Leg 3 - Installment 3
Isla Mujeres, Mexico to New Smyrna Beach, FL

4/24-25/03 Lay Days at Isla Mujeres
We enjoyed the white powder sand beach and beautiful water on the north end of the island and talked "weather" with everyone on the docks. Chris & Judy on the American Tug, "Alyssa", flew in from Florida and decided to join Playpen and Annie on the journey home. Everyone was anxious to get going.

4/26,27,28/03 Isla Mujeres to Key West, FL, U.S.A. 24* 33.78N 81* 48.02W 343nm 40 hr
It was a dark and stormy night. Only those who were there can know and appreciate the impact of such a night! Walt the Weatherman gave us a window between fronts from Isla Mujeres to Key West. He said we might run into some storms at the tail end of the front, but we should be ok. Well…you can't fool or predict Mother Nature. We started out ok at 1600, but as darkness fell, the seas swelled. The wind @ 25kts gave us steep, short, confused seas. Around noon the next day the wind was down to 6, and the seas were a predictable 2-4'. Again, as the sun went down, the winds and seas kicked up. We hit 50kts just as the lightning hit its zenith! We couldn't see the monster seas except when the scary jagged lightning bolts illuminated them. We put in a call to our daughter about 10PM asking her to turn her answering machine off for the night in case the Coast Guard called her. We gave her our position, course, and speed, and then called Key West Coast Guard on our Sat phone and gave them the same. We told them we were a 53' Hatteras traveling with two 34' American Tugs. The Petty Officer asked me to repeat. I said, "a 53.." He said, "I got the Hatteras part." We knew if any of the 3 of us got in trouble the others would not be able to help. We rocked and rolled and crashed and thrashed, checking in with the CG every hour until the wind and lightning finally subsided about 0200. The seas calmed somewhat by dawn, and by 8:30 we were breathing normally as we approached the Key West sea buoy. After securing (!) at the Conch Harbor Marina we assessed the results of our adventure. The very heavy coffee table was turned completely upside down, the refrigerator door had come open and OJ was splashed through the salon, the chairs on the back deck were topsy-turvy, and a portable chair on the fly bridge flew and lodged itself between the kayaks and whaler on the boat deck. We were exhausted, but safe and sound. Apparently a couple of fronts converged at and around Key West. The Key experienced 55kt winds and hail. The Navy re-moored 3 drifting sailboats, the CG went out to rescue 2 small boats, one sailboat due on Sunday arrived the following Wednesday. Another sailboat is still overdue. It was far from the "Perfect Storm", but it ranks in Playpen's Top 10.

4/29/03 Lay Day, Key West
Boy, did we sleep well last night! We spent the day sightseeing with Chris and Judy. We were all extremely grateful to be safe. We had a farewell dinner with Annie's and Alyssa's crews and had a lot of fun recalling the good, the bad, and the ugly times of our travels together from Barillas, El Salvador to Key West, FL. Most of the reminiscences were of the adventure and education we had. Each of us said our favorite place was Alaska. The only place we'd like to cruise again: Alaska. The best resort: Barra Navidad, Mexico. The prettiest spot: San Blas Islands, Panama. The most unique experience: The Panama Canal. Best overall memory: the wonderful people we met, including other cruisers and all the natives.

4/30/03 Key West to Marathon, FL 24*42.22N 81* 06.46W 43nm 6 hr
What's with this Florida weather? We had to wait outside the Marathon Channel for the 30kt winds and storms to subside. Our good friends, Paula and Mark from Miami braved the storms and drove down to join us for dinner. We’re slowly assimilating back to "civilization" . We haven't turned on the TV or read a newspaper yet.

5/1/03 Marathon to Dinner Key, Miami 25* 43.76N 80* 13.92W 96nm 11 hr
We decided to chance the "iffy" weather and left at 0645. The weather turned beautiful, and we had a delightful ride up the Keys to Biscayne Bay. We docked at a new marina at Dinner Key and met Mark for dinner--getting back in the groove.

5/2/03 Dinner Key to Ft. Lauderdale, Fl 26* 03.50N 80* 07.87 W 33 nm 5 hr
We cruised the calm Atlantic and docked at Harbourtowne Marina in the Dania Cutoff Canal. Dockage in Ft. L. was full for the upcoming air and sea show. Fred's sister, Kay, and her husband, John, joined us for our ICW trip.

5/3/03 Ft. Lauderdale to Loblolly Bay, Hobe Sound, FL 27* 06.64N 80* 08.76W 68nm 9 1/2 hr
We had a delightful ride up the ocean and into Lake Worth Inlet catching up on family and local and national news from Kay & John. We wound 'round the ICW to Hobe Sound passing pristine mansions and lawns, lots of Grady Whites (John's favorite boat), and a few playful dolphins. At Loblolly more old friends joined us for the night. We had fun catching up and recounting some of our experiences.

5/4/03 Loblolly Bay to Vero Beach, FL 27* 39.44N 80* 22.20W 36nm
We fueled at Ft Pierce ($1.15/gal), and passed more boats, more mansions, and more dolphins on the ICW. Capt. Fred is bored--uh-oh!

5/503 Vero Beach to New Smyrna Beach, FL 29* 01.64N 80* 55.17W 92nm 11 1/2 hr
Kay and John are getting a taste of long days, but the ICW is calm, the sun is warm, and Playpen is just purring along. A 42' LRC passed us today and radioed. He wanted to know where he'd heard "Playpen" before. We told him it must have been on the LRC site. We've also had several calls about our dugout on the swim platform. It's beginning to seem like we never left the good ole US.

Lots of Pictures



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