Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Key West: Our Southern-most Point

Days on cruise: 284

Distance traveled: 105 miles

Travel time:  8 hrs, 2 minutes

Total trip odometer:  5,976 statute miles

Plans are set in jello, not stone, right? We planned to be in Goodland 2-3 nights, but stayed longer because of the prop and weather. We planned to stop at the Rod and Gun Club in Everglades City, as well as anchor out at Little Shark River for some dinghy exploring in the Everglades. None of that happened. So what next, Marathon or Key West???

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We revised the plan because: the weather has been so windy there have been few days good for traveling or anchoring; the prop kept us in Goodland 6 nights instead of 3, and we have friends Jim and Phebe from Seattle flying into Miami the end of February, and we’re eager to meet them in the Keys for a week on the boat, so want to keep moving along. We were lucky to score a reservation (13 phone calls later) at the Marathon Marina February 28 – March 8 while they’re with us.


Our last night at Goodland, who should appear but Buddy and Phyllis on “Sea ‘N Red”, our Gulf Crossing buddies we hadn’t seen since Caladesi. We shared cocktails, and they came to cast off our lines and say goodbye this morning.

Preparing to leave Goodland, we learned EVERYWHERE in both Marathon and Key West is full: marinas and mooring balls. We got in touch with Looper friends on Sojourner, docked at Conch Harbor Marina in Key West for the month of February, and they were able (we don’t know how?) to secure the LAST slip for us for Wednesday to Monday.

Mangroves at Goodland.

mangroves at low tide

So, at 8a.m. when the tide finally came up high enough we could get out of Goodland (chart shows much of the way with 4-5 feet of water at mean low tide), we took off, having just received the call from Sojourner telling us we had a spot in Key West. Until that moment we weren’t sure where we were going, but it was the first really good travel day, so we were leaving for somewhere.

The blue line below shows our route out of Goodland past Coon Key Light, and the water stayed shallow, so we traveled at idle speed for half an hour before getting deep enough to relax.

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This, our second Gulf Crossing (LINK to January 13 first crossing) was so easy! At 105 miles instead of 172, and daylight hours compared to overnight, we were comfortable doing it even though we had no buddy boats. It was warm and calm when we left, and we soon were beyond sight of land, going to 35 miles offshore at the greatest point.


We hit a fog bank for about an hour, but radar and lack of traffic meant it wasn’t scary, just something for which we needed to stay vigilant. The water turned from brown to blue to turquoise: beautiful!

Military aircraft flew overhead multiple times. Not sure if they’re practicing, looking for drug runners or what?


The wind picked up some in the afternoon, and a swell developed, but Bob had suggested Cathryn put on a Scopolamine patch “just in case”, she was grateful he did, and took the advice.

Finally coming into the marked channel approach to Key West for the last 10 miles, we passed shrimp boats that had their “wings” out . . .


and saw bi-planes overhead (tour planes? private folks flying down? who knows?)


The Sunset Pier near the tip of Key West is where we’ve been previously on a land-based vacation with our kids, though the umbrellas were red back then.


Lots of waterfront dining and drinking spots here.


Carolyn and Susan on Sojourner met us at the dock to catch our lines. We were tired and happy to get secured and have a visit with them.


Well-known Mallory Square, as seen on approach.


We went to the seawall for a margarita, crab cakes and sunset, and even though we didn’t see the fabled Green Flash, we did see a spectacular sunset!


What a treat to sit in the warm outside air at night!


Lots of boats were taking people on sunset cruises.


We’re happy to be in the Keys in February.

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