Hiding Out in Key Largo

Crossing Biscayne Bay is pretty unique, especially if you’ve never done it before. For one thing, the Bay is huge. It takes us a few hours to cross it in a sailboat. Another thing is that it’s very shallow. You can compare it to the Bahama Banks, only more shallow. For the first timer it’s a little disconcerting to travel for miles and miles with only two or 3 feet of water under the keel. And then there are the areas where it’s really shallow and the depth meter is showing a foot or foot and a half under you. It gets your attention real quick. Fortunately, those areas are small and quick to pass through. After you clear the Bay, the path leads you through mangrove cuts and various Sounds.

The reason we wanted to hole up in in Tarpon Basin is that we knew a wicked front was coming through and here in the Basin you have almost 360 degree protection from the wind, depending on where you drop the hook. When the front moved through last night, it was a little wild to say the least. The lightning was constant and the wind was a steady 35-40 knots. At one point a gust hit us that had to have been every bit of 50 knots and caused us to drag anchor about thirty feet before it reset. We had two anchor alarms set, but still got up every couple of hours or so to check things out. We did see one monohull that dragged his anchor and it didn’t reset. It was pouring rain and lightning and he was looking for another place to drop the hook. Not a fun situation to be in. All in all, we felt pretty safe.

The day before the front came through we were able to finish up the shopping list at Publix down the street. On the way there, we stopped in at a place called Hobo’s for their happy hour. A cruiser can never pass up a good happy hour! The place was awesome with 60 cent shrimp, steamed clams and wings. The wings had to be some of the best we have eaten.

It looks like tomorrow, Tuesday, we’ll start heading down the Keys again in preparation for our turn to go north up the Gulf Coast. We’re looking forward to meeting friends Tim, Jill, Jen and Bud around the Ten Thousand Island area and also looking forward to hooking up with our friends Pat and Doug.

Here’s a short video of the storm last night. About half way through watch for the lightning bolt…

Coming through the mangroves reminds me of the Jungle Boat Cruise at Disney Land..

The anchorage here at Tarpon Basin


Until then….


Adios Miami

Miami is one of those places we visit where it’s always hard to leave. There’s so much to like about the place and the opportunities to grab a great meal really make it tough to go. We did stay an extra day, helping out Randy onboard Heaven with his windlass and that was fine by me. His windlass, that’s the piece of equipment that pulls up the anchor chain, had started to act erratic and needed to be repaired before they left for the Bahamas. Between the both of us we got it back to working order. Not without some major surgery and McGivering though!

This morning we left for Dinner Key Marina to top off our fuel and water tanks before we head on to Key Largo and then up the Gulf side of Florida. We’re not sure at this point whether we’ll go to Marathon or not. Right now boats are anchored in Sisters Creek up against the mangroves, because the mooring field at Boot Key Harbor is full. We’ll play it by ear as we have to hold up in Key Largo waiting for a strong front to pass.

As for Dinner Key, we had heard about the place, but had never been there before. It will probably be the last time we stop here. We stopped at Grove Key Marina to top off the tanks and the first problem was trying to get someone to respond to our radio call. Finally, we ended up using the phone to let them know we’re coming in. We get docked and let the dockhand know we needed fuel and water. At that point he told us the marina doesn’t offer water at the fuel dock for transients. He told us it was the marina owners rule that no water be provided. We were shocked and a little peeved to say the least.

We fueled up and left there headed next door for Dinner Key Marina. I called the marina and explained we needed water and they were nice enough to tell us to find an empty T head and fill up there. Dinner Key has no provision for a boater to pull up and get fuel or water. This was all really surprising to us, that marinas of this caliber would be so insufficient in the basic amenities. After filling the tanks with water we got our mooring ball assignment and headed there. With a south or southeast wind of more then 8 knots or so, this would be a miserable place to spend the night. Even now, with a 3-5 knot wind, we’re rocking and rolling.

We did take our laundry in and all the machines worked good, which was a high point. I checked out the showers and was surprised at how dirty they were. I mean, come on, this is a high dollar, first class marina and the bathroom was filthy. After laundry, we walked to the closest store which was a Fresh Market. Sticker shock. We walked in with a decent list and walked out with two avocados, bananas, an onion and a small bag of chocolate candy. Oh well, we’ll finish the list in Key Largo.

Ok, no more ranting. We feel good, we’re warm and meeting up with old friends in a few days. Life is good!

Michele out on the kayak with new friend Ellen

Randy and Ellen’s Lagoon 380, “Heaven”

We really get a kick out of watching all the cruise ships come and go…

Homes on Star Island

Miami, as we’re headed out Biscayne Bay

Mega yacht “Athena” near the anchorage in Miami. It’s for sale…a cool $59 million! The length is 295 feet…

And here is Mark Cuban’s yacht, “Fountainhead”. It’s a little smaller then Athena at 288 feet…

Until then…..


On To Miami

From Peck Lake, we ran down to an anchorage that our friends Pat and Doug told us about a couple of years ago. At first glance it looks like there’s no way to get in because of the water depth. But, following their directions we always make it back into the “hole”. And that’s what the anchorage is called, “Hole in the Wall”. The next day brought 25 knot winds and rain in the forecast. Michele wanted to stay put and I wanted to go. We ended up pulling the hook at my insistence and took off. Thirty minutes later after being battered by the wind and cold, I admitted she was right and turned around back to Hole in the Wall. Man, I hate when she’s right, which is most of the time!

From the Hole, it was on to Lake Worth in Palm Beach. The north end of Lake Worth is a great spot to drop the hook and relax for awhile. Publix is close by for easy provisioning and West Marine is right down the street for supplies. Speaking of which, I needed to run to West Marine to pick up two spare water pump impellors. Even here now in Miami I’m still having raw water issues with the port engine. So, with the engine issues and weather pattern that has developed here, we’ve pretty much scrapped plans for the Bahamas. Looks like the Keys and Gulf Coast this time around. I should mention we met some new friends at Lake Worth, Randy and Ellen onboard a Lagoon 380. We’ve been kinda leapfrogging southward with some great happy hours thrown in for good measure!

Leaving Lake Worth our next stop was Lantana. Of all the times we’ve anchored there, we never realized how close the beach was. So we walked to the beach and since it was a little windy, found it uncrowded. I was surprised that on the walk we managed to find more sea beans. We found a couple of heart beans and a few hamburger beans, plus some other ones as well. Really cool to think that what we find has traveled thousands of miles to get to that particular beach. On the way back from the beach we stumbled across a nature preserve with a great walking path. Our friend Pat would have loved the place. Lots of photo opportunities.

The run from Lantana to Fort Lauderdale is distinct in the fact that there are 14 bridges you have to open. In the early days these bridges gave us fits trying to time everything just right. Arrive to early and you jockey around in front of the bridge fighting wind and current until the bridge opens. This really gets interesting when there’s 5 or 6 other boats jockeying to try to stay in position too. The bridge operators want you to be close to the bridge so they can get you through quickly, but prudence says not too close else current will push you into a closed bridge. Not good. On the other hand, arrive too late and depending on the bridge schedule you may be holding position anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. After having had to open hundreds of bridges to date, now we have the timing pretty much dialed in. No hour waits!

Sitting in Fort Lauderdale, the question of the day was when to leave to make the outside run to Miami. There’s one bridge between Fort Lauderdale and Miami that does not open and is too low for our mast to fit under. Thus the need to jump out. Problem was the weather. The east winds have been blowing 15-20 knots for days now. The seas are running 4 to 5 feet with an occasional 6 footer thrown in there. No one wants to get beat up running outside, but with actual conditions a mystery it was tough making an informed decision. Finally, I contacted another catamaran who I thought may be going to make the run outside. After we established radio contact I gave him our phone number and asked him to call us back when he saw the actual conditions outside. After about an hour he called and reported favorable conditions on the outside. It took us about 3 seconds to decide to go! And he was right, conditions while not excellent, were good enough to make a fast run down. And here we sit. Miami.

This is probably one of the nicest boat houses we see on the ICW

And here’s the coolest lattice work on a chimney

More great use of foliage

Love the banyan trees in the yard

And here’s why Florida is passing anchor laws…

Dusk at Lake Worth

Tiger Wood’s mega yacht

Love the floating tiki bar

Here’s a water spout trying to form up. This was outside on the way to Miami

Trying out the kayaks for the first time

Until then….




Peck Lake

Yes, we did leave the anchorage at Hole in the Wall Island yesterday. We made it about 30 minutes before the decision was to turn around and head right back to the anchorage. Just too cold and windy to try and make Peck Lake, especially if we really didn’t have to. So, back to the anchorage and a Netflix marathon for the day.

Todays run to Peck Lake was going along pretty smoothly until right past the Fort Pierce Inlet we managed to touch bottom and soft grounded. It was dead low tide and the marked shoal had encroached way into the channel. So even following the new markers we came to a slow stop. It took us about half an hour of maneuvering to work our way off the shoal and into deeper water. We were never in any danger, it was just inconvenient and a little embarrassing. It’s been a long time since the last time we found the bottom.

Once the hook was down here at Peck, we launched the dink and headed for the beach. The beach here is one of our favorites for beachcombing. After about an hour, we had already had a bounty of sea beans. Two sea hearts, five hamburger beans, one sea coconut, one blister bean and two sea pearls! Not bad at all. Tomorrow, we have a short run to Lake Worth and  re-provisioning the boat.

Maybe that’s a new hand held fish finder he’s holding…mmmm

I would love to fit one of these on the boat..

El Camino on the hook at Peck..

We had never seen so many Portuguese Man of War’s washed up on the beach before. They were everywhere.

Would love to know how far the marker traveled before it landed here. Bahamas maybe?

Looking down the beach..

Lots of these little guys feeding along the wrack line.

Two of the most feared sea creatures…Portuguese Man of War and Great White Shark!

The sea bean bounty..

A really cool looking driftwood sculpture..

My favorite picture of the day.

Until then….