It's hard to believe I was away for over 5 weeks. About 2 months in preparing for the trip. Getting the dinghy ready and it's motor, neither of which were used. Lashed the dingy to the foredeck. Installed a new Autopilot with Loran and GPS interface. Two extra fuel tanks on deck. Rigged a heavy weather staysail Packing 4 times as much food as I needed. .. 6 cases of beer! I even converted the port setee into a chart table with two storage shelves underneath.
Gus traveled along to the Keys with me on his own Catalina 27. We made it to Venice the first night and anchored near the yacht club. We rafted up....dragged anchor in the wee wee hours due to tide change and not enough scope. It was rough in the Gulf the next day so we took the waterway to Cabbage Key and anchored there for the night. Next morn we took a straight shot for Marathon in the Keys. We were motorsailing and hard on the wind. Rough going while beating into a short chop at 6 knots. Nuff to jerk the jam off yer cracker! 28 hours of that is plenty. Three days in Marathon is also plenty. I heard there was a party at the Dockside Club Sunday night so I dressed for a yacht club type get-together. Humm....looked more like a Harley Davidson convention. Lots of tatoos and beards.....and that was the women! You should have seen the men!
Sailed alone (cept for my good pooch, Kuki) to Fiesta Key and anchored overnight. Next afternoon under Snake River Bridge and into the Atlantic. Follow the Florida coast northeast as the wind will allow and then a night Gulf Stream crossing to Bimini. Caught fish on the way into Bimimi (Blue Runner) Caught fish every time I sailed...trolling....mostly Runners and Mackerel. All were severely barked at by Kuki dog ....(her job) . Overnight anchor in Bimimi. Good to see the azure blue waters again. Found that friend Ozzie Brown was murdered there a few months ago.
Next day we set out for Freeport and arrive there after a very nice sail at 3AM. A close reach the whole way in 10-15 knot winds. Loran works well the whole trip. GPS is the back up. Caught a third of a Barracuda along the way ....(figure that one out!) We had what was left of him for supper. Checked into the beautiful Lucayan Marina for almost 3 weeks. ..........< thats in Freeport where I lived from 1970-1975 > Visiting friends...partying...eating and more eating...reading by the pool.... I visited MacLean's Town by car with friends. A fishing guide there gave me a bonefish. My friend's Mother cooked it up for us the next day Bahamian style. It was really good.... I had always heard that you couldn't eat bone fish! There were lots of bones but they all pulled out together.
Kuki had two teeth out...the Local vet is a Lodge brother....takes me to see the Dolphin that he is treating from the UNEXSO Dolphin Experience...Spend time with Ben and Judy Rose...Ben is teaching a shark feeding class at UNEXSO...thought about taking the class till I find it is 4 days long and costs 1400.00 !
I visited my Lodge and found a lot of new faces have appeared in the 15 years since I left! I was treated so well, I felt like I had come home. The usual full banquet after lodge closed was enjoyed by all. Later in the week they held a BBQ and I got to see more old friends. As though that were not enough, BASRA had a banquet too. ...3 or 4 familiar faces and the rest I didn't have a clue.
Depart at 5AM for West End, Grand Bahama. Caught more fish and enjoyed favorable winds and good weather. Stopped in West End for 2 hours and then headed Stateside around 5PM. Great Gulf Stream crossing. Boarded by US Coast Guard just off of Stuart Fla. just before daybreak. Enjoyed that! Got some video of it too!. Fat guy departing ungracefully over the side with big gun on his hip! Entered Intercoastal and thought I was heading for Lake Okechobee but after 3 hours found myself in Ft Pierce!!!...I had been traveling Northbound on the ICW! Pissed off at myself....no road signs.....got bad directions at the last fuel dock. Anchored for the night......Back to Stuart the next day....beautiful area...$$$$.
Under bridges and through locks Westbound on the Okechobee Waterway which is a 160 mile canal system cutting right across the state of Florida. Enjoyed the 40 mile run at hullspeed across Lake Okechobee into the setting sun. Three days later I make it to Ft Myers...Next day Venice.....then Tampa the next.
The weather was great the whole trip till I got to Tampa's skyway bridge where I was met by Thunderstorms....dark as coal...lightning everywhere ...soaking wet in my foul weather gear but at least the winds settle down to push me the 3 hour trip to the marina where I arrive at 1130 PM and crash in the v-berth. (note for non sailors...that means go to bed) ........good to be home
Kuki is VERY glad to be home! .....another page in my book!
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