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
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
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
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
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
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
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!