Friday, December 18, 2009

"Home Sweet Home"

I am writing this from our new "home" for the winter - the Key West Harbor Yacht Club which is on Stock Island, a mere 5-6 miles from downtown Key West (ie Schooner Wharf, Hogs Breath, Irish know, the really important parts of KW)! We were met on the docks yesterday by some of our cruising friends, Brett and Jill on Muircu - they were the ones who found this gem of a place and told us about it (be careful what you tell us - we are now docked right next to them!!) It was great to see them and catch up - last we saw of them, they had visited us in Marathon in February before we left for the Bahamas while their boat was stuck in Fort Pierce waiting for an engine part that took months to arrive!! Muircu is back in the water all fixed up and looks great - she and Gypsies are getting to know each other and I'm sure are concocting wonderful party strategies for when we are all off to KW! The marina complex here is just awesome - the docks are in great shape, there is a beautiful infinity pool (which we haven't had a chance to try out yet due to the really nasty weather that rolled in last night), a brand new fitness center (which we did try out this morning - it has all new machines and weights!!), an awesome bar/restaurant that looks out over the water and is the perfect spot for sundowner cocktails (we did some damage there last night!!!),
Cocktails on the Back Deck with Brett and Jill
Sunset from the Bar Deck
and we get free cable and ice (important to cool down our cooler full of beer in this heat without using up all our ice which we can now save for cocktails!) Plus so far everyone we have met both other cruisers on the docks and staff have been lots of fun (Brett and Jill know everyone so we are getting the tag-along star treatment!) - this could be a really fun winter!!! and did I mention we are only 5-6 miles from KW???

I'm really glad we got here when we did because the weather rolled in last night and today the winds are howling, the rain is coming down horizontally and the waves out in Hawk Channel do not look appealing at all!! We had wanted to spend a few more days enjoying the Keys on our way down but when we saw the weather forecast and what was supposed to be rolling in, we skeedadled rather than brave the front and hightailed it for our new home off the Boca Chica Channel. As it was, after a morning shower followed by a gorgeous double rainbow,
Double Rainbow
we wound up rockin' and a rollin' with the swells on our trip from Marathon trying to dodge the squalls - we didn't quite manage it but the trip wasn't too bad - we only ran into one bad squall that lit up our radar like the fourth of July!
Squall in Front of Gypsies
Rain Squall a Couple Miles In Front of Us
Towboat US claims there is "plenty of water" in the channel leading to the marina but I wouldn't want to try it at a real low tide nor when there was lots of current running!!! The marina entrance is a little tricky but once through the channel the docks open up and you've got some protection! The marina is starting to fill up and many of the people who we talked to are planning on spending a good chunk of the winter here so we've got a little cruising community thing happening here!!

We did sneak in a beautiful day up around Lignumvitae Key - to avoid the SE swells and some nasty winds the afternoon before, we had crossed into Florida Bay under the Channel Five Bridge and anchored off of Lower Matecumbe Key (just us and the crab pots until some big boat decided to join us later that evening).
Gypsies on Anchor at Lower Matecumbe Key
We dropped Hobos and spent a wonderful day in the sun exploring Lignumvitae and the surrounding keys.
Cute Little Keys House Near Our Anchorage
From where we were, there was one little channel with very skinny water for boats to get through a large bank - we just fit with a catamaran coming through!!!
Catamaran Approaching in the Channel
We saw lots of pelicans,
and cormorants
but the highlight of the afternoon was seeing two huge manta rays gliding through the water and then slide underneath our dinghy - way cool!!!!
Shadow of the Manta Ray Going Under Hobos

The next day we headed back out through the Channel Five Bridge
The Channel Five Bridge
Sentinels Guarding the Channel Five Bridge
accompanied by some very frisky dolphins
Dolphin Playing in Gypsies Bow Wave
and went on to Marathon where we anchored outside of Boot Key Harbor - given the weather forecast we only planned on being there for a day so didn't see the need to wind our way in to a marina! While we were doing the anchoring dance we had a whole pod of dolphin frolicking next to us which caused my attention to wander from the chore at hand but we got the anchor set nonetheless!!
Dolphin Pod Watching Us Anchor
We dropped Hobos and wandered into Marathon for the day - quick stops at the book exchange at the Marathon City Marina and the $1 book sale at the library were well worth the trips as we replenished our book supply and then it was on to lunch at Porky's
Lunch at Porky's
where the pelicans kept us quite entertained before heading back to Hobos.
Pelican on a Post Outside Porky's
Another quick stop at Burdine's Tiki Hut for a couple coldies on our way out of the harbor was in order before heading back to Gypsies where we watched yet another gorgeous sunset light up the sky (unfortunately one little cloud bank on the horizon thwarted our attempt to see the green flash!!!)

We had a lot of fun when we were in Marathon last year, but we're both very happy to have found this new marina so we are closer to KW (Marathon is still just a $3 bus ride away if we feel the need to go hear the Florida Straits Band at Dockside some Sunday afternoon!!!)

We had planned on hitting KW today but we'll see if the rain lets up any time soon - at the moment it doesn't look like it will ever be sunny again (but this is the Keys so we know this too shall pass!) We're just a little excited for Schooner Wharf wings, some coldies and everything else crazy that is what draws us to KW!!

Click here to see our location at Key West Harbor Yacht Club. The satellite picture is old so doesn't show all of the new floating docks.

1 comment:

  1. Hey guys - just catching up after our big move. Wish we had been in the Keys at the same time. It would have been good to spend some time together. Merry Christmas! Have a great winter in the Keys! We are loving Ohio and our new home, spending cozy evenings in front of the fire!