28 miles to Duck Key, Hawks Cay

Yesterday morning my sister Clotilde and I departed Marathon Yacht Club at 9:50 AM the wind finally shifted out of the east and made leaving the Yacht Club possible.  Duck Key’s inlet is on the Atlantic side so leaving Marathon YC we back tracked to the 7mile bridge where I crossed back to the Atlantic side.  The 15mph east winds had Hawks Channel pretty sloppy but the Hatteras knew its course and cut through the 3 and 4′ waves like a hot knife through butter.  We trolled for about 14 miles today, no hits but still a beautiful place to be, Clotilde was great crew for the move.  We traveled north from about 1 mile offshore, We reached Duck Key inlet about 12:30, as soon as we were behind there breakwater the water calmed down.  You follow a channel around the east side of the island beautiful homes to your Port and the Atlantic to your Starboard, you are protected by a rock jetty.  Once you get to the North East side of the island where the Marina is the wind dies down from all the land and docking is easy, this marina is very protected from all wind vectors, and all wakes.

My sister had to head back to school this afternoon so before she left we had lunch at the Ocean grill and it was great!  From the slip I can watch the charter fishing fleet come and go all day, the marina store here is like a tom thumb and has a lot of good supplies.  Marina staff is great very helpful and laid back attitudes.  Lots of the employees here are from Jamaica, mon so the atmosphere is always Irie and full of love and respect,  these people live the Island lifestyle that i will always strive for.  I got to meet a nice Jamaican man named Omar he works in the U.S. 6 months a year and then goes back to Montego Bay Jamaica, what is so cool is he used to run the Marina Grill at Baytowne Wharf in Destin FL and i remember him from 2011.  Very small world and what great people we coexist with.

Hawks Cay resort has lots of great Amenities for the guests, they have a Dolphin training area where you can take a class to learn how to be a dolphin trainer and swim with the mammals, 5 awesome heated pools, fire pits, golf green, tennis courts, a 21 and up area with its own pool and Bar.  They also have a Spa, gym,  a salt water lagoon, charter boat fleet that will take you diving or fishing, plenty of water sports and so much more.

If you have any questions about coming into this marina call Ed the dock master at 305.289.2943 he is in charge of the marina and very helpful

Marathon days

Staying at Marathon Yacht Club has been a great time, the people I have met here I will remember forever.  One thing i learned here is when you are visiting another Yacht Club the club fly’s your yacht club flag while you are visiting, you can see the PYC flag on one of the below pictures,  this sure feels good to see it flying every morning.  Everyone here loves the water so much and its great to be surrounded with like minded people, Marathon Yacht Club is part of the Florida Council of Yacht Clubs the same with PYC Pensacola Yacht Club where i am a member.  Being a member of PYC and PYC being a member of the Council gives me the first night free at any other Yacht Club and the other nights are only 1.75$ a foot. compared to the normal 3$ a foot this is a big savings and i feel very lucky to be part of the Florida Council.  If your going to be cruising a lot i highly recommend joining a yacht club you will save lots of money on slips and it will pay for your membership after your first free night.  This last Sunday i went to a nautical flee market in Islamorada about 50 miles north of Marathon.  Two very nice boaters that were visiting from Virginia on their 36 Monk Trawler Jack and Alois, they offered to split the 75$ cab with me 3 ways and we all went to the show.  It was a good turnout with loads of venders and lots to see and do, the only thing i purchased was a 1/2″ swivel for my Anchor that i have needed to get for quite some time now.  As you are at anchor and your boat slowly rotates with the wind and currant this swivel allows your chain to rotate with the turning of the boat and keeps the anchor firmly planted in the ground.  Otherwise the chain can get looped and turn the anchor upside down and it won’t be holding you anymore.

We decided to take the Keys bus back to Marathon this was only $2.75 a big savings compared to the taxi.  Lots of people from Miami were on this bus riding it to the keys so they could work their jobs at the resorts and businesses down here, the public transportation here is very efficient.  Marathon Yacht Club has been great for getting a few projects done on the boat, their is a West Marine across the street this is good and bad.  Good because you can get your projects done and bad because it burns up all your money lol.

I pulled my Twin Vee out with the Yacht Club lift and applied its new name its now the Twin Vida, which fits well because its a Twin Vee and the dingy to the Pura Vida so i think you get it.  I also had a sign shop here by the name of Signs by Renee make me another name with port of call, so this can be seen by other boaters needing to call me on the VHF.  The problem with my original name is when we installed my dingy on the back it totally covers up the original Pura Vida Pensacola Fl, so to make it legal again i had to make a second name board with 4″ tall letters.  On a federally documented vessel being able to read the name is mandatory.  Marathon Bait and Tackle fixed up my Pen rod and reel, they re spooled it with 60lb test and installed 2 new eyes on the rod.  This will be fun for trolling to my new destinations.  Keys Fisheries is a killer spot to eat here, its probably a 200 yard walk from my marina.  Keys fisheries is where they bring in all the fresh Florida lobster and stone crabs.  you can get stone crab fresh never frozen here and its only 1.70 a claw, most places with stone crab claws on the menu are 40$ + plate.  i can get 10 claws here for under 20$ the Hogfish is also a great meal to.

55 miles to Marathon

I left my cozy slip at the Galleon Resort Marina around 10:30am this morning, i had 12mph NE winds.  Today was a good day to run Hawk Channel which is the channel that runs the Atlantic side.  For the most part the protection from the Keys kept the water smooth today i passed Stock Island, Boca Chica Key, Sugarloaf Key, Cudjoe Key, Summerland Key, Pine Key, Ramrod Key, Middle Torch Key, No Name Key, and went under the New seven mile bridge.  The crap traps sure were out in force today.  I noticed the color green is a hard one to see when looking at the water down here, sometimes its so green/blue that its harder to see the green markers than the red.  I docked at Marathon Yacht Club around 4pm the dock master and a fellow looper came to help me get Pura Vida tied up.  So far from what I have seen this evening its a great spot, a little exposed to north winds which we are having tonight around 22mph but all is good and I love the sound of the small waves lapping against the back of the Pura Vida, just reminds you that your floating.  Some marinas are so still you forget that your even on a boat.  When you feel the dock lines tighten from the wind its a reassuring feeling like someone or something has got you, and they got you good, you aren’t going anywhere.  Its got to be close to the feeling of a baby being in his or her mothers arms, my 5/8 dock lines give me security.  I plan to explore marathon through the weekend and i will report back soon as i have some good info and pictures.

Key West days 

This has been one of the coolest places I have explored on my boat so far. My gold loop friends John and Sue who have helped me so much along the way with advice and support from Pensacola have been down here since feb 1.  They invited me and my friend Jacob to Schooners for happy hour and dinner where we had a awesome meal and had a birds Eve view of the whole marina.  Sue had her birthday yesterday so happy birthday to her 🙂  I hate to leave but today I am headed to Marathon Yacht Club about 50 miles up the keychain. Jacob flew back to Pensacola yesterday so I am down south Chuggin by myself and my three Diesel engines ☺️

Cruise ships make the town super busy when they are in port

Pura and a nice bird

Puras aft

Jacob and I Atlantic side headed back from lunch at Hurricane Hole

7marine 623hp a piece outboards only company in the world that makes this high of a hp outboard


105 miles to Key West

Me and Jacob departed Marco Island after fueling and buying some trolling tackle to pull across the Gulf this night.  (this is Friday evening the 12th)  After one last check of the weather we departed Roses Marina a little before  5pm with a little over a hour and 1/2 till sunset, this looked like our best window to make it down to the Keys because a front was coming through, and going to make the Gulf turbulent for the next few days.  I’m very happy we decided to go straight to Key West, we only had 105 miles and didn’t want to arrive while its still dark and navigate a channel i’ve never been through.  So we pulled the CATERPILLARS back to around 700rpms at 2am with a following wind and sea this was still pushing us around 6mph, still to fast.  I threw the Starboard engine in neutral and only had the Port in gear this reduced our speed to about 4.5-5mph slow enough to get to the GREEN #1 sea buoy by 7AM when it would be enough light to get to safe harbor.  Me and Jacob took shifts standing watch so the other could take a nap this worked well and the 2-3′ following seas were for the most part a smooth comfortable ride.  Having a Hatteras also gives you piece of mind because their construction is much heavier than the other brands.  Hatteras wasnt worried with speed or fuel consumption so they made these boats heavy and very strong.  You sacrifice a little speed but making a night crossing you always have a slight chance of hitting a debris under the surface like a log or ship container, by the way at any given time their are over 15,000 ship containers circling the globe that create hazards to navigation.  long story short Hatters with its solid fiberglass hull would potentially be fine if it came in contact with a big piece of debris as long as i’m not going to fast.  also in the 80’s they didn’t for sure know how long fiberglass would last so they made it extra thick.  come to find out fiberglass doesn’t ever go bad.  unless you have a boat with wood coring which is in between the fiberglass and if it gets water in the coring you will get rot and a soft spot and have major fiberglass work to do.  I think you get my drift.  solid fiberglass boats are the best, period!  Our whole way to Key West we had to keep a constant eye on the Lobster traps and Stone Crab traps that their buoys are a floating prop fouler.  We did hook a buoy with the trolling line and ended up spooling my reel probably around 12am oh well, so we did catch something.  We made it to Northwest Channel by 7am, i hailed the marina on 16 and they weren’t quite ready for us so we took a anchorage just outside the Key West Bight Marina entrance.  Hundreds of other boats were in the mooring field with us, lots of them looked derelict and their were quite a few sunken ones to.  the marina called me at 9am telling me they were ready for Pura Vida, north wind around 15 had a crowd out watching my maneuvering skills.  I was backing in between two nice and new boats so the pressure was on and everyone was impressed how well we got her docked in with the wind and narrow slips.  Always feels so good to be tied up somewhere new, i have met some great people here, other boaters are the best and willing to help you out with anything you need.  The view from the slip is awesome and we are the closest boat to the hotel pool, hot tub, gym, observation deck, and private beach.  We have a great view of the passing boats in Key West Harbor.   Key West Bight marina where all the slips are is surrounded by bars restaurants shops and lots to do, its a great spot to be.  Hanging out by the dingy dock we had lunch and watched all the interesting people come in from their boats in the mooring field, very very entertaining. I will post more pictures later, have a great week!  Pure Vida mon

Watching the sun set and sun rise on the water is one of the most humbling things, it gives you major appreciation for every morning the sun comes up


63 miles to Marco Island

We left Cabbage Key on the 12th at 8am, btw they don’t have water available at the docks for the boats but still worth it and i heard if you tip the maintenance man he will bring out their hose and fill your water tank with well water.  There was a dolphin splashing around my boat that morning.  Leaving Cabbage Key we started steaming south we went through Pine Island Sound and saw Sanibel Island where you can find some of the best shells, the light house below is Sanibel light.  After passing Sanibel this marks the end of the GIWW we entered the Gulf through Matanzas Pass for the rest of our ride to Marco Island.  we had roughly 40 miles in the gulf to make it to Marco, on the way we passed Naples.  We arrived at Roses in Marco Island around 2:30 to get fuel and fill the water tank.  i’m getting 2MPG which is very lean compared to other boats.  It sounds bad but its actually pretty efficient for a boat this size.  Here we checked weather and talked to a few seasoned yachters about crossing to Key West tonight.

the pics below show sunrise at Cabbage Key, Sanibel Light, Naples from 3 miles offshore and Roses marina


38 miles to Cabbage Key

We returned to the boat last night at Fishermans Wharf in Venice after being in Pensacola for a short visit.  Pura Vida was sure ready to hit the GIWW today, conditions were great.  Sunny with a light north east wind and a little cold but by afternoon it was 70 and still beautiful.  lots of no wake Manatee areas and the dolphin activity on the way here was great, every pod we would come to would follow us for a mile or so and show off then disappear.  Jacob made some great home made guacamole  and fixed a awesome lunch for the ride.  In 1936 Alan Rinehart and Gratia Houghton Rinehart bought the island for $14,500 and invested $125,000 on the amenedities which exist today.   Cabbage Key is One hundred acres of tropical vegetation surround a historic restaurant, inn and cottages. A panoramic view of Pine Island Sound is seen from the front of the restraunt and the marina is pretty well protected. There are no cars here, not even a paved road. You will find winding nature trails, picturesque views, gopher tortoise’s  and a private island feel.  Tomorrow our goal is to get to Marco Island


70 miles to Venice

Feb, 3rd I departed Clearwater Marina at 8am for a 65 mile trip to Venice Fl going through both Tampa and Sarasota Bay, east winds had the gulf looking smooth so I ran outside starting from Clearwater Pass, because the south wind was building I went in at Tampa Pass.  Tampa Bay had some big waves, just like John and Sue my great loop pals had said it would be.  Pura Vida chugged through these 3-4′ waves for about 40 min.  once inside the GIWW from Tampa Bay to Venice it was beautiful, lots of mangroves and manatee zones where you had to go slow.  slow is the best, gives you time to look around you not just ahead of you.  We had 7 bridges to go under, and needed to have 3 bridges open because they were below my 18′ height requirement these bridges open on signal using VHF channel 9.  In Sarasota I actually saw where the tornado’s went through and did some damage to mangroves and totally destroyed homes.  My trip ended up being 70 miles because I went on the gulf side for a couple of hours.  This probably didn’t save me any time it just was nice that I didn’t have to slow down for smaller boats or no wake zones.  I was able to dock at Venice Yacht Club for two nights because the Pensacola Yacht Club is a member of The Florida Council of Yacht Clubs and so is the Venice Yacht Club.  This means I can stay one night free and the other nights 1/2 the price of normal.  No cash is exchanged here they bill it to my PYC account.  Venice Yacht Club rolled out the red carpet it felt like.  everything was ready for my boat upon arrival thanks to the awesome Dock masters Ted and Jim.  I met a bunch of boaters eating dinner at VYC they were all excited to hear about my trip.  Something about Venice Beach from what the locals told me was it’s really easy to find shark teeth on this beach, especially after a big storm, I wonder why this is.  My next three stops are Cabbage Key, Marco Island, and Key West.  VYC sold me a Council of Yacht Clubs book so I can keep in touch with all the right clubs that offer reciprocal privileges.  From here i will go home for a couple days get a few things I need and head back with my friend Jacob so he can ride and assist me to Key West.  Have a great weekend and thanks for reading.

22 miles to Clearwater Beach

Turtle Cove Marina in Tarpon Springs was a very nice facility. The staff was so friendly and the amenities were nice and new. I met some great people in Tarpon Springs, ate great food and could smell the fresh baked goods as they were cooked in a bakery up the river from the Marina every morning, Hellas Bakery to be exact. Their sweet bread is great. A few slips down from me were two boats the Rhino and BaoBab, I made 5 new friends on those two boats. A veteran looper Lynn, she and her husband Dan did the loop and it took them 12 years to do so and I think that’s so cool. Stopping spots along the way for as long as they wanted. While still running all over the country with their super cool haulers moving goods for people to cover travel expenses and visit friends. She used to live in Pensacola so we had a ton in common. Whitney and Ray were aboard the “Rhino”. A super cool 46′ crab boat that was converted to a trawler. With a single NA8v92. It’s a sweet pilot house trawler. I love the lines. Michelle and Blue on the “Baobab” were awesome to get to know and live on a beautiful pilot house cruiser as well. I really hope I can spend more time hanging out with them when I run into them again down the road.
The trip to Clearwater was short and a beautiful ride. I didn’t go far today only 22 miles, I got a later start leaving because I wanted to leave on a high tide because of some shallow spots in the Marina. The water was super green and felt like home but just on another coastline. Clearwater Beachside Marina is a great facility as well. We were docked by 6pm