Land Ahoy after 68 hours of sailing!
Now, let’s see about getting you caught up. We had a pleasant sail to the Dry Tortugas. In fact the weather has been awesome – North North East 10 to 15 – just enough wind for brochure worthy sailing and gentle waves. We are twiddling our thumbs until the Big Day. After the tragic hurricanes last year, insurance companies tightened their belts. Our policy states we are not allowed to head south until November 15. Thus we wait! Dry Tortugas has always been on the list of places to see, here’s our chance! The Dry Tortugas are located 70 miles West of Key West, a cluster of 7 sandy islands. Excited, I was constantly searching! Searching for what? Tortugas! Turtles! You’ll never guess how many we saw! Zero! Yep, turns out the turtles are only present for mating season, which it was not. Well, shoot! What we did find was Fort Jefferson, one of the largest masonry forts from the 1800s. It was amazing! Brick after brick after brick, we’re talking a hole lotta bricks! We spent days leading our own tour, exploring the past – it turns out Ponce de Leon and his team of explorers feasted plentifully on turtles which might account for part of my zero turtles…..those Spanish Explorers! We snorkeled a 1907 wreck, a complete iron hull the size of a football field nestled in 20 feet of water amongst reef fish, coral, and a few nurse sharks. We made friends with a Goliath Grouper the size of our dinghy who enjoyed the shade under our hull for the duration of our visit. Anyhow, remember I mentioned the superb weather we were having? Well, our luck ran out on November 12, the first Northerner of season blew in and boy was she a doozier! We were safe, albeit rolly in our anchorage, but more importantly…..poof! There went our weather window for heading south! With Mexico on the brain we busied our selves frolicking in the 80 degree water, exploring islands, learning about the past…..oh, and boat chores! We managed to treat all the teak, install a new water system, Hoss figured out his electronic conundrum, and I fabricated a cushion for our butts while riding in Super Dinghy with my new Sailrite! Fort Jefferson
Lighthouse on Loggerhead Key
The trek from the Dry Tortugas to Isla Mujeres, Mexico is almost 400 nautical miles, we’re budgeting 4 days. A couple of tricky factors – we have to cross the Gulf Stream, skirt 100 miles of Cuban coast, then cross the Yucatan Channel, and keep our sanity for…..oh, 96 hours on a 38 foot boat. We have a weather window! There are 4 days of light and variable winds and then the next Northerner is rolling in. Cutting it close but we’re game, there are tacos and beer on the other end! We left on the tail end of the last breath of wind from the first storm. Which wasn’t so bad, until you took in the shallow waters which are famous for a confused sea state add the stubborn storm waves that had yet to die down and we got a rolly, bobbing cork of a ride. Light and variable wasn’t enough to fill the sails, so a motor sailing we awent. Until this morning, Hoss broke out the spinnaker. The spinnaker is like your weird uncle – he’s family but you’re not quite sure about him. In our case – the spinnaker is a huge, colorful sail that came with the boat. It is stored in a hatch underneath our bed (outta sight, outta mind), because although it has a purpose we are scared to death of it! A spinnaker is used when the wind is behind you, it is super light weight and is deployed in a strange cone like sleeve. The advantage is it can fill with very little wind, meaning if we weren’t chicken butts we would send her flying when our other sails are useless to us. Hoss decided today was the day. And it worked! Wasn’t scary at all! However, what the heck? Remember I mentioned the spinnaker came with the boat? We’ve been so afraid of it, we’ve never even given it more than a passing glance. Until today…..this beautiful blue sail is flying, the thing is huge, and it has a lightening bolt on it! I feel ridiculously like a super hero wannabe!
Meet Flash, our not so scary spinnaker!Sunrise from the cockpit!
This is what makes Flash sorta scary!
Sunset off the bow and dolphins leading the way (pretend I’m a better photographer)! One of our many escorts! First tuna of the season, sushi tonight! Along we sail, giant lightening bolt 50 feet in the air, nautical mile after nautical mile. Three sunrises, three sunsets and were ahead of schedule! Maybe it was the promise of tacos and beer?