|The Adventures of Lynn and Les on "Cottonwood"|
Cottonwood and its crew arrived in Key West a bit beat up, but with smiles all around. As we planned to anchor, we found that our anchor chain was bound up and we couldnt get the anchor down. So we slid over to the closest marina and tied up at the Key West Bight Marina in Key West. It was very full but they made room for us. We immediately went in for some USA food. Howard was in heaven finding fresh Oysters on the half shell, and Lynn and I had fresh fish. In fact, Howard had oysters so many times here we thought he was going to turn into one. Lynn and I do not partake. Actually, Howard did get us to try sushi in Costa Rica, and it wasnt bad. However, without the Wasabi and Soy sauce, I dont think it would be my cup of tea.
We had learned just before leaving Isla Mujeres, that our dinghy engine would not start. An electrical problem. So we spent several days in Key West waiting for our engine to be fixed. We enjoyed a history tour on the tram, walking around site seeing, and eating. This is an historic port where Key West became the richest town in America at one time from salvage of ships cargo wrecked on the reefs. It was a very enjoyable, although expensive, tourist area.
We then planned to head up the Intra-Coastal Waterway, ICW, to Marathon and Key Largo, to Miami. However, close examination of our cruising guides and our charts noted that many places could be under 5 feet of water and our boat draws close to 5 feet. So we decided on the Hawk Channel, which is an outside channel which is still inside the reef system that covers most of the Keys from the open ocean. This turned out to be a very pleasant passage. We met some fellow DeFever members in Marathon and had dinner and swapped boating stories. We got some help from the local boat yard to untangle our anchor chain. This took them half the day and part of the next to do. It turned out to be ďa culmination of years of twist in the chainĒ, that caused the problem. We had to get into deep water and let it all out, let it untwist, before bringing it back into the chain locker. The alternative was to wrestle 300feet of chain out on the dock, get a truck to tow the chain for a long way until the twist came out, and all the expense, so we opted for the deep water cure. We manage to get calm water just before Key Biscayne to accomplish this. But then we ran into a new twist. After getting 300 feet of change hanging down in 330 feet of water, the chain weight would not come back into the boat with our wench. It kept slipping over the cogs in the wench. I had to stand on the chain while we inched it back in. I noticed then that the chain links didnít quite fit the notches in the wench, perplexed that I had never noticed this before. About an hour later, we only had 50 feet of the chain in the locker, when I noticed a chain patch link. And wouldnt you know it, after that the chain fit and went in just fine. The previous owner had a different size of link for the first 50 feet! This makes this length unusable. Oh, well, just another adventure.
We then moved on to Key Largo and anchored for a night and took the dinghy in for dinner, then went on to Miami. We found a cut into the ICW just south of Key Biscayne which was deep enough for us to finally enter the ICW. We cruised on up the inside channel and went on to anchor in one of the bays inside Miami. We only investigated a couple of restaurants here before moving on up the coast to Ft. Lauderdale.
We called and got a slip at Marina Bay marina, which was up a canal from the ICW right through the center of Ft Lauderdale. We were presented with another learning experience moving through these very narrow canals. We were waiting on a bridge opening, and when open we proceeded through. Just as we got through, a large 100 yacht was approaching from the opposite blind side bend. There was no way we could back up (We dont have rear visibility from our pilot house) all the way around the bend and back through the bridge. The larger yacht did stop and move back to a wider area. I then moved forward, but before I was past, he started forward again. There was room for both, but just as he got along side, his wake pushed us sideways into a boat tied up along side the canal. We did a little damage to their anchor cradle, and scratched our boat a little. We exchanged names and numbers and quickly moved on to get out of possible further danger. From then on we got out our large round canal lock fenders for use in these narrow passages.
The rest of the way up the ICW to Daytona where we were to visit Lynns sister, Dianne, was a series of twists and turns through long river-like passages. The homes around north Ft. Lauderdale, and many miles north are something to see. We expected a lot of boats and private docks as we were told, but the expensive, HUGE, homes, not just a few, but hundreds, were astonishing. We are talking 10-20,000 square foot homes, with all the posh trimmings. Wow! Not something I would ever aspire to, or want to live near, but very interesting.
Ok, it was very good to be back in the U.S., and Florida was great, but come on, it been 60 degrees for days and days. Where is the nice weather! We been used to 80-90 degrees for 5 months, and now this. Oh, well, the end of the warm weather, and the beginning of the cool part of the trip has begun. We now wont see warm weather for the rest of the Great Circle.
Next, Georgia, and the trip North
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