Isla Mujeres, Mexico, to Key West, Florida, USA, April, 2011
This passage was significant in many ways. Nothing on DREAM AWAY broke, the Passage Princess was very happy, and I actually took some pictures during the passage. I will admit that I spend a bunch of time maintaining DREAM AWAY, so I do not expect problems. In fact, I can't remember when I did have a problem on DREAM AWAY that affected a passage, let's hope that continues to be the case. Because this passage was so uneventful, I took a lot of pictures, but as you know, on a long passage there is not a lot to see, so, as usual, they are mostly sunrises and sunsets.
As you know from the April 10, 2011 update, we
in Isla Mujeres for a weather window. It looked like a good weather
window was opening
up starting on April 11th, so we decided to take advantage of it. A
very mild cold front
was coming across the Gulf of Mexico from Texas. It was forecast to
stall around the
Straits Of Florida, so we were not sure if we would have some north
winds and thunder
storms, or no wind, or the normal southeast winds. As it turns out,
there were mostly north to northeast winds. That was good, and we got
to do some nice sailing.
On Monday morning, April 11th, we checked out with the Port Captain, then Immigration, in Isla Mujeres. We left the dock at Marina Paraiso with the help of many friends from the marina, and we headed out of the harbor. We went out around the north end of Isla Mujeres, across the reef, past the Roca El Yunque light, and started heading northeast. We rolled out the genoa, and put up the mizzen sail, and quickly became a sail boat. The wind was blowing around 15 knots, and, with the current, we were easily making six and more knots. The waves were a bit sloppy, three to four feet, but once we got into the deep water of the Yucatan Channel they smoothed out.
We had prepared meals before we left Isla Mujeres, and put them in the freezer. During the passage, all we had to do was defrost, heat, and eat. We had also hard-boiled a dozen eggs, so they would be ready to eat. While on passage I try to have the evening meal around 1600, so we can be finished, and I can have the dishes washed and put away before the sun goes down.
It was a very pleasant sail all
day on Monday. I actually got to do some reading while we were sailing.
Kitty and I do a three-hour watch
system. Three on and three off. It seems to work out well for us.
dinner was sandwiches and a few leftovers because the seas were a bit
lumpy. After dinner, we
settled into the nightly routine, sailing along with beautiful weather.
There were lots
of ships that passed us during the night, so we kept a sharp watch. We
are very pleased with our AIS system, which lets us know they are out
there, even if we can't see them with the naked eye. We also love the
night vision monocle that our friend David loaned us. It lends a lot of
confidence to nighttime surveillance.
Early on Tuesday morning the wind had dropped to around six knots, so we had to start up the engine and motor-sail. The remainder of the day was sailing or motor sailing as the wind was light, and then it would pick up for a bit. With the current, we were still able to keep up a good speed while the engine was only turning 1100 RPMs. Tuesday's dinner was spaghetti, a real favorite of the "Passage Princess". We had a beautiful night of motor sailing.
On Wednesday, the promised front came through, but it was not a big deal. The big event consisted of the wind changing from southeast to north, and increasing in velocity. We went back to sailing for about five hours, but when the wind dropped again, we went back to motor sailing. The really good news about the low wind velocity was that it kept the Gulf Stream from kicking up waves. The Stream was giving us an extra 2 to 2 3/4 knots of speed. The Stream is flowing east in the Straits of Florida, so south, west, and north winds are not too much of a problem. If the wind has any east in it, and the velocity is high, one gets wind against current, and the waves can get very nasty.
About mid-day on Wednesday I calculated that we would get into Key West about midnight. Not a great problem, as we have been there before, and I had a good track on the CAPN navigation software. But, the "Passage Princess" and I talked it over, and we decided to slow down just a bit, so we could arrive at Key West at dawn on Thursday morning. With that decision made, we sat down to a lovely dinner of meat loaf, macaroni and cheese, and chopped fresh vegetables.
Sure enough, before dawn on Thursday, we were able to see the Sand Key light, which is on the reef running just before Key West. We got to the sea buoy for Key West about an hour after sunrise, and got into the main ship channel. We went behind Tank and Wisteria islands, and anchored there. We got DREAM AWAY all settled in, and we called Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to report our arrival and get our arrival number. We got our arrival number, and were told that we both had to report, in person, to the CBP office in down town Key West. Kitty went down for a nap, and I worked on getting all of our paperwork in order. While Kitty was napping, CBP in Key West called and asked if we were in a marina or anchored out. I told him we were anchored out. He told us the downtown office was being re-modeled, and we would have to go to the airport to report in. He also told us to bring in all fruits, vegetables, and meats we had, in double plastic bags. They were being confiscated. Wonderful news. We also had to bring in the current paperwork on the Puss-N-Boots, so now I had more paper work to gather. I put together our fruits, vegetables, and meats in the required bags. We had no fruit, except some cantaloupe, which we were having for breakfast.
I waked Kitty so we could get to the second part of our day. We had a great breakfast of left over meat loaf and macaroni and cheese. We also finished off the cantaloupe. We then got the dinghy in the water, all of our confiscated items, and our paperwork loaded, and headed off to find a dinghy dock. We found the cruisers' dinghy dock at the Key West Bight marina, for only $6.00 a day! We inquired about a cab to the airport and it was $8.00 each one way, for each person! We decided to wait for the bus at $.50 each one way. We had a current bus schedule, but I had forgotten about the time change, and we were now on Eastern Savings time! We ended up waiting about one and a half hours for the bus. When it finally came, and I asked the driver about the schedule, that is when I realized about the time change.
We got to the airport, found the CBP office, and did our check-in. We were now officially in the USA, and had less meat and vegetables than when we arrived! We waited for about an hour for the the bus again, and got our tour of Key West and Stock Island, and got back to where we started, about another hour later. We were tired, so we decided to have dinner at Hurricane Harry's in Key West. Kitty had a French Dip and I had chicken pot pie, both of which we shared. It was great, but the prices were memorable! It was $2.50 for an iced tea! We got in the dinghy, went back to DREAM AWAY, and got the dingy up and secured on DREAM AWAY.
We had a wonderful passage. Kitty is very happy that she can now just pick up the phone and call friends and family. Hope you enjoy the following pictures.