We had planned to leave Key West on February 1 and cruise about 45 miles east in the Atlantic Ocean’s Hawk Channel to Marathon. Those plans changed (more later).
Our son, John; his wife, Katy; and our daughter, Erika, joined for a few days in Key West and to be onboard for this leg of our Great Loop voyage. We sampled some of Key West’s eclectic restaurants, including brunch at Blue Heaven and carry-out dinner from the “One Love” Jamaican food truck.
We found that anywhere in town is home to Key West chickens, who are protected, unique, and cute (except when they wake you in the wee hours).
Marine wind and wave forecasts (three- to four-foot seas with building winds from the south) led us to leave one day early and choose the alternate route along the north side of the Keys, adding 40 miles to the voyage but protecting us from the southern wind and waves.
We left Stock Island at 10:45 and arrived at Marlin Bay at 4:00.
Except for near-seasickness in the first hour in the Atlantic and around the west end of Key West, we had flat water and low winds all the way.
As we traveled we were greeted by many seabirds and dolphins, including a dolphin that jumped all the way out of the water!
The waters around the Florida Keys are a minefield of crab pots that provide good seafood but very challenging piloting. John and I shared driving duties from Key West to Marathon, and all eyes aboard helped watch for crab pots. It was especially challenging to escape the trap when two or three lines of crab pots converged in front of us!
We were happy to tie up safely at Marlin Bay Marina in Marathon! After washing heavy salt off of R&R, we enjoyed the resort-style pool; a stunning sunset on the dock; and fresh crab claws, shrimp, and fish at next-door Keys Fisheries. Amazing!
(Thanks to Katy, our cruise photographer!)