Saturday, April 30, 2016

Northbound Again

As much as we would like to stay in the Keys a bit longer, the dreaded "H" season is fast approaching once again so it is time to make our way back north. We made one last provisioning run to the Publix supermarket near Tarpon Basin and departed on Wednesday morning. The goal for the day was to pick up some fuel and once again anchor near Elliot Key.

We have done pretty well on fuel best I can figure. We last topped off our 66 gallon fuel tank in Ft. Pierce during our trip south. Since that time, we have spent most of our travel time under sail, only starting up the motors to maneuver in tight channels (where the wind is often blocked or not in a favorable direction) and to anchor (the windlass needs running motors). The lack of solar means most of our diesel was actually spent feeding the generator to top off our house battery bank.

Believe it or not, I found only two marinas where we could get fuel between Tarpon Basin and Elliott Key. One was Gilberts Marina located right next to the Highway 1 bridge into Key Largo. They didn't have fuel prices listed on Active Captain and the reviews seemed to indicate that they were well aware of the fact they were the only game in the area. The other marina was Herbert Hoover marina in southern Biscayne Bay. They were a municipal marina and, while the knowledge of the staff was questionable, they were reported to be more friendly and with better fuel prices (for the area).

We sailed as much as we could. Unfortunately the winds that were forecast to be from the east were more northeast and we occasionally fired up an engine to get a better course. We arrived at the marina a little after 3PM (they close at 4) and topped off our fuel and water supplies. When we left the fuel gauge indicated over half a tank and my "worst case" calculation said we should have at least 26 gallons remaining. It was nice to see it only took 32 gallons to fill up. I've been logging the gas gauge indications and fuel added and am gaining more confidence in what the gauge is telling me.

We departed the marina and motored directly into the wind across Biscayne bay. We dropped the hook just a bit north of where we were the last time, near a sandy beach. Just as we were anchoring a couple of guys from the parks service stopped by. They wanted us to know that they were doing rodent control on the island that night and not to be alarmed if we heard gunfire. Fortunately we didn't hear a thing, I guess the park service great rat hunt didn't go that well but at least they didn't keep us awake.

Our neighbors anchored at north Elliott Key

The next morning we decided to continue our trip north by making a stop by No Name Harbor before doing an overnight passage to Lake Worth.  We raised the main sail while still anchored and only started the engines in order to use the windlass.  We pulled up the anchor, pointed the nose north, and let the sails once again take over.  We made our way through one of the narrow cuts and had a nice sail across Biscayne bay.

No Name Harbor at Bill Bags Cape Florida State Park.

We arrived at No Name Harbor around 1 pm.  The main reason for stopping here is that I know that the harbor is often used as a staging location for people waiting on weather in order to cross to the Bahamas and I wanted to check it out while we were here.  We tied up to the wall and paid the $8 day use fee.  We had lunch at the on-site restaurant (can't say I would recommend them...all the quality of airport food with prices to match) and took the dogs for a nice long walk along the paths in the park.  Around 5 pm we bid the park adieu, continued out Biscayne channel and pointed the bow north.  The engines again fell silent after we exited the channel and wren't pressed into service until we were becalmed about an hour outside of the Lake Worth inlet.

Sun Setting somewhere over Miami/Ft. Lauderdale.

Having spent so much time sailing since we left Ft. Pierce and given the heat of the day, we decided to treat ourselves to a dock at a marina in North Palm Beach.  This would allow us to use the air conditioner, do some provisioning without the hassles of the dinghy, and get wifi access. So, as I finish up this post I'm sitting in air conditioned comfort...trying to keep my eyes open late on Friday night.  Maybe I'll finish and post this in the morning.


  1. Hi Mike et al,
    Hope your trip north is going well and much more trouble free than your trip south. The trip will certainly be warmer.... Heading for the same latitude in VA?

    Doug in VT

    1. So far so good. Not sure where we will end up, but hope to do more sightseeing and less boat projects.