We departed Key West on Monday the 16th around 0830 and pointed Ghost Rider’s bow due west toward the Dry Tortugas. The weather was very good – a bit humid (70%) and temps starting in the low 80’s (later up to 90) with a light breeze out of the east and a following sea of that varied between 1 and 3 feet, with perhaps an occasional 4 foot roller…it was comfy.
We cruised out of cellular range about 2 hours after departure and tuned the SSB radio to 2182.0 (short range distress frequency.) And we were definitely going downhill – our SOG was 8K+ knots most of the way at just under 1700 RPM, and when we did our daily WOT run we hit 9.7K, which is flying low for Ghost Rider.
|Sunset Over Loggerhead Key|
Sunset was a bit obscured by high clouds but still stunning over Loggerhead Key. The wind picked up to around 15K with gusts to 20K, and while we bobbed a bit as we weathervaned into the stiff breeze, we held secure and had a comfy although occasionally rolly night.
More boat stuff today:
· We’ve developed a solid theory on why those 2 house batts are trending so much warmer than any of the others in the bank: the large engine room (intake) cooling fans we had installed when we first acquired the boat are hard-wired directly to those two batteries; that’s looking more and more like a bad design. The likely solution is to reroute that wiring over to the battery bus bar, and spread the load over all 6 house batts; not sure I have enough wire of the correct gauge on board, but it looks like that can wait until we make Palm Beach later in the month.
· We ran without the genset (and no air conditioner) for the first 6 hours today, but when the mercury hit 90 we cranked it up & turned on the A/C. The pilot house air handler, however, wasn’t cooling; that turned out to be a stuck valve (which I cured with a hammer).
|The Fort's Moat and Snorkeling Beach|
|Casper Beached at the Fort|
|Inside the Fort|
|Inside the Fort|
|Bird Sanctuary on NE Side of the Fort|
|Diving on the Running Gear|
· Casper-the-friendly-ghost-dinghy’s 40 HP Yamaha still isn’t quite right, even after a full service completed on it back in Fort Myers a week ago; idle is a tad rough, but it also bogs down seriously between 2500 & 3300 RPM. I may go looking for a fuel-injected engine vs. messing around with this ancient carbureted stuff.
The next day (Wednesday 5/18) began a bit early when a hefty line of thunderstorms blew through the area from 0100 to 0200 – we swung 180 degrees on the anchor but held fast; I was glad we weren’t in the more crowded anchorage, but it rained hard and was a bit lumpy out there.
|Flopper Stopper Deployed|
After that we took the dinghy over to Loggerhead Key, about 2 NM west of our anchorage, beached Casper on the northeast end of the island and went swimming and snorkeling. Michelle also picked up a conch shell and an interesting chunk of coral rock while beachcombing. After a couple hours we returned to Ghost Rider for a late lunch, cleaned up Casper and secured her back on the boat deck in preparation for the sortie back to Key West. We had another fine evening on the fly bridge looking at miles of azure water, listening to Jimmy Buffet and enjoying yet another happy hour in paradise.
On Thursday 5/18 we awoke to some light showers and a quick weather check via the radar set and XM satellite revealed a broad area of showers and thunderstorms to our southeast and stretching to Key West and beyond. We had an extra “weather day” built into our planned itinerary, but decided we didn’t need it – we pulled the anchor just before 0900 and tucked Ghost Rider in behind the line of weather, confident the storms were moving east faster than we could.
We took the lower route back to Key West, passing on the south side of the Marquesas. Seas were forecast at 2 to 4 feet, and initially they were; but at about the 3 hour mark winds cranked up to 20K out of the southeast, with higher gusts, and seas increased steadily and we found ourselves punching into 5 to 7 footers, from beam to quartering on the starboard bow, and with very short intervals. So it was definitely a lumpy ride up until around the 7 hour mark, and then the wind died down to around 10K and seas tapered off to 1-2 feet. But between the head seas and currents, our pace wasn’t good – it took us 2 hours longer on the flip-flop.
We wanted to try a different port in Key West this time, so we put into Stock Island Marina (about 5 miles west of downtown Key West on the Atlantic side) shortly after 1900. Ghost Rider just hummed all the way with no issues, and got a much needed bath after arrival….we and the boat were a salty mess. Stock Island is a nice marina, but lacks cable TV at the slips, which is a bummer as Rick needs his news and sports fix.
We’re spending Friday & Saturday here catching up on sleep, email, snail mail and some administrative stuff, and of course Chelle's shopping fix, before heading up the
island chain towards the east coast of the U.S.
More to come in the near future.
|Chelle Shopped for Coffee|
|A "Blue Moon" Over Stock Island|
More to come in the near future.