Monday, January 5, 2015

Our Unexpected Stop in Key Largo

We set sail on December 30th from Stock Island Marina Village en route to Bimini as this is the first major sail in this boat other than a few day sails in and around Key West.  We were slightly nervous to say the least, but once we got outside the reef, we hoisted the sails and cut the engines.  Heading east, we were going along at around 5 to 6 knots, but just as the sun was setting, the wind died down and started coming straight on our nose.  With the wind so weak, even if we had tacked we wouldn't have been making much progress.  We started the engines and dropped the sails and were quickly making about 6.5 knots with seas around 3 feet.

Our first sunrise
We all took turns on watch, and I'm not sure anybody got over 2 hours of sleep the whole night - except for Tami who seemed to get the best sleep of her entire life as the constant motion of the boat kept the voices in her head at check.  I'd try and lay down, but you hear every slap of the waves and every rpm engine change - and you worry.  

The boat handled great, and before too long the sun was starting to peak up above the horizon and we had successfully completed our first night sail.  We decided to raise the sails since the wind direction indicated that we'd be able to make a little progress at least until the engines got a break and we could do a morning inspection and oil level check.  The port engine looked great - no oil leaks and the level was exactly the same.  The starboard engine was a different story.  Although the oil level was perfect, there was a small fuel leak - Justin quickly had the part removed and was replacing a small o-ring on a fuel nipple and had it back together.  The boat-crippling problem happened during start-up - the starter began to make a horrible grinding noise.  The puzzling thing was that this was our brand new starter we installed only 2 months ago.  After removal, the bell crank housing was completely broken off.

That's when we decided to head for shore instead of jumping over the Gulf Stream.  Key Largo was now the unexpected destination and we soon found ourselves frantically looking for a marina in which to dock.  We did find one that could accommodate our needs while we found a replacement starter but with our draft about 3.5 feet, we were instructed to anchor on the back of Rodriquez Key until the high tide at 4:00pm.  But with the favorable weather and a boat fully stocked we decided to stay at anchor instead.  

En route to our unexpected visit to Key Largo
But what has kept us hear for 6 days now is the unbelievably difficult time we've had at finding a replacement OEM starter coupled with the New Year's holiday.  What we've discovered the replacement starter that broke is known for it - multiple forum posting revealed numerous people having the exact same problem with their replacement starter made in China.  So we sit.  And for the first 5 days, it was ok.  But now we're ready to move on.  

But a few things we've learned so far:

1. Our anchor holds pretty good
2. We can sail our boat with only 6 inches under her keels - although this one happened accidentally (all around Rodriguez Key has only depths of about 4 to 6 feet
3. We can entertain ourselves well - but we're not sure how long that will last
4. That walking to your destinations can be done, but these short distances we've been walking may not count.

Rodriguez Key in the distance
Today our OEM starter is supposed to arrive - finally, and then we should be out of here tomorrow and on our way to Bimini with a great weather window starting today and lasting until Thursday.  We have another night sail ahead of us and maybe that's why I'm feeling a little sick to my stomach.



  1. Great job matey on that overnighter! You must have been pretty close to Bimini when all this stuff went down. Either way Key Largo not such a bad place to be holed up (great little bar at @ marina del mar), forget the name, must of been good!

    1. Well actually, when we decided to head for land, it was right as we were about to make a new route to Bimini....just so happened to be Key Largo and Rodriguez Key. And we didn't go to that restaurant/bar even though it smelled so good.....we have over $1300 worth of food/drinks/snacks on board and couldn't bear the thought of spending the money to eat or drink out.