Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011 in FL

Merry Christmas from our boat in Marathon, FL, at the Harbour Cay Club. This is our first Christmas aboard living the "cruising life." We wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season! Here are some photos...

Radeen with treats from the Family

Santa brought us new phones! Samsung Galaxy Nexus replaces our 3+ year old phones!
HCC decorations, Christmas wreath and anchor
Landscaping around our beach tidal lagoon
Orchids line the property
We have "Inspiration Point" where we watch the sunsets
Beautiful plants in the Spanish moss

Pelicans made out of coconuts decorate the lagoon
Our boat docked under a palm tree at Harbour Cay Club
Our new hats from Judy and Leroy...notice who took the Captain's hat!
Christmas decorations at the helm of Island Spirit

Our "Home" Island Spirit, an Island Packet 35 at dock
The TIKI HUT with a Great Blue Heron on the cool is that!?
Our Christmas lights pulled up via the topping lift halyard, we need more...

Christmas Breakfast, MOET, cheese omelets and baked um good
Hayden and Radeen with Tammy and Mark's calendar from our NYC trip....FUN
Weather: 80 degrees, sunny, 10 knot easterly breeze.....Merry Christmas from Marathon, FL! This afternoon we will use the clubhouse kitchen and cook up our Christmas Dinner with Catspaw and Finistere and enjoy the lanai and the palm trees..... a holiday to remember!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Marathon, FL, Week 1

Happy Wife....Happy in FL
We have here been here a week already and we find it is sure EASY to live at HCC, Harbour Cay Club, a private marina facility. Life at the dock is wonderful, with endless power, water, laundry, and a beautiful club house. We have been riding our bikes all over town and enjoying the traditional Tiki Hut nightly sunset gatherings at 1700 hrs. The weather is fantastic, as it is not hot and it is not cold and there are no bugs. We don't need our air conditioning, but we do need sun screen and shade. It has not rained except for small sprinkles which last about 10 minutes and then we enjoy beautiful rainbows afterwards. Yes, life at HCC in Marathon, Florida, is paradise and very peaceful and relaxing. It will be difficult to press on out of here after our month ends, but that is our plan.

New Samsung Nexus Phones...about time we upgrade
It's been 3 years with a Blackberry Curve!
Christmas arrived here with packages from Radeen's family in Seattle and Phoenix. We finally upgraded our 3+ year old cell phones to the new Samsung Google Nexus with Android 4.0.2 Ice Cream Sandwich OS. We both now have the same phones which makes it easier to learn. It feels like Christmas when the festive packages and delicious treats arrive. Thanks everyone!

Here are some photos for the week....Merry Christmas Everyone!

Radeen riding her lil' red bike on the old Seven Mile Bridge
Team Island Packet Fleet at HCC Christmas Party
We miss Capt. JIM!
Our bread baking skills are progressing, here are two new loaves
We really enjoy our pet iguana.. We named him IGGY cause my brother had one named that.
Iggy is so beautiful and he changes colors on the fly
Iggy trying to match the color of the anchor....yet his belly is green
Iggy resting on the anchor
Iggy on the rocks along the mangroves
Christmas decorations on the boat
Team Steak Dinner night on the HCC Lanai
Pelicans in the sunset from the Tiki Hut where we meet at 1700
The Tiki Hut is BYOB, where slip owners and transients gather nightly at HCC, Harbour Cay Club, is really peaceful, relaxing, quiet and friendly. This 24 slip club is a great place to spend a winter. Forecast for today, 80 degrees and sunny. Rest of the week is like this: 80 during the day, 70 at night, sunny, slight change of showers.... ahhh, a tropical Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dolphins Swim with Island Spirit

On our way to Marathon, Florida, we had dolphins swim with Team Island Spirit. They swam right next to the cockpit and jumped and rolled over on their sides as they looked up at us. It was a very special moment and one of our first dolphin encounters. They are so beautiful to watch as they swim. I am guessing these dolphins were about 6 to 7 feet long. Please watch this 2 minute video and smile along with us....

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Marathon FL

Docked at Harbour Cay Club, Marathon, FL
We have arrived at our destination! Our good friend Captain Jim's Harbor Cay Club is a private 24 slip community that is beautifully landscaped and immaculately maintained. We were assisted by our fellow Island Packet Fleet members, Ron & Mary Ann on IP380 CAVU and Ed & Patricia on IP37 FINESTERE, along with the local dockmaster Gary and Jack, who are owners here. Once we were securely docked, we helped dock our buddy boat, SP Cruiser CATSPAW, who immediately prepared some V8 Fusion "healthy" drinks with some rum to toast our arrival. Mary Ann gave us the royal tour of Harbour Cay Club, showing us the clubhouse, lanai, laundry room, bathhouse, ice machines, recycle center, tiki hut and shuffle board court. The property is beautiful and it is obvious the owners are very proud of it. I will post a full photo essay of Harbour Cay Club next.

Looking from the lanai out over the marina
We are so happy to reach our destination and to have a break from moving the boat day after day. It will be great to launch our bikes and ride to the Seven Mile Bridge and around town. We will enjoy going for walks and watching sunsets from the tiki hut with good friends and the local members.

Our happiness upon arriving was diminished by the absence of our gracious host and good friend, Captain Jim. He suffered a heart attack two days before our arrival and is doing well following surgery in Miami yesterday. We plan to visit him and help in anyway we can. We are so sad that Captain Jim is not here for all the fun. Everyone here is hoping for a complete recovery. It is very  special how the Island Packet Yacht fleet is "like family" and we share in everyone's adventures and life's challenges.

A beautiful tidal pool with sand beach on the grounds
One of the resident iguanas welcomed us to the club
Did you know they can swim??

Check the length of that tail. Do you think it will walk on a leash?
My brother, Brian, loved walking his iguana on a leash. That lizard's name was Iggy!

Welcome to Marathon and Harbour Cay Club, our first destination, where we will be docked for one month. Our next post will be photos and sights of the grounds and the marina...for now....we need to settle into our new home....Thank you, CAPTAIN JIM!.....hope to see you soon.....

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hawk Channel to Channel 5

Sailing Hawk Channel in 20 knots beam!
Departing Boca Chita at 0700 hrs we crossed over the sand bar exit at low tide and found 7 feet of water most of the way. This is a deep water for the Florida Keys, and we were happy to be pressing on towards our destination south. We exited Biscayne Bay for sea via the Angelfish Creek, which is very beautiful but has a known 5 foot reef at the exit to sea. We have been instructed by our local Captain Jim that there is 5 feet at low tide, trust that and DO NOT LOOK at your depth sounder or at the water. Lucky for us it was a mid rising tide and we crossed the rocky reef with 7 feet of water, so no worries.

Once at sea in Hawk Channel, we were able to set full sails, with reefed main, full 135% jib and staysail in a wonderful 18-20 knot beam wind! In the world of sailing, this is PARADISE - a dream day. Blue skies, puffy clouds, aquamarine colored water, and sailing at hull speed, it was as good as it gets. We sailed all day, racing to reach the entrance to Channel Five to get back into the Florida Bay side by sunset. Our navigation computer and route told us that we were right on schedule and that we would reach the anchorage by 1730 hrs, and that is exactly what happened. We motorsailed the last 40 minutes into Channel 5 and under the bridge, then turned south where we dropped anchor in Jewfish Hole. The sun was setting as we approached our two buddy boats, Long Gone and Catspaw so we were happy to get the the sails down and the anchor set. I rate today as a 9.5 on the sailing scale, it was a great day....Check out these photos and the color of the water!

The water is aquamarine color, 12 feet deep
Look at the teak contrasting with the blue water...amazing
A view from the bow under full sail with the beautiful water and skies
We are racing, trying to reach the inlet by sunset
Arriving at the anchorage, our buddy boats are already anchored

Google MAP of this location



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Boca Chita Key, Fl

The Boca Chita Key Lighthouse
What a BEAUTIFUL tiny island, now owned by the National Parks Service. The island was originally developed by Mark Honeywell, owner of the heating control company in the late 1930s. After his wife's death from a fall on the island, Mr. Honeywell abandoned the project and eventually it was purchased by our National Parks.  We can see the highrises in Miami 15 miles to the north, yet we feel we like we are in the tropics!

The island has the most beautiful lighthouse that stands guard over the entrance to the man made harbor. The harbor can side tie 20+ boats to the wall. There are several tent camping sites and public restrooms that flush with saltwater. There are no services on Boca Chita, no water and no electricity and no trash disposal, but there are beaches, trails and plenty of palm trees. This park is a must visit, and with the winds blowing 20+ knots today, we decided to stay one more day and enjoy the beauty. Tomorrow the winds will be 10-15, so we will continue our trek south to Marathon.

Island Spirit on the sea wall with the Boca Chita Lighthouse
SP Cruiser Catspaw in the Boca Chita Key harbor
Good friends Laurie and Jim on IP350 Kismet arrive Boca Chita
Our view of palm trees out a port window....ahhhh
Local flock of ibis birds working the shoreline
Looking across the harbor from the point
Island Spirit with palm trees, what a beautiful sight

Mark Honeywell, 1937 Boca Chita
Mark Honeywell's yacht, Olivette, at Boca Chita
Sunrise lights the Boca Chita Lighthouse with IP350 Kismet

GOOGLE MAP of this Boca Chita Location
Zoom in and out with Satellite views to explore

I see why people stay here and simply take a break. It is well protected, it is beautiful, and the lighthouse changes in the various lighting angles from sunrise to sunset. Welcome to paradise, we are so happy to share the trip with everyone....the next stop will be on our way Marathon....