Weeks six through eleven have been a whirlwind of activity for Jean and me and catching the blog up will be a challenge. We ended week six in Three D Boatyard in Stock Island (Key West) by having the hull painted and the trim tabs removed and the holes fiberglassed over. Both repairs were necessary for the next 5000 miles of our journey. We lived on the boat while the work was being performed and while pleased with the work, we were delighted to splash again on Friday the 16th and spend the remainder of the day cleaning up the boat from stem to stern. Boatyards can be very dirty.
Having the boat clean and ready for our company arriving on Saturday was a challenge, but we were able to do so and enjoyed our guests and the time exploring Key West together for several days immensely.
The wind was blowing a steady 15 to 20 mph for most days, and we watched for a window of opportunity so that we could make a side trip out to the Marquesas and Dry Tortugas. That window opened on Sunday the 25th allowing us a cruise 85 miles from Stock Island to the Dry Tortugas in 9.5 hours. The wind and the waves laid down some, but we still encountered waves five to six feet high. Arriving the Dry Tortugas late in the afternoon, we anchored overnight and toured the island the next day. It was a windy night, and the anchored had trouble holding till we found a place next to a group of crabbers that provided secure holding in the wind. Jean and I traded watches throughout the night to make sure we held tight.
The next morning we dinghied in and toured the grounds for several hours and then headed off to the Marquesas to spend the evening on the hook there.
The Marquesas were beautiful, and the water was SMOOTH, and the wind had died down considerably. We anchored and dinghied around the area for a little sightseeing. The Marquesas are uninhabited by humans and are beautiful, even after the devastation of Irma.
The water on the trip was remarkable. At least three colors of blue and the Gulfstream a resounding royal blue. I would submit that for me, the blues of the water was the most striking sight of the cruise.
After we pulled anchor the next morning, we made our way back to Stock Island and prepared for our departure north along Hawk Channel to Marathon and the Faro Blanco Marina for an overnight stay. But, before we could go we had a soft spot in the galley floor re-planked by a professional shipwright and once finished we cruised to Marathon. The next day we traveled north to an anchorage north of Key Largo called Steamboat Creek in Barnes Sound. It had excellent anchor holding, but the wind was such that we set up an overnight anchor watch just to be on the safe side and am happy to report that all went well. It is here that I came down with bronchitis and Jean took over as captain and guided us through the congested Miami shipping lanes as well as Port Everglades just outside of Fort. Lauderdale complete with all the small bridge openings along the way. I am incredibly proud of her skill in negotiating the ICW traffic and the handling of the boat, navigation, and radio. I was pitiful and not of much use. The next day we headed to North Miami and worked our way up the coast staying overnight in Delray Beach, Jupiter, and Fort Pierce. The wind was such that we decided to tie up instead of keeping an anchor watch every night. From Fort Pierce Jean and I cruised to Melbourne where we rented a car to drive home to Tarpon Springs for two days (and a doctors visit for me) bringing the paddleboards and other items we did not need to have on board any longer. Melbourne is an excellent place to leave the boat for a couple of weeks while we visited home and facilitated a 5G Power Skills Certification cohort with Rollins College in Winter Park for five days.
I just finished up changing all the fuel filters and cleaning the bilge, and Jean finished painting the inside of the stern bilge area. Jean and I are waiting out a cold front that is bringing high winds and rain, and then we plan on heading to an anchorage in the ICW in New Symrna and then ports further north.