Pinned in the Keys by Wind, March 12, 2012

Update, March 12, 2012          In Tarpon Basin

The ending of my last update was so optimistic. We were going to Cuba! But a weather window did not open up for Cuba, and after a week or so, Alan got a job delivering a boat from Marathon to Fort Pierce, and was no longer available to go with us. It was also obvious that we would never make it around the west end of Cuba to meet with Vonny and Ray by March 23, and have time to travel along the south side to get to the Bahamas before Hurricane season.

We did the usual Marathon things, and, because the cost of dinghy dockage has been upped to $280, not much less than a mooring, we took the mooring. But the moorings are close together, most people run generators (some 24-7), and there are lots of yappy dogs.

I bought a new hand-held GPS, since the one I had since 2004 ran out of almanac for the tides, and the computer connection to update it is now obsolete. It can still be used for other GPS functions, but our chart plotter doesn’t have tides, and I had gotten used to that convenience. When our week was up, we moved to the anchorage.

I got up early and listened to Chris Parker on the shortwave receiver for weather, first for Cuba, and then the Bahamas. Lynda and I went to yoga a few times. Jim and Lynda invited us to Morningstar for a wonderful going-away dinner.

I felt bad about giving up on Cuba, because I had promised Vonny we would meet up with them, but the weather really wasn’t cooperating, and I felt that Richard would always find a reason not to go. He is getting to an age where physical problems are limiting what he used to be able to do. I’m not as strong as I used to be either. And my balance isn’t as good as it used to be. We both forget things a lot, too. Fortunately, we usually forget different things. Richard says that, together, we make one fully capable person.

I haven’t heard from Vonny since Feb. 23, when she and Ray were two day’s sail from Cuba. The wind got worse after that, and I hope they stayed in or got to a sheltered spot.

On Thursday, March 1, Richard and I headed out of Boot Key Harbor, towards the Bahamas. We got the sails up and turned into Hawks’ Channel. It was a beautiful day, and the boat heeled over and moved along briskly. We went out to the edge of the reef to avoid the crab pots, into waves that were about four feet or less. I was elated to be really sailing. The water was that wonderful turquoise blue.

Richard was unhappy, saying it would get very bad before we got to the other side. He had one of his weather-turning-bad headaches, and nausea from the drugs he takes for his heart. He couldn’t eat. Nothing was right. He was really feeling bad when we got to Channel Five and we turned back, then out again, then back, before I turned the wheel to the channel, giving up that window. We picked up the same mooring ball we were on two weeks ago. I was not speaking to anyone.

Late that night, the wind picked up a little, and in the morning, we sailed into a brisk wind towards the harbor where the sponge boats anchor. The sails had to come down quickly because of the sand we were pushing off the bottom with the bulb keel. We stayed there for a full week, in high winds. The mangroves gave protection all the way around. We looked out onto the same view that is on the cover of the book. One day, we went to shore, and, while I checked email, Richard fended off the advances of two women in their 40s or 50s who chatted him up. Alan from Sinbad, who lives in Tavernier, picked up stuff we needed and even took us to the Ocean View, a local restaurant, where we met his friends. Janet had read my book and wanted to meet the person who had screwed up more than they did when they were cruising.

After a week, the wind let up, and we motored into it, to Tarpon Basin.

Mark, a friend of Rick, Richard’s son is here on a small sailboat. He rowed over for a Steak BBQ on Saturday night. He had bicycled to Publix to get the groceries. In the morning, Richard made his great crepes.

Last night we dinghied over to Shockwave, and visited with Jerry and Bonnie. They told us about how they lost a big, well-equipped boat Traveler in Hurricane Hugo, when they were in Puerto Rico. Listening to what they went through made me realize how petty my complaints are.

I shouldn’t be discontented. We swim around the boat and have hot showers from sun-heated water. I have a good internet connection on the boat. I can work on my next book. Richard’s family might connect with us. It is March Break and they are in Florida.

The Keys are a beautiful place to spend the winter. But it is our third winter in the Keys. I want to go to a more exotic place before we get too old to do it. Richard is more careful, he says, about picking weather to travel in.

He says we will get to the Bahamas before we go home, and leave the boat there. He says the weather will calm down. I believe him.

-til we get there, Sharon and Richard.

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