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The travels of the "Leah Gent"

Florida (part 3, the Keys)

The Florida Keys

2/8/05 We left Ft. Myers Beach after spending nearly a month in this area. We had planned on 3 or 4 days but it's an easy place to find things to do and they have a good bus system, an important thing for boaters. Did our first trip back in big water (the Gulf of Mexico) down to Gordon Pass at Naples. We had a good lunch at the Boathouse Resturant and nicked the back corner of the boat getting off the sea wall while leaving (ouch). The wind had us pushed tight to the wall and it had been a while since we had been in that type of docking situation. I'll get out the epoxy and touch it up soon. After lunch it was down the inside past Marco Island and to the small outpost of Goodland. We picked up our highest priced fuel to date, $2.70 per gallon, and anchored for the night.
2/9/05 Up early today and another trip in the Gulf down to the Shark River. We had heard that the Shark and Little Shark River were in the Everglades and not a stop to be missed, especially since we were in winter and the bugs should be tollerable. If anyone ever gets a chance to spend the night here this is one of the places I would go back to. The wildlife is incredible. We saw every type of bird, fish and fauna that I can think of. A huge tarpon rolled as I was putting the anchor down and I caught several large grouper off the back of the boat while anchored in the river using trout fillets I had caught in Ft. Myers. I didn't have any other bait and hated to part with those fillets but the grouper was much better eating. This river only has one rule. Be inside when the sun goes down or bring extra plasma with you! The misquitos are legendary! They are as bad as my spelling!!
2/10/05  We upped anchor at daybreak for the 52 mile run to Boot Key Harbor across the open Gulf. We had been warned about Florida Bay and the way the weather can catch you if you don't respect it. The forcast was for light 5 to 10 knot winds from the northeast going up to 20 in the afternoon. I figured about 5-6 hours for the crossing and that would put us in the Keys before the bad weather set in. I did NOT plan on the current that met us at Cape Sable, the southern most part of west Florida. I used a few more of my 60 horsepower than I usually do and we managed to get to Boot Key in time. Shortly afterward the wind did show up as forcast and we put out all three anchors and lots of chain to make sure we didn't drag thru the anchorage.
2/11/05 Boot Key Harbor is filled with several hundred boats at anchor and on moorings. It looks like a boat parking lot. Reminded me of the old Drive In Movies the way they all point in the same direction. A lot of people live on their boats here and work on the island of Marathon. They have a "Cruiser's Net" on VHF channel 68 every morning to keep everyone up to date on the happenings around the harbor. They welcome new arrivals and bon voyage to the departees as well as a buy and sell, trivia and help discussion. The city is in the process of putting in more mooring balls to eliminate most but not all of the anchored boats. This will give them better control of derilict boats and some control over planning issues in the harbor. The city is working out of an old building on a canal that serves as a dingy dock and has washers and dryers for the boaters. They also have a wookshop that can be used for boat projects for $.50 per day. THis is a  boating town!
2/15/05  We tried to leave for Key West yesterday but only made it to a mile out of the harbor and decided it was too windy. Tried again today and had planned to go down Hawk Channel on the Atlantic side but the swell was too bad so we cut under the 7 mile bridge and went down the Gulf side with the wind at our stern. A nice ride until about 6 miles from the channel into the north side of Key West and the wind picked up and made the last few miles a little bumpy and wet. We arrived at the Key West City Marina in Garrison Bight, the first time we have been tied to a dock in over a week. I still like being able to step off the boat onto a dock, even if it does costs the same as a hotel room! Key West is full of people, noise, traffic and bicycles. It has changed some since my last visit some ten years ago for the sailboat race week. We got the bikes out and rode down to Schooner Warf and then to Mallory Square to watch the sun go down. Watching the sun go down in Mallory Square is an important local tradition here, at least for the tourists. I would guess there were 2000 people there tonight. They say there is a "green flash" as the sun touches the water and I have talked to people who have seen it on rare ocassions but have not witnessed it myself. Maybe tomorrow.... Did I mention the water down here is crystal clear and as blue/green as can be.
2/24/05 Just a quick note here. We are back in Key Largo at a friend's dock for a day or two. Ill fill in the details about the trip up from Key West in the next day or two.
2/27/05  Details.....  Ok, we left Key West after waiting for the wind to slow down and ended up going back on the Gulf side instead of the ocean side like I had hoped. We made a short day of it and anchored around the small keys on the north (at this point the Keys actually run east and west) side of Sugarloaf Key. We went to bed in 4 feet of water and woke up in 2 feet but we were still floating fine. I had the dingy down the afternoon before and saw an large variety of fish, birds and sharks in the shallows. The fishing here is great! We upped anchor and made waves for Boot Key harbor again. After a nice lunch at Burdines resturant and marina (the Tuna is the best I have ever had) we anchored with all the other boats for the night. Next morning it was up early for the days voyage towards Key Largo and Bob and Ena's place. The wind was on the nose all day and we made it as far as Community Harbor near Plantation Key. Nice protected harbbor with several character boats anchored. We put the hook down in 4' of water with a grassy bottom. Next morning it was a short hop to Key Largo and Bob Pudney's dock in a protected canal off Blackwater Sound. As you get away from Key West the water gets shallower and not quite as clear but still clear enough to see the bottom. We had planned to stay a day or two with Bob and Ena but the front that just came through has forced us to reconsider. Biscayne Bay is a big bay and Bob told me long ago to choose my weather well before attempting the trip north.  Bob has always been a boat guy as long as I can remember. He has cruised all of south Florida and the Keys and has had the house down here for a long time. He even has 3 model boats that will make 40 knots or more in the shed. Toys for big boys...........Once we get to Miami we will be in the waterway canal and the weather will not be as big a factor. I hope to stop in Fort Lauderdale. The waterway runs a mile or two from where I entered this world and I have some good memories from growing up in that town, We hope to get a slip on the New River near where my Grandmother, Leah Gent use to live when I was a kid. I sure wish that property was still  in the family.

This way to the next page

The end of the line

The clues here are the name and the raincoats!!

Jack and Cindy came down on their boat

Schooners at sundown in Key West

That's me off Johnson Key looking for sharks

Bob and Ena'a home on Key Largo

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