Sunday: Laundry and clean up are in order for today as we wait for Vic and his family to arrive. Stephanie has been driving down with Blaine, Tara & Charlee while Vic has been conducting Team Rubicon training in Houston Texas, so he will be flying today from Houston to Miami where Steph will be waiting. Then they will all drive down to here and they have a room reserved at the Perry Hotel which in on site here at Stock Island Marina Village.
Vic’s flight gets delayed but they still make it to us by 7:00pm. Tracy makes a big meal of seafood scampi, regular pasta and macaroni and cheese, then we have a nice meal aboard Kailani and plan for the upcoming days.
Monday: Breakfast this morning is at the on-site restaurant, then we jam into the car for a short ride to West Marine for snorkeling gear for the kids. After we pick out all the gear, we return to the marina and get ready for the noontime shuttle that will take us to Smathers Beach. There’s a bit of wind and the rental concession is not renting their beach umbrellas, but the surf is just right for the kids and everyone dons their snorkeling gear and they go along with Tracy into the water. Afterwards, there is some sand play which is a given when the kids are on a beach.
We meet the shuttle at 2:45pm for the return trip to the marina/hotel and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing around the pool.
The marina has a grill and picnic table area, so tonight we have a nice steak, corn and green bean dinner that Vic grills up over charcoal.
Tuesday: Today we plan for a trip to downtown Key West for the standard sightseeing. We decide to use the car rather than the shuttle for more flexibility. With the car, we can bring a picnic lunch and we can come and go as we please rather than be tied to the shuttle schedule which is once and hour. So we pack up the van and head for downtown. Our first stop will be the Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and Fort. We go to the beach first
and although it’s not a great beach for sand, the kids have a great time in the water and playing in the little bit of sand.
We break out the picnic lunch of cold cut sandwiches, chips and sodas and have a nice lunch at one of the park picnic tables. After lunch we reload the car with the coolers and snacks and walk over to Fort Zachary Taylor and tour the fort. It was originally a three story structure, but has been reduced to one story when upgrades were undertaken to install more modern armaments during the Spanish-American War.
We toured the armament bunkers, the ammunition storage areas, the typical bunk rooms and other support facilities in this fort. Interesting that the fort that was farthest south in the US was controlled throughout the Civil War by the Union. With cannons from the original construction being used to fill space in concrete pours of future modernizations, the fort remains today as the largest collection of armaments in the United States.
After the fort we felt a need to get some key lime pie, so off we went to downtown Key West. There was one cruise ship in town today and the weather was loaded with chances of rain, so we were able to get a street parking spot right in front of the Key Lime Factory Store. They sell key lime in all sorts of choices from conventional slice with whipped cream to chocolate covered on a stick. Everyone selected their favorite and as we were eating the rains came down hard and steady. But as is normal with Florida rains, it eventually ended and the sun came back out.
So we left and started walking towards Duval Street. Tracy and Blaine were full of Key West and wanted to return to the marina, so Vic drove them back while I walked Duval Street with Stephanie, Tara and Charlee. They walked into every store available and wanted shirts, hats, tattoos, candy, clothing, souvenirs, etc. you get the idea. Anyway we decided on a little bit of candy to hold us over, then they found a little jewelry store with ankle bracelets and they had to stop and shop. So after some long debate amongst Tara and Charlee, they both decided on the mermaid ankle bracelets and walked out wearing their new jewelry.
We made it to the end of Duval Street and were in the Conch Railroad station shop when Vic called and said he was back. So I told him where we were and he parked and met us. Then the girls insisted we walk back to the tattoo place so they could get temporary tattoos on their ankles (I guess it was ankle day).
As they were getting their tattoos applied, the power went out on the entire island. We later learned that the power was out from Big Pine Key all the way to Key West. So when the tattoos were done, Vic tried to pay with his credit card, but there was no power, so the girl asked if we had any cash and we were able to give her $40 for the $60 dollar charge and she said ‘Thank you, today’s your lucky day!’ After the tattoos, we just walked aimlessly around the downtown and when Vic saw a bar (one of a thousand) that advertised the best Bloody Mary on the island, we stopped so he and Stephanie could find out how good they really were. Power was still out but apparently the Bloody Mary’s were pretty decent.
We walked past the Hemingway House and the Truman Little White House before walking thru Mallory Square. Mallory Square is where everyone goes at dusk for the sunset party every night. The square is usually loaded with street entertainers but since the skies are overcast (left over form the rains) and you can’t see the sun setting, the square is a bit docile today. There’s still a few entertainers and other people panhandling for money/change etc. but not very many crowds. Vic even spotted a sign where the people were asking for money for rum and weed!
As we drove out of downtown, we stopped at the corner of Whitehead Street and South Street where there is a monument signifying the ‘Southernmost Point of the Continental US’.
Everyone flocks here daily just to get a picture standing next to the bottle. To get a picture in front of the bottle there’s a line of people waiting, so you get into the line and when you’re at the front of the line, you walk up to the bottle and take your turn taking pictures.
After returning to the car to head back we realized that without any power, there wasn’t any GPS so we had to use our sense of direction to get out of downtown and back to the marina.
Wednesday: After Tracy wakes up with vomiting/diarrhea and fever Oh my! I have not been that sick in s long, long time! -tc, she selects a snorkeling site just 6-7 miles south of us for today’s cruise and at 11:20am with everyone on board, we head out of the marina towards Middle Sambo Shoal. As we approached, we looked for mooring balls, but could not find any, so we dropped the anchor making sure we had a sand bottom and spent the afternoon enjoying the salt water of the Atlantic Ocean off Key West. Our anchorage is of note as we set the anchor at 24 degrees 29.64 minutes North is is the farthest point south that Kailani will be on her entire voyage around America’s Great Loop.
At 4:40pm we’re back at the marina all secured for the day. Just as Vic and I are re-attaching the utilities, the power circuit pops and shuts off at the pole. We have two 30 amp cords attached to the boat that go out 50 feet to a splitter that takes the two 30 amp cords and converts them to one 50 amp connection for at the pole. We took apart the cords and saw that one cord and the Y adaptor were fried from an overloaded circuit. So we jump in the car and head over to West Marina to buy a new Y Adaptor. Once we re-hook up all the power we still cannot get good power into the boat, so we shut it down and use the generator for the evening.
Today is another snorkeling cruise. This time to Boca Grande Key which is west of Key West and a 17 mile cruise so we have everyone on board early and by 9:00am we’re leaving the dock for our two plus hour cruise. Seas are nicer today and it’s a very comfortable cruise for all.
The kids are having a great time cruising as they have gotten very comfortable while underway as they split their time from coloring in the salon to sunning on the bow, to visiting with us up on the flybridge. With smooth seas it’s always more pleasant getting around the vessel.
Soon we are anchored off the west side of Boca Grande Key in 7 feet of water and we take the dinghy down for some cruising out to a wreck which is partially submerged and partially above water. Its over on the northeast side of the island, so Vic, Blaine, Charlee and I cruise over to the wreck and snorkel around. Just before dropping the anchor, we spot a stingray slowly making his way across the sandy bottom. That’s a nice start to this snorkeling adventure.
After returning for lunch, we re-group and Tracy takes the kids fishing while Vic and Stephanie return to the wreck for some relaxing snorkeling. After everyone is back aboard and the dinghy is returned to the roof deck and Vic has helped me strap it down, we raise the anchor and head out into some deeper water for swimming and diving fun. We head around the south side of Boca Grande Key
into 17 foot deep water, shut off the engines and float around while everyone jumps in the water. Vic climbs up to the roof deck (14 feet above the water) and jumps off so naturally Blaine has to give it a go and he has a blast jumping off numerous times.
Soon it’s time to gather everyone up, retrieve the buoy line and head back towards Stock Island. We are all tied up by 6:30pm and reconnected to the utilities. Oh did I mention, before departing this morning, I called a local marine electrician who advised that I try connecting to the starboard connecters rather than the aft connecters where we had the burnout. That did the trick and I will have to replace the connecters in the stern at some point, but for now, as long as we use the starboard connectors, we have good power.
Everyone jumps into the pool for a while, then we decide to watch Pirates of the Caribbean on the hotel room TV.
Friday: Today will be a sad day because Vic and family must leave and start driving back home. So I plan to wake up rather early, but end up waking up earlier than I expected at 4:45am with vomiting, diarrhea and fever. Ugh! I either caught this from Tracy or got it from the same source where she caught it. Either way, I’m bed and sore and Tracy is retching again in the salon. -tc when Vic comes on board to say goodbye. So they stay away from us just in case we’re contagious and say their goodbyes and head out. Tracy and I spend the balance of the day sleeping, resting, trying somehow to regain some strength and letting the marina know that we’ll be here probably thru the weekend as we recuperate. This is not a pleasant Friday, but oh well.
Saturday: A day of rest and recuperation. My ailing symptoms are fading with my strength rebuilding while Tracy is doing the same. We still stay cooped up in the salon without much activity. Today is the last day of our 52nd week since we departed Savannah. We have approximately 580 nautical miles to complete our first loop. Most people take up to a year to complete the loop so obviously, we’ve taken a bit more time enjoying the scenery and cruising either slower or less miles per day or less days per week cruising. Either which way, we’ve simply had a blast traveling the great loop and enjoying the scenery from a different perspective.
By the end of the day, (and the week, and our year), we’re still resting comfortably but slightly hungry and feeling like we can keep food down, so Tracy makes a light dinner and we settle in to watch the Netflix movie ‘The Highwaymen’. Which is a true untold story about the two retired (by the Texas Governor) Texas Rangers that are brought out of retirement to hunt down and kill Bonnie and Clyde in Louisiana. The roles are played by Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson and we both enjoy the movie (without popcorn!). Before the movie is over, we get a text from Vic saying they arrived safely at home in Connecticut at 11:16pm so all’s good. We miss all our family and friends back home, but we’ll be back soon enough, then we’ll miss all our friends we’ve made on the water.