April 23, 2014:
Well, now you are familiar with our night shifts, and my goggle-wearing, Cookie Monster, dance party antics up in the cockpit in the middle of the night. (But, really, does such behavior from me in any way surprise you?)
She’s just a tad cray …
But, thankfully, our night passage from Ft. Myers Beach with Johnny to the Keys was our calmest yet. No beating our way across the Gulf, no fighting for every inch of ground, no pulling out and making a risky night entrance into a difficult pass. Thankfully, none of that! It was a perfect night. The wind held all evening and we were on an easy broad reach, averaging six knots, until daybreak. The stars that night were mesmerizing. There really was no need for dancing or snacking. You could just sit and look out on the twinkling sky and think all night long – in complete contentment. It was such a rewarding, peaceful passage, it almost felt unfair to have it followed by a breathtaking sunrise.
We were definitely in our element that morning, watching the sun creep up over every inch of the boat.
Johnny was behind us – bringing up the rear!
We sailed until around 7:00 a.m. when the wind finally died out and we had to crank up. But she cranked just fine and was running like Rocky Balboa that morning.
We were so proud of that engine!
That boat was cruising right along. And, so were the dolphins! We had a pack of them racing each other up at the bow as we were making our way in.
I did attempt to take some fun footage, but I believe there was a bit of operator error. It’s just a little blurry, and just a little upside down. No big deal. For your viewing pleasure – the dolphins are definitely worth it:
Johnny lead the way as we motored into the channel.
It was about an hour and a half through the channel in to Key West Bight.
There she is! The Bight!
We were going to be staying at the A&B Marina.
The only problem with the A&B Marina was that you had to back in.
See? All of the boats are backed in. It was a “stern-to” configuration. There are no finger docks between the boats, nothing to space them apart other than the tie-up poles. The boats are literally about two feet apart. It was definitely going to be tight!
While the stern-to docking definitely has its perks (easy boarding and loading of supplies via the cockpit, easy access to power, easy leaving), it was definitely not going to be so easy coming. We were going to have to make a backwards entry! Yipes!
The A&B Marina even had a whole section on their website devoted to the stern-to approach and docking, complete with a diagram:
This was serious business. Phillip dropped this little nugget on me somewhere between Ft. Myers and Key West and, I have to say, I was a little uneasy about it. With my history of docking debacles, I get a little apprehensive when we’re about to attempt a bit of a hairy one (okay, attempt one at all). But, I mean, I feel like I try really hard. I jump around a lot and move real fast and squeal. Like a …
But somehow it doesn’t qualify as very helpful for the whole docking process.
In all seriousness, though, I am getting better. But, it doesn’t mean my heart’s not racing the entire time (or that I’m not jumping a little and squealing – I still do that). This time, though, I was determined. I was going to nail it! I was going to lasso those poles while Phillip backed her in. No problem. I grew up country remember?
I can lasso anything!
Unfortunately, despite the similarity in the name, I certainly wasn’t clad in fringe and leather, and didn’t look quite so badass in my lasso attempts. Let’s just say I did try. Very hard. But those poles are like 50 feet out! I’m not kidding. Every slip at A&B is set up for an 80-foot yacht, if not bigger. We seriously had to tie two dock lines together to make a springer that would reach those poles! But, the Captain did an incredible job of backing her in. It was his first time to do that, and I was able to hold on to the guide ropes and catch a pole later so that we could get her nice and secure.
There she is! The ole’ Rest, resting her tired lines at Key West! What a treat! We had made it all the way down there. And she was easily the smallest boat in the marina, but she had, by far, the biggest heart! She wasn’t shy at all. It seemed she kicked back and inched her mast up just a little higher to fit in with the Big Dogs. We were so proud of her! We couldn’t wait to get out and explore — well, shower first, we HAD been at sea sailing, fishing, and what-not for a day and a half — but after that … we were going to take the Key by storm!