Friday, May 19, 2006
Sailing Down the Florida Keys
I hadn't been down to the Keys for a couple of years and was really looking forward to taking our venerable 37' Endeavour down from Miami to Marathon. Of course we chose the only weekend in recent history that was blowing 30 and gusting to 35..!! Cruising across Biscayne Bay was a breeze to put it lightly and no pun intended and I decided to motor for the benefit of our crew's safety and things began to get interesting when we saw smoke pouring from the Perkins. Not the big thick fire kind of smoke but that wispy white smoke that says "Over-heat situation, idiot"... Anyway we turn into the wind, stop the engine and toss out an anchor in about a 3 foot chop; 2 hours later with a new water pump belt and a repaired hose we continue on past Elliott Key and then on to the lee side of Pumpkin Key where we spend a delightful and very peaceful night. Leaving early we immediately ran aground in Card Sound - of course we were out of the channel - nothing serious though - breezed through Jewfish Creek at 9 am on the nose with no waiting and no tying up on the mangroves to keep the current from running you into the bridge, yippee. Nice leisurely cruise south on the ICW that, I may add, has had most of the channel markers repaired after last year's hurricane season. Great job USCG, thank you. We arrived at Plantation Key about 2 pm. and overnighted at this great little marina that now belongs the the City of Islamorada. We dropped off a crew member and continued on the next day without fuelling up because the fuel dock was down at the marina. Keys Disease. So I switched over to the forward tank which I knew was full and off we went. Through Snake Creek at high tide (one of the nicer cuts through to Hawk Channel - love it) and heading South West now on the outside with no wind at all, start the engine and ten minutes later, engine stops. Ouch. Air-bubbles. Switch back to the aft tank, purge the lines and bingo...!! we have an engine now. Of course, exactly at which time we get a nice breeze from the North East, beautiful. We arrived safe and sound after two more light groundings around Boot Key, we go through the tight channel at absolute low tide get the bascule bridge up 10 minutes before closing time and arrive at our Sombrero Marina dockage at exactly 7:00 pm. Lovely trip, minor mishaps, great dinner and drinks when we arrived in Marathon. You know they've got some great eateries in the Keys. Yes, you can navigate the inside route with a 5 foot draft. Proven. Not sure if you can go further south to Channel 5, maybe you'll need the extra foot or 6 inches of tide so make sure you're at high tide, OK?