Making our way to the Florida Keys, Part II…

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The following is taken directly from my log as we made what turned out to be our overnight passage to Marathon:

Departed Marco Island anchorage around 0745. Tide was just beginning to rise. Lots of tide against us as we made our way out of the channel taking us to the main channel out of Marco.

More wind and more easterly than forecast. Very pleasant sail as we made our way south of Marco Island. Ron beginning to suggest that we think about doing an overnight to Marathon since we would remain on this course the entire way. Not sure I’m up for an overnight–last one I did, which was when we delivered Annwfn across the lake to Arcadia–was exhausting. We’ll see what the winds look like when we get to our course change to Little Shark River (which could be a motor slog all the way in).

1100: Posted photo to our blog just before our cellular signal disappeared. Still sailing along with a fairly steady breeze. It’s not quite as heavy as it was coming out of Marco Island; a very comfortable sail. Cape Romano is disappearing behind us and Marco is becoming a geometric blob on the horizon.

1230: Wind has lightened and is a bit more from behind. Seas are a bit sloppy.

1235: Put up main. PUT UP MAIN! First time we’ve put the main up–3rd year. That’s not bad, right? Hasn’t helped our speed but maybe helps steady us a bit?

1340: Engine on. Speed down to 2.9-3.0 knots. Have adjusted course for Marathon. We’re going to do the overnight. Turned cell phones off to save on battery power.

1540: While watching for crabpots (amazing–no land in sight and we are running into lines of crabpots again!), I saw a huge sea turtle. So very cool! It’s amazing the things you see out here in the middle of nowhere! We’ve had lots of dolphin sightings–tried to get some video but not sure if I got them.

Still motoring. We seem to have lost our wind, or it’s all from dead behind us. It’s warming up, too. I’m not complaining, as I know it will be chilly once the sun sets. There are no whitecaps, so the wind is down. Tried getting marine weather, but it’s mostly just very confusing. It sounds like there is a lot stronger NE wind south of us, along the Keys.

1630: We are 16.4 nm west of Little Shark River and we once again have lots of crabpots. Where are these guys coming from, to check on their pots?

1815: No green flash tonight. After a cloudless day, too many clouds on the west horizon. Oh well, it was a beautiful sunset. Also got a quick video of dolphins swimming by our boat as the sun was going down. And I saw another sea turtle. This time it swam by us as Ron was up on deck putting the main away (wind went dead behind us so we doused the main once we began sailing again at 1700 before it got dark) so he didn’t see it. Too bad because the big guy stuck his flipper right in the air and waved at us. Sea turtles may be my new favorite sea creature!

Currently making 3.5-4 knots under jib alone. Wind is more NNW than NE, as was forecast. At this rate, we will get to Marathon about sunrise. We should slow down. And now that the sun has gone down, the air is cooling down. However, we should have plenty of light for a while: a full moon is rising in the east.

Nice happy hour at sea: sliced fuji apple with gouda from Whole Foods, a beer for Ron and a Moscow Mule for me. Now that the engine is off, Cacao thinks we’re secure. He’s moved out to the cabin and is sound asleep on the port settee, on his (now very hairy) fleece blanket.

Love how the saltwater is sizzling by our hull right now!

1945: Wind has shifted a bit more to the NE (from NNW) and our speed has picked up. If we keep up at this pace, we’re going to arrive in the middle of the night.

After sundown with the full moon up, we heard the plaintive call of a lone loon. At first I thought it was someone playing games on the VHF radio, but no. There was a loon calling out here in the middle of nowhere, miles and miles from land, in the Gulf of Mexico. Surreal. Our sweet and saltie lives converge once again.

Heating chili for supper. I’ve been resting for an hour. Will be Ron’s turn after supper.

2300: Dead in the water. I was lying down, resting. Ron came down to use the head. Something just didn’t feel right; autopilot was clicking on and off and waves were hitting our stern. We were in 21.5 feet of water, jib was full, and our speed was 0.0. Hung up on a crab pot? Checked all around the boat with flashlights, could see absolutely nothing in the water. After checking to make certain the rudder was okay, Ron turned on the engine. He put it in a quick reverse, took it out of gear again, and we were suddenly moving again: 4 knots. Whew. Too much stress when we’re both too tired. Hopefully there’s nothing caught in our prop…

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6 thoughts on “Making our way to the Florida Keys, Part II…

  1. Hi ,
    I just arrived in Punta Gorda on 2/4 and got your Ft. Myers blog. My timing was bad. Would have been nice to see you folks in salt water. Enjoy your winter and we’ll see you at DB in late spring.
    Erich “Enchantress”

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  2. I too have been waiting to hear the crab pot story. Can’t imagine going over at night. I think there are a few other unpleasant things in the water besides sharks.

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    • I have since checked online for suggestions on what one should do in a situation like ours. First suggestion was to drop all sails, to take off pressure. That may have worked and is something I will remember. Step 2 was to do just what Ron did: start engine in neutral, then punch it in reverse for a couple of seconds, then take right back out of gear. So, there you go in case it ever happens to you!

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    • Ha! I have heard that if there are dolphins, that there are no sharks, that the two are natural enemies. Not sure if that’s true, but it’s comforting to believe it. I think we lucked out. No way did I want to go into that dark, dark water to blindly cut away something we couldn’t see. Thing is, we never did see a float pop up once we got going again, nor did we see any other floats in the area. Maybe we had dragged it a while? We’re not doing another overnight on the way back north!

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