(or how to move onto a sailboat)
With the advent of our 50th birthdays came the usual sorts of life evaluations that one goes through. At what have I succeeded? What contributions have I made? What do I have left that I want to do before I die? Living on the water was high on both our lists.
For any who share the dream, and for our family members who might not understand, this is our story. We don't know where it will take us, but welcome along for the ride!
The little Garmin chart plotter we have at the helm
records our track, and saves it for an impressively long time. We
could have, and sometimes did, follow our old track all the way from
Oak Harbor back to Miami. Since leaving Biscayne Bay and turning
south into the Hawk Channel, there has been no old track to follow.
The new track now hooks around the south end of Florida and is
working its way up the West coast.
Stopping the new track for two nights in the anchorage off of Cape Sable
may not have been the best idea, but we wanted to spend a day at the
beach there. It might have been fine had the forecast light winds out
of the ESE actually showed up. The actual SSE winds of 10-15 knots
roughed the place up enough to make sleep pretty hard to come by.
Oh-four-hundred on the second morning found me fully dressed and
trying not to fall off the settee, which was pitching and rolling
around slightly less than the v-berth I had abandoned. The very first light of day found me out
prepping the deck for getting under way.
Cape Sable at sunrise
The hook came up before the sun, and we motor-sailed
northwest, sleep deprived, sore, and not sure if we could make Marco
Island before running out of daylight. Exactly 12 long, long hours of
grinding out the miles, dodging endless lines of crab traps,
following the chart directly into the mud, backing slowly off,
re-grouping, and taking a different approach into Factory Bay, the
anchor hit the bottom.
We had a half hour of daylight to spare.
Factory Bay anchorage
Cape Sable beach
Cape Sable anchorage. No protection. For 5 ft draft vessels, 1/2-3/4 mile out is the best you can do.
Alligator tracks in the sand
For us, the beach at Cape Sable did not live up to its
reviews. It was empty, which was good. It was free of trash, which was
also good. And it was covered with 'gator tracks, a weird kind of,
“Wow, look at that!” good. The whole visit turned into one of the
strange things that happens with this lifestyle. We are glad we saw
the place. It will make our “story list”. But we should have
thought about it more and maybe not have done it at all. We spent two
days off an exposed shore, beat ourselves up pretty good, and ended
up pushing hard to beat some inbound weather.
But we saw 'gator tracks in the sand.
So far our experience of laying tracks in new waters has been that kind
of thing. As Deb already shared the sail from Boot Key to Bahia Honda
was pretty sweet. The original plan was to spend a day exploring
Bahia Honda, reported to be a favorite place of the locals. Alas, the
Mantus found nothing but rock or coral under a thin cover of sand,
several attempts utterly failing to get it to grab. It was too late
in the day to try and find another anchorage. The good news was that the
forecast for light winds. We laid every inch worth of
200 feet of chain on the bottom, rigged the snubber, and hoped for
Fortunately, the forecast got it right. The next morning found us sitting in the same place but
leaving the boat was out of the question. Bahia Honda will have to
wait. Instead we hauled everything in and headed to a place called
Crawl Key. Crawl is only 8 nm or so away from Bahia Honda, just short
of the northwest end of the Bahia Honda Channel. That end boasts some
pretty thin water, 4 feet at mean low tide according to the chart.
Crawl lay just before the thin spot and was the perfect place to wait
on the morning high tide. When we pitched the hook over for the night it
sank out of sight and grabbed hard.
Crawl Key is a good click away from everyone and
everything. It boasts the kind of quiet that almost hurts, and the
kind of dark one rarely has the chance to experience along the
crowded eastern shore of the US. We were starting to have our doubts
about the Keys, but Crawl redeemed them, ranking as maybe the best
place we have anchored since leaving Oak Harbor back in the fall. We slept well and content that night.
A trawler anchored off Little Spanish Key next to Crawl Key
The next morning we ghosted out of the Bahia Honda
Channel flying full main and jib, making three to four knots. Waiting
for high tide was a good idea. There were places where we had barely
18 inches under the keel. Past the last green maker we decided it was
official, Kintala was in the Gulf of Mexico. We tacked out into the
Gulf a few miles hoping to find a point of sail that would lead us to
One of the MANY crab pot lines in the Gulf. This one was over 20 nm off shore.
But, just like in the Atlantic, it seems the wind in the
Gulf always blows right on the bow. It was a valiant effort though,
eventually, we had to admit that we were not making any real headway.
Daylight would be long gone before we could raise Cape Sable. Since
that part of the Gulf is mostly a crab / lobster hunting ground,
daylight was necessary to keep from collecting a pot. The sails were put away and the Beast
pushed us onto Cape Sable before the sun was gone. And then the winds, which had been blowing directly off the coast, the winds that were forecast to fade, shifted instead.
We have a few days of travel left before settling in for the summer. My friend and soon to be New Boss wants to know if we can get there a little earlier than originally planned. It seems the yard is bursting with work - which is good news for both the yard and for its newest marine technician. The Garmin track will stop there for a while, but there are all kinds of tracks in a life.