Friday, March 29, 2013

Day 112/II Little Shark River to Indian Key Everglades

We went in past Indian Key so we could have protection from the North, East, and West.

Thank goodness for Charts and chart Plotters!

A few of these little tour boats were running about. 

we went all the way down and anchored just off the Key just on the bow.

plenty of swing room and just a couple of boats anchored near by.

If bad weather comes our direction we were prepared to move down there. 

Bill takes the helm while I get the anchor down. 

Anchored and just making sure we do not drag.

Everyone made sure they had plenty of space around them.

Toast to the sunset!

Day 112/II

Little Shark River to Indian Key Everglades

Depart 3/19/13 0730hrs, Arrive 1500hrs, Underway 7 hrs.1min., 39.8 NM, Avg. Speed 5.2 Kts. Cloudy 0-8 kt. SW winds 78 degrees. Seas flat to 1’

We motor sailed all the way to Indian Key. Pretty uneventful and the autohelm did most of the work, at times we put the head sail away as there was not enough wind to keep it full. I have been thinking of a name for the autohelm but only one name comes to mind so I will wait a day to see if something else pops in before the official naming. The entrance near Indian Key is well marked and the charts were right on. Since Everglades city is just 4 miles away this area has several tourist boats and of course lots of fisherman. Just two boats were anchored ahead of us in a narrow section and again we chose a spot out in what little breeze remained to avoid the bugs. The anchor did not set the first time and then we moved over a bit and she set well. This could easily be a destination to come and stay several days and explore by dingy or Kayak.
The conversation turned to weather as a front was due late the next day. Luckily we could get cell phone signal here and could check the weather sites. It appeared that there would be a rain storm moving in around 1400-1500 hours in Naples so we planned to get a early start the next morning by 0430 hours and be safely moored well before the forecasted weather. If we made Naples we would have a choice of anchoring or a mooring ball and if the storm was strong a mooring ball was of course preferred. We did not know exactly how strong the storm would be by the time it moved south to the Everglades. We could get stuck here for two or three days but we could easily move to a very protected area deeper in where we would have mangroves on all sides as protection. We turned our attention to our beautiful surroundings and put the grill to work again as we toasted another successful cruise to Indian Key. We slept well and I had the engine on at 0400 making coffee the next morning ready to depart for Naples. 

Day 111/II Boot Key Harbor Marathon to Little Shark River Everglades

Our Destination, Little Shark River

Exiting Boot Key Harbor

Running out into the Atlantic towards Mosser's Channel to take the cut through the 7 Mile Bridge

The Sea Ray wanted to go first!

Mosser's Channel through the 7 mile Bridge.

Tide was down.

Can't wait to pick up the Admiral at Tampa airport tonight so we can figure out what kind of bird this is.

Going slow on the approach to Little Shark River entrance.

A couple of vessels were already anchored, we decided to go in just behind them.

Time to relax, anchored after four attempts.We spaced ourselves well clear of the vessel ahead and the one behind.

Two more vessels arrived after this trawler, starting to get full up.

The trawler went to the end of the line.

Whoa, this sailboat was really moving, guess they wanted to get anchored before it got real dark.

I know there were alligators around us but you just could not spot them.

Got real peacful after sundwon and had to escape to the safty of the full enclosure as the No-Seeums started nibbling.

Day 111/II

Boot Key Harbor Marathon to Little Shark River Everglades

Depart 3/18/13 0730hrs, Arrive 1530hrs, Underway 7 hrs.30 min., 45.3 NM, Avg. Speed 5.7 Kts. Cloudy 5-15 SE winds 80 degrees. Seas 1-2’; 2-3’ in the afternoon.

Departing Boot Key Harbor was Bitter Sweet. This is the 480th day after leaving Corpus Christi. Bill Wilson flew down from St. Petersburg to crew on the planned Seven day sail back to St. Petersburg. I drove up to Ft. Lauderdale to pick him up from the airport and we stopped at a few stores on the way back to get him some clothes and living goods for the trip back as the package he had mailed to Marathon with all his stuff in it was delayed. I wanted to get underway since the weather with all it’s unpredictability beyond 2-3 days was on my mind and the first four day trips would be on the outside in the Gulf of Mexico. We motored out of Boot Key just after first light and as with beginning any passage all five senses were running on all cylinders. We motored out and entered Mosser’s Channel to clear the 7 Mile Bridge. I was glad the tide was low as passing through any bridge height of 65’ at mean high tide makes me a bit nervous with our 61’ mast + mast head instruments. A 50’+ Sea Ray races ahead of us to get through the bridge first and I throttled back some to let the waters calm before we passed through to make sure any wake did not push the mast within striking distance of the bridge.

We set the sails after clearing the bridge and had a marvelous sail to Little Shark River. I was pleased that at least 50% of the crab traps had been removed from Florida Bay and the challenge to avoid them was relived.

The autopilot was not responding well for some reason so we hand steered until I finally remembered to check the setting for the Gain. After correcting the gain the autopilot steered perfectly and I was a happy sailor as this would be one of the best test of the system under sail. Bill wanted to know what I had named the autopilot. I explained that we did not have a name for the autopilot. He insisted that every autopilot should have a nickname so I let it rest and thought a proper name would surface along this trip.

As we neared Little Shark the winds piped up to 20-25 and we reefed the head-sail. About five miles out we put the sails away as our attention turned to navigating the relatively shallow inlet to this famous protected anchorage in the Everglades. We entered Little Shark on a rising 3’ tide and there were a few vessels already anchored for the day.

Roco and Gator in Marathon had provided a bit of local knowledge and they advised anchoring in the wide section just after entering the inlet. With the winds piping up there a just a small bit of fetch in that area so we decided to go deeper in just behind two vessels already anchored. We tried to set the anchor in the center of the river in about 12’ of water. I did not want to anchor to close to the Mangroves as the insect season was just beginning and avoiding mosquitoes along with the no-seeums were important to me.

I had read a review where one sailor awoke in the morning to find his vessel blackened by all the little bugs and after trying to get his anchor up the next morning he was chased back down below by the fierce mosquitoes. He put on his wet suit and snorkel mask so he could go back up and raise the anchor and get out of there. I thought that was brilliant!

We tried 3 times to set the Rocna anchor; it just skipped along the bottom that signaled coral rock. Finally on the fourth try the anchor set and we hoped we were good for the night. We discussed this later with a couple in Naples that had been in Little Shark that same night. We agreed that the current that runs in and out of the river leaves little in the center of the river to anchor in and the holding is actually better on the sides where there is more sand/mud to grab.

We grilled some pork chops and toasted the successful sail and fine anchorage, we were soon buttoning down the full enclosure and lit a citronella candle as the no-seeums made their presence known

I was amazed the next morning when we raised the anchor, no bugs and there was very little to clean off the chain with the wash down pump as I raised the anchor. Just a bit of sand/shell on the tip of the anchor

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Holistic Dingy Research Study

One dingy has "Dingy Chaps"

Obey the Rules

Inflatable floor with wooden slats

Someone left this dingy by the trash, someone else came along to save it.

The fold up dingy's really fold up, and they are water tight!

Homemade Moby Dick Dingy

 these are relatively inexpensive, like $500 and they have a small catamaran hull

Viking Dingy

I talked to this guy and he made this himself using a inner aluminum shell with spray foam all around the outside and wrapped up in a blue tarp. Unsinkable.

The Smallest Dingy in the World!

Evil Walker Bay Dingy very unstable, I once went in the drink when one of these flipped over on me.

Better Walker bay with stabilizing pontoon fitted all around

Canoe Dingy with outboard, this guy really cruises fast in it.

This is a Fast Garvey, A Kit that sailors from the NorthEast like to build.:

The new wave, a propane outboard even Honda makes one.

A Portland Pudgy: everyone likes looking at these and  talking about them.

The sunsets look just as good from a dingy!

The Holistic Dingy Research Study

There are so many different types of dingy's hear in Marathon that it is fun just seeing them come and go. There are lots of homemade dingy's, several types of inflatables, several types of RIB's, fold up dingy's, Kit Dingy's, Really big dingy's, really small dingy's, sailing dingy's, plastic, wood, fiberglass, foam, aluminum and on and on. I thought about doing a Holistic Dingy Research Study while I was here but after googleing Holistic Research I realized I would need a committee to get it done. I pitched it to a few sailors on the dingy docks but no one took the bait....I thought it cold be great fun culminating in a big Show and Tell at the dingy docks where each owner could do a presentation on his or her dingy. After being in Marathon now for almost 4 months I know that a Holistic Research Study will never happen here, it is just to much work and there are way to many other things that you would rather do than stand around and interview sailors about their dingy's .
I just wonder why they have the dingy they do?

This is the last blog from Marathon, Bill is here and we plan to depart tomorrow 0700 hrs. for Little Shark River, here is a Google Earth Pic of the Anchorage there:

Next Blog will be from St. Pete...Wand'rin Star out, standing By on 16

Saturday, March 16, 2013

2013 Marathon Seafood Festival

This is the Entrance to the Seafood Festival

This is the Tent where I worked as a volunteer for the Marathon Chamber of Commerce. 

Great Reggae Band out of Miami, The Island 5

They got everyone up dancing

The Big ponytailed guy working the sound board is the Marathon mayor!

This was my Sweet reward

The 2013 Marathon Seafood Festival

While the Admiral was away in Texas banking some time with her parents I looked for things to do that were fun and cheap. I heard the Chamber of Commerce was looking for volunteers to work the Seafood Festival which at the time I had no clue but is the Biggest such event in all the Keys each year. I was asked to show up at 1200 hours on Saturday and find Tina, unfortunately she would not have a T-Shirt that all the volunteers get since she had just run out. I told her that would be just fine I just wanted to help out in any way. So when IO got there Tina was not easy to find but one volunteer told me they had her number at the front gate. I called her up and left a message. She called right back and gave me directions to the T-Shirt Booth, they needed help  selling the T-shirts. I hit the ground running, as there were already long lines waiting to buy T-Shirts, some kind volunteer quickly showed me the ropes and clued me in on the pricing of the several different types of t-shirts available. Once I started selling it did not stop. The long sleeve T-shirts were $20 or $35 for two, sometimes I sold three or 4 at a time. I was taking in $20-$70 per minute. I figure a conservative estimate of just the T-shirts I sold in my 2 hour shift was $2500 and it was probably more like $3500. there were 4 of us selling as fast as we could, I have never seen t-shirts sell like this. Evidently it is one of the yearly prized possessions in Marathon. I did not get to have one of these but Tina hooked my up with a Free Cap and that was even Better!
After my 2 hour volunteer stint I made my over to the food booths and saw that two of the booths had the longest lines. I chose the Conch Fritters since I had not had any since coming to Marathon....Yep they were very good. Then I found a empty seat in the shade and sat down to enjoy the Island 5, a reggae group out of Miami.