Isn’t it hard to beat a sunset in the Florida Keys? Here we are anchored back at Marathon, late in the evening on May 20. But getting here was not so easy. Our trip across the Florida Straights and the Gulf Stream was uneventful, smooth, and fast, right up to the point where a high pressure fuel injection line cracked. Yes, we were motor-sailing once again with very light southeast winds, making great time heading south along the offshore reefs when the line broke. We had planned to head straight to Marathon, but with no motor and sailing at gee – 2 knots, we decided to stop for the night at Rodriguez. Got there by 2100 hours, tired, hot, and the boat smelling of diesel fuel. We’d eaten a simple dinner along the way as we wanted to hit the sack as soon as possible. It had been a very long day.
The next morning dawned clear with light easterly winds, favorable for our sail south to Marathon. We didn’t have any idea how long it would take us to get to Marathon, so we decided to sail as far as we could and anchor again if necessary. We raised anchor around 0800 deciding to eat breakfast along the way. I cooked up some bacon, fried eggs, toast with strawberry jam, and coffee to enjoy while ghosting along at 2 to 3 knots. The sail was going well, Otto was driving, and we actually were making pretty good time. The wind was up a little, and we were making 5 plus knots when I started hearing a clunking sound from the steering – not good to hear new strange sounds like that. A few minutes searching revealed a large crack in the autopilot mounting base, apparently a weak spot in the structure. So, Otto took a vacation, and Joy steered while I thought out a temporary fix for the weak member. I managed to clamp a heavy steel bar to the bottom of the mount, wedge a piece of lumber onto the top, and we had a temporary emergency pilot if we needed it. We alternated steering, then a squall boosted our speed to over 8 knots for a while, and we soon realized we would make Marathon that evening, actually anchoring by 1800 hours for the sunset shot above.
We stayed at Marathon Marina and Boat Yard again just long enough to make repairs. We love it there; the crew, especially Debbie Davis and Peter at the fuel dock are so great. I highly recommend this marina to any travelers.
Despite our little problems, Joy and I are both still extremely happy on this trip. Life is still good;, the breakages simply meant we were using the boat a lot. Things break especially if you work them hard, and we surely have worked them hard. Figure, the Perkins is 24 years old; the pilot mounting structure was about 12 years old, and both have seen a lot of miles. Both items have now been replaced, the fuel line while in Marathon, and the mounting after returning to Snead Island – strengthened many times over the original. Just another day
From start to finish, an awesome 3 month trip. Here we arrive once again to a full moon at St. James City after a 15 hour run from Shark River, a long but satisfying day. From there on to Useppa, then home over Memorial day week end. A bitter sweet arrival back at our BYC dock, the trip gone except for the memories and a few new friends. Time to start dreaming and planning once again.