Started day: mile marker 1216 (No longer on the ICW)
Ended day: mile marker 1218
Sunday (Dec 26th), we woke feeling terrible. We neither one slept very well and honestly the difficulties we were having traversing the keys we getting to us. It was just so difficult with our 6’ keel and 56’ mast. We were exhausted. I was getting depressed because the keys were disappointing. I thought we would anchor and swim and snorkel… not so much. We couldn’t get protection from wind and swell because we could never get close enough to the land due to the keel.
I was ready to just start up the gulf side or something. The rest of the keys looked even harder and the distances were even further that we had to travel each night to find anywhere decent to anchor… but always in the ocean.
We decided to check out Boot Key Harbor, even though we heard it was packed and it really didn’t sound like a place we wanted to go. So we pulled up anchor and headed in. We called the City Marina just to find out what the wait list for a mooring ball was… it was 8 boats deep. But we still didn’t really understand how it worked. The good thing was that Jessica from the marina gave us some advice of where to look for an anchorage and more importantly, where to avoid.
We found a place past the old bascule bridge, beyond the mooring field, near marker Red18. It was a little tight but there was 8’ under us and with Stew’s great positioning skill we got ourselves in place. After we anchored we realized a sailor we met in Fort Pierce, Christian, was just a boat away from us. That put a smile on our face for sure.
The boat just beyond ours, Great Adventure, Bob and Sharon Wolfe, were very welcoming. They told us all we needed to know about the dinghy dock, beaches, canals, etc. They stopped a couple of times this first day to see how we were doing and if we had questions. Super nice couple.
We were already feeling better about things but decided to wait until tomorrow to go to the dinghy dock and sign in (if we even wanted to do that, we still were not sure). We did some paddle boarding and swimming. Stew cleaned Pete the dinghy and put oil in the dinghy engine. We basically just relaxed and enjoyed the anchorage.
Christian stopped by toward the end of the day and we chatted for a while. It was really nice to see him. He reminds me of one of my Edinboro students, Chase. Its one of those things that you just feel comfortable right from the start.
Our day ended with a beautiful sunset.
Monday (Dec 27th), we got up and listened to the “Cruisers Net” at 9am on VHF 80. This is a great way for cruisers to see what events are going on. We decided to go into the dighy dock and talk to the office to see how this all works at the City Marina.
Basically the dinghy dock and marina services cost $22/day, $85/wk, $225/mo. To get on the mooring ball waiting list you must pay for a month of dinghy dock ($225). Once you get a mooring ball the additional cost is prorated based on how many days remain in your month. I think a mooring ball is $330/mo (or something close to that).
We decided to go ahead and do this, get on the mooring ball waiting list (we are #8 and our month goes to Jan 27th). Our thought was that this is a safe harbor and from here we can go out to the various snorkeling reefs and also anchor out at Bahia Honda – but once we have a mooring ball it is ours for the month… so if there is a storm or hi winds we have a safe place to go.
The facilities were interesting. Not as nice as many places we have been, but the showers were all single rooms with shower, sink and toilet (this is nice). There are 10 of these (like motel rooms you enter from the outside). They have a large laundry room with lots of washers and driers, a bit pricey ($300 for each appliance). The “lounge/mailroom” is a large warehouse area with tables for WIFI users, nooks with theater chairs for TV viewers, and many tables for packages organized by alpha order. They also have project areas and an office in the back set up in trailers. Lots of construction being done on the facility.
They have a waste disposal for compost toilets and since it is a Florida requirement you empty your tanks once a month you get a receipt stating you emptied your compost head. I thought this was interesting. Of course, we empty the liquid tank every 2 days, so we don’t have to get a receipt for this each time. They also have a large area for recyclables of all kinds including liquids like oil etc.
There is an herb garden you can take from, a tiki hut for happy hours, free bikes (not so good bikes), and a community park next door. The dinghy dock is divided into soft and hard dinghies to make things easier. There is additional dinghy space further down the dock area. It actually a pretty good set up.
Once we exhausted our exploration of the marina, we headed with the wagon to home depot and Publix. WOW, these places were crazy packed with empty shelves. It was very very stressful, and we were happy when we were on our way back to the marina. We purchased lunch at Publix so we stopped at the community park and ate lunch which was very nice with a good breeze.
We spent the rest of the day back at the boat sleeping and working on small projects.
Tuesday (Dec 28th), I woke with a terrible stiff neck. I iced it, did some reading and slept most of the morning.
We decided to take a dinghy ride to Sombrero Beach which is down the channel/canals from the harbor. It was not our kind of beach, at least not today. It was packed. Most people were still off work so we will have to return after January 1st. We did see several “Florida Squirrels” (iguanas) on the ride!
We had a nice dinner and went in to the marina for hot showers and a little WIFI. The shower was great but the WIFI was horrible. We found that the WIFI is either really great or barely anything.
Wednesday (Dec 29th), we woke and listened to the “Cruisers Net” while we ate breakfast. We headed in to the marina and borrowed what was left of the free bikes – a tricycle and a terrible beach cruiser. We made the best of it and headed to Home Depot and Publix.
Later in the afternoon I took Izzy the ISUP out for a spin and explored all the mangroves around the anchorage. I was hoping to see a manatee, but alas I did not.
Christian, our friend, got a mooring ball today, so Stew went and helped him with that. He was really close to the dinghy dock which looked like a perfect spot. We were not #4 on the waiting list.
Here in the anchorage, there is a lot to keep you entertained. Boats passing, dinghies passing, and the boat in front of us which has 7 kids on board, as little as 3 years old, up to teenagers, living with a single dad. It is a permanent live-aboard sailboat about 35-40’ long. We call it the “Lost Boys” because the kids are always swinging from ropes attached to the mast, climbing the mast, jumping off onto a water trampoline, wresting… doing crazy stuff. You could sit and watch them for hours. They are crazy.
We had another wonderful sunset.
Thursday (Dec 30th), we woke and got ready for pickle-ball. The cruisers play every Tuesday and Thursday at the community park. It was super hot but we did ok. Came home so exhausted, but a good exhausted. It felt great to do something athletic.
We spent the afternoon making water and relaxing.
Friday, (NY eve) we woke and headed in to do laundry and use the WIFI. Did 3 loads of laundry – cost $21! That’s crazy! WIFI was terrible so after laundry we came back to the boat.
I had purchased a solar oven from Go Sun which arrived today – very exciting. So I cooked our pizza toppings in it. Since it was NY eve we decided to make pizzas for dinner and watch something on the iPad and make popcorn.
They contacted us today and we have a mooring ball, just 3 boats away from Christian, close to the dinghy dock!! So instead of takin 15 minutes to get to the marina it will take us about 3 minutes!! So awesome. We decided to wait until Saturday or Sunday to move the boat. No reason we needed to drop everything the mooring ball is ours until Jan 27th!!
We had a great time and although we were not up at midnight, we enjoyed the sunset and our TV time.