Well this was one of “those” days! You know, the day you had planned where everything was going to be awesome and it went to hell in a hand basket?
Our plan was to run from No Name Harbor to the anchorage off Elliott Key. Spend two nights there before heading off to our next stop in Islamorada. It was only a short two hour cruise south, so we eased into the day.
Paul checked the weather. It showed 15 knot winds from the west. That would be directly into the anchorage but he felt it was a moderate breeze and nothing that would bother us on Sonas. Hmmmmm.
We got into the anchorage with a really nice wave action. We had to anchor about a half mile from the Ranger Station as it was too shallow inshore from there. Surprise, surprise, the wind gauge showed a steady blow at 26-27 knots! We soon learned that the fetch from the west, all the way from Turkey Point 8 miles away, resulted in steady three to four foot waves, with a five thrown in now and then! We were only anchored in 7.5 feet so the shallow depth probably didn’t help. Once the anchor was down Sonas settled bow into the waves and was comfortable enough. If it was just the two of us on board we would be quite OK sitting there.
BUT, we have Bella, and her expectation was, once the anchor was down, she gets to go ashore!
So we had lunch, and waited to see if the bay would calm down. It didn’t. So we decided to launch the dinghy and take the pooch ashore. We managed to get the boat launched and all of us on board the bouncing dinghy – everyone with PFDs on! And the waterproof and floatable VHF radio we had recently bought! Going ashore was relatively easy as Paul kept the dinghy speed aligned with the waves, which were surfing us to shore.
We got ashore to the Ranger Station to find that it was abandoned with not a soul to be seen and everything locked up. We suspect they did not expect anyone ashore due to the forecast! We tied up at the ranger dock and Bella immediately jumped off. It was then that we realized that in our struggles to get on the dinghy we hadn’t brought her leash or any poop bags. However we were NOT going back!
We had an extra length of rope on board so tied that to her collar and Sian found a plastic bag near one of the BBQ pits, so poop collection was back under control!
So off we set on one of the trails, and then realized that, even though we had read that Elliott Key was rife with mosquitos, we had not sprayed! 45 minutes later we emerged from the trail back at the dock with dozens of bites apiece! Sian was especially disappointed as usually when she has Paul with her the bugs attack him and leave her alone. We guessed that there were enough mosquitos to go around!
We got back on the dinghy and now had to pound the half mile back to Sonas directly into the wave action. By the time we got back on board all three were saturated. A check of the updated weather told us that the wind was to continue like this all night. Bella still needed her evening walk and another one first thing in the morning. On the way back to Sonas Sian looked at Paul and said “when we get onboard we are going to have a “DISCUSSION” about what we do next.”
Within five minutes of getting back on board the engines were started and we headed back to No Name Harbor to ride out the weather. We really need to start training Bella to go on the boat, something we didn’t think we would have to do on this trip!
When we got into the harbor we were pleased to find that there was plenty of space for us to anchor, but with the gusting winds it took three or four anchoring attempts until we could get ourselves somewhere where we felt comfortable that we would not swing into another boat’s water – especially with Sonas’ large windage.
It was low tide when we took Bella ashore and she tried the high jump, leaping from the dinghy to the top of the sea wall and missed! Paul was able to grab the handle on her life jacket and drag her back onto the boat. Then he helped her up! We were getting all the mis-steps out of the way today!
With the anchor down, Paul with a cold beer, Bella with an evening walk, and Sian with a hot shower all seemed to be good in the cruising world yet again!
Until Paul went up top and put the steak on the grill. When he went to turn it over a gust hit the grill mat tossing the hot fat over Paul and the boat deck. A small blister on a finger and ankle. and one totally ruined t-shirt!
It was a DAY! And since conditions were so bad we didn’t get any photos or video!