Sunday, February 18, 2018

Weekend Cruise to Boca Grande Key

Leaving Stock Island
Saturday, 2/17 -  We were up, walked dog, and out of the slip by 7:45 am.  DOLCE VENTO and SIMPLICITY were right behind us. Last night, Paula and Steve, SV TABLE FOR TWO, had to back out on the excursion. It is a shame. They will be missed.
     We waited until we were in Hawk Channel before hoisting the sails.  Winds were light out of the East at 8-10.  DOLCE VENTO passed us while under sail with no problem.  Her 46’-hull length and larger sails a great help. Sailing started out OK, but as the winds changed to the ENE and lightened, it was more difficult to keep the sails full.  SIMPLICITY was the only one who kept her sails full.  We found out later that the whisker poll was doing a great job! It took 3 ½ hours to get to Boca Grande Key, which is just north east of the Marquesas Keys, with our attempts to sail.  It was worth the trip. 


Private island with very long dock
     Somehow, the VHS radio was very quiet this morning. About an hour into our sail. I commented about it to Pete.  He played with the squelch and was able to get the weather, so we guessed everything was OK. About another hour passed and we still hadn’t heard the boats calling out from Key West.  That when we stared to use the hand-held unit.  Unfortunately, the battery life was less than a quarter, so I had to connect it to the inverter.  At least we now had contact with our other boats.
     The island is just like we had found in the Bahamas with one exception. . . . There were lots of other boats and people! Since it is a weekend with beautiful weather, there were over 35 “day-tripper” boats run up on shore and a 151-foot mega-yacht, IMPROMPTU, anchored about a quarter of a mile off shore with her pull toys and 3-story slide. On the beach, the crew had supplied 2 tents, tables, and a about 12 matching, lounging, beach chairs.  It was a great place to people watch, but not the right time to use the drone.  Hopefully, Pete will be able to use it tomorrow morning, when the beaches should be deserted.
Anchoring in deeper channel
Though the anchorage too fast
     The 3-knot + current was impressive, making anchoring properly important. Using the dinghy was also interesting, but our group knew just what to do.  It was also intriguing to watch people intending to relax on rafts in the water, traveling at about 3 mph with the current. They quickly chose not to use the floats.  Most people stood in the 1-2-foot shallows.  Of course, there are the crazies.  Those power boats with no common sense, speeding through the anchorages at 20 mph or greater.
Only portion of the beach and more boats were added as the afternoon arrived

The western end of the island
the current is strong as
the beach drops off quickly

Hugh and Deb exploring

My happy guy!
     I offered to make chicken fajitas, so everyone contributed with the fixings.  Pete and I decided to cook before everyone arrived at 5 PM.  Deb and Hugh explored a bit via dinghy, while Dorine and Cindy went ashore to explore the island.  They found that walking around the western point, they encountered very strong currents, making walking around the mangroves difficult.  Pete and I enjoyed the people watching and trying to read.
     Everything was ready when the Deb, Hugh, Dorine, John, and Cindy arrived at 5.  We all enjoyed the company, stories and obviously, the food, since a good deal of the food went.
Hugh and Deb
Dinner makings

Cindy and Dorine

Dorine, John, Kathy, Pete Deb and Hugh
Thanks. Cindy, for the photo!
     The sunset near IMPROMPTU, making for an interesting sunset.  The green flash was obvious tonight. With no ambient light, everyone headed back to their boats as twilight descended. With the darkness came the magnificent, starlit sky.  We sat up above and just stargazed.  I was fortunate to see a shooting star, the International Space Station and one, possibly 2, satellites.
Can you see the green flash?

MY IMPROMPTU, twilight descending, and the moon
     Since Bailey goes to shore a final time around 9:30 pm, it was an interesting dinghy ride in complete darkness and very strong current. Everything went perfectly, with 2 exceptions:  Bailey wanted to explore the beach instead of jumping ashore, doing a quick piddle, and jumping back into the dinghy.  Pete had to call her a number of times. The other was watching the dinghy stern light to monitor Pete’s movements in the water.  At one point, his body blocked the light and I couldn’t find him.  After a momentary panic, I was able to see the light and soon both were back on board.
     Shortly after we headed to bed.  I loved lying in bed looking up at the bright stars.

Sunday, 2/18 -   Periodically through the night, we heard the speed of the current against our hull.  We also heard the anchor chain hit the keel a few times due to the current.  Come daylight, Pete wanted to check to make sure that the chain wasn’t wrapped around the keel.  Thankfully, we were OK.
The clouds begin to gather
and the clouds get heavier
       While Pete took Bailey to shore, I prepped breakfast and watched DOLCE VENTO as she moved and swung the current.  Apparently, they had popped the snubber earlier and checked out the anchor situation while re-attaching the snubber.
     Forecast for today is for clouds, rain showers and winds ENE14-18.  Sunrise this morning was not very interesting, but in such a beautiful spot, who’s complaining.
IMPROMPTU and her toys
     We were 3 of 6 sailboats and the mega yacht that anchored overnight. As I turned on the hand-held VHS, I heard one of those other 3 boats calling the Coast Guard for assistance reaching Boat US for a tow.  Hugh offered to help, but he didn’t have the proper size hose needed by the boat in distress.  USCG relayed to Boat US, which is on its way.  SIMPLICITY offered to remain as a buddy boat until Boat US arrived.
     DOLCE VENTO and we headed out around 10.  The winds were “noserlies” and rains showers were all around us. We both decided to motor back.  I did see SIMPLICITY sail away from Boca Grande and make the turn North East, but I lost sight of them in the rain. 
     The chop made for an interesting ride. At one point we took 3 large waves over the cabin.  Unfortunately, we had the hatch in the head cracked about a half inch.  I didn’t know that much water could come through 10 x ½ inch opening!  Water sloshed around on the floor.  In that chop, after I closed the hatch, I had to mop up the floor, then wipe down everything before washing the entire head.
     Once back the boat needed to be scrubbed outside, I needed to scrub the head inside and since the machines were currently fee, I did 2 loads of wash.  A half hour later, many people had the same idea and waiting for machines was the nature of the beast.  Thankfully, I was done without waiting.
     We enjoyed leftovers for dinner and caught some of the Olympic stuff tonight, but one again there was a lot of “ Bla-bla, bla, bla-la-bla…” so we called it an early night.

~ ~ ~ /) ~ ~ K & P

Friday, February 16, 2018

Week Three in Key West

Monday, 2/12 -      While Pete worked, I walked over to the hotel and went directly to the exercise room.  I had it all to myself as I timed it after 10. I figured that everyone would be done so they could go into town, eat at the restaurant or sit by the pool, and I was right!  The room is much nicer and the equipment newer.  Time passes faster when you see scenery move and change on the screen as you walk.  As you can see it was worth finding!

   It took a while to cool down once I returned to the boat.  Pete made us lunch then I headed to the showers.  As I left the showers, I noticed that the laundry was empty and all the machines free.  So, guess what I did next!  By 4 pm all the laundry was done.
      Tonight, the marina guests were invited to the Salty Oyster for a free drink courtesy of Dockwa App. WE met our neighbors, Hugh and Deb (SC SIMPLICITY), Dorine and John (SV DOLCE VENTO) and their dock neighbors Gary and Sheila (Sailboat from north Florida), Skip, (SV MAJESTIC DREAM) who is friends with Peggy and Hans, who we met in Castle Harbor and hoped to meet in North Carolina last winter. Jenny, the Dockwa rep shared her sailing tales in Newport as well as information on the company.  It was a fun time and everyone had a great time.
     Once back we had Lasagna and another night of Olympics. Unfortunately, due to high winds the Super-G’s had been postponed so there was a lot of “bla-bla, bla-bla-bla….” But the U.S. did manage to get gold and bronze in the Women’s Snowboard Half Pipe.   That was exciting!

Looking down on the lobby
for the Perry Hotel
Tuesday, 2/13 -    After breakfast, Pete was back at work while I went to the gym. On the way back I spoke with Deb (SIMPLICITY) and told her we would love to sail with them and how about we discuss the particulars over hour d’ourves tonight? There was a definite “yes!”
     I called GNC Corporate and found out the Natural Vitamin E is available and can be ordered at the store.  Pete and I took a ride to GMC, ordered the vitamins then stopped by Office Max to pick up the mouse.  Since Publix was aslo there, picked up a few items there also.
      I made bruschetta and had crackers and Dubliner cheese, while Deb and Hugh brought some delicious fresh shrimp cocktail. There is a great fish market that sold the shrimp nearby that I will have to visit.  We enjoyed swapping tales and information.  Two hours flew by and the food disappeared.  We plan to leave around 8 on Friday and return home on Sunday.  I offered to make chicken fajitas for dinner Saturday.
     With all the good nibblers, we decided on a light dinner and once again watch the Olympics.  Tonight’s big event was the Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe where the US again took the gold and bronze!

Wednesday, 2/14 -      We exchanged some great Valentine’s cards, before breakfast.  Once again Pete worked and I went to exercise.
Pete was walking Bailey when they encountered these ladies.
Bailey and the "girls" were just curious.
I still haven't found out just what they are

      When I returned I cooled down, but my headache remained.  I chilled for the afternoon while Pete finished up working and read.  Since I hadn’t taken anything our for dinner, Pete suggested another Pizza at Roostica.  Once again it was delicious, but the service was very slow.
     When we returned, Paula and Steve were on the dock and Bailey made a fuss when we returned.  We started talking and Deb and Hugh joined us.  It turns out that we will now be 3 boats for Saturday’s sail!
     I have started reading Memory Man by David Baldacci, one of my favorite authors.  Unfortunately, the story and real life paralleled today, with a high school shooting just north of Miami. Not sure if I will pick up with the book or not.  Prayers are with the 17 victims and their families as well as all this tragedy touches.
    Between my headache and not being able to get into the Super G skiing so we called it an early night.

Thursday,  2/15 -      As I left to go exercise Hugh was also walking up the dock.  I asked if another boat could join our cruise.  He said the more the merrier, so I stopped by DOLCE VENTO and asked if they would like to join us.  The rigger is due on Friday and if all is ok they will sail with the group.
     I was earlier than usual for the gym.  There were 5 others working out. Thankfully, there was a treadmill free. I will keep to the slightly later time.
     After lunch I mentioned to Paula that I was going to Publix for a few more items for Saturday and she was welcome to join me.
     Once back, I work on the blog and photos and of course watched some of the Olympics.

Friday, 2/16 -       I wanted to make sure that Hadi’s card got mailed today.  It is hard to believe she will be five.  Where does the time go?!
Here is a unique perspective of the Key's RR Bridge
that I forgot to include with the photos from Pine Key
      I made an apple cake for dinner with DOLCE VENTO’s crew tonight.  I also cleaned the head and reorganized the galley after making a small disaster while preparing the cake.
      Pete had a busy day scheduled work wise, but also managed to fit in the preparations necessary for tomorrow’s excursion to Boca Grande Key.
      I got some time in on the blog, but the internet is one again slow.  I will see how far I can get before having to leave for dinner.

 ~ ~ ~ /) ~ ~  K & P

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Week Two in Key West

The marina gym is very handy
Monday, 2/5 -      After breakfast, I headed over to the hotel to use the gym. Both Hugh (SIMPLICITY) and Paula (TABLE FOR TWO) have used it a number of times.  When I asked, I was informed that it is only for the hotel guests. Marina guests use the one on the far side of the marina.  Thankfully, the marina’s gym has a variety of machines and the treadmill was available.  I was able to do an hour at 3 mph and at a slight incline.
120' De-masted sloop
docked by Coconut Alley
here at the marina
     After lunch, I was able to visit with both Carolyn and Betty by phone. Carolyn is getting stronger after her surgery while Betty is preparing for her’s later this week.
     We have decided to try to see the launch tomorrow at Cape Canaveral.  After dinner I made up chicken salad and prepped everything we will need for Bailey as well as us for a very long day of driving.  Once things were ready, we called it a night.  The alarm is once again set for 4:30 AM.

Tuesday, 2/6 -      As planned, the alarm went off at 4:30 and we immediately checked if the launch was still “a go.” It was, so we were up and out by 5:15.  We soon realized that we thought of everything, BUT our car travel bag.  Since we are renting a car periodically on this trip to shuttle our car up and down the coast. We keep a bag with the radar detector, the GPS, the Florida SunPass, our spare phone chargers, a splitter on a banana plug, Skittles, Bailey’s water/food dish, bags and her ball. Since we shuttled the Acura down to Key West before leaving West Palm, the bag was removed from the rental and placed onboard.  So, we avoided the FL Turnpike, which lead to heavy traffic trying to get through Miami and the traffic on 95 just north of Miami; an additional hour of driving north! While waiting for the launch our battery power on both phones was very low (mine from listening to all the TED podcasts and Pete’s from using WAIZE instead of the GPS for traffic and directions.) Cords needed to be purchased for both phones before returning home.  I had grabbed a bowl along with food for Bailey, so we were OK there.
     We made the 382-mile trek north to Titusville to see the maiden launch of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Falcon Heavy Rocket. It is meant to replace the powerful Saturn 5 Rocket, who’s mission will be to get payloads into space.  It could be supplies for the International Space Station, satellites placed in orbit, astronauts and eventually, a mission to Mars. The big differences between the two rockets is Falcon Heavy is 1/1000 the price to build, cost effective to launch, reusable, and privately funded. 
     The Chris, Greg, Heather and we had fun texting comment and info back and forth while we waited.  In fact, Chris was the one to inform us that the launch scheduled for 1:30 (in ten minutes) has been delayed due to high winds aloft, until 3:45 pm.  I had been checking NASA’s site, and the countdown went from T-15 minutes to “0 - TBD” and I was trying to figure out what that meant. With the extra time on our hands, we sat in the car, which was in a previously, empty lot, next to the Indian River across from the NASA’s Assembly Building and the launch site.  There were about 100 others who though this was a great place to park and view the launch.  Chris also informed us that the payload, which is usually cement blocks, was in reality a Tesla Roadster with a mannequin in a space suit, named “Starman.”  There are also numerous cameras that will be sending photos of the car’s journey to the asteroid belt, but the car is meant to continue heading towards Mars.
The crowds gather

Lift off 

The two bright spots between the man in the middle
 and his wife  are the booster rockets returning to base for reuse
     The rocket, as it started ignition created the smoke and steam. As it ascended, it was easy to track, due to moderate speed. The vapor trail was minimal, but the flames from the fuel tanks was as long as the rocket and shone brightly as it arced and continued climbing over the Atlantic.  About 10 minutes after the flames were no longer visible, 2 bright lights appeared and descended.  They were the booster rockets that were returning to land on another launch pad to be used in the future.  Shortly before they landed, we heard 4 sonic booms. Unfortunately, the main rocket was lost when it landed in the Atlantic.
     Oh yea, the Falcon Heavy was not as loud as the Shuttle launch.  The boys and Pete watched a Space Shuttle launch about 10 years ago.  They said the shock wave flew across the water, then the sound began to build.  When you though it shouldn’t get any louder, it did!  The ground and every bone in the body vibrated. Falcon Heavy was not as loud as the Navy and commercial jets that are flying overhead here at the marina.  It may not have been as loud, but it was exciting.  The radio reported, that the crowd observing the launch was much larger than any other since the Shuttle launches.  Not surprising as it was a historic launch!
Elon Musk (SpaceX) released this photo of
Starman and the Tesla Roadster
heading towards the asteroid Belt with Moon

     By 5 pm, we had stopped at a Walgreens for bathroom break and new cords for the phones, cleared the traffic in Titusville and began out drive on south 95.  Our only snafu was on the bridge south of Long Key.  There was construction and the guy with the Stop/Slow sign finally used his arm as well as the SLOW to signal us to enter the single lane.  Unfortunately, there were 4 vehicles heading our way, so we had to immediately stop.  When it was finally ok to go, we were fine until we neared the north bound stop.  There were no cones to guide us back to the southbound lanes and we almost continued in the northbound lanes. We were back in the marina at midnight. We spent 14 hours driving the almost 800 miles, but boy, was it worth it!

"Pirate," a  Portuguese Water Dog
 with unique coloring
Wednesday, 2/7 -      Dorine, Cindy and I were scheduled to head into Old Town Key West this morning by shuttle.  Instead, Dorine and John went to the orthopedic surgeon for a follow-up on her shoulder.  So, Cindy and I caught the 10 am shuttle, which apparently is popular.  Thankfully, we were early enough to snag a seat.
Antiques store, not yet open
     Cindy found out that you can address a coconut and mail it here at the post office, something her kids and granddaughter will get a kick out of receiving.  After the post office, we headed to Hemmingway’s House for a tour. We both read a number of his books while in high school, but remembered little of the stories.  It was interesting to hear the basis for the stories as well as his “interesting” life.
Hemmingway's home for 7 years

His Studio from outside

The 2nd floor bath
Yep! 6 toes!
His studio from inside

Cindy and her new friend
Key West "Eagle" . . .
 . . . . and his chicks

Casablanca Hotel & Cafe
     We were hungry by the time the tour was over, so we headed to Duval Street and quickly found The Casablanca Hotel and CafĂ©, which (of course) is adjacent to the Bogart Pub. Despite choosing the restaurant for the name, we chose well. Our Caprese Salad with grilled shrimp was delicious and the service excellent.
     We then walked back on Duval, checking out the shops for souvenirs for Cindy’s family.  She did very well, but we needed to also stop at a small shop for some lotion that Dorine has mentioned before catching the 4:30 shuttle back to the marina. I really enjoyed the day with Cindy and I am sure we will be doing it again.
Everything gets decorated





     While I was gone, Pete has time to relax and read.  There was no pressing work timelines and the breezes and temperature, not to mention the shade and view from the cockpit was great.
     After dinner, I downloaded my photos of yesterday’s launch. I took photos with my big camera, but with so much sunlight it was difficult to check out the photos.  I figured I had taken what I could, but there was no options retakes.  After such a fun day, I didn’t want to be disappointed.  As you can see from yesterday, I got some decent ones.
Thursday, 2/8 -      As I was leaving for the gym, Deb and Hugh, SV SIMPLICITY, we leaving for the Marquesas Islands and The Dry Tortugas and probably returning on Sunday.  We have thought about the Dry Tortugas, but travel is dependent on weather conditions (we could be stuck there for a few days in a blow) and no real protection in a storm, no services or water. We thought perhaps the ferry would be a good alternative, but it is a $165/ adult plus the $10 admission ticket.
     Once at the gym, which was popular today, I had to wait a while for the treadmill to be available. I only had a half hour in when the power died.  After waiting about 10 minutes, I headed back.  I should have waited a minute longer, for that’s when the power returned.
     I was back by 10:15. Since I needed a few items from the grocery store, I asked Paula if she needed groceries.  She and Steve were just leaving, taking their bikes.  I offered to have them come with us. If not, I would bring their groceries back for them. I also texted Cindy to see if they needed anything or wanted to go with me.  Cindy was busy with the electronics specialist, so Dorine and I headed to Publix. We met up with Steve and Paula and returned with a car full of groceries.  It worked out for all three of us.
     Pete spent the morning working and the afternoon enjoying a new book.  I worked on photos, writing more of the blog and trying to post to the web.  It is still taking about 5 minutes to load each photo.  I finally realized I haven’t been downsizing the photos for the web.  I have to adjust my workflow for blog photos in the future.
     I was able to catch up with Ann regarding their Carribian Cruise as well as family and friends.  The cruise was enjoyable until they came down with colds and coughs.
     After dinner we watched the first of the Olympic competitions.  The Men’s Short Program and the Pair’s Short Program for the Figure Skating Team Event and the first round of Men’s & Woman’s Freestyle Skiing Mogul’s Competition.  Tomorrow is the Opening Ceremonies.

Friday, 2/9 -      Pete worked most of the day, while I was able to get in my full hour on the treadmill, post 3 entries to the blog and write up the past week.  I refused to stay below, so I have been working in the cockpit, enjoying the breezes, pleasant temps and and a little bit of people watching.  Bailey is my biggest problem while typing. She tries to snuggle into me or stretches out and places her paws on the screen or keyboard.  The writing is caught up and about half of the photos are processed.  Perhaps tomorrow…  Tonight is the 2018 Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Saturday, 2/10 -      Our plan was simple:  Stop at the post office, at GNC for Baileys Natural Vitamin E, Office Max for a new mouse for my computer, Home Depot for a temperature sensor for our refrigerator, and Verizon for a new battery for Pete’s IPhone 5, which can barely last 10 hours.  Well, GNC here in Key West doesn’t stock the all-natural one. (Dogs can not process the synthetic E) I checked CVS’s vitamin supplies. None of the 4 Vitamin E’s were natural, even Nature Made’s.  They had a limited selection of organic supplements, but no E. Pete said to order it from Amazon.  Home Depot didn’t carry the temperature sensor. Pete said we could order it from Amazon.  Office Max had a variety of computer mice, but the one that fit my hand the best was out of stock.  I took a photo and figured we could order it on Amazon.  At Verizon, Pete and the staff discussed the battery situation for IPhones.  The batteries are expensive, need to be switched at an Apple Store, and the phone insurance does not cover its replacement.  In an hour, Pete was able to get a new IPhone 8, his settings, contacts, photos, etc. transferred, with accessories for less than $140!  The “but” here was that we had to sit in the Verizon parking lot for 3 ½ hours while all the apps updated on the phone.  We were so hungry, Pete went into Publix and picked up sandwiches.   Add to that frustration, the mouse is not available on Amazon Prime and the Vitamin E offered is not natural!   After lunch, I walked back to Office Max and ordered the mouse, which will be delivered in 3-5 days. It didn't save money or time ordering it from Amazon.  I check around for the Vitamin E.
home-about-img    We left the boat at 11 this morning and returned around 4, frustrated. We decided we needed to treat ourselves, especially since I hadn’t defrosted anything for dinner.  We had a delicious pizza at Roostica Wood Stove Pizzeria, not far from the marina. The service was slow, but the Roostica Pizza with sweet sausage, tomato, fresh mozzarella, caramelized onions, roasted red pepper, and mushroom was delicious.  The Jone’s Root Beer and the Focaccia bread were also outstanding.
      Once back “home”, we watched the Olympics. Tonight was the live finals of the Team figure Skating event, and the Men’s snow board Half Pipe.  U.S. took Bronze in Skating and a U.S. took the Gold in both Men’s and Women’s Snowboard Slopestyle!

Sunday, 2/11-       We headed out around 10 heading to Big Pine Key.  It is the closest ‘green zone” for the drone.  Pete had already conditioned the batteries before we left.  Lunch was packed, refreshments grabbed, and Bailey was more than ready.
Pete got the drone airborne
after working with the GPS
      We had to park just off the road.  The road that led down to a parking area and shade from the trees were now gone.  Only the naked trees stood on the reformed shoreline. We claimed the only tree that had survived and now provided shade.
Destroyed steps down to the water
Road down to the fishing piers with
high water 

Under the Route A1A bridge
Structure on the rocks

       While Pete worked with the drone to get the GPS reset, I took off to explore the area.  There was a lot of damage to this area as you can see by the photos. It was after my 40-minute walk around, Pete was able to get the drone in the air. The drone behaved perfectly, but Pete wanted to keep it above land until the batteries proved to be OK.  There might have been a problem due to the original way they were stored.  Thankfully, everything was good.

Rusted iron pipe
exposed by the hurricane
Sponge washed ashore during storm
      Once airborne, a couple of other drone pilots tried out their smaller, racing drones, but the winds proved too much for the lighter drones.  Shortly after, we noticed the clouds approaching with obvious rain showers.  We were able to pack up before they arrived.

Bailey loves to destroy sticks
Looking over the barren shore
The black spot is the drone over the ocea
There is new life
 among the destruction

Variety of shells, claws, coral and
impressed sand scattered around us

coral crushed on the shore

Another type of sponge washed ashore


Once back, Pete discharged the batteries for storage while I prepped stuff for dinner. 
     As Pete returned from walking the dog, SIMPLICITY returned.  They had a wonderful sail to the Marquesas and The Dry Tortuga.  The ride back was rocky, but they did it in one day.  They would like to head to Boca Grande Key, which is close to the Marquesas and asked if we would like to come along.  Pete checked it out and Bailey can be taken to shore.
     After dinner, we watched the Women’s Snowboard Half Pipe.  U.S. once again a 17-year old took the Gold!  In the single Luge, the U.S. metaled, taking silver, for the first time in 28 years!

~ ~ ~ /) ~ ~ K & P