Just like this Portuguese Man-Of-War, High ZZ’s sails on, preferably downwind. Another 200 or so nm have passed under High ZZ’s keel since our last post….not very impressive, but we did visit special places in the Keys that other cruisers said were “must make” ports. We had a roly-poly motor sail (4-5 ft. following seas) south from Ft. Myers Beach to Key West; but with an important twist. Deb was replaced with Jim Tannahill, as crew for the 110nm trip. Deb and Lori drove and Shep and Jim sailed. It was rough enough to make Jim seasick, and Shep was even close for an hour or two just after the most exciting event. Just as the sun was setting and we were chasing our dinner plates across the cockpit table, we had a big hookup. Now Jim is the fisherman, not Shep, but he was forced to attempt the landing on my 1970’s vintage Penn rod and reel. The sort version is that after about 20 min. the old Penn Senator just blew up! As Shep then attempted to hand-line the fish in, about 20 yds. away from the boat, it took a dive and busted the 30lb test. Yes, yes, I know, another fish story, but really, it must have been a whopper!
Key West is still the party/tourist town we remember…only now, with 3,000 or more people disgorged at a time from visiting cruise ships, Duval Street is more crowded than ever this time of the year. We learned that there are really no good anchorages in Key West. Most all are exposed to north winds… the most common direction in winter. Even the city mooring field in Garrison Bite is exposed to the north. SO, even if you are confident you will not move during a blustery night, it is still uncomfortable, and some days impossible even to dingy into town. We got out as soon as the wind direction allowed.
Next stop, Marathon/Boot Key…but there was no room in the inn! Marathon has 226 mooring balls, all occupied, 30 boats on the waiting list…. Seems many boats are “backed up” waiting for a weather window to move on. I know, I know, those of you up north have been suffering with record low temperatures and snow, but the cruisers in the Keys have been suffering also….Temps. in the 60’s, 25-35 kt winds…miserable! We were forced to anchor in Sister Creek. Normally this well protected anchorage would be judged “excellent” by Bill and Ted, but with “Radio Marti” it is “bogus!” The 100W, 1,000W, maybe 1,000,000W Radio Free America transmissions to Cuba send out so much electromagnetic energy that our instruments (depth sounder, wind indicator, autopilot) have gone nuts! Our mast has become a big battery, sending bogus electricity through our instrument communication cables, making our DC breaker panel light up as if every light on the mast (tricolor, deck light, steaming light) was on (they are not, just the LED indicators). When we left Sister Creek to have an electrician check it out, everything went back to normal….upon re-entering Sister Creek, same problem again, at exactly the same place in the creek! BOGUS! Hopefully, there will be no permanent damage to delay our Gulf Stream crossing to the Bahamas.
We will move on up the Keys to Key Largo, and perhaps even back to Biscayne to stage for our crossing…wish us good luck!