Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 154  Harbour Cay Club, Marathon, FL
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Looking northeast out to the gulf from Dream Catcher

 It rained hard during the night and then sprinkled on and off during the day.   So it was a good day to get some things done around the boat.  A quiet, but productive day.
Total miles: 0       Total bridges: 0       Total locks:  0

Day 153  Harbour Cay Club, Marathon, FL
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

 Brenda, Jill, Becky, Carlton, Chris and Bruce at Banana Bay

Home on an island near Banana Bay

Another test day for the rented bike.  We rode from our marina to Sombrero Dockside marina where Seamoore,  Bade Boomer, and numerous other loopers are staying.  Carlton and Becky provided drinks and grilled hot dogs for lunch.  After lunch the four of us, plus Bruce, Chris, and Jill from ”Finally” rode to Banana Bay for a drink.  
We headed back to the bike rental shop while the others returned to Sombrero.  We returned the rented bike and decided to buy the new bike.   However, we didn’t take the bike with us since we’re going to have a few features added – a rearview mirror, a rack, lights, and a bell.  I’m looking forward to a comfortable ride!

Total miles: 0       Total bridges: 0       Total locks:  0

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 152  Harbour Cay Club, Marathon, FL
Monday, January 24, 2011

 View of the gulf from our bow at Harbour Cay Club

 Tiki bar close to Harbour Cay Club

View of the gulf from the Tiki bar

 Bicycles are our only transportation once we get into a port, so they are a vital part of our trip.  The bikes that we brought from home (that we hadn’t ridden for a long time!) are good men’s long-distance cruising bikes with downward handlebars that require us to lean forward and support our upper bodies with our arms as we ride.  This made riding uncomfortable for me, so we went to a bike shop to find a different style.  We found a hybrid road/mountain bike that seemed to fit the bill.  It allows me to sit upright without leaning on my arms.  It has the bigger tires of a mountain bike and shifters on the handlebars rather than the crossbar. 
So we rented a hybrid and took it for a test drive.  It was a good ride.  After several miles we stopped at the Tiki Bar, an attractive 5-year old resort on the gulf side beach.  Nice place.  We rode back to the boat and had supper on board.   I liked the bike, and I’m seriously considering buying the new one.  

 Total miles: 0       Total bridges: 0       Total locks:  0

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 151  Harbour Cay Club, Marathon, FL
Sunday, January 23, 2011

 Watching the Bears/Packers game before the potluck dinner

View of the gulf from Harbour Cay Club
 Happy birthday, Bailes! 
It was a beautiful, sunny day with temps in the 70s.  We got some things done around the boat.  About 4:30 Jim rode his bike a couple of miles to Publix to pick up steaks and salad for a potluck at Harbour Cay Club.  We joined about 20 other boaters for cocktails, dinner, and camaraderie.  It was fun to meet more people who are staying in this harbor.

 Total miles: 0       Total bridges: 0       Total locks:  0

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 150  Harbour Cay Club, Marathon, FL
Saturday, January 22, 2011

 Old rail road bridge on bottom and old highway on top 

 Jim's brother Tom (hand on rail) and the group

 Tressels heading into Pigeon Key

 At Pigeon Key looking east on the bike path

 At Pigeon Key

 Tour guide on Pigeon Key

Original bridge pier on Pigeon Key

 Despite a windy, overcast day, we hopped on our bicycles and set out for a tour of Pigeon Key.  The tour is part of  the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail.  Becky, Carlton, and their friend Chris rode their bikes from Sombrero Dockside marina (where their boats are docked) to Harbour Cay Club to join us.  The 5 of us rode about a mile on the bike path next to Highway 1 to the entrance to the bike path/walkway to Pigeon Kay.  The path was originally a railroad bridge, turned into a highway bridge with a swing span that opened and closed as required for boat/vehicle traffic.  When a new “higher” bridge was built so that large ships could pass under it, the old highway swing span was removed, and the path ends at Pigeon Key.
At the entrance to the Pigeon Kay bike path we were met by Jim’s brother and sister-in-law Tom and Arlene and a group of their friends.   Tom and Arlene are spending the winter in their motor home in the Keys as they’ve done for the last 25 years.  They had called us the night before to tell us about the tour.  We were also joined by 35 other bikers who had also read about the tour in the newspaper.  All of us biked a couple of miles on the bike path/walkway bridge to the entrance to Pigeon Key park.  The park guide explained how Henry Morrison Flagler had built the first bridge from the mainland, across the Keys to Key West.  Although the trade route that he sought had been diverted to Miami, he accomplished his goal in 1912 shortly before his death.  The city of Marathon was named for the 24-hour a day marathon that it took to finish the project before he died. 
We biked back to Marathon and had a late lunch at Porky’s.  Tom, Arlene, their friends, Becky, Carlton, Chris, and Chris’ husband Danny stopped at Harbour Cay Club for a tour of the facilities.  After they left, the north wind began to blow with gusts that reached up to 35 mph.  We were safely (and soundly!) rocked to sleep at night. 
Total miles: 0       Total bridges: 0       Total locks:  0

Day 149  Harbour Cay Club, Marathon, FL
Friday, January 21, 2011

 A required work day after all of our play days in Key West.  We cleaned and did laundry.  A slow and relaxing, but productive day.   Sunny and 80 degrees.  Dinner on board.

Total miles: 0       Total bridges: 0       Total locks:  0

Day 148  Harbour Cay Club, Marathon, FL
Thursday, January 20, 2011
 Heavy fog prevented us from leaving Key West at 10:00 as planned.  Our destination was Marathon about 60 miles away.  We have reservations at the Harbour Cay Club where we plan to stay for about a month.  About 11:00 the fog seemed to lift, so we headed out behind Bade Boomer who was going back to the naval air station marina at Boca Chica.  Becky and Dave were traveling with them for a few days.   Once we got out of the harbor and headed toward Hawk Channel, heavy fog again surrounded us, and we had extremely poor visibility.   We had only our radar and chart plotter to find our way – and it was not easy since we were also dodging crab pots.  Finally the fog lifted, and we were able to increase our speed.  But when we got close to Marathon, the fog again settled in, and we were once again limited to radar and the chart plotter to find our way.  As we approached the 7 mile bridge, the fog lifted and we slowly made our way to Harbour Cay Club. 
We arrived about 3:00 and were warmly welcomed by members of the club who are living aboard here.  What a friendly marina!  We celebrated our arrival with champagne and smoked oysters and then took a walk around the grounds.  At the end of one of the piers is the “tiki” hut where several member were waiting for sunset.  We joined them for sunset and then the two of us walked to Porky’s, a nearby restaurant.  As the name implies, we had barbeque pork sandwiches.  The entertainment was Dan Sullivan who played guitar and sang almost any song you can name.   We liked him so much we bought a CD of his original songs.  Back to the boat and slept like logs. 

Total miles: 55    Total bridges: 4       Total locks:  0
Day 147  City Marina at Garrison Bight,
Key West, FL
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
  Southern most point in the continental U.S.

 History plaque at southern most point

 Key West lighthouse

From the lighthouse

 From the top of the lighthouse

 Lighthouse light

 Looking up at the top of the lighthouse

Lighthouse porthole

 Looking down the lighthouse steps

 Key West Lighthouse

 Lighthouse lamp

 Six-toed cats at Hemingway's home

 Ernest Hemingway's study where he wrote 700 words every morning

 Ernest Hemingway's home

 On the docks at Key West

 Becky, Dave, Chris, Brenda, Jim, Bruce on the pier at Mallory Square

 One of the acts at Mallory Square before sunset

Entertainment at Mallory Square - and the guy on the bottom is from the audience!

 Even birds flock to Mallory Square for sunset 

 Entertainment at Sloppy Joe's

 Our last full day in Key West so we had to visit the famous tourist sites.  Our first stop was at the Southern most point in the continental United States (90 miles from Cuba).  Next was the lighthouse and museum.  And finally Ernest Hemingway’s home.  He lived here for 11 years and wrote some of his most famous novels.  After all of the tourist attractions we were really hungry and thirsty so we walked a long way down to the docks for lunch at “On the Half Shell”.  The oysters rockefeller were some of the best we’ve ever had.  After lunch we walked along the docks to Schooners for an “umbrella” drink, and then down to Mallory Square for the side show acts, vendors, and sunset. 

Total miles: 0       Total bridges: 0       Total locks:  0
Day 146  City Marina at Garrison Bight,
Key West, FL
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

 Sunset (and moon rise) at the top

 Key West from the roof of the Crown Plaza

 Key West from the roof of the Crown Plaza

From the roof of the Crown Plaza

 Sunset from the roof of the Crown Plaza

 Jim, Becky, Brenda, Dave, and Bruce at the top of the Crown Plaza for sunset

 Front row seats at Margaritaville

 Bruce, Becky, Dave, Jim, Brenda, Chris at Margaritaville

 Bade Boomer arrived about 10:00 with additional crew members – Dave and Becky.  They caught a ride to Boca Chica and rode with Chris and Bruce to Key West.  We all caught the bus downtown and had lunch at Cheeseburger Key West where we had great kobe cheeseburgers and fries.  We shopped for a while (found sunglasses  at one of the “$5 for everything” stores), had a drink at Hog’s Breath, and went to the top of the Crown Plaza hotel for sunset.  After sunset we made the obligatory stop at Margaritaville for margaritas and nachos. 

Total miles: 0       Total bridges: 0       Total locks:  0
Day 145  City Marina at Garrison Bight,
Key West, FL
Monday, January 17, 2011

 Relaxing at the Rum Bar and Speakeasy Inn

 Previous movie theatre is now Walgreens

 Walgreen's on Duval Street in Key West

Dockmaster's office at Key West 

 Our first full day in Key West!  We can hardly believe that we are actually here on Dream Catcher!  About 11:00 we were joined by Chris and Bruce who got a ride from the naval air station marina at Boca Chica where Bade Boomer is docked for a few days.  It’s great to see them again!  We walked downtown to the Rum Bar and Speakeasy Inn where their friends from home Becky and Dave are staying for a 2 week vacation.  We each had a rum “umbrella” drink and then walked to the Conch Republic Seafood restaurant for an outdoor lunch by the docks.  We had barely finished lunch when the sky turned black and the downpour began.  When the weather turned to a light rain we walked and shopped our way around the downtown area.

Total miles: 0       Total bridges: 0       Total locks:  0

Day 144  City Marina at Garrison Bight,
Key West, FL
Sunday, January 16, 2011

 Sunrise at Marco
Sunset at Mallory Square 

 Sunset at Mallory Square
                                             Jim at Mallory Square

 We were up before dawn and ready to cast off at first light.  We headed out Big Marco Pass to the gulf.  As predicted the wind and waves were calm.   We made it to our correct latitude/longitude position and set our heading for 180 degrees to the first channel marker at Key West.  The major hazard of boating in these waters is the crab pots, and they are numerous.  So we both stood guard for the 4-1/2 hour trip, and we managed to avoid all of the hazards.  It doesn’t seem like crab pots would be placed 45 miles from land, but they are!  The wind and waves picked up about an hour from Key West, but otherwise the sky and waters were beautiful and crystal clear with generally no other boats in sight. 
We arrived at the outer markers for Key West, slowly made our way up the channel to our marina, and were safely in our slip by 1:30.  Whew!  It was an adventure that we can tell our grandchildren.  Oops!  We forgot to have kids!
Anyway, we rested for a while, ate a late lunch, and then walked to Mallory Square for sunset.  It’s a crazy area packed with tourists and “side show” acts.   After sunset we walked back to Sloppy Joes’s, a favorite hangout of Ernest Hemingway.  We caught the last bus back to our marina, fell in bed, and slept like rocks!    
Total miles: 107.5       Total bridges: 2       Total locks:  0
Day 143   Marina at Factory Bay,
Marco Island, FL
Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dan, Jan, Jan, Ron and Brenda at Parker's home

 Jim, Brenda, Jan, Dan

 Jan, Jim, Ron, Jan, Dan

 We had planned to leave Marco Island, anchor in Little Shark River (half way to Marathon), and then arrive in Marathon the following day.  We would then travel to Key West from Marathon.  But that’s the easy way.  (And what’s the challenge in that?!)  After discussing our plans with Dan, and checking the charts and weather predictions, we decided to make a straight crossing from Marco Island to Key West.  It’s 90 miles of open water (and I thought that we had already made our gulf crossing)!  Wave height and wind velocity were predicted to be lower on Sunday than today, so we decided to wait.  We topped off our fuel supply and got ready for the crossing.
 We called Jan and Dan who again picked us up and took us to their home for cocktails and appetizers.  We were joined by Ron and Jan Shewman, also friends from the Quad Cities, who have lived here for 11 years.  We all enjoyed an Irish dinner at O’Donoghue’s Bar & Grill which features a live Irish band.  We then stopped at Porky’s Last Stand for great 60’s and 70’s music with a live band.  A very fun evening.   
Total miles: 0       Total bridges: 0       Total locks:  0
Day 142   Marina at Factory Bay,
Marco Island, FL
Friday, January 14, 2011

Channel from Naples to Marco

Bird on its nest on a channel marker

Birds have built nests on almost every marker on the channel between Naples and Marco 

Dream Catcher at Factory in the Bay marina, Marco

Dolphins swim by our boat in Marco

Dan and Jan fix appetizers in their kitchen

Pool area at Dan and Jan's home

 A fun surprise this morning was to find fellow loopers N-2-wishin and Ocean Breeze at the Naples City Dock.  We haven’t seen them since Fairhope, Alabama.   We discussed our plans for the Keys and hope to see them further south.
The intracostal to Marco is a small, calm, well-marked 7 mile channel, and we enjoyed the relaxing ride.  When we arrived at the Marina at Factory Bay, Jan and Dan Parker, friends from the Quad Cities, picked us up.  We enjoyed cocktails and appetizers at their beautiful home.   They treated us to dinner at the famous Snook Inn which is on the water and features live music. Thank you to Dan and Jan for a great stop in Marco!

Total miles: 15       Total bridges: 0       Total locks:  0

Day 141  Naples City Dock,  Naples, FL
Thursday, January 13, 2011

Approaching Naples

Homes in the Port Royal area

One of the homes in the Port Royal area of Naples

Looking up at their condo on the top floor  

Jim and Doug on Doug and Diane's boat

View from Doug and Diane's condo

Doug and Diane's boat from their condo

View from the condo

Brenda and Diane at Doug and Diane's condo

Doug and Diane's condo

Doug, Diane, and Brenda at Yabba Island Grill

Our slip at Naples City dock

 Finally.  After debating about the strong winds and predicted 3 to 5 foot seas, we decided to leave Snook Bight.  We slowly traveled up the channel to the gulf.  The wind was on our stern and the waves seemed less than 3 feet, so our trip was uneventful.  We arrived at the Naples City Dock about 3:30.  Doug and Diane Johnson, friends from the Quad Cities, picked us up about 5:00.  They gave us a tour of the incredible Port Royal area where all of the homes are huge, beautiful mansions with gates, fountains, and lush landscaping.  
We enjoyed cocktails, appetizers, and sunset at Doug and Diane’s gorgeous condo.  They then showed us around the 3rd Street and 5th Avenue shopping/restaurant district and treated us to delicious dinner at Yabba Island Grill.   Doug ordered stone crab claws for all of us.  Jim and I had never had them before.  Doug explained that the fishermen who catch the crabs usually harvest just the larger claw from each crab and throw the crabs back in the water.  The claws grow back and when the crabs are caught again, the fishermen again usually take just the larger claw.   Yumm… and unending supply of mouth-watering crab claws!               
Thanks so much to Doug and Diane for a great time in Naples! 

Total miles: 36      Total bridges: 1       Total locks:  0