Not being on a schedule this year traveling south, we did our best to avoid problems that might arise if we were forced to travel when we shouldn’t. We also stayed on the ICW rather than going out in the ocean to save time, because the weather wasn’t conducive, and we had plenty of time. The one occasion when we didn’t follow our own guidance was leaving Vero Beach. We had determined years ago to avoid traveling on the ICW in South Florida on the weekend. It’s not unlike at times going to a shopping mall on Black Friday. Lots of little boats zipping around with water skis and jet skis paying no attention to who else is out there and creating blockages at times around bridge openings. Since we left Vero Beach on the Friday after Thanksgiving, it was clear that we would be traveling for the next three days through Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale to Miami on weekend like conditions – maybe worse.
We were lucky. The conditions weren’t as bad as we had expected. The one interesting experience we had was passing through the Palm Beach area. President elect Trump was at his resort there on the water for Thanksgiving, and the sheriff’s department as well as the Coast Guard were vigilant at keeping boats away from his resort shoreline and making sure nobody did anything foolish. That meant that we had an escort along a three-mile stretch of the ICW. Everybody seemed friendly, but they were ready for trouble as noted by the machine gun in the bow of the Coast Guard boat.
Our travel south of the Palm Beach area went pretty smoothly, and we managed to make good time between bridges. For those who haven’t read our earlier blogs or have yet to make the trip from Palm Beach to Miami, you should know that there are nearly 30 bridges, most which open on a schedule. The key is to be able to keep to the schedule. We had to push the boat to make the schedule, and we were lucky that the tidal current helped us along the way. This is familiar territory for us, and we knew where to anchor away from crowds and where we could replenish our food and water for the final few days of travel.
Leaving Miami, we traveled down Biscayne Bay to Pumpkin Key. Then we spent a day traveling in Hawk Channel before going under the Channel Five bridge and completing our travels by arriving at the Harbour Cay Club our “winter” home this season.
This sight told us that we’d arrived in the Keys.
Leaving our anchorage near the Channel Five bridge at sunrise.
Our new home appears to be a friendly, small marina on the Florida Bay side of Marathon. We’ve already met a few of the pelicans that call this spot home. We were also visited by a manatee.
Our boat at her winter home. Note the neighbor on the post. He is one of several daily visitors.
More of those daily visitors on rocks near our slip
This manatee appeared to be quite interested in our dinghy.
Our annual holiday trip north took us away from here for two weeks, but in the short time we’ve been here, we have already met a number of fellow boaters and Marathon residents we’d gotten to know during past winters. I’ve begun my volunteer time at the Dolphin Research Center, and Sandra has found several who seek help to make pine needle baskets.
We also made our first trip to Key West, this time to witness a visit of Tibetan monks who spent a week here to promote world peace. While here, they created a peace mandala, a sand design created one grain of sand at a time. See below.
We also attended a meditation which included the playing of singing bowls. Sandra was so intrigued that she bought one.