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Posted By Robin & Jim

Our boat is enjoying the nice weather in the Keys while we're running up and down the east coast in a car, visiting our families and friends for the holidays.  We had a great visit with Jim's family in Clearwater - several of his brothers and sisters were there with their spouses and families, and we had a marvelous time together!  This is Jim's brother Russell, his Dad, and his sister Margaret.  There were 24 people all together - a fun bunch.

roberts family

From Clearwater, we headed up to NJ to see Robin's Dad for Christmas.  This is the house that Robin grew up in, and her Dad was born there.

dads house

The snow arrived a day late for a white Christmas, but it was a full-fledged blizzard with howling winds and drifting snow.  We have about 18" that fell in a relatively short time.  Fortunately it's sunny and nice today, but the wind is still fierce and it sometimes rearranges what the snow blower throws.  Jim spent the entire morning with Dad's snow blower clearing the sidewalks and driveway - he was having a ball! 

jim and snow blower

If we had to do this all the time we'd hate it (we used to when we lived on the dirt in the Great White North), but it's a treat to see everything so pretty.  Tomorrow we start making our way south again, back to the palm trees and barracuda and sand.

This is Dad's caregiver Bronia, walking little Emma the Maltese - Emma hates the snow, but tolerates it with her little pink coat. 

bronia and emma

We had a nice time visiting with our Dads, but we're tired of wearing so many layers of clothes and we're ready to get back to the Keys where life is a little more laid back.

We want to wish you all a very Happy, Healthy New Year!

 


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

We arrived in Marathon on December 1, just as the sun was setting.  We settled in, got my kayak down, and unloaded our bikes - our only wheels for getting around until we return with our car after holiday visiting up north.  It's good to be back and we've been waiting for our friends and dock-mates to arrive for the season.

The Marathon Holiday Boat Parade was Saturday's highlight, complete with an entry from our friend Debbie who had a huge gang of people helping her cover her boat in lights!

xmas boat parade debbie

There were about a dozen boats, though people had a lot more lights on their boats than last year.  We had a great view and it was a wonderful parade, but last year's was a bit more exciting when one of the parade boats ran aground.

xmas boat parade

The other day we had some excitement.  For starters, we had some of the same strong winds and frigid temps that folks in the Great White North have had.  We had 20-30 knots of wind and record low temperatures - in the mid-40's overnight!!  Remember many people in the Keys don't have any heat because it's not supposed to get cold here.

One one of the coldest and windiest days, we had some camera crews running around the marina.  It turns out that the reality TV show "Amazing Race" was filming for their upcoming season. 

Each pair of contestants arrived on a sexy T-top boat with four huge outboards, jumped up on the fuel dock, and ran down the dock with a cameraman in tow.  I give the boat drivers a lot of credit - it was not easy docking in that wind!

amazing race 1

There were three teams - two showed up fairly close together and the third team was about a half hour later.  One team looked like basketball players - extremely tall, wearing shorts that looked like the Harlem Globetrotters. 

We heard that the contestants came from Big Pine - it must have been a VERY cold and wet ride with the wind and waves, and after all the excitement at the fuel dock they vanished.  There are rumors they had to run out the old Seven Mile Bridge to Pigeon Key (the site of a camp for workers building Flagler's railroad to Key West in the early 1900's), as well as alternate theories.  It would be pretty scary going out on the bridge in such heavy gusty winds, but I guess we'll have to wait until the spring to find out the story. 

amazing race 2

We are some of the last people on earth to even glance sideways at a reality TV show, unless you count Mythbusters as reality TV.... (we love Mythbusters)...  but I guess we'll have to tune into this thing just to find out where Hollywood has set up shop in our beloved Keys.

Just another day in paradise!


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

We spent a lovely Thanksgiving weekend with our friend Bill, puppy Abbey, Sunny, and her husband Jim in Cocoa Beach.  My Jim got to spend time in one of his favorite hardware stores, and we enjoyed a chance to catch up and relax with our friends.
After the triptophan haze wore off we started pushing to get down to Marathon in the Keys.  The trip through South Florida is always interesting, and this year the winds were howling and the ocean was nasty - so we had to travel "on the inside" - in the ICW.  Between Palm Beach and Miami we have to open 24 bridges, and most are on a schedule. 

bridge opening

This is normally pretty tiring, but we had an absolutely beautiful 80 degree day with very light boat traffic (it was a Monday).  Jim set up the chart plotter so I would have a "time to go" between each bridge, which made it easy for me to adjust the speed of the boat to arrive at the next bridge a minute or two before it was scheduled to open.  It's an interesting ride through miles of concrete canyon.

icw and condos

The homes in this section of the ICW are just amazing - mansions, a few little ratty houses in unexpected places, endless ultra-fancy condos, and marinas chock full of mega-yachts. 

mansion


mansion and yacht

We passed one yacht club with a DeFever 49, and she looked like a toy compared to all the other boats around her.  Another marina had a 70' DeFever and she also looked like a toy boat compared to the big fancy yachts.  It just boggles the mind.

megayacht row

We had to wait a bit for our last bridge to open in downtown Miami, but it gave us the chance to see several huge cruise ships head right to the waterfront on the other side of the bridge and slowly lumber 180 degrees in the turning basin so they could head out to sea. 

We anchored next to Key Biscayne just after dark and enjoyed a nice day of rest while we waited for a weather front to move through.  We would have only one day in between fronts to get to Marathon - 94 nautical miles.  During the night at anchor we could hear dolphins all around the boat for hours - in the daylight we could see that they were hunting in small groups.

miami skyline

The Miami skyline was neat to see, though it was nice to have some distance from the bustling city.  We enjoyed watching the city light up as it got dark, and were amazed at the lights still shining when we departed at 0500, heading for Marathon.