Key West to.... change of plans

Before I move on to what happened next I want to share a few more photos from Key West.

While we were there for about 3 days the wind was just relentless. It was so cold and windy we couldn't really enjoy being outside in the evenings at all. We were fine during the day, but mornings and evenings were really chilly. On our last evening, though, the wind died down and it was a truly beautiful day throughout. We finally could sit outside and enjoy the entertainment that is Key West sunsets. Key West has a "thing" about sunsets. Every evening around 5 boat after boat sets up in the bight (bay) to enjoy the spectacle. There are buildings in the way generally so you have to go out in the water to really see the whole thing. When we sit on our bow or fly bridge we have the perfect viewing spots to watch the boats heading out.... Here are some of the tall ships.... Very cool.

 

This is what the sunset looked like from out boat.... See the buildings?... It's still cool, though. Really beautiful colors.

Last but not least, on the afternoon before we left we found this manatee hanging around one of the open docks. He hung around there for quite some time. I think he was napping...too much Key West night life.

Back to what's next.....

It was our original intention to move to an anchorage just outside of Marathon at Boot Key and then another anchorage the next night at Rodriguez Key. But, when we woke up the morning we had planned to leave and checked the weather we were shocked to find that NOAA had radically changed all the predictions from the day before. NOAA does that sometimes - a total reversal. Bruce was not a happy man. A new weather pattern was literally blowing in - heavy winds increasing each day, high seas and a good probability of thunderstorms tonight. Oh boy, this was not good. But the better part of today was supposed to be ok, not great, so we headed off with a new plan.

The morning was drizzling a little as we started out but this rainbow was the bonus!

Fortunately, the rain didn't last. It cleared up in less than an hour.

Later in the day we saw these rain clouds opening up in an area a few miles ahead of us but we were lucky that they slid right past us and we didnt see a drop. Around these clouds it was mostly sunny. The are cool looking though.....

So, on to the plan....

Gone was the notion of an anchorage. After a few phone calls to fully booked marinas we found that Poncho's fuel dock in Marathon was willing to let us come in for the overnight if we came in after they closed at 4pm and if we were out by 7:30 the next morning. No problemo! Thank you Poncho's.

The only rub was that what we had hoped to be a 5 or 6 hour day now had to be a 9 hour day because we couldn't come in until 4:00. So, we pulled down the throttle and ran very slowly to pace the journey appropriately. It was a very long day and as the afternoon went on the wind increased. It was easily 25 mph and increasing from there and the seas were definitely 6 feet, which is about my limit. Worse yet we took the whole day on the nose. Adjusting course really didn't help at all. As slowly as we were going we really got bounced around. Our stabilizers were definitely working overtime. And boy were we glad we have them! The last couple of hours were pretty rough. We were really glad when we were finally docked in for the night.

Here is what it looked like as we were coming in to Marathon.

We had a safe restful night thanks to Poncho's. As it turned out it was a nice storm free evening after all. It was still windy, but storm free. We had a fun dinner out with some boat friends who were in Marathon for the next month. What a nice surprise that was. We heard them on the radio as they were coming in to dock and we were about an hour out. They were docked at an adjacent Marina so it was perfect timing and logistics.
This was the sunset from our comfy spot at the fuel dock:

The next morning we were out at first light. It was 6:45. Just enough light to see where we were going and still see the crab pots. Those things are really everywhere. After a good 1/2 hour the sun decided to come out and play....

So, the weather.... After researching countless weather sources we decided that the anchorage plan for tonight was still off the table. The winds were supposed to be building through the day to 30mph. That is a LOT of wind. But..... The direction was from the west and our path of travel was to take us just east of land so we expected a good amount of protection on our route. We did change our destination, though. It was now to be a long day straight into Key Largo. Sorry Rodriguez Key, maybe we can anchor another time. We were to be staying in Key Largo for a full week, now plus one day, because we have a family meeting scheduled there over the long weekend. We were to be staying at The Ocean Reef Club which we are told is just fantastic so we were really looking forward to a fun week ahead.

Our travel was indeed windy but it turned out to be very comfortable as the wind and waves were at our port stern quarter. It was a very nice "ride". What a huge difference direction makes. See that beautiful water again? Wow.....