Late again in posting to our blog, right? But this time we have an excuse. (Well, we always have an excuse, but this time it's a bona fide good one.) We lost our email capability, both sending and receiving, on Jan. 23 and only got everything working again yesterday. So please excuse our tardiness in keeping you up to speed with our progress. We have added photos this time (yea, Al!) but we haven't quite yet figured out how to caption them (work for another day).
And the water only gets better from here on out.
We arrived at Boot Key Harbor in Marathon on Tuesday afternoon and anchored just outside, along with several other boats. Boot Key Harbor Marina is an amazing place. It has 286 mooring balls and the protocol is to sign up for one after you arrive. Four days later, we are still anchored but have moved Wind Dancer into the mooring area, which is calmer than where we were initially, and we think our name will reach the top of the list for a mooring either today or tomorrow. Update: we got our mooring! Yea!!! In any case, including the anchored boats, there are well over 300 boats here, most of which are sailboats. Never have we seen so many masts in one place! Many of the people here live aboard year 'round while others, such as ourselves, are transient cruisers who are generally planning trips either to The Bahamas or points south.
Dinghying in to Boot Key Harbor Marina
One neat feature here is that the marina has a sign-up board where cruisers post where they are going...and when. We have met another couple who is also headed to the Exumas and we'll probably sail with them when we leave here. Right now, that timeline appears to be at the end of this week, at the earliest. For our non-sailing friends: When crossing the Gulf Stream, you have to avoid going whenever there is (or has recently been) a north wind, since the Stream carries a substantial current running north. A north wind going against that current sets up awful seas that would make the crossing to The Bahamas a truly dangerous undertaking. Our first possible "weather window" in which to leave therefore appears to be Thursday. We have enlisted the services of Chris Parker, a weather forecaster of almost godlike renown for sailors in the Caribbean. He not only gives you a daily forecast for the area in which you are sailing but will also (for a very reasonable fee) give personalized travel itineraries. You tell him where you want to sail to and he tells you what day is best to leave and what weather conditions to anticipate along the way (wind, wave height, etc.). He gives you the exact waypoints along the route to your destination as well. It's a great service to be able to take advantage of when sailing in unfamiliar territory and we are delighted to have found him.
The view from the galley port (window to you land lubbers)
Other than the above, no real news. Oh, yes! We found a used spinnaker in excellent condition that fits our boat (at a wonderful price!) so we're ready for light winds whenever they show themselves. Hopefully we'll be able to get a photo of Wind Dancer flying her spinnaker one of these days and will post it on the blog. (The folks that sold us the spinnaker had posted the listing on the board at Boot Key Harbor. When they found out that we didn't have a car, they brought the spinnaker to the marina for us and afterward they even took us to Home Depot to pick up a couple of things. How nice! Thank you, Dan & Linda! The boating community is truly unlike anything we have ever experienced. Everyone is so incredibly helpful. And since you already share a major interest with everyone you meet (boats!), conversations are easily begun, leading to easy friendships.
Speaking of friendships, we have been invited to join some other folks on their boat this afternoon, so we're getting ready to head out.
"Is that land I see?" Glory be, it is!Thanks once again for following us. We'll post again as soon as something cool happens. In the meantime,
Fair Winds from the Crew of Wind Dancer
Sue, Al, Sophie & Chelsea
Several photos follow (we'll get better at this, folks)
Chelsea recovering after a hard day of dolphin watching! (It's exhausting work.)
Sophie checking out the neighbors (she thinks every boat has a cat on it...and she loves cats!)
Two little sailors begging for a dinghy ride
Home sweet home
Another view of our living/dining room
Our favorite place to kick back and have a glass of wine at the end of the day. Wish you were here!