March 31, 2015

March 31, 2015  Day 130 South for Winter
At Anchor, Rodriguez Key
Key Largo, FL

Approaching the Seven Mile Bridge
Our anchorage
Enjoying the sunset on our last night in the Keys

It seems appropriate to update the blog tonight – our 34th and last night in the Florida Keys.  We departed Faro Blanco Marina in Marathon this morning, went back under the Seven Mile Bridge past Boot Key and cruised for over 55 miles, mostly in the Hawk Channel. It was a good cruising day: sunny, warm, and fairly calm!  We are anchored with eleven other boaters in Rodriguez Key, located in Key Largo. We even enjoyed a beautiful unobstructed sunset.
We spent the past few days getting ready to depart. We had an air conditioner rep come to the boat and give us options on replacing the salon air conditioner.  As a result, we will have it done in Ft. Lauderdale later this week. We also took care of chart planning, cleaning, laundry, provisioning, and other repairs.  Joyce also made good use of the bread machine!

Tomorrow we will anchor in Miami.  We are ready to head north!



March 20, 2015

March 17-20, 2015  Days 116-119 South for Winter
Faro Blanco Marina
Marathon, FL

We have not been too active this week since our friends left.  We have done some cleaning, chart plotting, reading, etc., but nothing of major note for this blog!  We did have a diver check our zincs on the shafts, but were pleasantly surprised to learn they did not need changing.

Our neighboring boaters, Rusty and Gail, offered us their rental car today so we went to West Marine, Walgreens, and Publix to do some provisioning.  They also invited us over for docktails this evening and we had a very nice time visiting with them on their beautiful boat.  We hope to get together with them again this weekend.

We will continue to update the blog in the next few days. We will probably stay here until the end of the month before heading toward Miami.


March 16, 2015

March 16, 2015  Day 115 South for Winter
Faro Blanco Marina
Marathon, FL

Sunday was spent relaxing, doing laundry, and getting organized for the coming week.  In the evening, we had Rick & Margi and Bob & Janet over for a shared dinner. We had another good meal and great conversations! 

Journey departing
They departed this morning (Monday) and although we will see them in four weeks in Daytona Beach, it was still sad to say goodbye.

Much of today was spent getting appointments scheduled: haircut, medical, diver to change zincs, marinas, etc.  Bill also began the process of preparing the wood trim for varnish on the starboard exterior. 

Dinner on board tonight!

Harmony departing
The egret and pelican are staying with us!

March 15, 2015

March 14, 2015  Day 113 South for Winter
Faro Blanco Marina
Marathon, FL

A fairly short post tonight (Saturday) - Gay and Mike left this morning to drive back to St. Petersburg. We wished they could have stayed longer and look forward to our next visit. The rest of our crew hailed a taxi at 11:00 and went to the annual Marathon Seafood Festival.  We wandered through all the booths (about 200 of them).  We ran into Jane and Kent and talked with them for a while also.  We walked over to the food court area which of course offered various types of seafood platters and other items, but we decided not to eat there. Bill wanted ice cream so we left the festival and walked about a mile to Kandios where we also had a light lunch.  We called a taxi afterwards and returned to our marina, ready for a rest! 

We had a quick dinner on board this evening and decided to relax in the air conditioning!


March 14, 2015

March 13, 2015  Day 112 South for Winter
Faro Blanco Marina
Marathon, FL

On Wednesday, Joyce, Janet, and Margi took a taxi to run errands, stopping at the Post office, drug store, clothing store, and Publix.  After having dinner on our own boats, we enjoyed a “game night” with Rick & Margi and Janet & Bob. We met in the boaters’ lounge and played “A Ticket to Ride”, our fun train game!

Gay and Mike (Irish Attitude) arrived by car Thursday afternoon and we all had a shared dinner of Chicken Caesar Lasagna, Caesar salad, freshly baked bread, ice cream and cookies, and good wine on Carried Away that evening. We had a wonderful meal and enjoyed recalling some of our favorite and memorable boating experiences!
A few of the sea turtles

Bill, Rick, Margi, Mike, Gay, Bob, Janet
on our "Looper Beach" at the marina
Friday morning, we all walked to the nearby Turtle Hospital for an hour long tour, learning about the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of sea turtles that have been injured, or who have a disease causing viral tumors. Many veterinarians volunteer their time to care for and perform surgery on the turtles. It was a fascinating tour!   Afterwards, we got together with Loopers, Kent and Jane, who are staying on a mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor this winter. Then all ten of us all went to lunch at the Sunset Grill and then went to Boot Key Harbor to see the many boats on mooring balls and the facilities there.  After returning to Rick and Margi’s boat for more visiting, Gay drove Margi, Janet, and Joyce to Publix for more provisioning. (Somehow, it seems that buying, preparing, and eating food is always involved in our activities!)  We got together Friday evening on the little beach by Harmony to share appetizers and dessert which we declared dinner! We stayed until 9:00pm and again, had such a fun time visiting with our friends.



March 10, 2015

March 10, 2015  Day 109 South for Winter
Faro Blanco Marina
Marathon, FL

Joyce met with Margi and Janet for a planning session on Monday morning. We learned earlier that Gay and Mike (Irish Attitude) accepted our invitation to drive down for a visit later this week, so we eagerly got together and planned outings and meals! We are excited that they are coming for a visit!

That evening, the six of us took a taxi to the Sunset Grille for a seafood dinner, which included trying conch fritters! Then we joined many others for a walk on the old railroad bridge to watch the sunset.  This is a popular spot with the Atlantic on one side and the Gulf on the other side of the bridge.  We decided to walk back and burn some calories.

This morning (Tuesday), we took another taxi to the Dolphin Research Center, a non-profit organization that cares for, studies, and teaches others about marine mammals.  We spent much of the day watching dolphins, learning about their training, their needs, personalities, habitat, etc. We also watched a presentation on sea lions. It was a very interesting day and we enjoyed watching these playful dolphins!  We did take a break for lunch at a nearby restaurant and then returned to the Dolphin Center for a while longer.  We all returned to our boats ready for a rest!

We had a light dinner on board and then Rick and Margi came over for a visit.  Later we walked over to look at a beautiful 104’ Trumpy “Freedom” that arrived today. We had a nice chat with the captain and learned it as built in 1926 and completely renovated in recent years.
"Freedom" is preparing to depart




March 9, 2015

March 8, 2015  Day 107 South for Winter
Faro Blanco Marina
Marathon, FL

We are staying quite busy with friends. We attended a local stage production of the hilarious  “The Producers” at the Marathon Community Theater with Janet and Bob (Harmony) and Belinda & Jim (Rickshaw) on Saturday night. Jim and Belinda are staying on a mooring ball at Boot Key Harbor and will depart for the Bahamas when the weather/wind is favorable.

Waiting with Janet & Bob, Rick & Margi
at Pigeon Key for the ferry
to take us back to Knight's Key

Really can't get enough of these sunsets!
Today we walked to Knights Key with Janet & Bob and Margi & Rick to catch a ferry boat to Pigeon Key.  Even with very threatening skies and a not so calm boat ride, we arrived at Pigeon Key and had a wonderful tour.  This island housed over 400 workers that built the Overseas Railway (the dream of Henry Flagler) that spanned from Miami to Key West during the early 1900’s.  This history has been well preserved and we were happy we could visit. We first saw Henry Flagler’s work in St. Augustine, then in Key West, so we have come full circle with his incredible vision!

We took the ferry back to Marathon and walked to the Seven Mile Grill for lunch.  From there we took a taxi to Key Colony Beach to attend their “Beach Day”. We browsed around all the vendor booths and none of us came back empty handed. By then the sky was bright and sunny and we had a great time. We finally caught another taxi back to our marina at 3:30. We just relaxed for the rest of the day and had a light dinner on board.  More activities tomorrow… Stay tuned!

March 7, 2015

March 7, 2015  Day 106 South for Winter
Faro Blanco Marina
Marathon, FL

What a difference a day makes! We woke to calm winds on Friday and departed Stock Island at 0915 after stopping at the fuel dock. We cruised for 6 ½ hours in the Atlantic going through Hawk Channel. Even with light winds the waves were two foot rollers. But, we were happy to be on our way knowing this was the best day to travel. We eventually saw the well-known Seven mile bridge in the distance. After we went under the bridge at Marathon we were on the Gulf side of the island again.  We arrived at Faro Blanco Marina and Resort at 3:15 and got secured in our slip with two great dock hands assisting. This marina and resort (Hyatt) just opened in December and is beautifully done!
Approaching the Seven Mile Bridge
Shortly after we got checked in, our Gold Looper friends, Rick and Margi (Journey), and Bob and Janet (Harmony) greeted us with hugs.  They also prepared a delicious dinner for us, which we ate outside on a small sandy beach area just off the dock where Harmony is located.  What a beautiful view! We had a delightful evening reminiscing and sharing stories of Key West and our travels since we last saw them a short five weeks ago!  They have many activities and outings planned while we are here, so we will hit the ground running and check out Marathon in the next days and weeks.  We plan to stay here for a month and relax!

March 4, 2015

March 4, 2015  Day 103 South for Winter
Stock Island Marina Village
Key West, FL

Just a short blog tonight. We have finally made a decision on our departure which will be Friday. The wind and waves are just higher than our comfort level.  We have been getting work done and have also spent time reading and relaxing. Joyce took the shuttle back to Publix today to do more provisioning.

There are many boaters here for extended stays. Some are waiting on a weather window also.  We have enjoyed meeting many of them. We look forward to seeing our Looper friends in Marathon on Friday! We will update the blog after we arrive.

March 2, 2015

March 2, 2015  Day 101 South for Winter
Stock Island Marina Village
Key West, FL

Thursday, February 26 was a big travel day as we cruised over 82 miles on the Gulf. We left our anchorage at dawn and kept our speed up to around 10mph. As soon as we reached the Gulf we were in 2 foot waves. These increased to three feet within an hour and then we were seeing foot footers for a few hours. The ride was a little uncomfortable but tolerable. We also had to be vigilant because of crab pots.  When we turned around the tip of the island and switched from the Gulf to the Atlantic, we were then in five footers on the beam and this was not so fun. We arrived at the marina at 3:30 and got secured in our slip, happy to have this long day behind us. Bill did get the salt rinsed off the boat before we called it a day!
Happy Birthday, Bill!
Friday was Bill’s birthday and we spent the day in Key West.  (Our marina is on Stock Island, adjacent to Key West and the marina provides shuttle service).  We chose to ride the Conch Train (narrated tour) around Key West to learn of the history and to see all the sights first, taking in beautiful homes built in the 1800’s, the harbor lined with many commercial and personal boats, and a different cruise ship each day; the lively Duval Street lined with shops, restaurants, and bars.  We also did a lot of walking! We saw colorful people, heard music from many venues, and saw chickens and roosters wandering around through the city. We had a very nice seafood dinner at Mangoes to celebrate Bill’s birthday.

We spent Saturday getting some work done.  Joyce did several loads of laundry and took the shuttle to Publix to provision.  Bill changed the engine air filters.

We returned to Key West on Sunday and this time rode the Hop on Hop off shuttle to various destinations.  We stopped at the Hemingway House and enjoyed our guided tour of the beautiful home he lived in during the 1930’s.  There are about 50 cats on site, many with six toes.  They are descendants of Hemingway’s cats.

Hemingway House

Joyce at Southermost Point

Bill at Southernmost Point

We also stopped at the Southernmost Point and waited in line to take our pictures at this popular site.  We had a delicious lunch at La Creperie!

We went back again today (Monday) and this time toured the Little White House. It is called the Truman White House because he used it frequently during his presidency to work in a retreat setting. Many Presidents have stayed here, including Kennedy, Eisenhower, Clinton, and Carter. The home was originally built by the Navy in 1890 to house the base commander and the paymaster.  Today we had lunch at the lively establishment called Sloppy Joes. It is a busy place with music and a bar, and of course is known for Sloppy Joes. The original owner was a friend of Hemingway!  We also walked through many of the shops again, and then stopped at Kermit’s for Key Lime Pie.  We couldn’t leave here without some!

We had planned on departing tomorrow but we are patiently waiting for a weather window with calmer winds and waves.  So for now our target date is Thursday, March 5, when we will head to Marathon and join Looper friends. In the meantime we will enjoy the 80 degree weather we are having!