First, thanks for all the great posts and awesome advice. I'm taking the time to write this response to help others planning this same trip.
When we got to Marco the weather had changed and it forced us to wait. While waiting we fell in love with Marco Island and decided to stay at Rose Marina one year. My whole family
thought Rose Marina was awesome and the service
center was first class - unfortunately my boat needed a bunch of service
. Bruce was exceptionally helpful and leaving the marina was a hard decision considering we even looked for property while there - Marco is expensive so that idea faded quickly.
On Sunday night at 6 PM we headed out to Key West (directly) because after a year of thinking about it the deeper water
and less crab traps just seemed more appealing. The weather report said 10 knot
winds, seas 1-3 and mostly sunny. We left expecting the seas to subside but that never happened. Advise point one - if the waves come over your bow leaving the channel take serious thought to going another day.
In route to Key West we followed the northwest swell which worked out well. At this point I must confess that we originally wanted Dry Tortugas
but after getting offshore
3 miles the beating was just too much at 220 degrees so we changed course to 190 degrees (i.e. Key West).
The seas to KW were 4 to 6 for most of the trip and we certainly got seasick along the way. Winds picked up to 20 knots for a good part of the trip while we waited for the winds to subside. The winds did subside by the sea did not.
We hit the Key West Northwest channel at 2pm which was perfect. Honestly, we could have navigated this channel at night since it is very wide and easy to get through.
For those of you who have not tried a night sail I can only offer these thoughts. Practice because it's not easy using a GPS
at night in heavy seas. Heavy seas forces your boat to change directions so you are constantly steering
. There are absolutely no lights when you are on the open water so make sure your autopilot
works - mine does not. To correct the issue celestial navigation
really helps so pick a good night with clear sky's and some form of moon. With the stars we were able to stay on course for quite a while until the storms hit and then it was back to the GPS
because the stars were not visible. Don't get me wrong I never intended to use stars but in the end they made the passage
much safer and truer despite having a GPS. Headlamps are a must for night sails
but they do annoy your crew - I loved it. Also, make sure everyone has life jackets with lasers because there is no way you are going to find somebody if they fall over in rough seas at night. We used jack-lines to prevent anybody from falling over but the risk was still present so I am going to invest a little extra money
We didn't see another boat for 70 miles on Sunday evening and when we finally did it was a sailboat taking a beating going north the next morning. They didn't even have their sails
up except for what looked like a storm tri-sail.
We are headed to Marathon via the Hawk Channel and will decide from there if we are going to take the ICW
or Hawk Channel the rest of the way to Miami
. We may enter Biscayne Bay at Angelfish Creek. It really depends on the weather and what we can accomplish during daylight.
1. The weather reports are not always right.
2. A GPS is great but navigating with it during heavy seas is tough.
3. A wind vane
would have been better.
4. Bring plenty of bottles of wine for when you are at dock
5. Figure out in advance how to crate a tent for your boat in sunny anchorages. We built an amazing tent today.
What we did right:
1. We practiced having time on keel
in rough weather.
2. We had redundant systems for navigation
, communication, and safety equipment
. The best backup we had were the iPhone
and iPad Navionics
apps plus the charge brick from the innovation store at the airport
3. We used Navionics
which was excellent software
4. Our Raymarine
GPS really saved the day, night.
5. We used headlamps.
6. We plotted everything in advance.
7. We called ahead for our marina spot.
8. Staying in Key West was fun.
9. Having a backup route was imperative.
10. We brought suntan lotion, hats, and polarized lenses to see into the water.
11. Most importantly, we bought a fine sailing vessel- a Tartan 3400.
How long does it take:
1. One full day to complete the purchase
of the boat.
2. One day at Captiva Island- super nice.
3. One year at Tarpon Point Marina in Ft. Myers- an amazing Marina.
4. One year at Marco Island in Rose Marina- one of the best destinations on Earth. With great beaches and easy access to day sails plus quite a few great Italians restaurants.
Things we could have done better:
1. Doing a deeper dive into all systems on the boat when we bought it. The marine survey
Since we had two years to plan our trip, we did pick up some really cool gear
that you may want to consider.
1. Sea Anchor
2. Life raft
Phone- it's expensive so we'll get this activated sooner or later.
4. A SPOT device
5. An EPIRB
life vests that are wearable all day long.
7. Multiple mobile devices with Navionics. Sadly, we used this more than the GPS.
8.Chart plotting software
9. Jack lines
10. Plenty of toys
If you have any questions or want to offer advice on our trip to Miami
just post a note.