We arrived in Key West on early Monday afternoon departing from an anchorage off of Key Louis at 5:30 a.m. The winds were forecast to be very light and we wanted to make sure that even if we were drifting along at 2 knots that we would make landfall before dark. It was still completely dark when I raised the sail and then the anchor and we slowly drifted off quietly onto our course. It’s hard to describe how beautiful it was, with the sky full of stars, and just barely a ripple disturbing the surface of the sea. All too soon the sky began to slowly brighten and we had a gorgeous sunrise.
We managed to average 3 knots on a near downwind course. It was a slow, but very pleasant sail – quite relaxing. I managed to make some dough for a calzone and threw together a salad, so we would be ready for a nice lunch after we made landfall. As we neared Key West there were lots of markers and once again I had a tough time sorting them out. Coleen came to the rescue looking through the binoculars and calling out the numbers while I located them on the chart. It was super cool to see the Southernmost Point from the Oceanside, then we rounded the tip and slid by Fort Zachary Taylor and the beach.
There are two major anchorages and a mooring field in Key West. The mooring field is situated quite a long distance from Old Town Key West, so we opted for an anchorage just off of Wisteria Island. It’s about a 10 minute dinghy ride across the choppy and busy harbor, but the dinghy dock is right in the thick of things at the Historic Old Seaport. It costs $6/day to land the dinghy. There is a water hose and a place to dispose trash but no other services. The anchorage is quite crowded, with lots of derelict looking boats. Just on my starboard side is a rather odd looking affair, with two boats tied up either side of a floating platform, and a huge sign that says “Live Bait”. I suspect they are not just selling fish….
A few minutes after dropping the hook we were eating our Calzone & salad lunch and sipping freshly made frozen margaritas. The view from the cockpit is amazing. Looking out to the sea there are myriad parasailing boats darting here and there. There are also several aquatic playgrounds with things like giant water slides, climbing walls, and trampolines. Jet skis are flying by everywhere. With all the activity it’s a bit of a rocking/rolling anchorage during the day. Thankfully it all packs up around 6 p.m. and things settle down a bit.
We had a well-deserved long nap before heading to shore. We had been on the boat for 6 days without setting foot on land and I was looking forward to a long walk. I had my wish as we explored for about 4 hours before heading back to the boats. Coleen and I enjoyed an ice cream cone, and I bought sandwiches to bring back to the boat for dinner.
We headed back to town for more fun on Tuesday. We visited a Marine Hardware store which had nearly every piece of boat gear you can imagine, where I bought some waxed twine for whipping lines. I then got a new VHF antenna, a new life jacket for Coleen, and a hat for me at the local West Marine. Coleen and I enjoyed the Turtle museum and the historic Audubon House. By late afternoon we were hot and tired. We drug ourselves back to the West Marine to pick up our package and then headed over to a fabulous pool/bar/restaurant on the waterfront.
The pool was of the sort where they serve you drinks while you are in the water – which is my favorite kind. I enjoyed a couple of pina coladas and a swim. It was quite refreshing. We stayed there for a few hours enjoying a nice dinner too before heading back to the boats.
We needed a break from the fun and the sun on Wednesday and stayed on board doing domestic things. It was a day to clean, do laundry (via buckets) and bake bread. Coleen then had the idea to drag out the sewing machine for a lesson. I spent about an hour showing her the basics and then she happily practiced her seams on old scrap fabric for two more hours. In addition to homemade bread I made some hamburger buns and we enjoyed hamburgers, and margaritas made from fresh limes while watching the amazing sunset.
Yesterday, we spent a few hours on shore at the Key West Library. All of the Keys are on the same library system so we were able to return some of the books we got in Marathon, and check out more. I left Coleen loose in the children's section while I looked around on my own. When I returned she had 22 books stacked up and was looking for more. That seemed a bit over the top as DJ and I each had 12 and I was sure there must be some kind of limit, so I made her narrow it down to 15 :-) When we went to check out the librarian asked me if we were on a boat – not sure if it was our tatty clothing or the number of books J
Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to locate a nearby grocery. I’d been looking forward to re-stocking our fresh fruit and veggie supply. We managed to find a fish market that had a bunch of asparagus, some mangos, limes and tomatoes – a bit of an odd combination, but that’s all they had. Expensive too – the limes were 75 cents each, but you can’t make margaritas without them so….
We are still waiting for a weather window today. We’d only planned to be in Key West for one day, but have been hanging out waiting for the wind to return (it’s been light and variable all week) and to see what happens with Tropical Storm Emily. Still no wind today, but it’s looking good for tomorrow. We’re going to make the best of it and head to Zachary Taylor Beach for the day. It will be a long, hot walk to get there, but should be worth it.