Matacumbe Bight

From Marathon we traveled in the Florida Bay to Matacumbe Bight, a beautiful anchorage behind Islamorada.  

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts (deedely dee)
There wasn’t much to do here and as such we kept to our regular schedule with modifications suiting the environment. 

Sunset in the bight

Pirate girl

There was a piece of privately owned land with only one (uninhabited) home built on it and plenty of “no trespassing” signs staked along the perimeter.  However, because of the dogs, and lack of a public landing, we were somewhat forced to explore a small section of the land out of necessity.  I do not enjoy, nor do I condone trespassing, but we all enjoyed going to shore here twice a day to stretch our legs, play, and observe the wildlife.
A pair of bald eagles had roosted in an Australian pine and we were lucky enough to see them in flight, hear their calls, and catch a glimpse of their eaglets.

"Noman" Island


Family portrait...no idea where Ransom's shirt went

Rei running...

...from dad!!!

Palm tree stump

Main St. at sunset

Coconuts, yum!  We need a machete!

Charles looking dashing

Rei looking a bit protective of her piece of palm

Eagle in flight

Eagles' nest

In the afternoons we would all go swimming.  Ransom and I would snorkel a bit first, then the dogs would do a long lap with us for some exercise.
One day we took the dinghy over to the mangrove islands to the north of us for a change of scenery.  Wow!  Everything was so green and full of life.  Lots of fishes and birds and mangrove roots as far as you could see.

Mangrove tunnel

Mangrove roots

Mangrove roots


Don't they look like they are having just a horrible time?

Really, these dogs are soooo bored

Sea birds...smelly, smelly, sea birds

To the south of us we found a place to tie up the dinghy; and within walking distance we found a Cuban restaurant (delicious food), a “country store” (glorified convenience store, but we were able to restock some provisions), and a dock with a hose we could “borrow” water from (42+ gallons worth). 
On our last day in the bight we met a kayaker who invited us over to the small resort (run by former sailors) he was lodging at for “dusk drinks.”  We shared some tales and drank some beers among the company of other mariners.  When the sun set a conch shell horn was blown to salute the close of another day and we returned to Vitte to prepare for our departure to Key Largo the next morning.

Key West to Marathon

We finally left Key West after spending two weeks there and way too much money.

Finally leaving Key West!

From Key West we sailed (but mostly were forced to motor-sail since the wind continued to not cooperate) to Newfound Bay off Big Pine Key.  The stars were brilliant at this anchorage!!  Skies so clear you could see the Milky Way.   ^_^

The next day we traveled up to Bahia Honda State Park and anchored right off the beach.
We immediately went to shore to explore and walk the dogs. 
The park was beautiful!  We walked through their butterfly garden and saw some indigenous plants and wildflowers (ironically no butterflies though). 
There is a trail up to the old bridge where you can walk out on the maintained portion and get a gorgeous view of the park on the Atlantic side and the bay side.  You can also look down the old Bahia Honda Bridge and imagine what it was like to see trains run on the lower portion (before the roadway was constructed above), and cars drive on the upper level (after the train track was decommissioned).  

Old Bahia Honda bridge trail

View of Bahia Honda State Park from the old bridge.  See if you can spot Vitte  ^_^

The old bridge, note the paved road for cars above and the railroad trestles below.

The old bridge

Rainstorm on the horizon

Gorgeous sunset between the old and new bridges

That night we enjoyed more spectacular stars in the sky and a light show in the water.  It was like being on some alien world!!!  I first noticed a glowing neon green dot floating on the surface of the water and immediately thought I was seeing things, so I called Ransom over to confirm and there was a continuous flow of them passing the boat!  We identified them as jellyfish, but don’t ask me what kind, I could not tell you (maybe a bit of research…).  When one would get close to the boat at the surface the green dot would “smear,” creating a wispy trail of neon green.  So amazing!!!  Unfortunately we were unable to photograph this phenomenon.  It’s nearly impossible to capture the true essence of phosphorescence, experiencing it firsthand, however, is incredible!  It truly makes you feel as if you are on another planet.

Leaving Bahia Honda

From Bahia Honda we traveled to Marathon via the Atlantic, and seas were rough.  Once again we were forced to motor-sail (the combined effect of which had us going 5.5-6 knots).
We’re pretty sure we hit some 7 footers out there.  The dogs were not happy.

Seven mile bridge

Finally calmed after the rough seas

In Marathon we met up with our friends, Laurence, John, Jimmy, and Rankin, who were playing a gig at the Sunset Grille and Raw Bar. 
After the show John and Laurence came out to Vitte and spent the night aboard.  It was awesome to have friends from the Carolinas out on the boat!  It was a pure stroke of luck that we happened to be in Marathon the night they played.

Anchored in Marathon (photo by Laurence)

Jah Creation (L to R: Jimmy Jam on keys and trumpet, "King" Laurence on drums, John Picard on bass, and Rankin on congos)

Poolside at Sunset Grille, not a bad place to chill and listen to some good reggae music.


Key West

We stayed in Key West for way too long two weeks in the City of Key West mooring field and at Stock Island’s Sunset Marina.
While at the marina we rented some beach cruisers and then traded up to two single rider mopeds.
What fun it was to scoot around Key West on mopeds!!!  (Don’t worry mom, we wore our helmets and never went faster than 30mph).

Those are ours with the "Moped Hospital" tags

We got to see and do so much: bar hopping downtown (aka the Duval Crawl), sunsets at Mallory Square, and live music wherever we heard it.

The bars of Duval:

The Bull and Whistle Bar

The Lazy Gecko

Sloppy Joe's Bar

The Smallest Bar in Key West

Slow shutter speed shot of Duval St from the Whistle Bar

Hot dog vender by the Bull and Whistle

Hog's Breath Saloon

Mallory Square was particularly interesting for us…at sunset the street performers come out and you can see magicians, escape artists, comedians, solo musicians, jugglers, etc., all for just a few bucks! 
(Note: don’t go to Mallory Square, watch a show, and then not tip the performer, it’s just not cool)

Bush Man!!!  He basically hid behind some foliage and jumped out at unsuspecting passers by.  He was great to watch while waiting for other performances to start

Bush Man!!!

Mobile mojitos by Jimmy, a great place to score a beverage for the sunset shows

The Red Trouser Show

"Rocket the Wonder Dog"

Rocket's show: over the teeter totter, through the short hoop, ending with a daring leap through a high hoop!!!!

Rocket's handler, what's his face, doing juggling feats

Key West history and culture:

Fort Taylor



For all you history buffs

Key West Aqarium


Ernest Hemingway home
Southernmost point in the continental U.S.A.

We saw some good live music in Key West!  Michael McCloud at the Schooner Warf, Pete and Wayne at Sloppy Joe’s, reggae at the Green Parrot, hard rock at Durty Harry’s, and a random cover band at the Lazy Iguana.

Michael McCloud

We also couldn’t resist taking in some “alternative” culture at 801 Bourbon Bar where we saw quite the drag cabaret show: hilarious pantomime lip synching and a sassy emcee that had us in stitches. 

My favorite queen was, Boa, the silly one  ^_^

Us with the queens 

Our favorite bar, hands down, in Key West was the Green Parrot on Whitehead St. (one block from Duval St, mostly locals, and FREE POPCORN).
The Green Parrot

Inside the Parrot
Afternoon snack  ^_^

In 1975 the Green Parrot commissioned a painter to decorate the window shutters and the most notorious, The Smirk, is now the bar’s unofficial mascot.

The Smirk
It wasn’t all fun and games, though.  We did manage to do some boat maintenance: painting (aka: rust control), swab the decks, wash the canopy, restock supplies, and fill all tanks (gas and water).
In the marina I finally saw a manatee up close!!!

My first up close manatee experience!!!

The marina's waters were full of GIANT tarpon!  I swear we saw some that were at least 5 feet long.


We set out to leave Key West on March 12th, but the water was too rough and the wind too strong for us, so we returned to the mooring yard to wait out the weather. 
Glad we hung back, we encountered a group from Maryland on the beach we took the dogs for their “business,” and ended up hanging out with them that night.  

Playing Mega Jenga with our new MD friends

It was nice to hit Key West with a crew instead of just the two of us…I can only hang out with Ransom so much, that guy can be so boring  :P   (just kidding!)


Ransom is on fire!