March 29, 2009: From Sharon and Richard on Lucky, drifting around in the Keys

The bilge remains bone-dry, so our 5200 fix has worked.

Rebecca Lewis, who has often sailed with me, arrived Feb. 9 at Florida International University, and we called Richard on the hand-held and he picked us up.

Life was a little easier for us while she was on board. Richard showed her how to fill the dinghy with gas and start it. She lifted it on to the back deck and back. He showed her the proper way to do dishes to save on salt water and she was a good student. She hauled sails up and down. She played Scrabble with me, and 3-way cards. She slept out in the cockpit every night.

We sailed to Key Biscayne (to No Name Harbour and back to Crandon Park for water and fresh fish). What started as a day sail in Biscayne Bay turned into a trip, and we headed south into the Keys.

We stopped in the most isolated anchorages we could find, where we could swim and snorkel around the boat, or dragging behind it. With the Chartplotter, we can edge into places we wouldn’t dare go before. We also got good at finding places to go ashore, which are few and far between.

It got windy, so we went to Tarpon Basin, still at Key Largo. It has all-round protection from wind. After a day spent searching the shore, we found a place where I could let Rebecca off at a resort dock where she could walk up to highway 1 and catch a bus. (We had learned not to ask if it was permissible, as everyone said no, which would really make you a trespasser if you then did it.) After Rebecca left, the boat seemed really quiet, and now we are looking forward to a visit from Elizabethann, an old friend that I met the first year I was sailing and stayed docked in Snug Harbour on Stock Island for a month. She has come sailing a few times since.

We sailed south to Tavernier Creek, and dinghied in to see Alan of Sinbad and his girlfriend at their dock. He lets us bring our garbage and get water, one of the nicest things someone with a toehold on land can do for a cruiser.

It made me happy to be able to connect with sister Sandy and her husband Gerry, who had driven south for a big ship cruise out of Miami. They came down early and spent a couple of days with us at Islamorada. Lunch and Happy Hour at Lorelei’s, $100. I ordered a bushwhacker and both Richard and I were very silly after he helped me finish it. Gerry picked up the larger half of the tab.

They came out to see the boat but declined sleeping on it, even though we offered them the v-berth. Could it be the cold showers on the swim platform, or the contortions one must go through just to get into the v-berth and lie down? Or the fact that everyone can hear the most intimate details of everyone else’s toilette, even though they try not to listen?

They opted for the $159 room in a quaint hotel that overlooked our anchorage and had a dock we could land at. We brought in our garbage and water jugs, and enjoyed hot showers in their room, so we feel they got their money’s worth.

The next day we all went to the big marine flea market on Plantation key in Sandy’s and Gerry’s van. I felt sorry for them when they took us back to the boat and we saw the traffic into the flea market backed up for many miles on the other side of the road. It must have taken them hours to get back to Miami!

After that, we had good sailing and more anchoring in isolated spots, away from traffic noise, and other peoples’ generator noise and exhaust.

But now we are in Boot Key Harbour, Marathon, where all boats in the Keys seem to end up and get stuck. We’ve been here almost a month!

There is a cruisers’ net in the mornings, a great dinghy dock, yoga in the park, a weekly potluck at the city marina, a pay phone, Scrabble, a nice laundromat, hot showers, water, trash disposal, and free pumpouts.

It comes at a price – $46 a week for those of us who spurn the moorings and anchor. But we have been able to connect with friends not seen in a long while, like Chris and Divya on Maggie M and Bryan on Omami, and Matt and Sue on SueSeaQ.  Not as much socializing as I like, but Richard prefers a more solitary style, and it is his boat. But he loves to teach people to play Farkle.

We had some electrical power issues, but went to Battery Shack  and got two new regulators for the alternators, and had them connected correctly, and everything is ok now.

I broke down and bought a cell phone, #305-304-6593. And we leave the VHF on more, so I don’t feel so disconnected. And I go on the net every few days and call the Scrabble players together for games. I painted a picture yesterday of a boat sitting in the mud off Boot Key.

Richard twisted his back lifting groceries from me on the dinghy, and he’s been in a lot of pain and can’t move much. The wind is supposed to get up to maybe 30 knots tonight and stay up for the week, so we’ll stay in Boot Key a few days more as we are anchored in a good spot. It’s been a good winter so far.

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