Days on cruise: 289
Distance traveled: 50.0 miles
Travel time: 5 hours, 4 minutes
Total trip odometer: 6,028 statute miles
Today’s journey marked a milestone in several ways: we passed the 6,000-mile mark (our last thousand-mile mark), and after today, we’ll travel no new territory, as we took a “shake-down cruise” from Fort Pierce, FL to Marathon, FL last February 2012 just before we officially left to begin our Loop. So the remaining stretch from here to Fort Pierce is territory we covered exactly a year ago, already familiar.
This morning at Key West it was hot and humid, and the forecast called for a mild morning with winds building slightly in the afternoon. Traveling north of the Keys in the Florida Bay would have been more protected from the southerly winds, but also entails 18 more miles, so at the last minute we decided to take Hawks Channel on the south, or Caribbean side of the Keys instead. It saved us 18 miles, almost 2 hours, but put us in less protected water.
It wasn’t a bad trip, but not particularly fun either. There were 2 –4 foot swells with 1-2 foot chop on top, and the wind was coming out of the south-southeast, so we wallowed the entire way. That’s not scary, but it’s not comfortable either, and makes it hard to move around the boat without falling. We were very careful.
Today’s route provided the highest density of crab pots we’ve ever traveled. We ended up hand steering around the crab pots quite a bit because the auto-pilot isn’t as quick to change headings as we are when steering by hand.
After 4 1/2 hours we came in sight of the 7-mile bridge connecting Marathon with the further west islands, and then Marathon itself.
We have a reservation at Marathon Marina starting this Thursday, but weren’t able to get a reservation there earlier than that, so for the next 3 nights we’re at Pancho’s Fuel Dock. The folks here are friendly, and the fixed wall we’re tied to is good. There isn’t much else in the way of amenities, but after Key West’s high marina prices $3.50/foot/night, or more than $200/night for our boat), we’re happy to be paying Marathon’s more reasonable prices. Mooring balls are available here in Boot Key Harbor, but it’s so hot and muggy we want to be able to run the air conditioning without having to run the generator all the time, opted for the marina with shore power.
Above is the view from our sundeck. The blue dot in the photo below shows our current location. If you double click on the photo below you’ll see a purple pin to the left of us. That’s Marathon Marina where we’ll move to Thursday.
Looper friends Mike and Judy on One September (who we met following our epic squall experience in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New Jersey – click this LINK if interested in that story) are at Marathon Marina and invited us to join them, along with Deanne and Dick from Sareanna (leaders of our big Gulf Crossing armada) and other non-Looper friends of theirs, for cocktails. It was great to see everyone.
The folks here at Marathon Marina then headed to a community spot at Marathon Marina to watch “Life of Pi” together, but we had a trip back to our boat on bicycles, so didn’t want to stay later. It was already dark. We continue to enjoy this journey immensely and are starting to feel some emotion about the adventure coming to an end soon.