Sailing ship of yore cruising on Hawk Channel
After spending the winter holidays in Port St. Lucie with Cousin Evie and then stopping in Ft. Lauderdale for Trawlerfest, we didn’t actually get to the Keys until early February. When we finally headed there, we had great weather and followed the same route as last year (see: Nov. 2011 and 12/16/11) through Miami, across Biscayne Bay and then down the Hawk Channel the length of the Keys with just short stops at Key Largo and Duck Key.
One of MANY Miami bridges
The Biscayne Channel on the chart plotter
Stilt house on Key Biscayne
The real, original African Queen cruising out of Key Largo
Incredible water in the Keys
Tho’ much shorter, Sojourner’s second winter in the Keys was as interesting and enjoyable as the first (see: Key West Moment 12/20/11 and Key West or Key Weird? 1/22/12). This year, we spent virtually the entire time in Key West, one of our very most favorite places among all we have experienced on this grand adventure. We called Conch Harbor “home”, so we were still in the historic seaport and right next door to the city marina where we docked last year. This time, however, “the little white boat” snuggled in on the Yacht Dock, amongst the BIG Girls: Lady Grey at about 100 ft., a massive Nordhavn, and a rather large Trumpy served as very protective neighbors.
The “little white boat” on the Yacht Dock
Tortuga IV, a bright chartreuse, commercial catamaran chartered for ½-day fishing trips also docked nearby. The cleaning of her tourists’ twice-daily hauls of fish ensured we had plenty of pelicans and a rather amazing number of 5-7 ft. tarpon in the neighborhood!! Most impressive, however, was the resident manatee who seemed to be particularly fond of Sojourner’s hull and Lady Grey’s fresh water hose!! And then, there was the rather large Portuguese Man-of-War jelly fish that appeared dockside one day and without invitation, stayed for several!!
Sojourner’s favorite tarpon
The neighborhood manatee comes visiting
Pelicans and tarpon fight for fish scraps
Not good for the manatee!! but cute!
Our visiting Portuguese Man of War…
While Sojourner relaxed at the Yacht Dock, we explored Old Town in much more depth than last year. In addition to revisiting places we had discovered before, we ventured regularly into the charming neighborhoods filled with KW cottages interspersed with rather large Victorian homes, both with amazingly intricate woodworking and brightly painted porch ceilings. We enjoyed the many, many gardens in full-bloom and discovered several fine restaurants and intriguing eateries tucked in the residential area away from the more tourist-oriented seaport. Sharing such discoveries with friends, both land-based and cruising ones, made our time in KW all the more special!
Ubiquitous KW rooster and friend
Bright KW pink walls…
Introducing our good friends: Slade and Susan on “Sojourner NY” and …
Orchids in the front yard
A musician’s home…???
A lily theme throughout…
Kim and John from Louisville
and sky blue ceilings…
Cathryn and Bob on “Next to Me”
Delightful art deco AND wonderful fresh seafood!
Pineapples and parrots, anyone?
David of “Shirley Ruth” and new KW friend
Carolyn with Anita, Linda and Shirley visiting from the “Shirley Ruth”
Hardworking Crabber provided incredible stone crab claw delicacies
As sad as it was, we eventually had to leave KW. We headed back up the Hawk Channel, again stopping at Duck Key. Facing a dramatic change in the weather, we bypassed Key Largo and ran directly to Dinner Key in Coconut Grove on the far side of Biscayne Bay. The next couple of days brought strong winds, but by then we were again on the Intracoastal Waterway traveling slowly through the dozens of bridges and even more “no wake/manatee” zones of the vast, densely populated metropolis extending from Biscayne Bay north from the Port of Miami and Miami Beach through Dania Beach, Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, etc., etc. to Lake Worth. From Old Port Cove in North Palm Beach, another of our special marinas, we had but a short day’s journey through Hobe and Jupiter Sounds to Stuart and then on to River Forest Yacht Center on the St. Lucie River where Sojourner had a reservation for indoor, climate-controlled, storage through the upcoming hurricane season.
Hard to believe bad weather coming!!
Port of Miami “Flight” Tower
Ft. Lauderdale beach
Up out of the water!
Into the hurricane-proof shelter
Snuggling down for long summer night’s rest.