Log #53r to the Florida Keys

March 9, 2012 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 53 East Coast USA, The Logs

Placencia, Belize

March 9, 2012

Hi Folks,

We are enjoying another day here in this paradise of Placencia, with a potluck get together later this afternoon. We are enjoying Belize immensely, as the few towns have more than adequate supplies and are laid back, with friendly people in a lush tropical climate. The diving and snorkelling in the shallows and on the reefs are great. More about this paradise in the relevant logs later.

This log gets us to the end of the ICW and into Marathon in the Florida Keys, as well as describing the marlin (with pics) I caught en route. In addition I have retrieved the pictures I misplaced when we came through Norfolk, and added them to this E-mail. There were a couple of others when we were anchored at Camp Lejeune of the Marine exercises we saw there that I will send later.

We are expecting to be back in Toronto shortly after Easter, and will be making presentations on our travels in Toronto, Hamilton and Waterloo in late April and May. If you would like to attend any of these, let me know and I will send additional info about them. If you have an interested group that would like a similar presentation from us in southern Ontario, let me know, and we will see if we can set such up.

All the best,

Aubrey

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Log #53r to the Florida Keys

Placencia, Belize

March 9, 2012

As mentioned in my previous log, we set sail Dec. 12 from Lake Worth outside the ICW for an offshore passage direct to Marathon in the middle of the Florida Keys. Lake Worth is at mile 1027,  that is 1027 statute miles from Norfolk, Virginia, at the beginning of the ICW which we entered on October 4th, as reported in my Log #53 Into the ICW Part 1.

We decided on this outside route, as staying on the ICW would be very slow going through Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Key Biscayne; we would have to wait for several opening bridges in heavily trafficked channels. Had we continued on the ICW, after going through the Rickenbacker Causeway from the Port of Miami, and down Biscayne Bay, we would have gone inside the Florida Keys, down Card Sound and under the bridge for US 1 which is the main road onto the Keys at Key Largo. From there the ICW would wend its way through the shoals and mangrove islands on the Gulf side of the Keys, into Florida Bay and down to Key West, the end of the ICW at mile 1240.

We weighed anchor from Old Port Cove (26 50.134N, 080 03.141W) on Lake Worth at 0800, and by 0900 we were out into the open Atlantic sailing along at over 5 knots under full main and genoa. It was great to be at sea again! To add to the enjoyment of this at 1000, between Lake Worth and Fort Lauderdale, I caught a four foot plus marlin! As I wound the line in, I could see its sail (dorsal fin) breaking the surface of the water, as it thrashed from side to side trying to break the line or release the hook. I wore rubber gloves to protect my hands as I hauled it in hand over hand. It was a heavy pull to get it alongside, and I had a difficult time heaving it onto our side deck. Usually I haul the fish up over our life lines, but this one was too big and heavy to do so. After dropping the gate on our life lines, I was able to heave it onto the side deck, then full length into the cockpit. Now what!?

log_53r_Aubreys_marlin_in_the_cockpit          Aubreys_Marlin

The hook was embedded into the eighteen inch beak, and I could not get it out. When we looked at the size of it, it was too much for us and too beautiful to kill. I cut the line and heaved it back overboard, the
hook still embedded in its stiff cartilaginous beak.
Trying to heave it over was difficult as well. I could hold it by the beak, but it was too long to lift it out of the cockpit. I held the beak in my right hand and lifted the thrashing body with my left in order to get it out of the cockpit and pitch it overboard. Whew … an interesting morning!

Before noon hour the winds were light and we furled the genoa as we motored through a few rain showers. During the afternoon we unfurled and refurled the genoa as the winds were fluky and actually clocked around through 360 degrees over a couple of hours.

Around sunset at 1729, as we were passing Port Everglades Inlet of Fort Lauderdale, three large cruise ships left port, one of which we altered course for as not to risk crossing its bow. When we see cruise ships now, we think fondly of our times on the Veendam in the Antarctic and the Queen Mary 2 across the Atlantic.

There is another association with this inlet as it was through there that we departed from Lake Sylvia in May of 1999 for our first Atlantic crossing via Bermuda and the Azores to Falmouth, England. A lot of water has gone past our keel since then.

Shortly after midnight we entered Hawk Channel, a wide channel between the Keys and the barrier reef which parallels the Keys on the ocean side. We had a great sail part of the time and motor sailed the rest. We initially thought of anchoring some place below Key Largo, but we didn’t want to chance the winds on a lee shore, and so kept on all the way down to Marathon, arriving at the Marathon Boat Yard Marine Centre at 1435 after the 30 hour 163 mile passage. While there we did some maintenance, such as changing the oil, replacing the fuel filter, checking the impellor, flushing the engine water jacket and replacing the antifreeze. Next day we entered Boot Key Marina to pick up Buoy # F2 (24 42.465N, 081 05.414W) for a month in this comfortable location to spend Christmas with friends in northern Florida and host my son Aubrey Jr. and his partner Leesa in the New Year.

More about this marina and our passage down to Key West and the Dry Tortugas in my next log.