Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Miami To Key West

This is a fairly long post but we've been on the move for the past few days and have arrived in Key West so there's a bit to tell and lots of photos!  

Last Thursday, our friends lent us their car so we got a few errands done. That evening, we had them over for dinner and had a great time hanging out. We left Delray on Friday morning after having coffee and catching up with Capt. George. So we’re off now on our Key West adventure!

The trip down the ICW to Hollywood, FL was fairly uneventful. It was slow going as we had several bridges to open. For those unfamiliar with how it works… We’re about 34’ high. So any bridge that is 35 feet or less, we have to have open. Some bridges open on request, those are the easy ones. The others have standard openings like on the hour and half hour. They may open once, twice or three times per hour and they may close for rush hour. If you arrive at a bridge far ahead of its scheduled opening, you have to “station keep” which is essentially treading water in place. But you can’t really stay in place on a boat, so you sit and wander and play around. It can be a bit stressful if there’s current and/or wind playing with the boat.  (Now that we're buddy boating, we're getting a lot of fun pictures of Blossom. Thank you Sean & Louise!)


Passing under a bridge

Unfortunately, I get a bit nervous on the ICW. It’s like driving in city traffic, I hate it. This leaves Martin to drive and I feel guilty. So I get a lot of cleaning done and I do the engine room checks. The highlight of the day cruise was seeing a pod of manatee swimming by a bridge. All you really see is a huge brown oval blob. But it’s cool just the same!

Vector in the South Lake anchorage

We met up with Sean & Louise in a pretty little anchorage called South Lake in Hollywood. They dropped their tender and we went to the boardwalk for dinner. We found a rather strange German brew house. The d├ęcor was odd but the food was good and we all considered it a celebration. It’s just the four of us, buddy boating and cruising to Key West. Very cool!

We left the next morning for Miami. It was an 18 mile trip with only about half a dozen bridges to open. Vector cranked it up a bit for us so we could get through a bridge or two that they can pass under. We had perfect timing and made it to Miami in the early afternoon. We had a couple hairy moments. One was a “pucker” moment passing under a bridge that was only half open. This bridge failed a few weeks ago and one half fell onto a huge boat. It’s not a big bridge so it felt a bit like squeezing through but Martin did great and it was no problem.

Thank you Louise for the pic!

The next bit of excitement was in the engine room. I went down to do an engine room check and peek at the hydraulic leak we have on the port side stabilizer area. I had just closed the cabinet door and was about to put my ear defenders on when I heard a really weird noise coming from the engine room. We have a window on our door and I looked in to see our alternator belt shredding and flying all over the place. Had I been a couple minutes earlier I would been covered in belt dust and probably more than a bit wigged out!  As it was I ran up to the pilot house and sent Martin down. About a minute later it totally evaporated.  More under “boat business” below.



Miami anchorage

We anchored just south of Fischer Island. I was surprised that no one was in the anchorage on a Saturday afternoon. Then a huge motor yacht (over 150 feet) came in an anchored 64 yards from us. Why do people do that?  It wasn’t the view we wanted from our cockpit!  Martin called the ship to ask what and why. The captain was polite enough and said there were only staying a few hours. Never did figure out way they wanted to be on top of us when they the whole anchorage to hang out in. Hurumph.

Let's anchor on top of that beautiful Nordy!

The weather was looking good for the next few days so we decided that we’d take off first thing Sunday morning.

Vector riding in the sunrise

It was a nice ride out through Government Cut and down into Hawk Channel. This driving is easy (like highway driving). We just followed our nav points (thank you Sean!) and the chart. There’s little traffic to deal with. Early in the day I started on a Christmas table topper that I’m hoping to finish by the weekend. I drove in the afternoon and drafted this blog entry while looking for crab pots and dolphin.  At one point we had 5 dolphins on the bow and one was a young juvenile!

We arrived at Rodriguez Key around 2:30 and anchored. It was pretty windy from the NE so we went to the southwest side of the key.  We stayed in 11 feet of water to be safe and it did offer some protection but we could ave been snugged up a bit closer.

On Monday we headed out to Marathon. The crab pots doubled so it wasn't as relaxing. Had to do a fair amount of dodging to miss them. The crab pots are little round buoys (often blue, I have no idea why anyone thinks that's a good idea) that are connected to the trap that sits on the bottom by a rope. If you run over it and the line gets tangled in your prop - you've lost the use of your prop til you can get the line off. Since we only have one main engine (our "get-home" would get us home but very, very slowly. We have a cutter on the prop that is supposed to slice the lines and deflectors on our stabilizer wings to prevent them from wrapping around the wing. We just don't really want to test these things!

We anchored outside the channel, on the west side of Boot Key, just south of the channel into Marathon.  It was a bit more calm in this anchorage. We dropped the dinghy and explored the area a little. Marathon is very well known as a popular place for cruisers to spend the winter. There are several marinas and lots of restaurants. We all went out to the Sunset Grille for dinner and had a great time.

Blossom at anchor

 Vector and Blossom at anchor off Boot Key

What a nice ride to the restaurant!

Tuesday morning we headed out to Key West. We were well ahead off schedule but the weather was nice, we decided to arrive early.  The Galleon could take us early so we went right in. Sean & Louise had to wait a day so they anchored out in the anchorage just outside the Marinas.

Vector at anchor in Key West 

And so, here we are! I love Key West. It's quirky and after living in Berkeley for 10 years, I have an affinity for quirky!  I loved our visit here in 09' aboard Lucky and it feels great to be back.

One of the many resident roosters 
What happens in Key West, stays in Key West!

The first thing we managed to do was find a way to extend our stay. Our slip is only available until the 1st. We really weren't looking forward to having to leave early on New Year's day to squeeze into a crowded anchorage or worse yet, take off on an overnight to the west coast of Florida. Sean asked at their marina and they have a side tie available the 1st and 2nd. I'm very relieved. We can enjoy New Years and even if we're not feeling 100% the next day, we can just slide over 500 yards and tie up behind Vector. Life is good!

Quilt Business:

Though I tend to be slow and not finish many pieces, I thought I’d add a new section to the blog posts called “Quilt Business”. Maybe it will push me to finish more “ufo’s” (UnFinished Objects). This is my Holiday Red Bird Quilt, begun in September 2013, finished this week. It's machine appliqued and quilted. I needed the year to learn how to free motion quilt adequately enough to wrap it up. And it's done in time for the holidays, yay! The pattern is Des Oiseaux de Noel from Metropolitan Quilts.

Holiday Red Bird


Boat Business:
  • Hydraulic leak at fitting on port side. We have a slow drip coming from the hydraulic monoblock. It’s very small but seems to be steady. We’ll try to get someone from Abt to come look at it as soon as possible.
  • Alternator Belt. We’ve had issues with this belt from the get go. We have two oversized alternators, 190amp. The boat arrived with an undersized belt that was destroyed right away. We replaced the belt but had excessive dust coming off of it. Rob found a burr on one of the pulleys and filed it out. This belt had been dropping a lot of dust. Then we had coolant pump fixed and some coolant leaked onto the belt. This made it slip a bit. So Martin was prepared to have it shred. I wasn’t, it was quite dramatic!  We had a spare belt (we had two but one was the wrong size as it turned out). Martin put a new belt on it and it seems to be working great with much less dust than we’ve ever had. We’ll get additional spares in Key West.


What remained of our alternator belt

  • ER temp. With blowers on full we maintained about 31-32 degrees above ambient temperature. If the alternators are cranking, it’s a bit higher, at about 33 degrees above. We’d really like to get that down to well below 25. I forgot to post a pic of our conduit last time so here it is:


DeltaT conduit installed on port side.

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