Key West trip in the winter

Boat needed a bottom job. At 43 ft long and with 6.5ft draft plus 58 ft mast, the only place that allowed me to do the work that I could get the boat into was 3D boatyard in Key West. Tried to leave Dec 24 but 7 to 10 ft waves and 25-knot winds were somewhat discouraging. After being knocked around at the mouth of Big Marco river we returned to the dock to spend the night. At 4:30 am we headed out toward 20-knot winds and 5ft seas. Cleared Marco river around 6:00 am setting sail and making 5 to 6 knots through a somewhat rough seas rolling from side to side spray coming over the bow till 9:00 am when all wind ceased, period. We then motored in a straight line from Marco Island to Key West to make an 8:00 am appointment on the 27th. In blue day time skies with seas at 2 to 3 ft. we arrived at 3D boatyard at 4:00 am on the 26th. Hand steering a sailboat for 24 hrs with no autopilot is a long time to steer. Hands get achy, shoulder muscles bunch up and try to go on strike, brain gets soggy as the sea works to stop you from steering a straight course for 24 hrs of go go go. WE spent the 26th at anchor just outside of the 3D boatyard approach channel sleeping and being lazy or as the old saying goes ” we started the day out slow and tapered off from there”. At 3:30 pm we were allowed to dock in 3D lift slip and spent the night there. The boat life looks like a two 20 ft high lower case letter ‘n’s tied together at the top corners by 20 ft long beams on wheels. They lower straps into the water passing them under your boat till they reach the right spots then lift the boat up. My boat weighs 12 tons. I think the lift can do 50 tons. Once the boat is up and out of the water the lift is then steered by remote control to the spot where the boat goes and lowered on to blocks & jack stands placed around it to keep it balanced. When painting you have to relocate the jack stands one at a time to new spots to paint or sand the spots they covered. WE were able to stay in the boat while on dry dock, a great help and money saver. We sanded and sanded and sanded forever. Sanding is something I recommend for other people. Not me. After a wk & 1/2, Maria escaped back to civilized life and teaching. A few days after she returned someone tripped over the garden hose breaking the water line to the house and as soon as I walked her through a patch for that the hot water heater started leaking then the patch began to give out. Fun times for all. Eventually, a reasonably priced plumber ( a truly rear thing) was located and all plumbing issues repaired but not until a week or so of water issues. So having caught me with my pants down sanding and painting in Key West the house plumbing attacked. Life can be magical this way but I have noticed I don’t seem to get special treatment pretty much everyone I know seems to get their share. 4 plus weeks of sanding, faring ,(putting on putty-like material) painting and changing out the cutlass bearing. On Tuesday 1/14/19 I was back in the water, way tireder and $2500 or so poorer and ready ever so ready to be on my way. I cranked the engine & only to find I couldn’t take the boat out of gear. Joy! They tied me off at the mouth of the slip while I went into crazy-man mode trying to find out why! Started the motor again switched to reverse then forward then neutral all worked flawlessly. OK world very funny but I’ll bite. They untied me from the dock & I was off. Never have had that problem before or since. 2 to 3 ft seas greeted the boat at the mouth of the 3D channel with 15-knot winds but I was too tired to fuss with sailing. I had been up since 3:00 am the day before trying to solve a prop issue & and had the boat put in the lift slings at 3:pm that day so I could paint the spots where the boat had been sitting which took me till 01:00 am heating the paint to make it dry fast. I was wasted. Motored to the west end of Key West and anchored just off of Wisteria or Christmas Tree Island. I did little of nothing save cleaning & minor fixing tell Saturday when Maria arrived on the Key West Express a ship that did the 24hr trip we took to Key West in a little over 3hrs to Marco Island and a little over 4hrs back from Fort Myers. Dinghied to shore Collected maria from the Express office had a good lunch, feed the chickens and pigeons on the restaurant floor & the fish by the dock walkway then dinghied back to the boat. Woke at 7:00 am and headed out. Had pretty good winds as we sailed a northeast course toward Florida mainland planning on getting in close & spending the night in shallow water. It was a pretty day with 1 to 2 ft waves calm and pleasant. Lost the wind in the evening and motored the last hr & a half or so and set anchor around 8:00 pm. Had a pleasant meal & evening and went to bed. Woke at 4:00 am and headed out. The weather reports promised good weather. Lier lier pants on fire. the wind was out of the NNW which is the direction we need to go and not the east or northeast as promised which is what we needed. So we tacked into the wind as best we could which was slow going. wind shifted a little which helped and we sailed at 5 knots mostly in the direction we need to go tell the wind moved again then we motored. We were now facing 20 to 25-knot winds and 5 to 10 ft seas rough rough rough. Boat was OK humans a little uncomfortable with the boat crashing down submerging the bow and front sail water pouring down both sides of the deck then rising up again and sliding sideways down the next wave. Spray soaking our rain suits and salt caking over our glasses. Hitting a wave head-on would nock our speed in half so it was slow going for the next 6 hrs or so we pounded our way to Marco Big River inlet at speeds from 2 to 5 knots. In the inlet, things calmed down a little though it was hard to see some of the markers at night and at one point we did an emergency revers to keep from going aground. Fun for one and all. We docked at 9:00 pm and caught a ride with German to the house and slept. life is good, adventure is good, home sweet home is great!

Author: Geezer

Under educated, abnormally curious, gutsy coward. 65yr or so, ( it keeps changing). Traded money for time even though money is freedom. Went sailling (sail a little work on boat a lot).