Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dinner Key to Marathon in the Florida Keys


When Kim got home we stocked up the boat and watched the weather. We needed a weather window to get from Dinner Key to Marathon. The night before Kim went to visit her family, we happened to see a kid dinghy over to a 18 foot sailboat that was anchored out. As we watched him we noticed that there was a kitten onboard and it looked like he was feeding him. He was there for a few minutes and then left. He dinghed back to a bigger sailboat that was about 500 yards away. We had a really bad feeling about it and Kim asked Mike to check on the kitten while she was gone and make sure that it was okay. Well Mike found out that the kitten was living all alone on the boat, and that the kid taking care of him, left him on the boat and just left him piles of dry food and a 5 gallon bucket of sand to go to the bathroom in. Mike found the kid's parents and asked if we could have the kitten, they said they would talk to their son and Mike agreed to come back when Kim returned. The day I came home we went over and asked to have the kitten. We said it should not be left alone or treated like that and needed a good home. The kid finally agreed and the father brought her over to our boat. The kitten was 6 months old and had been living alone on the boat for some time and only left dry food. When we went to see the kitten, there was poop all over the boat - it was horrible. He was left alone with the boat open in storms and high winds. We only had intentions of saving the kitten and trying to find her a good land based home. We didn't have any luck in Dinner Key and so we prepared her for the trip to Marathon. She was used to being on a boat but she had never actually traveled on a boat. She was bit tense at first, but she found her safe spots and seemed to settle in. We called the kitten - kitty - trying our best not to get attached, but of course we knew we would. We did finally give her a name - after we found out she was in heat and became very, very friendly - as cats in heat usually do - all she wanted was nookie - so yah we called her Nookie :)))

After we provisioned the boat, got fuel and water we headed over to Key Biscayne and anchored out for a few days. Key Biscayne is closer to the ocean so when we were ready to head you to Marathon is was a shorter distance. We would have to leave at first light if we wanted to overnight at Rodriquez Key which is an anchorage on the ocean side of the keys. So the weather and tides had to be right for our leaving and overnight stay. While we waited we explored the island - to the left is a lighthouse off the main beach. We got lucky one day and found it to be open - so we climbed to the top and got a wonderful view. Unfortunately, we didn't know that it would be open and were just out for a walk and did not bring the camera that day. But we got this shot of the outside another day.

The island was also full of raccoons looking for some handouts.

We had a good trip the first day, however, after leaving Rodriquez Key we had another days sail
to get to Marathon. The first couple

hours were great and then we hit thick, thick pea soup fog, which is very unusual here. You may wonder why we don't have any pictures of the fog - well it's the same reason we don't have any pictures of the storms we've been caught in. Your only concerned with the current situation and your safety. The fog was very unsettling, one of us was on the bow looking for crab pots and boats and also listening. The other was steering the boat while the one on the bow gave directions, like HARD TO PORT, HARD TO STARBOARD, OH SHIT :) We would take turns on the bow and at the wheel. As we approached the inlet to Boot Key Harbour, Marathon we had to pass the outside anchorage and find the channel markers to enter the channel. We did not see any boats in the anchorage (although they were there) and only had our GPS chart plotter and about 40 feet of visibility. We finally found the first marker and asked a passing fishing boat for some local knowledge of the inlet. The said to hug the greens starboard markers because the port side of the channel (the side we were supposed to be on) was VERY shallow. They offered to slow down and let us follow them until we got inside. We were very grateful, but we still had to go under a bridge. Actually, we had to request the bridge to open and then pass under it but we couldn't even see it. We called the bridge on the radio, and the bridge tender said that he could not see us yet and to call when we got closer. HELLO - FOG - NOBODY CAN SEE ANYTHING. I cannot tell you our relief when we got a few yards up and the fog started to lift. It seems that the whole harbour was clear - it was such a RELIEF, we could see the bridge!! So in we go, get our mooring assignment and safely get on the mooring. It's only then that you say - dang we should of got a picture :)

More to come in Marathon, with Nookie the cat, Mom and lots of living in Paradise.

Cheers from Margaritaville of sorts, Mike and Kim blissfully on Ka'imi

Tim Visits Dinner Key, Florida

When Kim went to see her family in January, Mike asked his friend Tim to come and visit with him on the boat. It was a great relief to have Tim come visit, the winds had picked up the night Kim left and were blowing 26-30 knots. Mike had a long sleepless night with the winds that high, because the anchorage had very poor holding. We were also testing a brand new anchor, a 55 pound Delta that we had just bought. Mike also had witnessed a 44 foot Trawler dragging anchor earlier in the evening. If the anchor had given way, it would have been very hard for one person to retrieve and reset the anchor in a very crowded anchorage. After Tim arrived the weather calmed. It was a great to see him and a relief in case the winds picked up again.

Tim had been to Miami and Dinner Key before with Mike back in the 80's when Mike had his 30' Hunter sailboat that he lived on. Tim stayed on the boat with Mike for about 6 months and they both worked at the Miami Beach Charthouse. After they earned some money they took off to the Bahama's to cruise the Berry Islands. Mike welcomes Tim aboard at the Dinner Key anchorage.

Mike and Tim enjoyed seeing the changes as they walked around Coconut Grove, Dinner Key Marina and Miami. They spotted a manatee around the docks at Dinner Key Marina. To the right is a picture of a Portuguese Man-O-War they spotted by the Dinghy Dock. The Man-O-War was wetting down its sail.

Mike and Tim took a trip down to Miami Beach. The dock at the left is where they lived when they worked at the Chart House. The only thing that looked the same here was the pier where Mike's boat was docked. Everything else was so developed you couldn't even get to beach anymore, without paying for a parking spot. It was sad to see most of the beach was fenced off and private. They have lots of restaurants in Miami Beach and we enjoyed a great lunch.

Mike taught Tim how to play Mexican Train Dominoes a game we learned while cruising in the Caribbean, it's very popular among cruisers. Tim loved this game and couldn't get enough of it. They played almost every evening. Here's Tim kicking Mike's ass in the game.

They weather finally cleared up enough that they could leave Ka'imi and Tim rented a car. They went down to check the mooring balls out at Marathon in the Florida Keys. Marathon is just north of Key West and south of Key Largo. This is where Mike and I are now. The left is a picture of the dinghy dock and the right is the old seven mile bridge.

Tim took the picture on the left of a local Iguana, he has a great camera. The picture at the right is the Dinner Key anchorage.

After a week it was time for Tim to leave. It's another beautiful sunset in Dinner Key. Thanks for coming Tim, and come back again soon it was great to see you.

As soon as Tim left, the winds starting picking up again to 20-30 knots. Wouldn't you know it, Kim got a phone call every day - "WHERE ARE YOU!" Thank god the anchor held!

Cheers for now, Mike and Kim on Ka'imi

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