Our second week in Marathon, we made the acquaintance of some of the locals. They stink, literally, but are really cute:
When not hobnobbing with our scaly buds, we did a bit more touristy stuff, such as going to the local aquarium
to see baby alligators
several African tortoises (this one weighs 60 lbs)
and lots of fish!
|Marathon City Marina office, Boot Key Harbor|
As nice as Marathon can be, it isn’t where we want to be. Trapped by weather for two weeks instead of the one planned, we were chomping at the bit to say goodbye. As we rounded the corner of Boot Key and turned North up Hawk Channel, it felt as though we had escaped the West Coast of Florida, with all its month-long delays, and were on our trip at last.
Hawk Channel is a shallow body of water running north-south along the Florida Keys, somewhat paralleling the nearby Gulf Stream. There is really no eastward “edge” to the channel, other than a reef and deep water. If the wind is strong and from the east the “fetch” (area across which wind blows and strengthens) is Africa. Strong east winds are a no-go, as are strong north winds. We waited for light winds with a southerly component to push us along and low seas, and got both last Saturday.
The trip north was a wonderland of striped blue water, dark blue where there is vegetation on the bottom, and neon turquoise where the bottom is white sand. In the morning, the light was at an angle that turned the sea opaque, and Raven slid along through blue and turquoise milk. By mid-afternoon, the light had shifted and to our amazement we could clearly see the bottom of the channel some 20 feet below us. David said the bottom looked like Neptune’s hairy chest. I thought it looked like flying over a desert landscape striated with forested hills. Either way, it was like gliding through liquid, bottle-green crystal and I thought of the hymns that sing about a “crystal sea” around the throne of God. Now I can imagine what that looks like!
|Rodriguez Key (no bugs!!)|
The trip to Rodriguez Key took about 10 hours, and we were very, very ready to anchor when we got there. We dropped the hook among about 13 boats and I wandered dazedly off to bed about 9. The next morning when we got up at 6:30, all but four boats had left. As we enjoyed our morning tea, the last few pulled out. I must admit, herd instinct takes over when I am in a group of boats. I was panicked that we’d been “left” even though I had no idea where those other boats were going. We did not plan to leave until about 9 a.m., because we were making an overnight passage to Lake Worth and didn’t want to arrive in the early hours of the morning. But it was really hard to just sit there when all the other boats disappeared.
FYI, if this is an anchorage you are considering, the bottom is quite hard. The anchor never did bite – the weight of the chain held us. Fine for low or no wind (which is what we had), but I wouldn’t like to be there in any sort of blow.
All day long we were passed by a stream of boats – fishing boats of all shapes and sizes roaring off to do battle with rod and reel, and, spread over the day, five very large (100 ft) power vessels, each towing a “dinghy” almost the size of Raven. All brand new, and the last one, blue hull and white tower, had its tender painted to match. Maybe they were all bought at the Miami boat show a month ago?? Ridiculously huge and all on a march south. Conspicuous consumption is everywhere in Florida, and I begin to believe Miami is the epicenter of staggering amounts of disposable income.
We originally planned to come in just south of Miami in Biscayne Bay, but the weather stayed good, so we opted for an overnight to Lake Worth. I’m not a fan of overnights, but going along the ICW in Florida is slow going, due to the congestion and all the bridges. By skipping forward to Lake Worth, we avoided 26 bridges! From here, there are only six more to negotiate, and then we’ll be mostly clear all the way to Georgia.
In the early morning we motored through translucent turquoise water that looked just like turquoise frosted glass. The wind and seas were a bit higher all day Monday, building until we bounced past Miami in 18 knots and occasional 4 and 5 foot troughs. By the time we reached Miami, the water was steel-gray to match the rain clouds. We were blessed in our arrival though, as Miami is home of gargantuan cruise ships and other freighter-types. We saw three cruise ships go out, two cargo vessels come in, and a smattering of smaller craft, but we arrived exactly right and chugged across the suddenly empty channel with absolutely no traffic. We caught a few rainshowers and the humidity went through the roof, but the temperatures were pleasant, and the rough ride past Miami calmed down north of Ft. Lauderdale, with light winds and smoother water.
|Miami rain showers and late afternoon sun|
|Sunset at Miami (note the chop)|
The Gulf Stream roars right past Miami, about a mile or two off shore, so we went from a depth of 20 feet to over 200 feet to “---” (what do you mean, you don’t know?!) on the depth meter really quickly. The Stream carried us North at 3 knots, plus our boat speed, which promised to get us to Lake Worth about 2 a.m. We slowed down the motor and pretty much let the Stream take us forward, resetting arrival at the entrance to the Lake Worth inlet at about 6 (daylight at 7).
Even though the wind was southerly, we thunked along all night, with lots of pitch and roll, generally as I was trying to pour tea. The temperature was gorgeous and the Miami skyline lit up the coast for 50 miles, so we had lots of light even with only a crescent moon that set early. We each caught naps of about 2 hours, which is enough to maintain sanity, but not much more. After cutting a few doughnuts outside the channel entrance to Lake Worth and avoiding an incoming freighter in the early pre-dawn, the sun finally lit up the eastern sky and Raven came inside to the ICW about 7 a.m.
We’re anchored now at Lake Worth, the wind is honking at 20 in advance of a big cold front due to arrive tonight, and we’re glad to stop. Baths, long naps, snacks, and no ambition are the order of the day.
|Looking across the Lake Worth anchorage at the zillion dollar boats - after all, we are in West Palm Beach!|