Settling Back In To Boot Key Harbor – and a Bad Scare
Yume is back in Marathon Key, 40 miles east of Key West, on a mooring ball for a couple of months.
It’s great to be back here, where we are sort of known, and slow down a bit after 1250 miles from DC to here in about 45 days – including a 14 day yard break, and a ten day layover in HHI for Christmas. That is averaging 60 miles a day for 21 days! No wonder I crashed when we got here!
The trip from St Augustine to here seemed to fly. We had lots and lots of wind as cold fronts kept barrelling down from the north every other day. At one point somewhere around Melbourne we were seeing almost 40mph winds. That is a lot of wind on the water!
We stopped overnight in a marina in Palm Beach so Shelly could have a night out with her long time friends Sue and Kathy – and we fueled and did laundry while the wind blew some more.
The next day we jumped out of Lake Worth Inlet on an absolutely beautiful day and sailed south. 75% of all the bridges across the waterway are between Palm Beach and Miami so we wanted to get outside into the ocean and sail around them.
We passed the inlet to Miami Beach around 3 in the afternoon with a goal of Hurricane Harbor in Key Biscayne by sunset.
The wind had increased during the day and the seas were getting a bit uncomfortable as we passed our Key to the south to come back up into the channel. It was good to pull into the harbor just as the pink glow of the sunset winked out into darkness. We were out first light and back at sea with two days to go.
We grabbed a couple of little mackerel on the way which were delicious! Goose loves fresh fish…
Once south of Biscayne we were officially in the keys. The wind was still blowing pretty hard from the NE so as we turned more to the west as we started passing keys we came under the lee of the islands which made for a much more peaceful sail. Too peaceful in fact.
We were out in Hawk Channel after lunch. The sun was out, the wind behind us, and we were sailing along at hull speed with few boats in sight about three miles from land. I was in the cockpit alternately reading a book and looking around to watch for boats and our course.
I saw four or five Cormorants fly left to right directly in front of the boat. That in itself was very strange as those birds usually do not fly that high, and are usually long gone by the time we get to them.
Our foresail is cut way too low and I cannot see under it very well, so out in the ocean I get lazy and do not bend down to check.
There was a piling with a marker that I did not notice on the chart, and had not seen.
The birds were sitting on it and flew off just before the sail caught the marker.
3 miles out in the ocean and I hit a marker. Bummer.
The noise was enough to wake the dead and scared me so badly I was still shaking 15 minutes after it happened.
And it happened so fast it was all over in less than 10 seconds as we were moving through the water at about 9 mph with a 28,000 pound boat!
Apparently, the foresail caught the wooden marker on the piling, which pulled the sheets very tight that control the sail. The sheets are lines that are 3/4 inch in diameter and very strong. One of those snapped in half, then a section of the sail about 3 ft along the leech and foot simply ripped away. Later I found that the block the sheet runs through was also mangled pretty badly and must be replaced.
Right about then, the boat hit the piling on the port stainless rubrail, ripped a 3 foot section right off, and left another 3 feet sticking straight out.
All this happened in just a few seconds. And we were still under full sail downwind with the main and mizzen, and the Genoa flapping like crazy free as a bird. I am holding the torn end of the sail with one sheet left on it, looking back at the piling rushing away from us and noticed that the marker was in the water.
I was sick to my stomach, and Shelly and Ryan are now on deck thinking we are sinking…
End result is I am very fortunate that we didn’t hit the damn thing head on, or that we didn’t catch the rigging and bring the mast down, or something like that.
I have known for a year that sail had to be fixed and couldn’t figure out how to afford the changes. Well, that has been decided for me. And now we get to finally get rid of the last of the old canvas color. The new Genoa sun protection canvas is going to be a beautiful bright yellow! It still made me physically sick, as well as very upset with myself.
After all that fun, we pulled in behind Indian Key about 430 and picked up a mooring at the state park. While Ryan and Shelly took Goose in, I dropped and folded the foresail, and cleaned up the lines and mess from the piling, again realizing how lucky I was to just tear the sail and a little rub rail. It could have been so much worse!
We pulled into Marathon around 1 pm last Thursday to find a backlog of boats in the harbor. Many boats come here before jumping over to the Bahamas or further south in the Carribean. The weather had not cooperated and many were waiting for a weather window to leave.
It took three days for one of the 300 moorings to free up. It took us a little longer to shift attitudes from traveling mode to stationary.
So now we are playing softball three times a week, stopping into the Hurricane Restaurant across the street for the $2 Gunniess happy hour, and playing some music on Saturday nights at the Tiki Hut.
Shelly got into maintenance mode and the varnish is getting an uplift. We ordered new floors as Goose has used these up. And I am trying to figure out how to stop these last couple of very annoying oil leaks on the engine.
And of course we are working on the sail.
Friends have made noises about coming to visit – so we plan on staying until about the first of March, then turning the bow north again.
Maybe we can see you along the way?