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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Kraken and Florida Bay, 1/9/14 - 1/11/14

After Raymarine failed to warrant the tiller pilot and we hated the replacement we are always in the cockpit.  This makes crossing from the bridge to the keys a little longer than we would like but we heave-to at night and let the wind slowly take us south.  Or at least we hope this is what happens.  Still keeping watch but trying to get some sleep also.  A shift in the wind of course sends us off on a tangent which almost always says we should go to Key West instead of Marathon.  So we battle slightly upwind to save the 50 miles back from Key West to Marathon.  

Sunset day one

This pelican played leap frog for almost an hour before we became boring to him

Falling back a hundred feet to only arrive again and again.

Sunset day 2 with a light breeze

We were escorted by several pods of dolphins once we could see the keys

Several of these pods had young ones with them

This went on for almost 10 miles as we made up the "Easting" we had lost over the last two days

Under the bow

finally a breeze that of course was from the SE

Sunset day three across East Bahia Honda Key

As we approached the 7 mile bridge we thought about anchoring not far from where the sunset photo was taken for about 3 hours.  The light wind finally died and the current was going to change in a couple hours to our favor so we continued on.  We were expecting to have a little help with the current as we approached the cut in the old 7 mile bridge but we kept getting slower.  A checked to see if we were dragging a crab pot but did not see one.  I even pulled up the dinghy to make sure it wasn't dragging one either.  We just kept getting slower.  It was not dark also.

As the opening in the bridge came near we were practically crawling through compared to what we expected.  Other than our speed all was correct.  As we cleared the old bridge and started to go under the new bridge we were swept sideways.  For what ever reason we were being slowed down now we were in the cross current but at full speed sideways.  We were not able to correct with the tiller!  Ayrton jumped to the call and handled the light and the tiller.  I manned the outboard and turned it as far as I could to fight the sideways drift.  With both of us working together we managed to not only avoid going west between the bridges but stayed off the fender as well.  Once we were within the fenders of the bridge the side current was broken and we proceeded south.  Rather quickly.  Actually the fastest we had been all afternoon.  It blew us out almost to marker R4, our turn to the east.  When we turned to the east it felt once again like we were sitting still in the water.  The iPad said we were doing 1.9 knts and lighting up a couple of crab pots agreed.  The motor wash on the other hand was like we were tied to the dock.  (Bridge issue 3)

It was also at the turn to the east that we realized we were in the oncoming wind and waves vs the outgoing tide.  With the steep waves full abeam. Rock, Rock, Rock, Putt, Putt, Putt, Vroom was the pattern.  About 3/4 mile east of the turn a final Rock, Rock, Rock and then Wheeeeee!  The Kraken lost it's grip and we were free.  Freedom was great now we were fast enough to ride the instead of rocking.  Also with the increased speed we were out of the opposing forces sooner.  We dropped hook outside Boot Key Harbor with two other sailboats and a sport fisher.

Surprisingly the SW wind wasn't as rocky as I expected during the night.  Or perhaps I was just more tired than I thought.


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