But as they say, hindsight is 20/20, and so much is clearer to me now. I’m not going to dwell on what may have been. I won’t make the same mistakes again, and I’ll be a much better judge from now on who’s a hit and who’s a miss. A definite hit, Jonathon, was the last person I bid adieu to. I motored to the anchorage and announced that I was blowing this Popsicle stand, and he passed me a gift he had worked on a few nights before. A true friend.
It becomes helpful at this point to remind myself of the things I won’t miss. The mosquitos, rowing against 2 kts of current, the way my Popsicle would start to drip before I got it out of the plastic, or the feeling of having a blowtorch held to my face as I rowed across the harbour in little or no wind under a sun that seemed to ignore any ozone barrier. There were lots of good reasons to stay in
I had missed this anchorage on my way down in January, instead stopping at
There was a good current running in the anchorage, and being down one oar, I opted not to bother launching the dingy off the stern, knowing I probably couldn’t row fast enough to get to shore before I got sucked out under the retired Flagler Railroad Bridge. Instead I pulled out my flippers and snorkel and put my camera in a waterproof case and swam in. It was here I first met Kim and Mike, traveling around the Keys in a Stingray motorboat for their 2 weeks vacation. Upon introduction, they pleaded their innocence; “We’re really sailors! This motorboat thing is just temporary! We’re getting another sailboat soon!”. I believed them. I have yet to see another large motoryacht launch a bright orange 2-man plastic kayak as a dingy.
I wanted to stay much longer in Bahia Honda, but after a swim and photoshoot and the clock approaching , I knew I had to leave. I still had many miles of heading due east ahead of me, and the winds are unrelentingly east this time of year, so the best I could hope for was to motor against the winds while they were still relatively light. The forecast at the time gave me 8 more hours to get around the corner where I could start heading north.
Night 2 out of
They wished me luck and gave advice on where to anchor, which involved winding through a shallow creek with unlit marks. They had held me up just long enough for the sun to drop below the horizon, so I opted to anchor just where they had stopped me. I knew I’d drag all night in the seagrass, so I just made sure I had plenty of room to drag, and decided I'd wake up every ½ hr through the night to check my position. That was just a necessary fact, and I didn’t care because I knew sleep was going to be impossible regardless. The boat rolled and bucked in the swell all night. At the first sign of light, I got ready to go, and wondered what on God’s green earth was more difficult than hauling a 33lb anchor and 50 ft of chain from 15 feet of water in 20kts of wind and 3 ft of swells, after a sleepless night and before my morning coffee, and with no one there to sympathize with my complaints.
I left the VHF on the weather station all day as they gave continuous updates on the position and movement of a major thunderstorm moving across north Key Largo, packing 60kt winds, torrential rains that would limit visibility to 1/8 of a mile, hail the size of pennies, and the risk of ‘frequent deadly lightning strikes’, as they put it. Not comforting words when you’re sailing through the narrowest part of the reef (less than ¼ mile) and you’re the tallest thing in sight. By this time, I was sailing NNE, so the wind was sufficiently behind me to allow me to sail without the engine running. But wanting to beat this storm, I fired up the engine once more, and averaged 6.5 kts the rest of the way to Key Biscayne. The storm fell behind me, and I felt I’d made a good decision, despite the current price of diesel. Motoring through the channel, tired from stress and no sleep the night before, and dehydrated from sunburn, I clenched my teeth and crossed my fingers as I crossed over 5-ft charted depths of coral heads. I had woven through them before when I left Key Biscayne months ago, but the seas had been calm, and my mind was sharp enough to follow the incremental changes on my handheld GPS. I wasn’t feeling so sharp now, and found myself possessing the attitude, “What the hell, I’ll just hope for the best”, and I made guess at my position based on the green and red daymarks, and did my best to read the color of the water, diverting away from the whiter shades and trying to stay over the green (which I assumed to be seagrass). What can I say, it worked.
Nearly 6 months since my first visit, I am back in No Name Harbor, Key Biscayne; the first stop for my sister and I during the trip south where the water was clear enough and shallow enough to see starfish on the bottom as we sailed along. I had long anticipated my first dive into warm, clear tropical water from my own vessel. I had wondered what would be significant about it that would make it memorable for years to come. Upon arriving here in January, Katie was attempting to make everything all ship-shape before we could relax and enjoy what remained of the afternoon and evening. She dropped the deck-wash bucket over the side to retrieve some water, but as she hauled it back up, the knot let go and the line slipped off, and the bucket started to float away. It was a big white bucket whose original use was to store Tancook sauerkraut. But now, in these closely patrolled waters, it no longer fell under the classification of ‘bucket’. It was now ‘rubbish’, and subject to a $250 fine. “Jump in!” Katie laughed.
“No! You dropped it!”
“You tied the knot! You jump in!”. As blame was tossed back and forth with light-heartedness and laughter (as I like to remember it), the bucket floated further and further away. My paranoia of a Coast Guard clamp-down on the disobedience of foreign boats to local laws grew greater, and I finally stripped down to my bikini and jumped in for the retrieval. The water was not as warm as one would imagine
Kim and Mike arrived in No Name Harbor two days ago, and after having dinner aboard their boat and learning of their canal-side home a few miles north of