Friday, March 8, 2013

Headed North on the Final Stretch

Days on cruise:  300

Distance traveled:  66.5 miles

Travel time:  7 hours, 56 minutes

Total trip odometer:  6,107 statute miles

Jim and Phebe left Thursday morning, and we were sorry to see them go.  Jim was flying straight home to Seattle and took two of our huge duffel bags as checked baggage, filled with bedding and towels, clothes and lots more: all stuff we won’t need during these last days on the boat. It will give us more room to make everything else fit into the pickup truck for our drive home.

We spent the rest of the day organizing for our last travel leg: laundry, boat washing, fueling the boat and getting a pump out, loading the bikes back onto the boat and more.

Mark and Allyn on Second Wind came for potluck dinner: we made crab cakes, Allyn brought a salad, and Cathryn and Allyn combined ingredients for a side dish. We watched the sunset from our sundeck and ate outside, a lovely evening.

This morning Next To Me and Second Wind left Marathon just after 8am and headed east. The weather forecast called for winds 10-15 mph and waves 1-2 feet: not bad.  We traveled the first 20+ miles in Hawk Channel south of the Keys, then turned north through Channel Five to Florida Bay. The water becomes VERY SKINNY there!

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Here’s the bridge we passed under while going north through Channel Five. In the foreground is the Flagler-era railroad bridge from the early 1900s; behind it is a recent highway bridge.


After entering Florida Bay it was low tide, and the water was mostly 7-10 feet deep in the channel, meaning we had 3-6 feet beneath our hull, so were churning sand at times with our prop wash.


We traveled with Second Wind through this section, and since we traveled this leg a year ago on our shake-down cruise, we had a “track” we could follow on our chartplotter.


At times the route took us through narrow channels bordered on both sides by mangroves.


Note our slow speed and shallow depth (3.9 feet).


Lots of tiny islands with a tree or two on them.


This is a found photo, aerial, of Gilbert’s Marina where we’re spending the night. It’s a sort of funky place, but very convenient as it requires no travel off-route. Second Wind is here too, and we had dinner at the Tiki Hut on site.


We went to the beach for sunset with Mark and Allyn, perhaps our last, as from here we’ll be facing east.


We’re a bit envious of Mark and Allyn who just started their Loop a few hundred miles ago and have all the adventure still ahead of them. They’re nice, smart, funny folks, and we’ve enjoyed our time with them and wish them well.


Cathryn is getting a bit teary about ending our Loop, and Bob is enjoying it still but ready to head home.

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