After a review of the survey results we purchased the boat. In mid April 2015 we flew back down to Miami to cruise the boat over to Marco Island where Candis’ parents live. We took about 10 days to make the trip so we would either have some cushion in case we ran into bad weather or mechanical issues or, if not, so we could enjoy a leisurely cruise through the keys and up the SW coast of FL. It turns out we had great weather and nothing except too much wine and Gin to slow us down. It was about 175 nautical miles total (about 200 “land” miles). Miami to Marathon Key is about 90 NM and then it’s 85 NM a little west of due north to Marco. The weather was about as good as it gets, sunny, warm, decent easterly winds all but one day. I had no idea the water in the Atlantic off the keys was as clear and beautiful as what we’ve enjoyed in the Caribbean.
We found this trip to be our first true adventure. It was different than a charter in the islands where you basically hop-scotch to various authorized anchorages you have been told you are restricted to and you have the security of a chase boat from the charter base to come to your aid if need be. At the same time, we were off the US coast with the security of the US Coast Guard and a plethora of good marinas at our disposal. One night, in the Shark River in the Everglades we were completely off the grid (no cell coverage). I’ve since purchased a PLB (personal locator beacon) that will provide our location to SAR (search and rescue) via satellite if we have an emergency, like running out of wine or Gin.
The one day with no wind – in the Atlantic off the northern FL Keys. Gin clear water like the Caribbean!
We found the waters off the coast of Florida extremely shallow compared to the Caribbean and other places we’ve sailed. This made the sailing a bit challenging but the anchoring really easy! We kept a close watch on the charts, tides, and depth sounder. We did not run aground and we didn’t crack the mast into any bridges. We did forget bug spray (which would have been nice to have had in the Shark River anchorage) and we did bring the boat into the Marco River after dark which was a bit of a challenge. Also, after three days into the cruise while in the Keys I took the time to read the small print on the insurance policy I had. It stated the boat was only to be moved by an experienced, licensed captain (not me) so we basically had no coverage. We decided to continue on but to be careful to avoid hitting any really nice boats!
Candis in Boot Key Marina – Marathon, FL
Manatees drink fresh water. They hang out in marinas to drink the fresh water run off from boats. They are often injured from negligent navigators and their propellers. In nature they drink fresh water from rainfall and condensation that run off mangrove leaves. Bartenders are better than google.
Coming into the Shark River anchorage – rain shes-a-comin!