"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

February 26, 2015

Feb. 25 - Foggy Morning

February 25, 2015

Feb. 24 - Marathon, FL

Sombrero Resort & Marina

“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.” —Jacques Cousteau

We woke up to fog this morning...a real phenomenon here in the Keys. Locals said it had been over five years since they've seen fog and a lady at the beauty shop wanted to know where the smoke was coming from. It made us feel like we were back in Maine; the fog would start to clear and a few moments later it would roll back in.

Having a foggy morning gave me a chance to get a few things done before enjoying a beautiful day on the water. As soon as I had gotten a hair cut and ran a load of laundry the fog broke and we went with Magnus and Charlotte on Swede Dreams to the Sombrero Lighthouse. The conditions were absolute perfect today...light winds, flat seas, no swells and a clear blue sky. It would have been a great day to cross the Gulf Stream...if we get a day half this nice when we're ready to go, I'll be happy.

We picked up a mooring ball at the lighthouse and spent the afternoon snorkeling and relaxing in the sun. Although the water could have been a little warmer it was a great day for snorkeling. The Sombrero Reef is full of fish and all kinds of coral. We've spent two great days on the water and we're beginning to feel like boaters again.

You can still see a little fog coming in from the Gulf
Sombrero Lighthouse from the water
We enjoyed a nice sunset on our way back into the harbor

February 24, 2015

Feb. 23 - Marathon, FL

Sombrero Resort & Marina

"Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine." ―Anthony J. D'Angelo

We've been filling our last weeks in Marathon with lots of activities and catching up with friends. I don't have a lot of photos to share but here's a few of the things keeping us busy...Fat Tuesday celebration on our boat, dinner dancing and listening to bands at Dockside, dinghy rides and meeting new people in the mooring field, helping friends with their dinghy motor, playing in the pool, exploring a large nautical flea market and fishing for Mahi Mahi again. In between the fun things we've been getting the boat ready for the Bahamas. Making sure things are in proper working condition, provisioning, getting hair cuts, checking charts and rereading all the info we've collected about the Abacos.

When you live on a boat...your dinghy becomes your car. We were having fun in the mooring field.
Dockside Cafe with friends
Fishing action
Magnus with the catch of the day
Only a few hours after catching the Dolphin Fish we were eating fish stew on Swede Dreams. It was wonderful.

February 20, 2015

Feb. 20 - Marathon, FL

Sombrero Resort & Marina

“What's the good of living if you don't try a few things?” ―Charles M. Schulz

As I've said before there are all kinds of things to keep us busy in Marathon. Today I tried something new...something I've never done before and it was a lot of fun. Yesterday when I was at basket weaving a few ladies were talking about going to a place called The Art Studio. The shop offers classes in pottery, jewelry making, glass fusion and all types of painting and sketching.

Joella, Vivienne and I were there to do glass fusion. It's a technique used to join glass pieces together by partly melting the glass at high temperature. It is used to produce jewelry, plaques, bowls, coasters and sun catchers. There is no limit to what can be created and it was a lot of fun using my imagination. You start out by pick your project, decide on colors and then use an endless array of glass products to decorate your creation. I really look forward to doing this kind of project again.

The clay studio
The glass studio
Just a portion of the glass available to use
The artists...Susie, Joella and Vivienne
My project...a 4x4 tile. This is the way it looked when I finished. 
The finished product...this was so much fun to do!

February 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

February 17, 2015

Feb. 17 - Marathon, FL

Sombrero Resort & Marina

“I've got nothing to do today but smile.” ―Paul Simon

Only twelve more days left at Camp Marathon and the weather has warmed up but is still windy. Hopefully these horrible cold fronts that have brought blizzards to the north will subside soon or at least start coming through further apart. The boats waiting to make the crossing to the Bahamas are beginning to stack up...here and places further north along the coast. I've heard from others we know, who are already in the Bahamas, that the wind isn’t any better there.

We've been filling our last days with a few little projects...emphases on little, kayaking, walks, visiting with people, basket weaving, reading, visiting with people, listening to a few bands, working Sudoku puzzles, visiting with people, dinghy rides, going to the pool and the beach, watching the manatees, and did I mention visiting with people? We've also been going through all our information on the Bahamas while we have time and will do last minute provisioning next week. We've had a lot of fun in Marathon and it's been easy to fall into the lazy island life, and we look forward to exploring the beautiful waters of the Abacos soon, but we are beginning to miss everyone at home A LOT. Especial our little grand wonders.

We borrowed a couple of kayaks to paddle around the mangroves a little
The pelicans are always waiting for a free hand out from anyone that's been fishing.

February 15, 2015

Silent Sunday

February 14, 2015

Feb. 13 - Galentine's Day

Sombrero Resort & Marina

I found out this morning that today was Galentine's Day...I bet you don't know what that is. I know I didn't until this morning. Galentine's Day is held on February 13 and is a holiday celebrating female friendships. The day was actually created by Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) on the NBC comedy show Parks and Recreation, but it sounds like a good idea to me. So...what better way to spend the day than on a road trip to Key West with just the girls. A friend of my friend Pam asked if we'd like to spend the day in Key West and of course we said yes.

We spent the day looking through the shops and galleries and enjoying a relaxed lunch at Garbo's Grill. It's actually a lunch wagon located just off Duval St. and is associated with a small bar called Grunts. Just half a dozen tables or so in a peaceful little courtyard. I had yum yum shrimp tacos...they were yummy! I'd say it was a successful trip since I found two prints to hang in the stateroom on our Hatteras.

We spent the evening at a local place called Burdine's listening to music and enjoying the company of our new friend Diane. The music, the company, the sunset and the food were great, but the cold temperature and north wind chased us home a little early. It’s going to be in the low 50s by morning...we might have to turn the heater on. We can't even hide from winter in the Keys! It looks like we'll have one more day in the 60s and then it should start warming up. We're looking forward to that.

Grunts patio where we had lunch
Garbo's Grill lunch wagon
My Yum Yum Shrimp Tacos
Burdine's Patio...it has a great view
Entertainment tonight was by Joe Mama
and the sun

February 13, 2015

Feb. 12 - Pigeon Key, FL

Sombrero Resort & Marina

“Helping others is like helping yourself.” ―Henry Flagler

The wind finally laid down a little today and we had a chance to take the ferry out to Pigeon Key. Pigeon Key is a five acre island west of Marathon that was used to house the men who built the Seven Mile Bridge and the Overseas Railroad from Miami to Key West in the early 1900s. This railroad was the dream of Henry Flagler who is known as the father of Florida. He opened Florida’s first destination hotel in St. Augustine in 1888 and later built the railroad that connected the northern part of Florida (and the east coast) to a little fishing village that later became known as Miami. His dream was to connect Miami and Key West with a railroad…that dream was realized when the Overseas Railroad was completed in January 1912, over a year earlier than scheduled. Flagler took good care of his workers and the men wanted to make sure the project was finished before Flagler died, so they began working 24 hours a day in a marathon to finish the project early. The last portion of the railroad to be finished was between Pigeon Key and the settlement two mile east now known as Marathon. Following its completion of the railroad, maintenance crews and bridge tenders continued to live on the island.

The railroad was used until it was destroyed by a devastating hurricane in 1935. It was then replace by a state highway and Pigeon Key became headquarters for the Florida Road and Toll Bridge District. When the new Seven Mile Bridge was opened in 1982 the island was abandoned for awhile. The Key is now under the management of the Pigeon Key Foundation and is used for research and educational programs of all kinds. Students from elementary school to post-graduate levels spend time on the island participating in workshops on marine mammals and reef fish, coral reef systems, invertebrates and hard and soft corals found in Florida/Caribbean waters. People can also rent the island for family reunions, weddings or special occasions. At one time it was the center of a major transportation project that made history…now it’s a beautiful relaxing little island filled with history to share surrounded by the turquoise waters to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a great little spot to spend the day. You can bring a picnic lunch and relax and when the weather is right you can even swim and snorkel around the island.

Pigeon Key and the old Seven Mile Bridge from the ferry
The ferry landing on the island
Guest House on the right and part of the bridge
The tour of the island began with a short history lesson on Henry Flagler and the Overseas Railroad. This house can be rented for a week or a weekend. It was decorated very nice and the back porch was just steps away from the water.
Looking back at the Guest House and ferry landing, with the old bridge over head
Looking across the pool to the new and old Seven Mile Bridge
This is the bridge tenders house, used today as a dormitory. The house to the left was the assistant bridge tenders house, which now houses a museum.
Paint foreman's house and some of the pretty grounds of the island
This is one of the original buildings used to house the workers in the early 1900s. 64 men lived in this building. The majority of the men lived in large tents.
This is called the Honeymooner Cabin. It was built in the 1950s when the island was being used to make a movie.

February 12, 2015

Feb. 11 - The Gulf Stream

Sombrero Resort & Marina

The Islands of the Bahamas are not too far off the Florida coast and first landfall can be easily done in a day, but picking the right day to cross the Gulf Stream is key. If the wind is out of the north, opposing the strong current of the Gulf Stream, the seas can build up to a dangerous and nasty a state. Something we definitely want to avoid, but when the wind is right and we leave from the right place, the stream can actually give us a boost and increase our speed. Making our trip a little quicker and when you travel on a slow boat, like we do, you can use all the help you can get. 

Gulf Stream Info: The Gulf Stream is a warm, river-like current of water that carries warm water from the Gulf of Mexico northward past the tip of Florida, accelerating along the eastern coastline between Florida and the Bahamas, and then turns eastward off North Carolina, joining another current—the North Atlantic Drift—and travels as far as Ireland and Great Britain.

The Gulf Stream has an average speed of four MPH and is powerful enough to be seen from space. It was visible even in the earliest satellite studies and strong thermal gradients also make it visible to infrared measurements. Here in Florida the Gulf Stream is about 6 miles off shore and is anywhere from 10 to 30 miles wide. With depths ranging from 1000’ to 4700’.

Gulf Stream History: Ponce de Leon first observed the Gulf Stream in 1513. Around 1770, the Board of Customs in Boston noticed that packets traveling between Falmouth, MA, and New York took two weeks longer to arrive than merchants traveling from London to Rhode Island. This was perplexing as Falmouth and New York were less than a day apart by road. Benjamin Franklin spoke with a sea captain who told him that while fishing for whales, he noticed that the whales would swim alongside the Gulf Stream, but never in it. Fishermen would frequently cross the Gulf Stream, where they passed packet ships sailing within, against the current. This was the reason for the delays. Franklin had the captain mark the location of the Gulf Stream, as well as the directions of its currents and the first map was produced in the late 1700s.

The location of the Gulf Stream plotted on the 1769 Franklin-Folger map, is very similar to the location of the Gulf Stream as revealed by the satellites today. Franklin took measurements of the sea-surface temperatures during his crossings of the Atlantic, thereby developing a navigation technique based on the location of the warm Gulf Stream waters.

Benjamin Franklin's map of the Gulf Stream. He was the first one to refer to this current as the Gulf Stream in 1762
The Gulf Stream, in orange, is easily visible as the warmest water in this image from a NOAA satellite. 
These are the controlling currents in the Atlantic Ocean