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
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.