Audios to the Keys

 

Audios to the Keys

The visit to Marathon couldn’t be compared to anywhere else we had been. My heart was heavy with having to say goodbye to everyone at the marina. What a fun place to visit. Once we left Marathon Key, we were ready to defrag.  It was time to focus on the trip north and get the boat ready for the charter for the following week. Michael’s mother, whom I had not met, lived in Juno Beach and the plan was to stop and visit with her before heading up to St. Augustine.  So we sailed a little ways north and found a nice quiet place to drop the anchor.  We tucked the boat up behind a little island just in case the wind decided to blow during the night. It was a great place to relax.

 Michael and I worked around the boat putting things back in order. Later that afternoon, I fixed a couple of vodka tonics with lime while Michael stretched the new hammock from the mast over to the boom vang.  Then he invited me to come lay down in the hammock with him and watch the sun go down.  But before I climbed in, he laughed and said “better close this hatch, wouldn’t want to fall thru the companion way should it give way”.  Good thing he did, not too long after we got comfortable, the hammock broke.  Both of us crashed onto the deck with our drinks in hand and vodka tonics all over us, laughing hysterically.  Had he not shut that hatch, one or both of us would have been in some serious pain.

Later on, the wind did pick up as predicted and a piece of needlework that I had been working on got caught up in a gust and went right over the side.  Michael being the nice guy that he was threw off his ball cap and shoes and dove over the side to get it.  Frustrated that the work that I had put into this piece of needlepoint had just blown away, I dove in as well.  But the sun was on its way down and the water wasn’t as clear as before.  The color of the water was a mild light green/grey and the fish weren’t very identifiable.  I was able to make out the huge areas of brain coral.  While swimming around and looking at the coral, I forgot why I was in the water in the first place. No…., never did find my needlepoint.  I chalked it off as payment to the sea for allowing me this tremendous experience.

Later that night after we had settled down, a big wind storm kicked up swinging the boat back and forth.  When at anchor, we always got a fix on something stationary on land to get an idea of whether the boats anchor was dragging.  Michael and I took turns looking out the hatch to make sure we were in the same spot.

 It was 3AM; Michael was out on the deck starting the engine.  The Boston Whaler, our dingy, had broken loose of its line and he could see it sailing off on its own.  It was pitch black dark and from time to time the white sides of the boat would come into view. He instructed me to steer in the direction of the boat. At the approach, he jumped into the runaway Boston Whaler.  The wind blew a constant 30 for 40 knots, as the boat continued on its south west track.

  Me being inexperienced at the wheel wasn’t able to keep up with the Boston Whaler in the complete darkness. Eventually Michael made way back to the motor and started it up.  He steered his way back to the sailboat and secured the Boston Whaler to an aft cleat. Every time he had ever left me to “man” the boat alone, my heart would rush with anxiety.   

 The smell of the salt air and fish was so strong.  It felt a bit eerie out there, with the wind blowing and not being able to see anything. As soon as Michael was back on board he went down below and back to bed.  It was hard for me to go back to sleep after an incident like that.

The next morning we sailed back up towards Miami.  As we exited Florida Bay and headed out into the Atlantic Ocean, we headed north up the east coast, only to have injector problems again.  The engine cut off right as we were offshore of Biscayne Bay.  We had to tack “again”, back and forth to get closer to land. It was becoming dark and our electronics had stopped working as well. We had to rely on the charts as to our position. This was a time I was thankful that Michael had always insisted on plotting a course manually and electronically. When plan A falls thru, you always have plan B to tell you where you were on the water.

 The wind wasn’t always on our side and the hours kept passing by. Flashes of another “all nighter” came to mind, just dreading the thought of the two of us pulling shifts dodging rocks. I definitely didn’t want to be the one who hit the reef and sunk the boat. Keeping my thoughts to myself, Michael spoke up and said “you know, I’ll just keep on the wheel. You let me know the number of the next buoy”. Delighted as I was, I continued to study the chart with my mini mag light.

  As darkness fell, navigating became a different animal. A world of stimuli in every direction turned into a world of red and green lights varied in direction, some fixed (not blinking) and some not fixed and pitch black darkness all around us. It was imperative that we stay in the channel at all times

 The lights from shore of Miami were bright and far enough away; I knew I wouldn’t be able to swim that distance should we get a hole in the boat due to hitting a coral bed.  It was a stress full time.  Eventually, we made it to shore.  Dropped the anchor once again, got a fix on the shoreline and went down below to get some rest.   The next morning Michael would assess the problem.

 As the night wore on, we were able to navigate our way up into a sleepy little anchorage. We were both exhausted from the tension and were ready for a stiff drink to tell our nerves it was ok for them to relax. Setting the anchor took some time to do. We slept out on the deck that night only to keep a good “look out” just in case our anchor slipped.

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3 Responses to “Audios to the Keys”

  1. Zen Says:

    Sailing is full of those mini adventures eh!

  2. Kim Wolf Says:

    Wow ,
    What an adventure we miss the Scott family please stay safe and keep the stories coming.Fidel said you had a dream I sold you a home in Mexico that would be awesome are we neighbors?

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