The Marqueasas


The Marquesas are a group of nine uninhabited islands about twenty two miles west of Key West.  They provide some protection for an anchorage to split up the long sail to The Tortugas.  We exited Key West and through all of the marina canals without incident.  (sigh)  The weather forecast was looking favorable for the next four days at least.  We threw up our sails, or rather John man handled them up while I helmed, and we had a friendly wind pushing us a long.  We checked previously with our cell phone provider, T Mobile, at it appeared we would have service all the way to and including The Tortugas.  I let a couple of early morning hours pass before calling and texting to check in with some of our peeps.  And no service.  I had a good friend who’s dear mother was in her last moments, another friend who was quite ill and my family who didn’t know we had left for The Tortugas.  It didn’t sit well with me.

The sail was enjoyable and we could tell we were in the Atlantic without land protection as the seas were big and beautiful.  We saw very few boats other than shrimping boats.  Anchoring at The Marqueasas was a challenge.  It was so shallow that we could not cozy up to the land.  We ventured closer than I liked as my charts read I was in two feet of water although my depth sounder said I had two and a half under me.  We didn’t dare push our luck any further.  We set anchor about a half mile from the Island in the lee.

The Marquesas are known for great fishing and also as the landing place of many Cuban migrants.  You could see their abandoned boats along the shore.  John got his fishing pole out and caught some fun fish but they were not to limit.  He caught several Mutton Snappers and this guy is a Black Grouper.


We were discouraged by the wind.  We checked the weather ten more times and it was predicted from the North, North East, which was perfect for the anchorage we chose.  The wind was coming from the West.  We could only hope it would change in the night as this left us with no land protection.  We grilled out and went to bed early because the next day was about a forty five mile sail, or nine plus hours.  We set an anchor alarm.  I know, I know, you are asking why we didn’t do that back on Marathon.  Because the alarm unfailingly goes off at least once a night when it mysteriously loses GPS.  But tonight the winds were whipping up and rocking us rather uncomfortably.  Roly Polys would have been most welcome.  Although there isn’t a name for these types of waves that I know of, I will call them Spin me Spank mes.  It was a rough night.  The anchor alarm did go off but not to the surprise of either of us.  We were half awake anyway.  B.P. held like the B. she is.  We got up as planned in the wee hours.  The wind was howling and the weather not favorable so we thought we’d wait it out a couple more hours.

A small craft advisory from Key West to the Tortugas was declared.  Now we had three options.  We could turn around and go back to Key West and hope to get a slip, or anchor in the Spin me Spank mes.  We could stay put in the Marqueasas but definitely reset anchor in better protection and wait it out.  Or we could go for the forty five miles to The Tortugas in a small craft advisory which is what everyone had warned us not to do.  John made his “experience” lecture.  In the end, we mutually agreed to head to the Tortugas.  We could always turn around and come back to the Marqueasas.  We were going to change our anchorage there anyway.  So off we went in the howling wind and high seas.

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