It’s not a vulgar heading, I swear. That’s the guy’s name. Bob Bitchin.
He’s the editor for one helluva sailing magazine – Cruising Outpost. So, the “news” is, back in January, I sent a sailing story off to another well-known sailing magazine, Cruising World, hoping they would pick it up for publication.
Yes, we documented it for the blog. We’re just that cool.
Well, as a writer, trust me, you have to get very used to the word ‘no.’ You hear it all the time. In the beginning, everyone and their dog is going to tell you ‘no.’ And, that’s just what Cruising World did, politely, yes, but still the answer was no. But, persistence is key. I wasn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer. I dusted the story off and sent it on to Cruising Outpost. I just had a feeling this Bitchin character would get me.
And boy, did he! They’re printing my story in June baby! The summer issue. Be on the lookout for it and subscribe to get your very own copy.
And, more good news! After rigorous study of the charts and many sit-downs and sundowners with fellow cruisers who have been to the Keys, including the previous owner of our boat, Jack, who sailed our very own s/v Plaintiff’s Rest to the Keys, we have finally made a rough sail plan for our trip. Shallow waters and treacherous inlets have seemed to be our arch nemesis, so with our 5’2″ draft (which we like to consider 5’6″ to be conservative – plus, it probably will be that after all the wine, water and gas we load on the boat for the trip – in that order), we’ve decided on the following, weather-dependent, sail plan:
We are prepared to leave at any time on or after April 3, 2014, whenever a good weather window arises. Once underway, we would like to make the jump straight across the Gulf to Clearwater.
That’s approximately a two-and-a-half to three-day passage. A long jaunt for us, but one we’re hoping to get under our belts at the outset. We would like to spend less time getting TO the Keys so we can spend more time down there and make a slower trip back up the West Coast. So, Clearwater is the goal, but, if we run into bad weather or a rough sea state on the way, we plan to duck into Panama City, Apalachicola or Carabelle River to wait it out.
These are all places we’ve been before during the last leg of the Gulf Crossing and we would like to spend some time, particularly in Carabelle/Apalachicola, at some point during this trip – going or coming.
We will definitely rest in Clearwater, though, and keep an eye out for another good weather window to make the jump down to Marco Island/Capri Pass.
We plan to call in to the municipal marina at Naples on our way in to get a more accurate depth report, but from our review of the charts, it appears the inlet to Naples is too shallow for us to make it in easily there. Capri Pass at Marco Island seems to be an easier route, and some fellow cruisers recommended we anchor in there and take a day or two to tool around on a local flat boat and check out some of Florida’s famous 10,000 islands.
Once we’re ready to leave Marco Island, in addition to the weather and sea state (which is always a concern), we’ll need to also keep an eye on the Gulf Coast Loop Current, area of warm water that travels up from the Caribbean, past the Yucatan Peninsula, and into the Gulf of Mexico. Heading directly into that thing can be like jumping on a sailboat treadmill. Moving fast but going nowhere.
Once we get a good weather/current window, we plan to make the jump west all the way to the Dry Tortugas.
Making it to the Tortugas is one of the primary goals of this trip. They seem so pristine and untouched. Phillip and I both think the Tortugas will be a highlight of the trip for us. Not to mention the distinct possibility for some killer kiting there! (Yes, we are bringing the kites and boards, folks. True to the name of this blog, a great-many of our hobbies are rooted heavily in the wind!)
Then, from the Tortugas, we plan to make the jaunt over to Marquesa Island as fellow cruisers have recommended it as a great place for paddle-boarding, snorkeling, fishing, etc. But, we know, after making the trip from the Florida West Coast to the Dry Tortugas and anchoring out there for several days, we will be ready to power up, re-provision and wash every loving scrap of material on the boat – including the curtains. So, tucking in at a swanky slip at Key West will definitely be a priority post-Tortugas. We’re looking at the Galleon marina, but we will definitely check out the other options before deciding (A&B Marina, Conch Harbor, etc.). After a night or two (or three!) in Key West (depending on the rum intake) we will gunkhole our way over to Marathon (for those of you not familiar with that term, or think it is something akin to redneck mud fishing — click here). Post-Marathon, we will then make the cut across to the Gulf side of the Keys under the seven mile bridge then back up to Cape Sable or perhaps Little Shark River and on up the west coast of Florida.
This is, of course, all but a plan at this point, subject to change at any moment depending on weather, currents, sea state, boat performance, any potential mishap or malfeasance (which is likely), the health and condition of the crew, the remaining provisions, the lining up of the stars, the Ouija board readings. Just about anything – you name it – and the plans can change. But, we at least now have a PLAN and an available departure date. It’s now time to start packing the boat and provisioning.
Sometimes I can’t believe this is all really happening. The Keys … It’s amazing the places life will take you, if you only let it.