Florida Keys

Some old business from 2018 – meant to take this video and post it awhile ago. OK, so honestly it was supposed to be back in September when we first started out. Better late than never …

Tour of Heartbeat

Now into 2019!

Happy New Year everyone! We made it past midnight.
Iguana wishing us well the day before leaving Marathon. Stay on the piling iguana – do not come on our boat!

We left Marathon on New Year’s Day heading north along the “outside” (ocean side) of the Keys with the plan to then use the next day to cross over to the Bahamas. The seas however were not great. OK, they were great for a sailboat, uncomfortably rolly for a motor boat our size. Kent was OK (but then again he can boat in any condition), I was a bit grumpy, Penny dog was downright miserable. So after 3 hours of rolly we cut “inside” (Gulf side) and dropped the anchor. This meant that we would not be able to cross over the Bahamas the following day. In the end this ended up being OK because the seas were not likely to better the next day.

One of the cardinal rules of cruising is to not have a schedule. We know the rule, are reminded of the rule often, and yet still want to break the rule. We are ready to get to the Bahamas but with this mode of traveling the only schedule we can have is one that is dictated by the weather.

Do not try to follow a schedule!

On a positive note, while waiting for the right weather we have been able to see more of the Florida Keys that we originally thought we would. It is fairly interesting to see how sections have recovered (and not recovered) from hurricane Irma which came through just over a year ago.

Interesting strategy from the 1930s.

What we can assume is hurricane carnage.

We ended up spending 3 nights anchored off Islamorada (in the middle Keys), enjoying some live music and explored a few sunset bars.

Florida Keys has some amazing sunsets.

Live music + $1.25 happy hour beers = nice.

Lorelei’s Restaurant and Cabana Bar.

OK, it was not all sunsets and happy hours. Boat projects are constant. Kent wired up fans in our stateroom. With boat projects you can either see OR touch what you need to get to (but not both).

From Islamorada we headed further north along the “inside” to the Key Largo area (northern Keys).

The ICW is shallow here, it was not uncommon to have 2 ft (or less) below our keel.

ICW channel markers and water so clear you can see the bottom.

This boat did not follow the channel markers and is high and dry.

A few nights of working during high tide and Boat US got it off the reef and towed it in.

In Key Largo area we stayed 2 nights at a marina in order to receive a package (stabilization bar for the dingy davits) but despite paying for next day air it did not arrive as scheduled. Grr. Most of the time you can plan to be in a place for a package, this time it just did not work out so we may need to see if another Looper boat can pick it up for us and meet us somewhere in the Bahamas.

Heartbeat tied up in Key Largo.

Found the hammock we packed 5 months ago!

Where they filmed Key Largo with Humphrey Bogart. We hear it is open every day until 4am but we did not stay awake to verify that.

Our perception is that there are 2 sides to the Keys, first there are the locals and second there are those on vacation/snowbirds. We’ve been fortunate enough to have met some of both and had some great conversations. It’s always wonderful to have a discussion that starts with “what brings you here?” instead of “what do you do for work”. The friendly  and laid back attitude throughout the Keys is very refreshing.

Sunset, hogfish dinner, and great conversation with the couple sitting next to us (who also snapped this pic).

Another great thing about The Keys – key lime pie. We made sure to partake in tasting a few different slices (see summary picture for the winner). Good thing our refrigerator is on the small size and there is not room for a whole pie in there. Wait, maybe that is a bad thing.

From Key Largo we made the short ~15 mi trip north and dropped the anchor at Linderman Key for the evening. This location sets us up for quickly exiting the Keys through Angelfish Creek at first light and being in the the Atlantic Ocean.

As for our crossing to the Bahamas, neither one of us are weather experts (nor want to be) so we subscribed to Chis Parker’s weather service. He provides daily input on the crossing to/from the Bahamas, daily weather for the Bahama region and East Coast. For us it is money well spent.

Next post should come after we cross over to the Bahamas. While not technically a part of The Great Loop we see nothing wrong with a little side trip to clear water and white sandy beaches. The crossing is only ~50 miles which we can travel in daylight. Because we pass through the Gulf Stream it require the correct combination of wind direction, wind speed and sea conditions.  

Image of the Gulf Stream as it flows between Florida and the Bahamas.

The boat is stocked, passports are located and Penny dog has her pet health certificate. We are as ready as we will ever be!