DREAM AWAY Update 05-14-2012
When I sent out the last big update, we were at Crandon Park Marina waiting for some bad weather to pass. What a great decision that was, as it really rained and the wind blew at 60+ knots, outside the reef. But, it finally settled down, and we departed Crandon Park Marina, on Key Biscayne, on the morning of the 24th of April. I was initially concerned about getting out of our slip, and getting under way, because there was still enough wind to make maneuvering out of the slip a challenge, but it turned out to be a piece of cake. Having three hands on board was a great help.
Our plan was to sail down the Hawk Channel to Rodriguez Key, which is just off of Key Largo, approximately 50 miles further south and west. The Hawk Channel is a channel that runs between the Florida Keys and the off-shore reef. Believe it or not, we actually got to sail most of the way to Rodriguez Key. It was not fast sailing, but the engine was not running, and we had the mizzen up, and the 150% Genoa poled out with the spinnaker pole. It made for a nice sail.
Noel and I had quite an adventure getting the spinnaker pole rigged and put out. We finally accomplished the task, but it took awhile. We decided there needed to be some modifications to the placement of the hardware on the ends of the pole, and also the control line needed to be changed to a smaller size. I actually finished the modifications after he left, so we had a perfectly functional pole for the second leg of the passage.
We did make Rodriguez Key by the evening of the 24th, and anchored on the southeast side of the key. As predicted, the wind filled in from the northeast, so we had a comfortable night on the anchor. We anchored in eight feet of water, and I had the 55# CQR anchor out, the 22# Bruce anchor hanging at the 35' mark on the chain, with a total of 100' feet of chain out. We finished off the evening by completing the game of Mexican Train that we had started while at Crandon Park.
The next morning we were up early and under way by 0730. At 0816, we officially became a sail boat, again with mizzen sail up and the Genoa poled out. We sailed all day, until we had to make the turn into Boot Key Harbor. We made the turn into Boot Key Harbor, called the City Marina, and got our mooring assignment. We grabbed the mooring, got it secured to DREAM AWAY, got the boat squared away, and had the traditional "tot" of rum. We then put the tender in the water and all four of us went down to Burdine's for dinner. I especially wanted their fried Key Lime Pie. We had a great meal, and enjoyed visiting with friends we had made when we were here in 2005. We then went back to DREAM AWAY, put the tender on the davits, and turned in.
We had a great nights sleep. The weather was cool, and there was a nice breeze. Of course, we were all pretty tired. First thing next morning was to get on the Internet so that I could catch up on emails, and Nicola could get reservations made for a flight out of Fort Lauderdale to New Orleans, which was the departure city for their flight back to the UK.
When Kitty got up, we put the tender into the water and made our way to the City Marina to check in, pay our fees, get facility keys, and do all of the official stuff. When that was completed, we headed across the street from the City Marina to the Stuffed Pig. It is a local hangout where you can enjoy a great but inexpensive breakfast or lunch. We did enjoy it, and then Noel and I walked up to the local Home Depot, and gazed in wide wonder! Nicola and Kitty headed down to the local West Marine, with stops at the Monroe county library, and the Marathon Discount book store. Kitty used to work at the Marathon Discount book store when we lived in Marathon in 2005. That stop was very sad for Kitty as the store was closed, because the owner, Charley, had committed suicide the previous weekend.
Noel and I finally tore ourselves away from the Home Depot, and met Nicola and Kitty at West Marine. Nicola and Noel were looking into purchasing some binoculars, and I needed some marine fuel hose. Noel got his binoculars, but the price for the fuel hose at West was twice the price I knew it to be at the local NAPA auto parts store. So, believe it or not, I got out of the West Marine, without spending a dime. We made our way back to City Marina, then back out to DREAM AWAY. We spent the remainder of the day working on small boat projects, and being on the Internet. Noel made an outstanding peanut chicken for dinner, then we played a couple of games of Yahtzee before going to bed.
Next day, Friday the 27th, was a laundry day. Also, Nicola and Noel finalized reservations for Saturday afternoon, April 28th, to fly out of Fort Lauderdale. We made reservations with Enterprise Car Rental, with a pickup scheduled for Saturday morning at 0900, so we could drive Nicola and Noel to Ft. Lauderdale. Late Friday afternoon, we went into the dock, and walked over to The Keys Fisheries to have a farewell seafood dinner. We enjoyed the great seafood, and sitting out on the covered porch watching the boats and wildlife.
Saturday morning we came into the dinghy dock, and Marcus, from Enterprise, picked us up and took us to the airport in Marathon where we got the rental car, a new Dodge Magnum. Then we headed up to Fort Lauderdale. It was a nice drive, but there was lots of rain. We got into Fort Lauderdale early enough to have lunch, and lucked into a great place. We stopped at a BBQ joint known as Tom Jenkins Bar-B-Q. What a find! We had a great lunch, and Nicol and Noel bought us lunch as an anniversary present. When we finished lunch, we dropped Nicola and Noel at the airport. It was sad seeing them go, but we know we will see each other again next year, if not sooner.
We left Fort Lauderdale, and drove to Miami where we stopped to visit with Marilyn and Mike, who were sitting Shiva for her mother. Marilyn's mother, Ruth, was a truly sweet and wonderful person who will be missed, but remembered for all the love and joy she brought into this world. We visited for a couple of hours, then headed back to Marathon. We stopped and had a great Cuban dinner along the way. When we finally got to Marathon, we had to wait in the car for 45 minutes for the rain to stop. We finally got a break, and then headed out to DREAM AWAY. We were able to put our head on the pillow around 2300.
Sunday, April 29th, we had planned to do grocery shopping early, but were not able to make our way into the dock until 1600, because of all of the rain. We got the shopping done and all the groceries onto DREAM AWAY and put away. Before we went shopping, I had spent most of the day getting caught up on computer stuff like emails, paperwork and receipt separation, bills paid, and lots of paperwork scanned into the computer. During the day, it seemed as if Kitty and I were jumping up every 20 minutes to open or close hatches.
Monday, April 30th, was a big day for us in many ways. It was our 43rd wedding anniversary, and also the day I needed to get the fuel problem solved with the port fuel tank. It was raining heavily in the morning, but we finally got a break in the weather and were able to get into the dock to return the Enterprise rental car. On the way to the airport, I stopped by the NAPA auto parts store and purchased 15' of 3/8" marine fuel hose. I wanted to be sure I had enough fuel hose to fix the problem and to have some spare. We got back to City Marina, and back out to DREAM AWAY, by late morning.
I removed the fuel hose from the port fuel tank to the fuel input manifold, which was no easy task. The fittings were hard to get to, but finally got the hose removed from both ends. The good news is that the fuel hose looked in really good shape, but, since I had purchased the new fuel hose, I decided to go ahead and install it. The bad news is that the problem turned out to be some kind of sludge in the fuel fitting at the tank. This sludge looked and felt like a really thin silly putty. I was able to pull the big wad of it out of the tank fitting, after I removed the fitting from the tank. I cleaned out all I could get to, and then put the fittings all back together, and then installed the new fuel hose. This sludge problem really concerns me as I have been pretty religious about putting Bioguard diesel fuel additive into the fuel tanks on a quarterly basis, and I also filter almost all of the fuel I put into the tanks. The matter will require more investigation.
After both having showers (love that water maker :-), we prepared our anniversary dinner, which was grilled Porterhouse steaks, steamed Stone Crab claws, steamed corn on the cob, and grape salad. Kitty had made a carrot cake with coconut pecan icing for dessert, and, of course, there was wine. We also enjoyed watching a movie, "Larry Crowne". It was a wonderful night, and we did a lot of reminiscing about previous anniversaries.
Tuesday, May 1st, was spent getting DREAM AWAY cleaned up and ready to receive crew. We went over to the City Marina in the afternoon, and got more laundry done. Then we picked up another Enterprise rental car so we could go to the airport in Key West to pick up our nephew, Zach, who would be crewing with us. On our way to Key West, we stopped at the Sunset Grill to have dinner with our friend Captain Marti Brown, who so kindly made dinner an anniversary present to us. We enjoyed catching up on her activities, and adventures. When we said our goodbyes, we drove on to Key West. Zack arrived on time, and we were back on DREAM AWAY by 2230 that night.
The next day, May 2nd, we wanted to do our last bit of grocery shopping while we still had the rental car, and we had to pick up our last crew member, Gil. Gil had taken a bus from New Orleans to Marathon, and was pretty tired out, as he had ridden the bus all night. We picked up Gil, did the grocery shopping, and went back out to DREAM AWAY. We came back to the City Marina dinghy dock later in the afternoon so we could return the Enterprise rental car. Kitty stayed on DREAM AWAY to finish passage meal preparations.
We had planned to leave Marathon on Thursday, May 3rd, but I made the decision to wait and leave on Friday May 4th. The weather blowing out of the east at 20-25 knots had still not abated, and Gil was very tired and needed a full night's sleep. I wanted the crew to be fully rested when we left. The weather for Friday looked promising. We spent Thursday getting DREAM AWAY prepared, and the two new crew members got familiar with all of the systems on DREAM AWAY. We went over to Burdine's to have a meal out in the late afternoon. It was especially enjoyable as our friend Brenda, who works at Burdine's, was there, newly returned from her trip to "our" Rio, in Guatemala. It was fun to catch up with her and her news. She sweetly treated us to a big piece of fried Key Lime pie. Yum! We finished the meal and visiting, and went back to DREAM AWAY in the tender. We got the tender snugged up in the davits, and made everything secure for an early morning departure.
We were up early on the morning of May 4th. We had a good breakfast, then dropped the mooring and went out the Boot Key Harbor channel to Burdine's fuel dock. We took on 116 gallons of diesel fuel, and got some bottled water and free ice. We left Burdine's dock around 0810, and headed out to the Hawk Channel. We initially tried to sail, but it was a down-wind trek, and the short, choppy seas remaining from the past week's blow was making the crew uncomfortable. It was decided to motor sail. As it turns out, the motor sailing continued for two-and-a-half days. Then the wind died, and it was just motoring!
We did not have a bad passage across the Gulf Of Mexico, but we did not have a good one either. By the time we got to the middle Gulf, the wind just went away. The good news was that the seas were down, so the motoring was smooth, and I was able to play the currents so that we were able to get some help from them ... sometimes as much as a two-knot boost.
The new crew members fit right in and got into the rhythm of the boat and the watch schedule. The schedule was the same as the passage from Georgetown to Marathon, which was four hour watches from 0700 to 1900, and three hour watches from 1900 to 0700. Zack was able to catch and land a very nice 34.5 inch dolphin fish. That was a great dinner for us all. We saw all of the things you would expect on a Gulf crossing. Dolphins at the front of the boat playing in the bow wave, many ships going back and forth across the Gulf, and of course, oil platforms.
We passed a super tanker that was anchored, and transferring oil to a smaller tanker that would take the oil into a shallow-water harbor. We saw many, many oil platforms, and many of the boats that service the oil platforms. We actually saw a fair amount of drilling rigs, which is good news for the industry.
The last night at sea was the worst. A cold front had passed over us, and the predicted five-knot winds turned out to be mostly 20+ knot winds, right on our bow. It was hard getting through the oil patch, and we came close to one of the really big platforms than made us uncomfortable. We pretty much had to hand-steer all night to make any progress. We finally made it through the night, and by early morning we were heading up the Atchafalaya Channel in Atchafalaya Bay. By 1000, we were actually in the Atchafalaya River and in the final stretch up to Morgan City. We were tied up to the Morgan City public dock by 1425 on May 10th.
The remainder of the day was spent getting DREAM AWAY squared away. We put the sail covers on, put lines away, and got the boat washed down. We had gone all the way across the Gulf with out any salt spray on DREAM AWAY, until the last night, when we really got a lot of spray all over forward deck.
We woke up the morning of May 11th to pouring rain, with some thunder and lightning. I prepared a big breakfast for the crew. When 0900 came around, the transportation had arrived, so our crew, Gil and Zack, departed and headed for New Orleans. Kitty and I stayed inside all day because of the rain, but we did get DREAM AWAY back to normal. It stopped raining enough to have the planned free street concert. It was a great band from Lafayette, which we really enjoyed. The concert was on Front Street, about 100' from DREAM AWAY! They played quite a variety of music, from the 60's hits to soul music to Zydeco. Lots of people dancing in the street. Great fun. And it all closed down at 2100, so we were able to get a good night's sleep.
We had a plan in place to move DREAM AWAY to another marina and boat yard, about 50 miles from Morgan City, where we could get a slip and get the mast removed. But, the manager did not call us back with information needed to get into the marina on Sunday, and our travel plans for Atlanta did not allow any flexibility in our making the trip to Vermillion Bay.
Our present plan is to leave DREAM AWAY on the dock in Morgan City, and find a ride to New Iberia. We plan to leave New Iberia on Amtrak's Sunset Limited train on Tuesday, the 15th of May, and go to New Orleans where we will stay overnight. We then take Amtrak's Crescent train from New Orleans at 0700 on May 16th,and arrive in Atlanta the at 1930. We will visit with family, and pack the truck. Then we plan to drive back to Louisiana on the 22nd of May.
The next steps will be to get the mast down, move DREAM AWAY to Delcambre, Louisiana, and ultimately get settled in our new home at the dock in Delcambre, Louisiana. The adventure continues.
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