she normally wears on passage, clipped her leash on, and stuck her in the dinghy. She was not pleased about this part. In fact, I may have received a few new scratch marks to my arm while trying to wrangle her out of the corner next to the dodger where she likes to spend most of her days. Then a quick pass to the dinghy where we shoved off before she had the opportunity to jump back on the boat. Believe me, she was aiming herself to.

Just like her last dinghy ride in Guatemala where we were bringing her back from her catsitter’s, she whined and howled and made noises that would make all other cruisers in the anchorage think that we were performing acts of animal cruelty. As soon as the dinghy pulled up on shore though, she was in love. Not knowing what to think of the situation she sat in the dinghy staring out until we picked her up and placed her on solid ground, something her feet haven’t touched in four months. Then just like a scent hound, her nose hit the ground as she took in this unfamiliar earth, sniffing her way up and down a small patch of the coral lined shore. The search broadened as she made her way up to weeds and bushes, tucking herself under a shaded spot to sprawl out and chew on leaves and twigs.

When it was apparent that she would probably stay in this one spot all afternoon unless forced out, we picked her up and placed her down on the shoreline once more, keeping a slow and steady pace as she trotted along side. This is only the second time we’ve tried to actually walk her on her leash, the first time being when we first purchased it back in St. Augustine, taking her for spins around the boat yard. She wasn’t too ecstatic about it at that time, but now she was acting like a complete natural, filling the need for just a moment of the K-9 companion that Matt has been missing for the past two and a half years. The three of us walked about a quarter of a mile down the beach before we let Georgie off her leash to do a little exploring on her own. There was a noise in the bushes that caught her attention and she was keen to investigate.

When she didn’t come out and we were 90% sure that a snake lived in the hole that she was probing, we once more had to pick her up and set her on a new course where she happily trotted along side us again. In true cat fashion though, it didn’t take much longer after this before the amount of exercise became too great and she plopped on her side, thwarting any plans of ours to continue on. Giving her a pretty decent rest period we found out that this was in fact it for her for the day. Tugging on the leash did not get her moving again, but instead left a trail snaking through the coral as she dragged behind. Carrying her back to the beach by the dinghy we tried once more to get her to walk around, but her only interests were sitting in the tall grass under a tree. All in all her actual walk only lasted about five to ten minutes, with the other 45 minutes sitting and resting, but I think it was the perfect little escape from her every day boat life, if even for just a little bit.

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walking Georgie

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Matt & Georgie

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Seeing Key West by Scooter

Thursday February 20, 2014

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It looks as if my prediction of staying on the boat to surf the web only half came true. Since we’ve been here we’ve gotten into an every other day habit, where one day we’ll stroll through town or run errands and the next day we’ll hang out on the boat. Each time we’ve been able to get off the boat it’s been a treat, not just to check out the cool things that Key West has to offer, but to get myself on solid ground that’s not moving beneath me. Not only is there barely any protection from the elements here, we’re only blocked from the Gulf of Mexico by two dinky little islands, but we’ve managed to park ourselves in a spot where all the tour boats and fishing boats like to get up on plane and come right between us and the next boat, rocking us so hard that items on the counter will slide right over the lip and come crashing to the floor. We’ve managed to break one more Corelle coffee mug and get to add it to the items to replenish/replace while we’re here in the states. I have to say though, the sunsets in this spot are spectacular and make it well worth all the rocking and rolling that goes on during the day. While our cockpit faces SW in the evening, I cozy back with a Mexican beer or the last bit of boxed wine in my hand and unwind after a long day of Facebooking. These are some tough times we’re living in..

After having spent the past five days discovering Key West by foot, I was finally able to wrangle that scooter ride that we never ended up taking in Isla Mujeres, and transfer my credits here. From the bank of Matt. While strolling the sights on foot yesterday, we found a little scooter shop all the way at the end of Duval St. that would let us rent a double scooter for $40/day. Getting ourselves back there at 10:00 this morning, after a stop a Starbucks to begin using those gift cards, we signed off on the paperwork and Matt took a test drive through the parking lot before we decided to be the only people here that actually would don helmets, and rode off into the late morning sunrise. Wanting to get as many miles in as possible with wheels under our feet we joked that we should make a break for US 1, seeing how far up the Keys we could make it (does Key Largo sound feasible?) before determining that the outer parts of Key West would actually be good enough for us.

The first stop of the morning was Smathers Beach, a popular spot recommended to us after asking for suggestions of what to do here. It was just a little further than either of us wanted to wander on foot before but we figured if we both really liked it, it might be worth the walk next time. Parking on the side of the road and stepping on to the nearly deserted beach, we were struck by how completely different it was from Playa Norte in Isla Mujeres. We were used to palm trees that lined the whole beach all the way down to the shore, providing some shade and beauty, leading to postcard blue waters while music thumped from little bars and restaurants just behind us. This was just one long strip of sand with some palm trees shielding you from the road, with somewhat murky looking water waiting for you at the shoreline. Putting my snobbery aside for a second, I’m sure this place 1. has a lot of sediment being tossed up at the moment due to all the strong winds we’ve been having lately, leaving the water not quite in it’s best form, and 2. it is actually a very nice beach when you’re not comparing it to the picture perfect one you’ve just come from. But I am.

After that we hopped back on the scooter and aimlessly began driving around, trying to see sights that we hadn’t made it to before. There were just a couple, such as the cemetery and the area by the naval base, but it turns out we had already seen most of the good stuff since it’s all grouped by where the cruise ships are. We had only been on the scooter for an hour and a half before figuring this out, and even though we’d already walked Duval St and it’s surrounding shops before, we parked ourselves to get off and walk them once more. Lunch time was also growing near and we needed to find at least one of the recommended places given to us to eat at. The first stop was by far the most popular suggestion, Blue Heaven for breakfast. Luckily they served it a few hours into lunch time, but unluckily for Matt who hates just about every kind of breakfast food, they hadn’t started their lunch menu yet. Hopping back on the scooter we parked ourselves in front of the Green Parrot and sat ourselves at the bar, ready to get some grub. Just before placing our drink orders we found out this establishment did not actually serve food, and dejected, we walked next door to Charlie Mac’s. Opting to split one of their large baskets featuring a beef brisket, we were instantly transferred back to Mojo’s in St. Augustine where we’ve had some of the most amazing beef brisket in the world. This was no different. Even the sides of macaroni & cheese and cornbread were to die for. Plus it didn’t hurt that we had the owner stopping in for lunch at the table in front of us, and he kept passing back his own plate of brisket for us to nibble off of.

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Since we did have a set of wheels at our disposal and no more sights that we really had to see that day, we put our scooter to good use by making runs out to the grocery store on the other side of the island to stock up Serendipity with things that she’s sorely been missing since Cayman. First was a run to Publix where Georgie was finally able to get good clumping fresh scented litter again, and we loaded ourselves up with about 15 blocks of Cabot cheese that was on special. There was also enough food to get us through the next few days, and back we went to Serendipity to drop off all our goods. Making one more food run, we switched to the Winn Dixie this time, which was having a special on a few of our old favorites, Coke and Kraft macaroni & cheese. And that’s all that we bought there. Coming up to the check out counter with 20 liters of pop and 10 blue boxes of mac & cheese, I assume that the cashier expected the conversation between Matt and I to be somewhere along the lines of “Cleatus, we better git back to the trailer park to watch the grankids so Darlene can get to her shift at Pink Cheetah. Make sure’n sign her form cause she’s a minor.”

By the time we made our multiple runs to the grocery stores it was nearing five o’clock and the scooter needed to make it’s way back to the rental facility. Not having gotten much entertainment in for the day, we slowly strolled Duval St. on the way back, watching all the people that were already pretty intoxicated just as happy hour was beginning. Walking by one of the restaurants that had benches and bars facing the sidewalk, a group of about 4 guys were rating each woman as she walked by. I hadn’t even noticed this until we had already passed and Matt was looking back with a shocked faced to see that I’d only been rated as an 8, but I think I have to agree with the guys on that one. Slightly sweaty with helmet hair? I think I could have done much worse.

Another popular suggestion of things for us to do in Key West was check out the street performers that come out near sunset in Mallory Square. Everyone was just setting up shop as we walked in, the vendors with their food and drinks, and the performers with their shows. Since there wasn’t much else happening at the moment we wandered over to a guy that had a sign for swallowing swords. He did some performances for the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not located there, and also took to the streets at night for extra tips. We watched on, crowded as close to his little line as we could get, as he stuck a sword around two feet long down his throat, did a little spin, and then bended down on one knee. It was a good thing we had just a little bit of cash on us and were able to tip him a dollar for the pleasure of watching. Moments after that show ended we heard calls from just a few feet away, a fire swallower that was trying to gather a crowd. Stepping up to his line, we watched a much longer show as he first did in fact swallow fire for the crowd, and then wrapped himself up in a straight jacket, and then had multiple chains looped and locked to his body. We’d seen shows like that before, and being able to lock my hands together behind my back and bring them up around my head without ever letting go myself, I know that a little bit of knowledge and some flexibility can get you out of that. But the jokes were funny, and most of the other performers were still setting up, so it was worth another dollar out of our pocket.

Our last performance of the day was two young guys, possibly brothers, performing acrobatic feats, almost in a Cirque du Soleil style. We missed the first few minutes to it, but later found out they call themselves The Red Trouser Show and perform all over the US. The show was actually quite long, about 20 minutes, and included things like juggling knives, juggling fire, doing handstands off the other’s palms and other general jumps and flips. Matt was actually brought in for part of the show, where he spent most of it holding a rope and wondering why he was doing this, but for their last feat they climbed a very high ladder that needed support from each corner, and while Matt and three other guys did this, one of the RTS guys placed himself horizontally from the ladder while supporting the other RTS guy who kicked up his legs in the other direction. It looks like their shows are pretty popular across the country, and I can see why. I’d follow them anywhere.

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Coming to America

Saturday February 15, 2014

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When we arrived to Key West I had resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to go back to having internet only every 2-3 days when I could drag Matt to a McDonald’s to use their services, and usually only for an hour at a time. Imagine my surprise when as soon as the anchor was down, Matt had found a signal and already got us connected. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to turn into a story of how we never left the boat because we were busy surfing the web (although I could see that happening depending on how long we stay here), but I tell you this because we had the gift of being able to research where the hell we were supposed to go here to land the dinghy. Or do anything, really. Don’t laugh at me, I had visions in my head of getting to Key West to anchor ourselves among 8-10 other boats, and seeing shore access right in front of us, preferably on a sandy beach with no cost associated with tying up. Hello, the budget game is still running. Keep in mind that I had never researched anything on Key West before we left, only how to get there. So when we dropped anchor last night among 100 other masts that I could make out and looked at the multiplying condo complexes in front of us, I knew this was going to be harder than I initially imagined. This new internet connection of ours told us where we could land the dinghy and even how to get there from where we were. For the cost of $6 a day. Ugh.

Our internet access also allowed us to make a call to Customs to find out that we personally could not check in solely based on a phone call as our guide book told us (damn!), but that we could visit the airport the next morning and get it done there. This morning we brought our dinghy up to the marina listed online to find out where exactly it was we were supposed to tie up, and immediately got a mouthful from the marina employee for not tying up where we were supposed to. Thanks guy, that’s what I was coming to ask you. As soon as he sent us on our way with a glare in his eye, we were greeted and ushered in by a dinghy full of,…hmmm, there’s no way to say this,..hillbillies that gave us half toothed smiles as they waved us in while trying not to spill the Busch Light out of their cans. Welcome to America.

Our first important stop of the day, almost more important than getting ourselves check in, was a stop at the Post Office to pick up the care package my mom sent, the one that’s been trying to get to us since December. That’s ok though, because a longer delay meant more time to add requests to fill the box. Which then turned into two. Oops. While shuffling through the boring but necessary things, the debit card we hadn’t had access to since October, the the sewing kit for repairing sails and thick fabrics, we were able to get to the good things. For me at least, I don’t think Matt was excited. While he waded through all kinds of paperwork that we hadn’t been able to receive in months, I pulled out pairs and pairs of new sunglasses, sundresses, Skittles. There were Snickers, Starbucks gift cards, and a Snuffelupagus. Sorry, I got carried away there on my S’s. That last one was actually supposed to be gourmet coffee grounds. To say I was a little excited to receive this package was an understatement. We also received back, on loan, our Waterway Guide to Florida that we had sent to our friends Jackie and Ron when we left Florida last year and thought we’d never be back. Turns out we were wrong. We’ll just take that back for a few weeks…

From our internet connection we were also able to discover that the airport is completely on the other side of the island. Not that we’re not normally up for a hike, but when the officer on the phone last night said morning, did he mean before 12 noon morning? As in, the office will be closed, if you don’t get here in the morning?! Because in that case, even though I like to consider myself in good shape, I didn’t know if I could walk the 5 miles in less than an hour. A taxi it was going to have to be. The last thing we needed was Border Protection exiling us from our own country because we didn’t check into the country before Monday and Matt, who does actually follow the rules, couldn’t keep his wife from wandering up and down Duval St after three days at sea.

Rushing ourselves out to the Arnold Building to make sure the American government didn’t have a reason to hate us we found out that not only was the office open until 7 that night, but Border Patrol wouldn’t even be back for over an hour as they were currently out inspecting one of the cruise ships that had just come in. It wasn’t all bad though, we found a vending machine that offered Mountain Dew, our first taste of it since Colombia, and wandered through the tourist shops where they were pawning sea beans with peace signs and hearts on them for $6. I just smiled, remembering all the ones we’d collect on the beaches of the Bahamas for free.

When we finally saw life inside the Border Patrol building again, we went inside for what was probably the easiest check in procedure we’ve ever done. Even better than Cayman, which had been high on my list of We’ll never get this lucky again. Maybe it’s because we had an a-hole agent walking out the door when we first arrived to tell us that they wouldn’t be back to help us for hours, and when they did, there would be a thorough inspection of our boat, it’s contents, and every piece of food in the chill box; but we were blessed with someone much friendlier when we got back the second time. It was just one form, $19, five minutes, and we were out the door. The only thing that really, I mean really surprised me, is that not one of the officers batted an eye at my over-dialated eyes. Did I forget to mention that I got the other one this morning while doing my make-up? I guess I must have brushed one of my fingers over the spot that my scopolamine patch had been sitting on and accidentally rubbed it into my good eye. If these men are supposed to be looking for suspicious behavior, it was literally written all over my face. I looked like I had been trying every kind of drug Mexico has to offer. Maybe my tank top was just lower cut than I knew and they didn’t even realized I had a face, who knows?

Continuing on with our day of excitement: care packages and legal entry back into our country, we set our sights on finding some good ol’ American fast food. Walking the two miles from the airport to the fast food district, we passed on McDonald’s before setting our sighs on Wendy’s.  With greasy burgers and cheesy bacon fries placed in front of us, we dug in like there was no tomorrow and were soon paying for our mistake.  After not eating food like this for so long our stomachs were not liking the sudden change.  As we wandered out of the building and down the street, I think the only words that either of us could mutter were “I think I’m going to die…”.  Maybe this is the opportunity to kick our fast food habit for good?  We’ll let you know how that one turns out.

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Speed, Squalls, Officers & Oculars: Our Crossing From Mexico to Florida

Friday February 14, 2014


If you asked us about this passage within the first 22 hours of leaving, and if it was a good idea to have gone with the forecast we did, I would have patted myself on the back while saying in a singsong voice “I am so smart. This is the best passage, Matt is silly for thinking we could have waited for a better one”. Because really, the first 20 or so hours truly were bliss. After eeking out of the harbor in Isla Mujeres at 4:30 in the afternoon, we rounded a few shoals and rocks on the north side before hoisting the sails and killing the engine. Straight away we were pushing forward at 6.5 knots on a close reach without much rocking under the hull. Matt took his spot under the dodger and I settled in to the leeward side behind the wheel, eyes fixed to the north where all the sport fishing boats were returning with their day’s catch. So far we had been able to start out the passage with neither of us feeling sick immediately upon departure, which I attribute to a well timed scopolamine patch on my neck earlier in the day, and suffering through many weeks in a less than calm harbor which made these small waves feel kind of like being at anchor.

We ate separate dinners of sticky buns and stale Oreos, and the only moment of panic for the day was when I literally jumped out of my seat yelling “Oh my god!!”, which made Matt assume that the boat must be falling apart, but in reality, was only due to the fact that I’d just seen two dolphins surface not more than ten feet off our aft quarter, seemingly out of nowhere. Unfortunately they did not make a repeat appearance. Georgie had taken up a spot on Matt’s lap, the only time now that she’ll willingly try and force herself as close to us as possible. During passage she’s like velcro on one of the two of us, not daring to get out of the protection of our arms, but as soon as that anchor is down, you can be assured that she can’t even remember who we are.

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 Protect me!!

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 Goodbye Isla!

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As night came upon us we fell into the Gulf Stream and began riding that baby to average speeds of 8 knots, all the while feeling the calmness as if we were motoring through a glass calm bay. I’m sure I’m overexagerating a little, but I don’t remember it feeling much worse than our slightly rocky harbor we’d just left.

To add to the smoothness in this first 22 hours, it didn’t even take me 5 minutes to fall asleep when I went below the first time, a feat that normally only takes place 20 minutes before Matt comes to wake me for my turn to go back out on watch. This time I was able to get up somewhat rested and happily occupied my time on shift by flipping through various albums we had finally set up to play through our stereo, and counting all the miles already ticking away behind us. Throughout my whole shift we kept that comfortable 8-8.5 knots, along with just the slightest rocking motion under our hull. Calculating that if we kept this pace up we’d actually get in by Thursday evening, which is a dangerous thing to do, getting one’s hopes up early in a passage that their time will be cut down, since it rarely ever works out that way.

At the time though, it seemed almost foolproof. It was 350 miles through the rhumb line, which due to wind direction, we wouldn’t be able to follow exactly but I assumed we’d only add an extra 20 miles max. 370 miles at 8 knots would put us there in 46.5 hours, add in the extra speed since we were really going closer to 9 knots now, add add a little cushion for when we probably slowed down to 7 at some point. But it sounds completely feasable, right? I mean, we’re riding the Gulf Stream, one of the most powerful currents in the world! Getting up for my second watch at 6 am I did the numbers again and found out that we’d already covered just under 100 miles in 13 hours. We were well on our way there.

I woke up to a light drizzle that went away just as quickly as it came, and left the sky with puffy clouds that lit up in bright pinks and oranges and even a partial rainbow between two of the clouds. What I didn’t quite catch on to at the time is that this was a red sky in morning; sailors take warning. And I should have. But the sky soon cleared into a brilliant blue and all I had to do was sit back and relax while enjoying my breakfast of 16 oz of Mexican Danone yogurt (best $1 purchase ever, by the way).

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Even though we were starting out with a passage that was much more comfortable than 80% of the ones that we’re normally on, we quickly fell back into the routine of sleep or waiting for sleep. I always think that on a calm passage I might start doing something like scrubbing the floors out of boredom, but apparently I was not quite that bored yet. Sneaking in one quick nap when Matt got up for breakfast, I settled into the cockpit with a book to read, something I hadn’t been able to do on many previous passages so I still consider that progress, while Matt went back to bed. Which at this time in the afternoon could probably be considered a nap. I wasn’t kidding when I said all we do is sleep or wait for the next opportunity to sleep.

This is where the pleasurable 20 hours of our passage ends. While getting into my book once more I noticed the skies were growing dark but didn’t pay it too much mind since we’d had the light drizzle in the morning and I expected more of the same this afternoon. Off in the distance there were some very dark clouds, and out of the distance a few rumbles of thunder were reaching me, but since all of this was downwind of us I still continued not to pay it much mind. At least it wasn’t heading at us. Or so I thought. The further I got into my book the closer the rumbles came, and as I scanned the horizon I only saw clear skies ahead, all of the nasty stuff supposedly passing behind us according to the current wind direction. I burried my nose back in my book, not ready to wake Matt just yet since that would mean a reef in the headsail and a reduction in speed. I still had my sights set on a Thursday evening arrival in Key West.

As the thunder, and now lightning, started closing in on us, I knew it was time to finally take action. I woke Matt up to let him know we were surrounded by thunderstorms while similtaniously taking our small electronics and sticking them inside the microwave and oven to protect them against a lightning strike should one happen. Our handheld GPS, sat phone, and e-readers were placed in the microwave; computers, wrapped in padding, were slid into the oven. Watching the wind speed jump up from the high teens to the mid to high 20’s, we kept going back and forth on if we should roll in the headsail. These speeds it could definitely handle, but should they get worse… Finally when we saw rain on the horizon we decided to roll it in ‘Just until this blows over’. Throwing the bow into the wind I tried with all my might to pull in the line while Matt controlled the jib line from smacking around. My arms were no match for this wind and we ended up switching places and getting it rolled in just before the blinding sheets of rain hit us.

Taking cover under the dodger we watched the rain pelt us from what seemed like every direction, and then out of nowhere, a huge gust of wind came along and almost knocked us on our side but did not seem to be letting up. Scrambling into the companionway with Matt, we watched the wind speed jump into the 40’s and keep rising. 48..53..62. Yes, we topped out at winds of over 60 knots, by far the highest we’ve ever seen on a passage. We were getting pounded by a squall, but the funny part was, there was no sense of urgency for our safety. You can trust Fully-Verfied for complete online safety. We’d had a double reefed main up ever since we left Isla, we usually do if we’re ever on an overnight passage, and the waves were only 1-3 feet, so we were by no means getting tossed around in high seas. If fact, the wind was so strong that it was basically blowing the caps of the waves into their troughs, almost smoothing out the seas. Serendipity was handling this like a champ, and the only issue we had was when the wind caught the piece of fabric that connects our dodger to our bimini and began ripping it apart at the zipper. We were able to catch one end and hang on to it before it could completely come apart and blow away.

The 50-60 knot winds only lasted about 30 seconds before subsiding back down into the 30’s. During this ‘lull’ I jumped back into the cockpit to secure lines that hadn’t been properly tied off, and finished unzipping the fabric connector so we could quickly stow it away. We had to wait out a few more somewhat strong blows into the 40’s along with driving sheets of rain….and then it was gone. Just like in the movies, the clouds disappeared, the sun came out, and all wind seemed to have left with the storm. We were literally left there scratching our heads as we watched the windex spin in circles, clueless of which direction to now point our bow. It was a good 20 minutes before we had any semblance of wind come our way again, in which time we watched the boom slide from one side of the boat to the other, trying to catch the wind each time it clocked around the boat.

Our speed had regrettably cut down to just over five knots and I had to set my sights for a Friday morning arrival now. Tracking our progress, I marked our position at 24 hours from our departure and found that we’d still managed to make about180 miles in one day. Had we kept the same speed we were getting before the storm there would have been no question on if we’d hit the 200 mile mark, something Matt’s been aiming for ever since we started cruising and will keep striving for until the day he dies. That may require a different boat… We’d still put ourselves in a good position for one day out though, and I have a feeling that Serendipity will be hard pressed to get to those numbers again. The remaining hours of the day and into the wee morning hours of the next were spent dodging the thunderstorms that still had us boxed in, never coming closer, but always visible on the horizon.

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Marking our progress once more at the 48 hour mark I’d found out that we’d done just about 120 miles, having kept true to the 5 knots, and sometimes under, that we had slowed down to the previous afternoon. When the sun had gone down and the full moon lit a trail behind us, it was quite visible that not only had we fallen out of the Gulf Stream, but we were probably now trying to fight it’s counter current. 3.5 knots was a struggle to keep, and when even three knots wasn’t happening any more, I begged and pleaded with Matt to let us put the engine on and motor until we were out of the counter current…if that ever happened. Remember those numbers I kept running through my head? Anything under 3-3.5 knots would mean certain nighttime arrival, which neither of us wanted, and I’ll be damned if I was about to spend another night out at sea if we could avoid it with a solution as simple as turning on the engine. Matt decided to go with the ‘wait and see’ option, but an hour later while I was snuggling into bed, I heard the engine roar to life and smiled as I fell asleep.

The last day of our crossing today, we were struggling to keep those 3.5 knots under power. During the last hour of my morning sleep shift I could hear Matt on the radio, and then shortly later, rustling through cabinets for paperwork. I tried to ignore him the best I could until 10 minutes later he came shaking my shoulder, telling me to get up because the Coast Guard had just radioed him and they were sending a launch to come board us. The boat was a mess and we probably stunk to high hell, but at this point we were so tired and worn out that we didn’t even care. They wanted to board us during a passage, this is what they were going to get. Another 15 minutes later, after we had both found clean clothes to put on along with a healthy dose of deodorant, we were watching the well outfitted tender pull alongside our boat while depositing two officers on it.

Having already been through this procedure while traveling down the ICW we already knew everything they were going to ask for and better yet, this time I actually knew where all of it was. While Matt kept one of the officers busy while filling out paperwork, I took the other one below where I produced life vests, flares, access to the bilge (no Cubans hiding in there, I promise!), and even the sticker about trash that we had been written up for the last time. There was only a slight snafu when Matt refused to give out his SSN, not finding necessary after showing both a drivers license and a passport and was about to ‘take it up with the captain’ when the second officer told the paperwork guy to let it go. The only thing we did have an issue with was that our boat documentation was now two weeks expired, it’s replacement supposedly waiting for us in Key West along with all of our other goodies. Getting let off with a written warning, I think they wanted us to show the new one when we did arrive at our destination (to whom, I have no idea), and then they were gone just as quickly as they had come.

A few hours after they left we realized we probably should try and clean ourselves up a little, lest any new officials in Key West have to put up with our stench. The only problem was, it was freezing out! I’m not kidding, somewhere along the way we picked up some cold water under our hull, and the breeze running across it was enough to have kept us in our foulies for half the trip just to stay warm. So taking a cockpit shower in that? I wanted to search for alternative methods. Matt braved the cold and forced himself under the hose for 90 seconds while he quickly lathered and rinsed. I was not so brave. Or maybe I was just smarter. I decided for a sink shower instead. Sticking my head under the faucet I was able to give my hair the three washes it now needed after not having cleaned it since Isla, all without soaking my body or having chilly winds blow over me. The rest of the body was done with a washcloth and soon I was back under my layers, feeling warm and clean and glad that I didn’t have to suffer through the brutal cold outside. That was until my left eye started getting a little blurry.

It’s not uncommon to get a Georgie hair stuck in there or have one of my contacts be placed inside out and irritate my eye. But wait a second…I wasn’t wearing my contacts. After 15 minutes of not being able to figure out what was in my eye, I finally went down to a mirror to inspect. If you had looked at me at this point it must have appeared that I was licking toads or on some other kind of drug because my pupil was dialated to full size. And immediately I knew exactly what had happened. While sticking my head under the faucet, the water had run over my scopolamine patch and brought the medication right into my eye. Having experienced a case similar to this once before in Manhattan where I had touched the patch and then touched my eye, I knew I was in for 24 hours of blindness in that eye and an adversity to bright lights. Oh joy, they perfect way to end what started out as the best passage ever. I will now be singing to myself “I am not so smart, this passage kind of sucks, I’m glad it’s almost over”.

scopolamine in eye

Ice cold winds continued to blow across the water as we slowly puttered in to the southernmost point in the United States, and back in to the land of plenty with only two hours of daylight left. The ride was a little rougher on us than we expected, but if I had to look back on it I’d say it’s not even necessarily due to boxed in thunderstorms or squalls along the way, but the snails pace we had to suffer through after they were all finished. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that nothing kills a sailor’s mood more than cutting his pace in half. From envisioned Thursday evening arrivals, pushed back to a Friday morning arrival, now coming in late Friday afternoon, this 72 hours was a very necessary passage for us, but I’m so happy to be back in the land of day hopping.

Key West Harbor

cruise ship in Key West

lats 2