Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Key West to the Bahamas

We drove our rental car down to Key West for the day, leaving our boat in the Marina at Marathon. This was our first visit to this offbeat community and we loved it. We played the real tourists, taking the tour "train" around town, visiting the Winter White House, and of course joining the party at sundown.
The next day we fueled up nearby and then motored down to Duck Key. Our good friends Marty and Russ Wolf and their children were visiting Frank Wolf at his lovely home there.

It was too shallow for us to come into the marina so we anchored way off the island in eight feet of water - all alone. I found this very intimidating and especially since our dinghy motor hasn't been very reliable. Happily the Wolfs ferried us back and forth several times. We stayed there three nights visiting. The days with them were great but our nights were sometimes uncomfortable with rolly choppy conditions.

On March 27 we had a nice broad reach back to Rodriquez Key. We had Easter dinner with Diane & Mitch Korbey and their friends Gene & Shirley at their condo nearby. After a few days there we left again, this time for the overnight sail to the Bahamas. After spending some time reading the guide books and pouring over the charts we'd decided to go to the West End and the Abacos. So March 30 we left at 3:10 PM, went through the off shore reefs and entered the Gulf Stream.

We had light winds from the east and large rollers. We were able to sail until 9 PM when the wind died down . There wasn't another boat in sight that night - rather a relief for me. At 10 AM the next morning we tied up at the Old Bahama Bay Marina in the West End. My log notes that it was a gorgeous day with unbelievable (underlined) water colors. It was our first experience with customs and immigration and very pleasant.

We had a wonderful time at the marina. They had only recently opened after being destroyed by a hurricane. Everyone was so welcoming and there were complimentary cocktail parties every evening. The beach and the pool were very lovely. We met a very nice couple from New Jersey staying at the hotel, Michelle Butler and Peter Liguory. He is a District Attorney there. We hung out together and had them over for drinks.

That's them on our boat to the right. We stayed there four nights and only paid $268 - a great deal as it was a first class resort! Bahia Mar by contrast was $279 for two nights. We went into Freeport one day on the bus and had lunch in a pretty marina complex with a largely decorative lighthouse.

That's me in front of one of the casinos at the bottom. There are several shots of the sunsets at the West End here. That's "Scott Free"'s bow on the left.
We exited early on April 4th and sailed on the outside of the banks, entering at Memory Rock. It was 9 feet of water at near low tide over the entrance and then not much more than that over the banks.

It was a totally new and rather scary experience to sail fast over such shallow water. Our GPS auto pilot was also giving us occasional problems. We kept a close watch on our track. Our destination was Double Brested Key an almost deserted island northeast of us. We anchored in 10 feet with no wind and a clear sky. This was everything Scott wanted - no people, beautiful scenery, clear water (no bathing suits)...

He would have stayed there for days, but the weather was changing. Small craft warnings were posted for the next day. So we sailed on to Green Turtle Key and into the almost land locked White Bay through a narrow, shallow channel - with white knuckles. It was quite difficult finding a safe spot to anchor as the Bay was packed but finally we succeeded.

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