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Old 22-05-2017, 07:52   #1
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Triumphant return! Cruise to the Florida Keys

A couple of days ago, we completed a two week cruise from the Tampa/Bradenton area of Florida to the Keys and back. For the most part, everything went well and we're already talking about the next trip. Below are some observations and highlights.
  1. This was our first trip with the Furuno First Watch radar, displayed on our iPad. This worked great! Range is easily adjustable and anything from a half mile to two miles and everything shows up clearly. At four miles and above, small sailboats that are on a parallel course and distant marker buoys or posts will sometimes show up as weak contacts and be lost in the waves. Inside of two miles, they were much more consistent contacts. Not a negative, just an observation.
  2. We did our first (unplanned) night crossing when we departed the Everglades at the 3:00 am high tide and made our way across the Gulf to Marathon Key. No land, no other boats, no crab pots floats, no radar contacts. Just a full moon, tons of stars, and my wife sleeping peacefully on the sky lounge behind me. That was awesome!!! Not sure I would ever plan a night crossing but this one went off without a hitch and remains one of my strongest memories of the trip.
    1. No more stopovers in the Everglades. Too shallow and too many mosquitoes. From now on, we'll bounce from Marco Island to the Keys in one hop.
  3. While at anchorage in Bahia Honda State Park, we saw a hammerhead attack and fight a tarpon on the surface. What a display of nature in action.
    1. I wouldn't recommend anchoring overnight in this park. The current is too strong, even with a long rode. Anchoring outside is safer.
  4. Stretching out on the hide-a-bed sofa during an afternoon rainstorm and watching Netflix can be a fun way to spend a day on a mooring ball.
  5. The people in the Boot Key Harbor mooring field are very nice and welcoming. Shout out to Conrad, Terri, and David.
  6. The daily Cruisers' Net radio show broadcast on VHF 68 is very helpful.
  7. Moss Marina in Ft Myers Beach rocks customer service!
  8. A 31 year old, 37,000 pound, aft cabin, motor vessel with a dinghy on top can still get up on plane and scoot along like nobody's business.
  9. We had to replace the davit motor. The original motor was just too small for this dinghy.
  10. Keep your strainers clean. Seriously.
  11. It all ended way too fast.
John (day dreaming about the next trip... anywhere)
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Old 22-05-2017, 08:29   #2
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Re: Triumphant return! Cruise to the Florida Keys

Here is a link to a Google Photos album of the trip, if anyone is interested.
Florida Keys Trip
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Old 22-05-2017, 08:59   #3
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Re: Triumphant return! Cruise to the Florida Keys

What a great adventure! Good pics too! Congrats.
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Old 22-05-2017, 17:52   #4
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Re: Triumphant return! Cruise to the Florida Keys

Great photos. I bet it was really something to see the hammerhead attack the tarpon. Great pic of the dolphin and all the pelicans.

So any idea yet where too next?
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Old 23-05-2017, 05:58   #5
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Re: Triumphant return! Cruise to the Florida Keys

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What a great adventure! Good pics too! Congrats.
Thanks, boss.
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Old 23-05-2017, 06:02   #6
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Re: Triumphant return! Cruise to the Florida Keys

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Great photos. I bet it was really something to see the hammerhead attack the tarpon. Great pic of the dolphin and all the pelicans.

So any idea yet where too next?
Thanks, tuffr. We haven't decided yet. Probably do a couple of long weekends to nearby keys (central Florida, Gulf coast) throughout the summer. High on the list but in no particular order, is a trip to the upper Bahamas, New Orleans, and our retirement present to ourselves is the Great Loop three years and ten months from now.

We're open to suggestions.
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Old 23-05-2017, 06:08   #7
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Re: Triumphant return! Cruise to the Florida Keys

Congrats!

Sounds like it was magic

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Old 23-05-2017, 06:38   #8
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Re: Triumphant return! Cruise to the Florida Keys

Good post JohnEasley.

Sounds like a nice cruise.
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Old 23-05-2017, 07:19   #9
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Re: Triumphant return! Cruise to the Florida Keys

Sounds like a plan but I would give the Great Loop some more thought.
It would be interesting to know how many Floridians do the Great Loop. I say this because the Great Loop is not something I would consider.

After you have been in the Keys/Bahamas where the water is clear, warm and inviting think about water that is murky and will leave a mud line on your boat. There will be lot of semi-miserable boat days mixed in every so often when that cold northen rain happens, then debris in the water. Oh, and on hot days the water will not be as inviting.

Lol, for me I want to pack swim trunks, tee shirts, snorkle gear. Not jackets, sweat shirts and long pants. There will be nights in the northen part of the loop in the upper 40's and low 50's...but probably little difference then having the southern sun beating down on you...same level of discomfort.

For a retirement present think about taking your scuba gear and going to the Bahamas.
Maybe check out Deans Blue Hole.
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Old 23-05-2017, 07:25   #10
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Re: Triumphant return! Cruise to the Florida Keys

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It would be interesting to know how many Floridians do the Great Loop.
You make some good points about the warm and inviting waters of the Bahamas. We'll get there one day. However, we already know a number of Floridians that have done the Loop, including two couples in our marina that completed it last year.
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Old 23-05-2017, 20:32   #11
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Re: Triumphant return! Cruise to the Florida Keys

Actually the Great Loop would be a cool adventure. I just checked the route. Going thru locks, the Great lakes, and St. Lawrence would be an adventure. I have gone thru the the locks in the Pittsburgh area and that was cool.

You will also get to see a lot of the country and experience some of the same excitment as the early explorers.
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Old 24-05-2017, 06:49   #12
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Re: Triumphant return! Cruise to the Florida Keys

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Actually the Great Loop would be a cool adventure. I just checked the route. Going thru locks, the Great lakes, and St. Lawrence would be an adventure. I have gone thru the the locks in the Pittsburgh area and that was cool.

You will also get to see a lot of the country and experience some of the same excitment as the early explorers.
Those were pretty much our thoughts, too, tuffr. We're excited about it. Three years, ten months. Three years, ten months. Can't wait!
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Old 24-05-2017, 07:51   #13
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Re: Triumphant return! Cruise to the Florida Keys

Please keep us posted on all your adventures! Great pictures! Your about eight months ahead of me so I will use your voyages as a reference.
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