Alright...I'm back. Its time I caught you up on our latest adventures....
So, we hung around Naples for another day and a half. The winds had indeed calmed down very nicely so we reconsidered that we had originally planned long ago --- our first overnight into Key West. The sea conditions of the Gulf were perfect - light winds almost to our stern. We had hoped to do an overnight this season - it was time. We were definitely ready. So, off we went...
It was 5:45 on saturday night, we chose this time because we needed high tide to get through the channel in Naples Bay. We pulled away to a lovely calm evening. Here we are about to enter the inlet to the Gulf:
This picture is of the Gulf conditions that evening. As I said, perfect:
Naturtally, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset:
And the last light before real darkness set in:
Overnight, we dodged as many crab pots as we could and, luckily, didn't tangle in any of them. Even miles out into the gulf they were there. We had hoped that after a reasonable distance from sight of land they would not be there, but they were. Their numbers were diminished, as compared to further inland, but not entirely.
For the first half of the night, we experienced calm winds, but at around 3am the winds picked up and the seas went from 1-2 feet to 3-4 feet. Additionally, the direction of the wind changed so we took it mostly on our port beam. It was still very comfortable though so we happily moseyed along.
Bruce spent most of the night awake. I slept for almost 5 hours while he was handling everything solo. His thought was that as long as he was comfortably awake, I might as well sleep so that if something happened later at least one of us would be rested and able to function well. He did get about an hour of sleep around 4 but that was all he could do. He is not much of a sleeper anyway. (I am)
At a few points in the night, hours of travel time into the gulf, and mostly when I was awake, we encountered a bunch of shrimp boats almost in every direction. Some were close to us, others so far that they were just a glow of light in the darkness. This is the best picture I got of one of the closest shrimpers. My camera didn't seem to know what to do with the bright light in all the darkness so this is as good as I got to a real picture. It, at least, gives you an idea of the brightness of the lights they use to fish with. I'm not so sure why it is so blurry, it seemed clearer when I took it. Sorry.
Travelling in the dark all night was something new to me. Bruce had spent some time in his youth experiencing it, but I never had. It was interesting. I thought I'd be much more uncomfortable with it than I actually was. It felt more peaceful to me than fearful. It felt odd being out of sight of land for so many hours at a stretch, but a quick glance at our navigation screens showed me we were right on track. An occasional check at the compass also confirmed that all was well. And, indeed, come first light as we were approaching Key West we were exactly where we were supposed to be.
Here is the sunrise we enjoyed that morning:
And here we are approaching Key West: There are usually some monster-size cruise boats on Sunset Pier every day. We happen to know this one just came in because we saw it entering the channel ahead of us. Besides, the rule in Key West is that ALL cruise ships MUST be off Sunset Pier before the sunset every night. No exceptions. Key Westers are nothing if not extremely passionate about their sunsets.
This is the Celebrity ship "Constellation".
While in Key West, we stayed at the Galleon Resort and Marina. It was definitely the best marina in Key West if you are going to live on your boat. Its proxiity to the outside bay is perfect and the view for us was constantly entertaining and beautiful. Most of the other marinas are tucked into land a bit more so their views are more of the back of someone else's boat. See what I mean? This is the view right off out stern.
Naturally, while here we spent some time strolling the famous (or infamous?) Duval Street. Such cool sights...
By the way, the guy to the right of the stilted ladies was doing the "pirate thing", too. I think the guy to the farthest right was just gawking. We saw these ladies from a cafe where we were eating lunch. They walked from street to street surprising everyone (kind-of). This is Key West after all. Everything here is fair game.
One of the nice things about staying at the Galleon was the bayside dock with deck chairs and the lovely large heated pool they have. Though all spots were pretty much always crowded we enjoyed some time relaxing there. There also happens to be a Tiki bar, for lunch, to catch the sunset(of course), or the occasional "adult beverage" - remember, it is Key West (again). This is the view:
Oh, and (i know this is an inside joke but...) they have US Foods here too. They are everywhere haunting me!
One day after walking Duval Street some more we strolled all the way down to the Southernmost point of Key West...
Our last day in Key West brought a bout of heavy wind as a frontal system came through. Few boats went out and those that did we decided they were crazy.
This was what the inside bay looked like:
I know, it doesn't look like much but it was windier than it appears in photos. When we came outside it really just slammed us.
The plan is to take off first thing in the morning. The wind is supposed to calm overnight. Tomorrow we travel what is called the "hawk's channel" into the Atlantic and off to Marathon.