Monday, November 25, 2019

2019: Marathon FL Faro Blanco arrival

24 November 2019
Depart: Lignumvitae Key State Park anchorage 10:10
Arrive: Faro Blanco Resort & Marina, Marathon, FL 1:40
Distance: 24 nm

Knowing we had a relatively short travel day ahead of us, we lounged in bed a little longer than usual and took our time leaving the anchorage. Thinking it would be hot and hectic when we got to the marina, I ran the vacuum through the boat and did a general cleanup before we got going.

Folks on personal watercraft came whizzing by this morning.

As anticipated and hoped for, we had a tranquil day on the water traveling to Marathon in the Florida Keys. Our only real excitement was playing the ever-popular game of trap dodging. The autopilot only served for short distances as we had to weave in and around the traps.

Our travels took us by a portion of Everglades National Park.

Everglades National Park Boundary
"Special Regulations Apply"

We frequently see birds taking ownership of markers. Frequently I notice that they don't share space well as each one takes their own piece of the market. Today, however, we passed one with the birds actually sharing space in pairs!

Birds on markers - common site on the ICW

Clearly, we had a ho-hum kind of ride today when the most exciting item to be included in the blog is a set of birds! The activity picked up though as soon as we arrived at Faro Blanco marina. I let Ann on "Morning Star II" know we would be arriving between 1:00 and 2:00, and she was there at our dock to welcome us "home".  Ken from "Rae of Sun" assisted with grabbing our lines as did two staff from the marina. What a welcoming committee!

We said hello to Mel and Ann. Dave from "Amelie" came over to say hello. Clark walked off with Dave to go check in and never came back! I tried texting him to ask him where he was and was unsuccessful as I heard the phone ping on the boat. I decided to go for a walk and see if I found him somewhere in the process. I found him on Dave's boat.

My arrival broke up their discussion. Since Clark had never gotten as far as the office to register, I walked there with him. Afterwards, I suggested we go say hello to Yasmine and Roy. Timing was good as they had just returned from a dinghy ride. They invited us on board "Yasmine Anne" to talk.

While we visiting with Yasmine and Roy, the Wilson family came by to say hello. Ultimately, with all the great company and catching up to do, we ended up staying for a couple of hours until it was time to leave to go find dinner. We all went our separate ways. Clark and I ate on board as I had already planned out what we would have to eat tonight.

Some new faces are here this season and some are missing, but there are plenty of folks here that we recognize and know that more friends are expected to arrive in December and January.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

2019: Lignumvitae Key Anchorage Florida

23 November 2019
Depart: Pumpkin Key Anchorage 8:55
Arrive: Lignumvitae Key Anchorage 1:45
Distance: 38 nm

With some unexpected rain showers and Clark having some tasks to address before we left, we did not get moving as early as we hoped this morning.

Our view of Pumpkin Key from "Sunset Delight"

 As we moved along, Clark suddenly said, “Look! A sailboat on plane!” I laughed to think of such a thing and then was amazed to see a sailboat rapidly approaching with a sizable wake.

Sailboat buzzing by on plane!

We went from wide open Biscayne Bay into mangroves.

Then out of nowhere … resorts in Key Largo, Florida.

Anchorage Resort - Key Largo

Gilbert's Resort (across from Anchorage Resort)

Then on to hard-to-find channels through more mangroves.

Where's the channel?

Dead end?

Slow speed zone

We passed Tarpon Basin – an anchorage we considered for the night. We arrived way too early in the day to stay here.

Tarpon Basin Anchorage

As we maneuvered through this portion of the ICW, we had shallow water of around 6’ (2’ under our keel). Looking over the side of the boat, we could see the bottom!

Clear blue and shallow water

We opted to pick up a mooring ball at Lignumvitae State Park. The only problem with this location was the number of fish traps we had to dodge. When we picked up the mooring ball, one of the traps ended up right behind our swim platform.

Mooring at Lignumvitae Park

Fish trap - a little too close for comfort!

I thought we might go for a dinghy ride, but Clark suggested we pull out the kayaks to enjoy the beautiful water and scenery.

Clark's view of the park

Mangroves at the park

We got to have a tour of the house and stroll around the grounds at the park.

Cannons on grounds

Caretaker's house - suffered severe damage in
Labor Day Hurricane 1935

Ev with park ranger at entrance to caretaker's house

Kitchen tools (Like Clark's mother used to use)

Ice box and Stove in the Kitchen area

Hurricane Shelter on Island
12" thick concrete walls built after
Labor Day Hurricane of 1935

Entrance to hurricane shelter

1936 Dodge Truck used by caretakers of Island

When we left, the park ranger came out on the dock to collect the park flags and chat as we readied to leave. She pointed out the large number of snappers by the dock and told us a story. A man stood on the dock eating an orange and throwing the peel in the water. When he was done, he dipped his sticky hand in the water to rinse it. Almost instantly he was attacked by the snappers and pulled back his bloody hand.

 Shortly after, we were on our way back to “Sunset Delight”.

Heading back to the boat

By the time we had the kayaks secured, the sun was getting low in the sky.

Friday, November 22, 2019

2019: Scary Hillsboro Inlet Florida

22 November 2019
Depart: Pompano Beach Private Dock 10:15
Arrive: Pumpkin Key Anchorage 5:45
Distance: 63 nm

We were slow moving this morning to get going. Before we took off, we went to say farewell to our host and his wife. Of course we talked, and ultimately, we left much later than we should have for a long day's travel.

When I looked out our door this morning, I was greeted with a view of this well-balanced bird.

Standing still and steady on one leg!

Because the tide was low, we had a devil of a time getting our lines off the poles. Fortunately for me, Clark was the one struggling to get them off. This too ate up a bit of precious travel time.

Finally we were underway and headed for the Hillsboro Inlet to venture out into the Atlantic Ocean. Clark checked the wind speeds and directions but not the wave heights. We hoped we would find reasonably calm seas when we got out there.

As we waited for the bridge to open, a huge sports fish boat came up to wait with us. We sat waiting for the bridge for 7 minutes before the tender opened it for us. As we passed through the bridge I noticed the warning sign posted there.

Sign reads ...
"Hazardous Inlet
Local Knowledge Required"

As we entered the basin, we saw a smaller sports fish boat coming in from the ocean and heard him radio his big buddy behind us, "You better hug the greens! It's real shallow coming through here!"

Sports fish coming in as we head out at
Hillsboro Inlet

Clark decided to pull over to one side and let the sports fish boat go first. We figured that if he could make it through, we could. We figured he must be thinking the same because as we slowed, he slowed. When we came to a stop, he also stopped. It became clear that we were not going to be following him out.

Given that, Clark proceeded to make his way out of the inlet. As he moved forward, I looked back and saw that the sports fish had decided to abort. He was turned around and waiting for the bridge to open to let him back into the ICW. Uh-oh! As we approached the ocean, we could see steep waves breaking at the entrance to the basin. Clark told me to watch the depths as it was dead low tide.

Suddenly, one of the waves hit the bow of the boat hard and pushed us to the side. It felt to me like the boat was going to roll over. Clark pushed up the throttle on the starboard side to counteract the push from the wave. My heart was racing! I held onto my seat as we wildly rocked back and forth.

All the while I'm watching the depth and worried we might bottom out in the gully of one of these steep waves. As we recovered from being knocked about by the wave, Clark said, "Looks like we're still floating!" A statement that I interpreted to mean, "We're not sinking!" I asked him about it later and he said that what he meant was, "We're not aground!"

Once we got through the breakers, we had 3-foot plus seas. I turned to Clark and said, "It's too rough out here. We need to go back in." Somehow he did not appreciate my joke! Clearly I would need to be completely insane to want to go back into that inlet after the adrenaline rush we got working our way out.

Unlike most days, the ocean was rather busy today. We just got ourselves comfortable with the waves and a waypoint set for our destination when we came upon a small boat up ahead and to port. Nearby, but to starboard, I see what initially looked like a trap but then I realized it was a "diver down" flag. As we approached, a man in the boat started waving his arms and pointing to let us know there was a diver down. We rerouted to avoid that area, but to do so, we had to turn into the waves and get thrown around a bit more.

A bit further on, we came across another diver down situation.

Boat showing U.S. and International Diver Flags
Things settled down a bit after that and I went below to explore the crashes I heard as we made our way out of the inlet. As I checked the various areas in the boat, I found several items scattered where they did not belong and cleaned up as I went. Fortunately, nothing was damaged too severely.

Continuing on, we heard a VHF announcement made by the U.S. Navy that they had operations in progress and had restricted travel areas in place. We thought we saw the related vessels up ahead and gave it a wide berth, but it turned out to be just a commercial vessel at anchor.

Several miles later on we got a call on the VHF radio from USN Mallory that we needed to move outside their operations zone - within 1 mile of shore or outside 4 miles offshore. We were 1.2 miles offshore, so we opted to head closer in as we transited the area.

USN "Holly" - part of the Naval operations at Miami

Further on, we heard a helicopter overhead. Clark grabbed the camera once again and took a picture. It turned out to be I wonder if we will get solicited to buy a picture of Clark taking a picture of the helicopter! helicopter

After all the excitement, we finally saw Miami Beach and knew we were getting closer to Government Cut where we would exit the ocean and return to the ICW. I hoped this inlet would be kind to us. Clark said that it is huge and well maintained because of large commercial vessels coming through. Phew!

Miami Beach from Atlantic Ocean

Governor Cut - Miami  Lighthouse

Coming into the Miami area, we passed commercial vessels, i.e. huge container ships, being loaded / unloaded.

Clark thought about staying in the Marine Stadium anchorage, so he went close by there to take a look. The anchorage was very busy.

Busy anchorage at Marine Stadium

After passing through the activity and high rises of Miami, it was quite a change to enter the relatively quiet waters of Biscayne Bay.

Bye Bye Miami

Sailboat on Biscayne Bay

We did some math concerning the distance to our target anchorage and our speed and determined that we would be racing the sunset to get there. The sun managed to set before we reached our destination.

Fortunately, we have anchored here twice before so Clark was familiar with the area.

Ready to drop anchor at
Pumpkin Key in Biscayne Bay, Florida

As we crossed Biscayne Bay, I cooked dinner. Almost as soon as we had the anchor down, we sat down to eat!