Cruise to Key West

November 10th to December 12th, 2000
This was a shake-down cruise for us and the boat. It was a good learning experience! :-)
November 10th - left Longboat Key Moorings
We were delayed a day because we found that the freezer didn't work when we turned it on. As we had just filled it with frozen food, this was a problem. We managed to get a repair guy in at short notice to top up the refridgerant.
On leaving the marina, the boat was running poorly so Martin went over the side to check the propellors - they were thick with barnacles. He put on a tank and spent half an hour chipping them off, while we were anchored a few hundred yards from the marina channel.
We found the autopilot wasn't working! This was an apparent electronic compass problem we saw in July but thought was fixed. Without an autopilot we hand steered all the way to Key West.
We decided to start down the Intra-Costal Waterway (ICW) as we had to steer anyway. It was interesting, but harder work because the channel can be narrow, we are wide, and there are shoals on every side.
The first night we anchored at Venice, near Venice Yacht Club. We ran aground twice before we anchored for the night, and once again in the morning!

November 11th - Venice to Charlotte Harbor

Further down the ICW. At each bridge (several each day) we typically have to radio the bridge tender to ask him/her to raise it for us. One bridge had mechanical problems and we were forced to wait over an hour for it to be fixed. We anchored and had lunch.
Anchored for the night near Boca Grande Pass and the south end of Charlotte Harbor.

November 12th - Charlotte to San Carlos Bay

We left the ICW and sailed out into the Gulf of Mexico. We just sailed around Captiva and Sanibel islands, and anchored at the southern entry to San Carlos Bay, the southern extent of this stretch of the ICW.

November 13th - San Carlos Bay to Marco Island

We sailed to Marco Island and anchored in Factory Bay.

November 14th - at anchor in Factory Bay

We decided to have a rest day and stayed at anchor in Factory Bay. During the afternoon, while running the generator a weld cracked inside and sprayed salt water everywhere inside it. We called up Fischer-Panda and their first reaction was that, due to the salt water penetration, we should ship it back to them for repair! Eventually, they agreed to replace it with a new one, and this was scheduled to be done in Marathon next Monday.

November 15th -Marco Island to Indian Key

We filled with fuel and water at Marco Island Marina and sailed around Marco Island, and the shoals to the south, to anchor at Indian Key. Indian Key is at the entrance to the channel that goes in to Everglades City. There are hundreds of keys and small islands in the area, but only at Indian Key is there a suitable marked channel.

November 16th - Indian Key to Little Snake River

We sailed further south close to the Everglades and anchored at the next suitable channel, Little Snake River.

November 17th - across Florida Bay

We left Little Snake River early and sailed south across Florida Bay towards Marathon. We anchored at Bamboo Key which is north of Fat Deer Key near Marathon.

November 18th - under the bridge

We sailed under Highway 1 - the highway that runs down the Keys - at Moser Channel. The bridge is charted at 65', our height is spec'd at 62.5' and we went through near low tide. Despite this, we watched our VHF antenna (at the top of the mast) scrape the underside of the bridge!

We sailed down to Sombrero Key for some snorkelling and then back to anchor off Boot Key.

November 19th - Boot Key Harbor

Although we were anchored right by the main entrance into Boot Key Harbor, we decided not to use it because there are power lines across it charted to 65' - just like the bridge!  So we sailed around Boot Key and entered the harbor via Sister Creek. This is a winding creek into the harbor. It was no problem, except that we sailed past a huge Government transmitting station that upset our instruments - the wind instrument never recovered.

We tied up in Marathon Boat Works.

November 20th - Marathon Boat Works

We hung out at Marathon Boat Works while the local Fischer-Panda dealer replaced our generator. This gave us a chance to shop and eat in nearby restaurants.

November 21st - Marathon to Key West

Once the generator was ready, we left Marathon Boat Works in the early afternoon. The wind was strong and we sailed briskly to Key West. It was dark when we got there, and we made the mistake of attempting to anchor near Wisteria Island. It was a mistake to enter an unfamiliar anchorage, full of boats, at night, in windy conditions. We failed to set the anchor at the first attempt, and while manouvering we lost the port engine! In the dark, with the strong wind and tide, we narrowly missed hitting two anchored boats!

We wisely retreated and anchored 8 miles west at Man Key.

November 22nd - Key West

After diving to cut the lobster pot line off our port prop, we sailed to Key West. It was still windy so we called some marinas to find a slip. We tied up in Galleon Marina.

Our Thanksgiving Guests (Eggi and Chris) turned up in the afternoon. We went to watch the sunset at Mallory Dock.

November 23rd - Key West

We hung out at Key West all day.

November 24th - Boca Grande Key

We sailed to Boca Grande Key - 10 miles west of Key West.

November 25th - Boca Grande Key

We stayed at Boca Grande Key and did some snorkelling on a wreck. In the afternoon, we were boarded by the US Coast Guard for a safety check. They wanted to see PFDs, flares, and other legal requirements. We passed.

November 26th - Sand Key & Woman Key

We sailed out to Sand Key for some snorkelling, and then back to Woman Key for the night.

November 27th - Key West

We sailed back to Galleon Marina in Key West.

November 28th - Key West

Our guests (Eggi and Chris) left for the airport.

November 29th to December 4th - Key West

Martin and Tigger hung out in Galleon Marina while Ginger went back to Texas on family business.

December 5th & 6th - Saddlebunch Key

We hung out at Saddlebunch Key (8 miles east of Key West) waiting for the wind to change.

December 7th to 10th - Marquesa Keys

We went west to Marquesa Keys, a huge atoll 25 miles west of Key West. After a couple of failed attempts we found a route into Mooney Harbor inside the atoll. We spent a couple of days there exploring the keys in our dinghy.

December 11th - back North

Once the wind had shifted towards the east we left Marquesa Keys and set sail north back to Sarasota. We had a good day of sailing with a strong ENE wind. At sunset, the wind dropped so we motored on overnight.

December 12th - Sarasota

It was foggy the next morning and we reached Sarasota around mid-day.

It was a successful shake-down cruise, and we learned a lot!