Southernmost point – Key West!

Our guests arrived Tuesday evening, and despite our weather being a bit on the cool side, they were happy to be in the Keys! Wednesday was occupied with some provisioning while we had the advantage of their rental car. A dinghy ride to Sombrero Beach gave Bill & Suzanne an overview of Boot Key Harbor and our surroundings. A delightful evening with dinner aboard and a beautiful sunset capped off a busy day! Thursday morning we had breakfast, and welcomed Dan & Myla aboard to join us for a cruise to Key West. We dropped the mooring and were on our way!



Marathon to Key West is an easy day cruise, we left shortly after 0900, and were on a mooring by 1600. Our trip began a bit rough with some roll on the port bow, but became calmer as we got closer to Key West. We picked up a mooring in Garrison Bight Channel for Thursday night, and dinghied into the marina at Garrison Bight in shifts to get everyone and the dogs ashore. We had a walk around town, and bid Dan & Myla goodbye as they headed for the bus back to Marathon. At 3 bucks, the trip to Key West by bus is a real bargain! Thursday night began fairly tranquil, but about 3 in the morning the wind piped up to about 25-30 kts from the North, so the last half of the night was not too comfortable. The mooring field lies with an extensive northern fetch, so till daybreak it became considerably sloppy. A long dinghy ride to shore would have been miserable, so plan B was pressed into action!



An early rise and phone call to the City Marina at Key West Bight had us dropping the mooring in short order and headed for the calm of the marina! We side-tied to the pier right off the harbor boardwalk, so we were right in the center of lots of activity. A great spot from which to head off to see the sights, and a real luxury in comparison to the mooring field with the rough conditions and a mile and a half dink ride to shore, then another mile hoof to town! Our pier neighbor, Rich and girlfriend Emily run a boat rental business at the marina, and their black lab puppy, Lola spends days with them on the pier.


She and Molly became fast friends, and since the marina and Key West in general is very dog-friendly, the two labs spent a good portion of the morning romping up and down the pier while we got the boat secured and washed down.


Once situated, we spent the rest of Friday exploring, visiting some shops, the marine hardware store (that has everything!), cocktails and appetizers at Alonzo’s and then back to the boat for a breather. Dinner at the Commodore Waterfront Restaurant (a bit pricey, but good). A chilly and windy walk back to the boat, and then a fight to stay awake for a movie! A great day, wonderful weather if a bit chilly, but nice.


Saturday morning is a busy time around the waterfront with preparations for the day’s boat charters, rentals, and shops and restaurants opening. Bill is a very early riser, and enjoys a morning stroll. He observed that there were many places serving breakfast, in contrast to most waterfront venues where everything’s shuttered until 11 AM. When the rest of the crew rose, we had breakfast and coffee, and decided girls would do shops, guys would do the hardware store. Cubanitos Marine Hardware, two blocks from the pier, has a inventory that puts West Marine to shame! Lots of unusual items, and I went armed with a list! Manly shopping at its best, and the prices were quite reasonable considering the location! A few items for Maerin, a few fittings for the new outboard fuel filter. When we returned, Lola had arrived with Rich, and playtime began! Saturday’s puppy play included lots of swimming,


Rich came walking down the pier with a rod and reel, and a tennis ball tied to the line. The pups had a great time retrieving tennis balls, and after quite a bit of swimming they moved to the pier to resume their play, chasing each other up and down the pier and wrestling, entertaining passers-by!


At noon, we walked from the pier and toured the town, enjoying a long walk that took us to the other end of town. The plan was to meet up with Bill and Suzanne after 5:30 at Mallory Square for the renowned Sunset Celebration. The Sunset Celebration takes place every evening, drawing crowds to watch the sun set over the water from the docks at Mallory square.


Cruise ships frequently dock there, but must vacate the dock well in advance of sunset! Street performers set up all over the square and perform from before sunset until after dark. A festive atmosphere prevails, with the setting sun the highlight of the activities, but not the end. The street performers continue for as long as their audience remains. We left Mallory Square and had a leisurely walk back to the boat for dinner on board.



Sunday was forecast to be good cruising weather, so we planned our departure from Key West for Sunday morning. An early rise, breakfast and some last minute pickups at the local store and we were ready to pull in the dock lines. We got underway to Marathon around 0900, and our cruise back was delightful; sunny, not too windy, and seas around 2 ft. We dropped a trolling rig over the side, and were happy to hook a nice size Mackerel that would help to supplement dinner upon our arrival back at Marathon. Bill, the master angler brought the fish on board. Exciting to make the catch, although landing a mackerel is about the same a bringing in a boot. Not a great action fish, but good eating! The dogs were wary of the fish, and wouldn’t get close to the head! The gutted fish promptly went into the cooler on ice, and provided 2 very large fillets for dinner! Nothing like fresh caught fish on the grille!



Monday morning we shuttled Bill & Suzanne into the marina to pick up their cab to the rental, where they picked up their car to head back to Miami for their not-much-anticipated flight back north. Their timing was excellent, as the winds piped up to 20-25 kts shortly after they left, and are predicted to stay that way until Friday. Yet another frontal passage!

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