February 1. Never count on the weather. The wind last night was supposed to clock around to the southeast leaving us protected by Rodriguez Key. Not quite. The wind swung around to the east and piped up to 20 knots for the entire night. We were getting big, sometimes breaking rollers coming right through the anchorage. There were only 6 boats there so there was plenty of room so we put out 100 feet of chain in 10 feet of water with our 66 pound anchor and Veranda rode the swells while we slept soundly below.
This morning we were up at 0530 to launch the dinghy so I could walk the dogs. It was a least a fifteen minute ride each way to cover three quarters of a mile in choppy seas. When I got back it was time to raise the anchor and head south.
The other boats in the anchorage all stayed put, as the weather was calling for 15 to 20 knots from the east building to 20 to 25 by late afternoon. There was no way we were spending another night with so little protection.
Before we departed we put a double reef in the main to make things easier if in fact the winds did build. We headed out into the Hawk Channel and turned south. And their off. We were flying along at better than seven knots with a reefed main and about half the genoa out. The waves breaking over the reef made for a very rolly ride, at times we able to surf some of the swells at close to 9 knots. Needless to say, we made good time.
We are anchored in Boot Key Harbor in the city of Marathon. This anchorage offers excellent protection from every direction. There are over a hundred mooring balls here and a couple of hundred boats anchored as well. Every mooring is full and there are 35 boats ahead of us on the list to get a ball. We found a spot that we liked and dropped the hook in 9 feet of water.
The anchorage was extremely full and we had to spend a bit of time to find an open spot with enough room for us to swing. This area is a popular staging spot for boats getting ready to leave for the Bahamas. There is supposed to be a good weather window this weekend followed by a week of wind from the wrong direction so there’s a pretty good chance that a lot of these other boats will be leaving this weekend.
There seems to be quite a bit to do here so we will probably be here for a week or two. There’s even a bus line that runs several times a day that will take you all the way to Key West for a dollar. Bargain. We’ve picked out a pub to watch the Super Bowl and we’ll spend tomorrow exploring our new surroundings.