January 31. We’re up and leaving South Beach at 0700 bound for Rodriguez Key. Rodriguez Key is a small, uninhabited island about a mile off the mainland. The allure is the protection that the small island offers from the south. We are only exposed to the wind and wave action from the east and northeast. Today we rode a 12 to 15 knot north wind all the way here and the wind is supposed to swing around to the southeast later tonight so we should be protected here.
This morning after weighing anchor I was below tending to the electrical panel with Christy at the helm. She calls me up to see what I think about what’s going on nearby. There’s a small uninhabited island about three quarters of a mile from where we were anchored. It’s a state park of some kind and draws people for weekend barbeques and such. As we were passing bye Christy heard screaming and looked to see a dozen or more people on the beach screaming and yelling, waving shirts and jumping up and down. We didn’t dare go in too close to shore so we called the Coast Guard. It took several calls back and forth to make them understand that we saw several very exited people on the isle with no boat in sight and it was our impression that they had been there for the night (high fifties).
They promised to send one of their fast patrol boats to the area and see what was up. 5 minutes later we were contacted by the skipper of the craft and he thanked us for getting involved and said that it had been a serious situation. When we made our turn to the south we could see news choppers hovering over the island. We don’t know what the story is but we think it had a happy ending.
The sail down here was beautiful with the water being very clear at 20 feet deep. We had several dolphins cavorting in our bow wake during the day.
The trip down here from Miami was in a stretch of water known as the Hawks Channel. There’s a barrier reef a mile or two off shore that parallels the mainland for most of the trip down to Key West. So when you look to the east you can see out over the ocean but the waves are breaking on the reef leaving you calm waters to sail in. It’s well marked and has been a delight so far.