Cruising with Soggy Paws
Soggy Paws is a 44' CSY Sailboat. In 2007, we set sail on a 10 year around the world cruise.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Weather Briefing, Key West
After dinner last night (Thai Restaurant in Key West) we went with Dave's friend Don Byrd to the NWS Key West Office and got a personal weater briefing from Matt Russell, the Chief Meteorologist in Key West.

Bottom Line: There's a little bit of a low forming up in the SW Caribbean, and until that low either forms up or goes away, the models are forecasting conflicting information. But current forecasts are for E-SE at about 10 kts. If the low forms up, it is supposed to move off toward the North, so it probably won't affect us directly, but may make the wind 'variable'.

Matt invited us to call him on the satellite phone once a day and exchange a conditions report, in exchange for a weather update.

Right, Matt at his desk. (cool computers)!

We are going! (Dave is waiting for me to finish this post to unhook the docklines.) Dry Tortugas tonight, onward for Beliza (via the NW Cuba coastline per Nigel Caulder's recommendations for getting to the NW Caribbean).

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Saturday, June 09, 2007
Key West (& Melbourne) for a Couple of Days
We got up at 0645 yesterday to get underway for Key West and were tied up at the dock at Boca Chica Marina by 1015.

By 11am I was on my way north in the rental car... taking laundry, various boat parts to be returned, and a few items we wanted to leave back at the house. The stops (Marathon Power Systems, Key Largo West Marine, and RPM Diesel in Ft. Lauderdale) went OK, but the traffic was horrid in Miami/FtL. I seldom go thru there on a weekday--man I'd hate to live there! There was a big nasty afternoon storm system moving through also, so that made it even more fun.

Dave spent the day running around Key West with his friend Dave Whall (propane refill, stops at several marine stores, Radio Shack, etc). He got a personal weather briefing from the NWS office in Key West. The weather guy told him that it looked like the current weather would hold thru next Friday. So we are on track to leave Monday for Belize.

I made it to Melbourne Yacht Club about 7:15... just in time for a beautiful shuttle launch. We watched it on TV in the MYC bar and then went outside to see it go up. It was picture perfect--wish I'd had my camera in my pocket.

When I walked in the bar at MYC about half the people said "Hey, what are you doing here" and the other half said "Hey, I've been reading you blog and I know why you're here". It was fun both ways. I got kidded a lot about "fast trip around the world"

Nicki showed up a few minutes after I did, and got to go through a round of "I remember when you were running around here at 5 years old." with all our old friends (she's 21 now). We had a nice dinner together at Longdoggers.

I'm in the Melbourne area for today and I'm headed back in the rental car at the crack of dawn tomorrow. (need to have it back by 11am). I think Dave plans to stay at the marina Sunday night and then pull out for somewhere (direct to Belize or out to Dry Tortugas) early on Monday. He needs to send me up the mast to put back the stuff we took off to get under the bridges, and do a rig inspection before we go offshore.

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Friday, June 08, 2007
Underway to Key West
We left Marathon yesterday about 2pm. The engine is running well and the cushions look great in the cockpit.

Wind is about E 15. We rolled out the genny and motorsailed (charging batteries) and were making about 7 knots. We had enough time to stop at Looe Key for a short snorkel. We arrived at about the same time as some of the Boy Scout boats, including the dive schooner Conch Pearl (http://www.schoonerconchpearl.com), and Siesta, both close friends of Dave's. The visibility has finally cleared up some from all the winds last week. It was a little rough for snorkeling on the reef, but it was REALLY
good to go swimming in water you could see in.

We dropped the Looe Key mooring at about 5:30 and sailed to one of Dave's old Boy Scout anchorages, Key Louis. It is a typical Keys anchorage... behind a mangrove island in about 6' of water. All the other Boy Scout boats went to the Palm Island anchorage (more scenic and a little more protected), so we had the anchorage to ourselves. Miles from nowhere...

Our plan is to get up early and get underway by 0730, and get into Key West by about 10:30, so I can get off in the car by about noon. Dave wants to get me on the road to Melbourne as soon as possible, as I have several stops to make for him on the way up. :)

The weather forecast continues to show decent East winds for the next 5-10 days. So we are thinking to get underway towards Belize on Monday. We are still discussing whether to stop at Dry Tortugas or not. We can probably afford a day or two stop time-wise but it would be foolish to gamble that the weather will stay benign forever. We'll assess the weather situation when I get back from Melbourne on Sunday afternoon...

We are literally a couple of miles from the nearest habitation, so I haven't even tried the wifi. This is going out via HF. (yay Winlink!)

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Cushions are Done!
I am happy to report that my 'one day' project is now done. (5 days later). Shown are only 2 of a total of 6 cushions I covered.

It has been a rainy day, and Dave doesn't have the engine back together (at least not as of 2 hrs ago), so I'm sitting in at the sewing table at the City Marina taking advantage of the 110v power to make some blog updates (posting pics on old posts, etc).

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The Head is Back on the Engine
The 'Re-do the Head Bolt' project is now 90% complete. The drilling and tapping of an oversized bolt hole went pretty smoothly yesterday, and by 5pm, the head was back on and all the bolts properly torqued. Dave's friend Jim Dill was a great help and we could not have done it without his help and guidance.

Sherry got word yesterday that the management company for her Melbourne Harbor Condominium rental unit no longer wants to be in the rental management business. Bleah!(Construction on a condo next door has been making the job more difficult than normal). So Sherry has decided she needs to attend a meeting of owners in Melbourne this weekend. But at least it's only renting a car and driving up from Key West rather than flying back from Belize. Anyone interested in renting a furnished one bedroom
condo on Melbourne Harbor?

http://www.melbourneharborcondominium.com.

The cockpit cushion project is nearly done. Would have been done yesterday except Sherry took advantage of a visit from Dave's cousin Jay to make a trip to Publix. Between socializing and Publix, the afternoon was pretty much shot. The cushion covers are turning out really nice. They are made of Phifertex and the color is Lattice Bisque (http://www.sailrite.com/150112?sc=2&category=168). This is a really nice material to work with, and is very rugged, but also has a nice pattern to it. (a competing
product is called Textaline). It is basically the same stuff as the outdoor PVC furniture cushions are made from.

We are looking forward to getting out of here on Thursday and spending one night on the hook before we stop in at the Boca Chica Marina for a couple of days, so Sherry can drive back to Melbourne.

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Monday, June 04, 2007
Marathon, Boot Key Harbor
We have been here for a couple of days now. We made it into Boot Key just before really squally weather hit. Had not been settled on the mooring for more than 30 minutes before the first bout of rain and wind hit. This continued all night and all the next day. On Friday night we heard that it had been upgraded to a tropical storm and named Barry. We thanked our lucky stars several times over the next 2 days that we had pushed on and made it into Marathon. It nice to be in an enclosed harbor on a secure mooring, and where we could get off the boat easily (between squalls).

By late Saturday morning, we could see a little blue between the clouds. By noon we had a nice sun (though some intermittant squalls came thru during the day).

And yesterday (Sunday) it was just plain gorgeous. We are finally in the "Fabulous Florida Keys". (in Marvelous Midtown Marathon).

We had to hold off on the engine project until we were getting enough sun to keep the batteries up with solar. But yesterday we ran out of excuses, so Dave and his friend Jim took the head off the engine. Dave's doing a run to Napa today to get some parts and by Tues or Weds it should be back together.

Meanwhile, the cockpit cushion recovering project has become my highest priority (finally). I hauled the sewing machine into the work area at the City Marina and spent yesterday working on recovering the cushions. I got the prototype done by noon and got it approved by the captain. I should be able to finish this project today.

We have been socializing a lot. Dave lived in Marathon for about 15 years, and spent the last 4 or 5 in the Boy Scout charter program. He lived aboard several times in Boot Key Harbor also. So we are getting hailed all the time by old friends. We are both really enjoying a return to the cruising life.

We had a nice dinner last night at the No Name Pub on Big Pine Key with Ed and Daisy, some CSY friends of Dave's. There was a 50 minute wait to get in to eat, so Ed drove us around No Name Key.

The Key Deer were all over the place! I have only glimpsed one or two in all the years I've been in and around the Keys (they are hard to see at 65 miles an hour!). We saw maybe 20 last night, driving slowly around the semi-residential streets.

We plan to stay here a couple more days to finish the engine project, hopefully fix the radar, and do yet another tweak on the refrigeration system. We expect to head for Key West about Thursday, and stay there a couple of days before starting to look for a weather window south to Belize.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007
In The Keys!!
We had a nice sail yesterday, outside from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami and then down Biscayne Bay. We spent the night at Pumpkin Key last night, and went out through Angelfish Creek at about 8am this morning. Followed the chart and the marked channel. Tide was nearly high, with about 1/2 knot of current running in. Lowest depth we saw was 7.3 feet. All the marks were there as charted.

We are now having a beautiful sail down Hawk Channel with reefed main and genoa. Rolling along at 6-7 knots. ETA Marathon about 6pm tonight. We'll be in Marathon at least thru Tuesday of next week.

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Monday, September 04, 2006
Sitting in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, in the Keys watching it rain.

Actually we are doing boat chores and planning our departure for tomorrow. We needed this day to finish up all the stuff Dave didn't get done last week when hiding out from Ernesto.

Weather has been abominable the last 2 days... has been drizzling on and off. We tried to take friends out snorkling yesterday but ended up aborting the trip due to rain and strong winds (forecast was 10 kts East, we had 20 kts South).

None of the 'weather guessers' seem to know what's up... they have only been forecasting 'scattered showers'.

Working on wifi from Boot Key Harbor! 'Only' costs $8.95 for 24 hrs or $39/mo. But sure easier to get weather reports over the internet vs. HF.

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Thursday, August 31, 2006
Ernesto was a wimp! (thank goodness)
This storm managed to go nearly directly over Dave in Islamorada and directly over me in Satellite Beach. But all we got was lots of rain, and gusty conditions, but nothing over about 30 knots.

Dave pulled out of the hurricane hole yesterday morning, catching enough of a high tide to get out OK. He stopped at Sea Base to refill water tanks, get ice, and say goodbye, and then motored down to Marathon. He made it on a mooring in Boot Key Harbor just after dark last night... hot, hungry, and exhausted... but safe.

I anxiously checked out the mark on the piling across the canal this morning--worried that all the rain had raised the water level too much for us to get under the bridges in the ICW between Port Canaveral and Satellite Beach. But it looks OK this morning.

Plans are still for Dave to drive up here tomorrow, where we'll rent a car for a one-way trip to Soggy Paws. By next week, with a little luck and good weather, Soggy Paws should be in the Indian River.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Soggy Paws ready for Ernesto

I just talked to Dave via cell phone. He is in the hurricane hole, has the boat stripped down and ready. He is tied up to the mangroves, and has several anchors out. He is by himself onboard, but there is another boat nearby. Currently the wind is about 20-25 kts and squally.

He was hoping that the storm would go east of him, so he only had to set anchors on one side. However, the forecast track is still vacillating, and in fact it looks like it may go right over top of him. So he is prepared for any eventuality.

Fortunately, it is still forecast to be a Tropical Storm, or at worst, a minimal Hurricane.

What I haven't told him yet is that there's another one forming up off Africa... :P

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Here comes Ernesto!
Just when we thought we had everything planned out to move Soggy Paws to Melbourne starting next weekend...

Hurricane Ernesto currently is forecast to track right over Islamorda on Wednesday, where Soggy Paws is docked right now. Dave was visiting me for the weekend, and has now headed back south to do something about Soggy Paws (can't leave her on the dock at Sea Base during a hurricane).

He'll make a final decision tomorrow morning, but I think his current plan is to move the boat to the hurricane hole nearby (where he and another boat rode out Wilma successfully). The only iffy thing is the tide... he needs a high tide to get the boat in and out. Fortunately, there's a nice high tide tomorrow--it is getting OUT later that is the problem... in a few days the mid-day tides are not quite high enough. But we'll worry about that problem later.

I wanted to go with Dave and help him out, but he said he could handle it. He wants me to save my vacation time to make the trip up with him the following week. There is another boat going into the hole with him, so the two guys will be able to help each other out. But it is really going to be nerve-wracking for me to be here, with him there on the boat in the middle of the hurricane.

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Monday, August 14, 2006
Last night Dave made a great steak and lobster dinner... with fresh lobster he picked up on the reef this week (at one of his 'secret spots').

Today we unloaded 200' of rusty chain, and loaded in 300' of shiny new chain, marked at 33' intervals. Since the normal chain locker won't hold 300' of chain, we fed the first 100' down through a pipe to a small spot in the bilge (pipe pre-fabbed by Dave awhile back). (see picture of Dave measuring chain)

Great day for doing work on the dock, as it was cloudy and drizzly (vs. the 95 degrees and sunny that it normally is).

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