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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hanging Out at the Keys Drinkeries Tiki Hut in Marathon...

The bartender at the Keys Drinkeries Tiki Hut of all people was indeed correct when he commented that the anchorage across the way was "iffy"... In fact that anchorage was decidedly lousy.

I just happened to be fortunate that winds that evening were rather mild. Otherwise I might have spent a sleepless night up on deck worrying about Blondie dragging her anchor.

The holding at that anchorage seemed to resemble a hard cement sidewalk with but a thin layer of sand above it. Blondie's anchor never did quite seem to grab hold.

I would have set out another anchor that evening but I simply couldn't be bothered. Especially since I then might have had two anchors skipping on that underwater pavement only to later become intertwined like two strands of spaghetti.

So whether I was right or wrong, I wasn't too worried about Blondie's anchor dragging since she was only gently being pushed further away from shore and out into deeper water. Besides that I'd be pulling up anchor first thing in the morning and setting sail for the secure anchorage in Boot Key Harbor later that day.

Well it wasn't till around nine or so the following morning that I finally pulled up the anchor and raised the sails. There was but a very gentle breeze blowing and I had tired of waiting for stronger winds to push Blondie on towards the Seven Mile Bridge.

But what the heck... two knots is two knots... besides that I had nothing better to do other than sip on my large mug of coffee while sailing in those light winds. I suppose that I could have cranked up the outboard motor and got on with it but I'm on a sailboat and that is that.

Besides, the noise alone would have ruined the moment and soon rattled my nerves. But don't get me wrong... I am not a purist by any means and there are indeed certain moments when it is imperative to throttle up to safely negotiate a narrow channel or even a tight anchorage.

And it goes without saying that cranking up the motor is almost imperative if one should have the misfortune of inadvertently running aground... a lesson I can personally attest to after setting sail early one morning out of Sunset Cove in Key Largo.

No sooner had I pulled up anchor when Blondie found herself aground just south of channel marker 53 to the entrance of Grouper Creek. This was after I had incautiously failed to line up the red and green channel markers marking the entrance to that creek.

I eventually did manage to coerce Blondie back into the channel after some thirty minutes or so but this was only after a bit of effort. With the aid of gusting winds and a partially unfurled jib along with the outboard motor's wide open throttle, I rocked that boat from side to side while pivoting the outboard and turning the tiller hard over time and time again.

So yeah, all those zig-zag marks on that shallow bottom near channel marker 53 were courtesy of Blondie's keel.

Fortunately for me, Blondie had run aground on a soft bottom so the only damage done was to my seamanship-pride. That little event was enough commotion for one day and so within an hour I was safely back at anchor in Sunset Cove and resigned to set sail another day.

Incidentally there are two types of sailors... those who actually sail and those who claim to know how while dissuading any and all conversation about seamanship. This last kind would prefer that you think of them as accomplished sailors while all they've ever done is endlessly bob at anchor. Avoid these kind... they're full of crap.

Well Blondie did eventually sail out from under the Seven Mile Bridge and on out through Moser Channel. Winds did indeed later pick up and after two swift tacks I was dropping the sails outside the channel to Boot Key Harbor and motoring my way on in to the anchorage.

Before long Blondie-Dog was safely at anchor while I dinghied ashore to get an update on Tropical Storm Irene and whether or not she was indeed headed towards South Florida.

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