Hey! Shane wanted to torture all his readers with my writing, so here is my two-cent’s worth.
Our first day on the boat was Friday, the 17th. We did some shopping for our crossing and bought a new battery for our van (it died, God rest its soul). We planned our crossing to the Bahamas for the next morning. We detached the mooring ball Saturday morning at 5:30 and set our course for the Bahamas. But, alas, it was not meant to be. The wind was too strong from the east and we were making little headway. Shane decided to turn around and head for the Keys to wait for the next weather window.
We motored to Pumpkin Key to explore because the cruising guide stated that it was a great place to see, but when we arrived, we discovered that it was private property and was off-limits for explorers. Bummer! It wasn’t a total loss, however. The kids got to have their first dinghy lesson. J. D. ended up mowing through sea weed and fouling the prop, but it was soon fixed and we were on our way again. Rachel did a little better with her first lesson and got us back to the boat without incident. We then pulled anchor and moved to Angelfish Creek to stay for the night. We had a peaceful anchorage there except it rained a while and was cool. The kids made the best of it by taking the kayak out for a spin. They paddled around the mangroves and had a great time, rain and all.
The next morning, Jim and Rachel took the kayak out for a time before we set sail for Christ of the Abyss and Grecian Rocks. It proved to be cool snorkeling with the submerged statue of Jesus at Christ of the Abyss and the coral at Grecian Rocks. We saw many barracudas and tropical fish. I think I saw a parrotfish or two. They are very colorful and obviously hungry, because they were eating goo off the coral.
In the afternoon, we moved to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to dock (very tight next to mangroves, see photo – Shane) for the night. It was a nice place, with a small aquarium and a mangrove trail to walk. It was very peaceful in the mangroves and a nice place to stroll and talk.
From Pennekamp, we moved to Indian Key and walked the ruins of the town that was there in the mid-1800’s. It was a great place to visit. We actually walked through it twice—once in the evening, and again the next morning. The kids and Jim played hide-and-seek while I strolled along the paths, discovering two places that I had missed the day before. When Jim and I buy our boat, I want to take them to Indian Key. It is a great place to unwind and see beautiful tropical plants. We saw giant yucca and aloe plants. The sweet acacia were Rachel’s favorite. They have small yellow puff-ball blossoms that smell similar to mimosa or honeysuckle.
Later that day (Tuesday) we tried to sail to Alligator Reef, but had to motor due to light winds. Rachel got to sit at the helm and picked up a crab pot on the way. Jim, Rachel, and J. D. snorkeled all around the lighthouse tower at Alligator Reef and climbed up to the first platform to find that the rest of the tower was off-limits to visitors. We moved to Cheeca Rock to snorkel some more, but the water was very murky, making the visibility poor for snorkeling. After a brief stay there, we relocated to Islamorda and decided to wade in the shallows. This turned out to be an experience! Some of us sank up to our knees in muck and the sea grass kept poking our feet. Despite some of our party’s misfortune, we had fun laughing at each other.
On Wednesday, we went to another snorkeling location called Hens and Chickens. It was very good snorkeling as we saw many spotted eagle rays. We even got to see one that was buried in the sand on the bottom. Later we moved to Rodriguez Key where Shane was going to treat us to a fresh lobster supper, but we could not find the large anchor that the lobsters liked for shelter. It was getting dark that evening, but the anchor was not to be found Thursday either.
Thursday, we docked again at Pennekamp and had a great time. We decided to go to the store for groceries for our next tentative crossing date of Saturday, the 25th. We got our groceries from a store over a mile away and got a little zealous with our purchasing. We were pretty much pooped when we plopped the grocery bags on the boat. Our arms were sore the next day, but we had a good time shopping (or at least I did).
On Friday, we walked to West Marine. Shane had a few things that he needed. Jim and I walked to a pottery store and a sandal outlet. I was very disappointed with the outlet store because the prices were outrageous even at discount prices. Later we returned to Rodriguez to be in a good launching point for our crossing on Saturday, Christmas Day. Ho, Ho, Ho!
We had a good, but woozy crossing. The sea was rough, but it was much calmer than last week when we turned back. We launched at 3:00 am and arrived in North Bimini around 2:00 pm. We tied to the outside of the dock at Weech’s Marina and Shane got the immigration paperwork squared away for us. If you’re also handling paperwork concerning Immigrant Visa to US, better read this article from qz.com to know the latest issues and decisions of the government. We then moved the boat into a slip where we would have a calmer night. It ended up being a very eventful process when the wind and current played against us and our plans. We ended up causing some minor damage to the boat (starboard bow needs new gelcoat in a 3×3 inch spot. Whoops. 1st bad docking in a year and a half – Shane) and ripping two boards out of the dock, but other than that, it went okay once we hammered the board back down.
Once we docked, we got our stuff and headed out to the King’s Highway for a stroll. We walked up to the north shore to find an Wi-Fi site, but ended up walking the beach. The kids found a friend in a playful black dog. The men finally found a Wi-Fi place in a nearby marina and did their business. We all returned to our marina to shower and eat. Shane fed us well with enchiladas (the traditional Christmas dinner, right? – Shane).
This morning, Sunday, we awoke to wind and rain. We decided that we needed to do some laundry, so we set out for the nearby laundromat, only to find that it was closed as is everything here on Sunday, except the museum across the street. I plan to visit it later after we book our flight back to Miami.
Well, that is the end of my rambling. Just think, next week you all will get to read Shane’s to-the-point notes instead of my endless blather.