Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Made it to Marathon

Days passed on the mooring ball in Ft. Meyers with winds howling during the day and actually calming a bit at night. On the 8th Dirk celebrated his 47th birthday and so we decided it was time to get off the boat and go find someplace to eat out. We had a couple tell us about a little pizza place called the Surf Pie that had all you can eat Pizza on Thursday night for $5.00. Lucky us, today is Thursday. We knew that the couple from Majestic Dream were heading that way and the day before Dirk had met a couple on a 42 Vagabond and suggested we get together to swap stories. We get a table for 6 and the 4 of us sit down to wait. After a while we figure the other couple isn’t showing and start eating, we are starved. The pizza is wonderful and the pieces are huge, as big as your plate. I did manage to get two pieces down but wanted to save a bit of room for some of the Key Lime Pie I had made for Dirks Birthday that was waiting back on the boat. I asked him if he wanted a Rum cake or key lime pie, he opted for pie. I was more than willing to make the rum cake, but it’s his birthday. We were just sitting chatting and finally the other couple showed up with a cake they had picked up for Dirk.
Dirk at his birthday dinner at Surf Pie in Fort Myers
What a nice gesture that was, heck he met them for 30 minutes one day and the next they are bringing cake. Gotta love those cruisers. So the restaurant gave us some forks, plates, and we all sat around eating cake and telling stories, asking questions until we were stuffed and ready to waddle back to the dinghy dock for the long ride back to Renegade. The next day the winds were due to calm a bit and we decided it would be a good day to travel down to Marco Island. We would be travelling in between fronts so we needed to get a move on or get stuck. Moving on seemed like a better option. So Leela and us pulled out and headed south for a nice sail to Marco. We had them pull up next to us and take a couple photos as we have yet to see what we look like with all sails up as it’s hard to tell from the deck.
Renegade under sail

Another shot of Renegade
Once they photographed us we returned the favor. Since this was our first trip on the outside in the Gulf of Mexico we decided this would be a good time to try out the water maker. Dirk had installed the new parts but we couldn’t try it until we were in cleaner water. Dirk went down below as I took the helm and fiddled with it. He got the water to start coming out of the test line so we let it run a bit. A few minutes later he returned to test the water and came back up to tell me we were now proud parents of a 7 and a half gallon per hour water maker and we were now putting water into our tanks. Yippiee…. We pulled into Marco and anchored in the same spot as had several years ago on Tybee Time. I had just enough time to get the boat settled and grab a shower before Michael and Christi pulled up in Get er done.

Mike & Christi on Get r Done

Sun downers on the back deck
They would be joining us for the night and were nice enough to ask if they could pick up any groceries for me. Since it had been a little over a week since leaving Cortez there were a few things I needed. I was happy to get some fresh bread, tomatoes and other assorted things on board. Thanks guys….We cooked some dogs on the grill and sat back enjoying a sun downer as Mother Nature presented us with a beautiful sunset.

Beautiful sunsent in Marco, look at the size of that sun
 It was off to bed early as we had a daylight departure time set. Our sights were set on Shark River and it would take us the better part of 11 hours to get there. So after quick so longs we bid farewell to Michael and Christi, fired up the engine and got under way without even a cup of coffee in hand. Once we got out of the channel I managed to go below and whip up a pot as Dirk headed the boat south and raised the sails. The winds were being cooperative for most of the day than ended up coming right off our nose to being next to nonexistent. We ended up taking the sails down and motoring through the miles and miles of crab pots. I am really learning to hate these things and they conjure up memories of an all nighter through crab pots that left both Dirk and I exhausted due to the fact we both had to be on watch and on guard all night. But I took the time to go forward, sit on the bow sprit seat and enjoy the view.
nice place to sit back and relax
It is a wonderful feeling sitting so far out over the water, feet dangling, watching out for dolphins. I actually saw two jump out of the water side by side on the port side of the boat. How cool was that…. The day before I had seen a sting ray breach the water before heading back in. I wonder what they think when they are in our world for that split moment. Well the day was going well and after looking at weather and the area we were going to anchor, we decided to keep going to Everglades National Park area. We didn’t need the protection of the river and we didn’t really want to contend with the mosquitoes that I heard will carry you away if you’re not careful. Also our buddy boat Leela has Charley the Lab on board who needs a beach to run and do his business. In the river I hear there is nowhere to land the dinghy and one must be careful of the crocodiles. Hummmmmm So we continued on for several more miles and anchored in about 10 feet of water in the ocean. We were there with two other boats so it couldn’t be too bad of an idea, the winds were coming from the east and the island would protect us.

A full rainbow seen while underway

Sleep came easy and it was calm until early morning when the ocean swells began to come in. Our plan was to head to Marathon today, get some last minute stuff done and wait for weather to cross over to the Bahamas. Morning started out well but soon the winds picked up to 15 than to 20 knots. It was getting a bit rough and we decided to drop the main sail, keep the others up so we could reduce some of the heeling and make the ride more comfortable. I decided at this point for some reason to make Dirk and I lunch. Lucky for me I’m not one to get sea sick as I was sure to be sore from the Pilate's I was doing.

My mop and broom showing the heel we have going on.
I was in the skier pose, knees bent up against the oven to keep myself balanced, one hand on the skillet, as if I were to let it go it would have tumbled off the burner. I need to get some of the bars that lock the pots in place. Every chance I got I let go to do a quick chop of veggies and back to balance the skillet. In the end though I had whipped us up some really good chicken tacos that satisfied our hungry appetites. After cleaning up the dishes and heading back up top we get a call from our buddy boat, his engine was over heating and he asked Dirk to help him trouble shoot. As rough as the water was there was lots of grasses and such in the water, Dirk told him to check the sea cock strainer and it turned out that’s what it was. Not enough fresh water being able to go through the engine to cool it. As he was working on it they continued to sail and we shut our engine down to sail alongside them. With only the yankee ( small jib) and the hanky (mizzen sail) as they are called, we were getting about 4 knots with a comfortable ride. Not too shabby……After Leela gets back on track we continue on and make it to the channel that takes you under the 7 mile bridge and on around to Marathon. Wow, finally on the home stretch to a long rough day. The end is in sight…or so we thought. All of a sudden our engine died. Dirk tried restarting it, nothing. Hummmmm Dirk went and checked the fuel filters and saw our pressure was fairly high. We must have sucked up something in the intake hose. Dirk proceeds to change over to the other tank and we get on the move again. Suddenly the engine quits again. While Dirk is down below trouble shooting I am sailing along heading through the channel towards the bridge. Leela hangs next to us making sure all is well. After much tinkering we finally get the girl fired up again and back on track. Long story short, after changing fuel tanks we ran out of fuel in the secondary tank. Dirk had forgotten that he had directed the return hose to the other tank so as it was being sucked out and filtered the excess was being returned to the main tank. Threw Dirk for a loop a bit as he couldn't figure how we used 20 gallons in such a short time. He switched back to the other tank after taking the intake line out and cleaning it. Never could find the source of the blockage but it seems to be working now. Guess its one of those things one must deal with when dealing with a new to us boat. So after much excitement we headed under the bridge and up to Marathon. We called ahead and unfortunately they were full in the mooring field. Right on the outside of the channel going into the Marathon Harbor there is an island that gives protection from winds from the east and we tucked in behind it along with several other boats apparently awaiting mooring balls also. Was good holding and we stayed there 2 days before the marina called us to say they had a ball for us.
First sunset in the Keys with 7 mile bridge in the distance
So here it is almost a week later and we find ourselves still sitting and waiting along with a full harbor of boats waiting for weather.
This guy has been hanging around our dinghy fishing for a couple days
Looks right now that perhaps we will be getting a break in the weather this weekend and we find ourselves planning on different points of entry. You know its all written in jello anyway. So I made arrangements for Capt. Butters to get his health checkup tomorrow and we will also do our last minute provisioning tomorrow also. Then laundry and if we are lucky come Wednesday morning we will move back out to the anchorage and prepare for and wait on weather to move. I'm hoping the next post will be from the Bahamas so keep your fingers crossed.
Capt. Butters relaxing on the back deck

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