The day of the week is very important. I'm not sure why, but it seems that it should be. So Carol diligently writes the day of the week and the date down before she has coffee in the morning. I would do it, but my job in the morning is to make the coffee. When we are on the move, the local tides are important, as it tells us when we will have a favorable current, or when the water depths are not as skinny so we don't run aground. For the record, the currents do not seem to follow any logical relationship with the tides, but I'm sure that's just me. Since we are not on the move right now, this section is devoted to birthdays of children and grandchildren. Maybe that's why the date is important.
The grocery list is a removable item. Because the Post It Note's glue degrades quickly in the salt air, we use the nifty magnet that came with our steel dry erase board to hold it on. (I suspect the steel dry erase board will degrade quickly as well.) As you can see, we don't really need much from the store, but what is up there is important. And remember, it's a walk, not a drive, to the store. And back. Twelve 12oz beverages are heavy. As a consequence, some must be consumed upon arrival. It's a law. In Florida.
The gibberish up in the left hand corner has to do with active and reserve fresh water tanks. That is important and usually handled my me, except when I forget. Then Carol reminds me.
The "B4 Leave" means "Things We Have To Do Before We Leave Boot Key Harbor". I didn't think the board was big enough, so I improvised.
The "Holly Bottom" thing probably needs some explanation. It's happening on Wednesday.
Wait a minute. If today is March 2nd, then Wednesday is March 4th. And that is Carol's birthday. I KNEW it was important to keep up with the date!
And so, a plan was born.
There is a person who lives on a boat in the harbor who makes her living diving on boats, cleaning the growth off of boat bottoms, doing maintenance, changing zincs (the sacrificial metal that boaters clamp to their boats so the ocean eats it instead of the propeller), etc. Neat gig. Her name is Holly, and we had an appointment on Wednesday for her to clean the bottom of the boat and replace the zinc on the propeller shaft. The plan then was to take Carol to Bahia Honda State Park for her birthday, there to do some fishing, beachcombing, and swimming.
Unfortunately, when the big day came, Holly was a no show. We waited around all day, trying to raise her on the radio (she had my number to call if "weather or other factors" prevented her from keeping the appointment, but I did not get hers), but no joy. So we took the dinghy down Sister Creek and walked on Sombrero Beach, then we went to Fl Keys Steak and Lobster House for cocktails. We then came back to the boat for dinner.
The next day, after rescheduling with Holly, we left for the north side of Bahia Honda, through the Seven Mile Bridge. It was a nice place with a small natural beach (at least on the Gulf side). We could not get over to the ocean side as the bridge in that area is too low. We took the dinghy to the beach, where Carol found a live conch. Then we went to the park proper and checked it out. Then we left.
The plan was to spend the night there. But there was this...smell. It was coming from the rotting sea grass that was washed up on the beach. And the beach was (by my careful planning) upwind from where we were anchored, so we could be in the lee (downwind, where the island is blocking the full force of the wind). Every time I looked at Carol, her nose was crinkled. So I took the hint.
We made a run for familiar territory. Cocoanut Key. We anchored just before sunset in our old spot. And watched the sun go down. And the moon come up. It was magical.
The Barracuda must have known it was her birthday. They were eager to play. She caught four, and they are a fighting fish. Good sports all, they were released so they can get bigger, as will the stories of their catch. That's Sea Bird at anchor in the background. We're in about five feet of water and you can clearly see the bottom.
It was low tide. Sea Bird was floating in about 5-1/2 feet of water. Her draft is 5'1" as designed. She is now loaded for cruising, so it's a few inches more. This means there is only inches under the keel. It's a sand bottom, so I wasn't really worried. Until...
I was pulling the anchor. We had discussed our exit strategy, and Carol was going to motor directly toward deeper water. As I was washing the sand off the anchor I heard "I need some assistance here!" When Carol speaks formally to me, I know she is either really stressed or I am really in trouble.
"What's wrong?", I said.
"I'm running out of water!"
Now Carol has this tendency to be frugal with the throttle, so as not to get the considerable mass of Sea Bird going too fast in the wrong direction. Slow and steady, and all that. Unfortunately, she also loses control at times because there is not enough water flowing over the rudder to push the boat around. After accessing the situation, I realized she was, indeed, heading towards the shoal to the port side. Realizing she had the wheel already locked to starboard, I yelled "FLOOR IT!". I heard the engine rev up, under no load. "It's not doing anything!" she yelled.
I calmly walked back to the helm. Standing beside my now panicked wife, I asked: "Is it in gear?". I watched as realization washed across her face.
"Put it in forward, and give it some throttle."
The boat responded perfectly, and soon we were dodging lobster pots on the way home.
Home. That's the problem.
We have been here three months. We are coming to think of this as "home". But it's not. Sea Bird is our home, and she (and we) are getting just a little restless. We have decided to start our journey north. As much as we like it here, there are other places to see.
We are paid until the 13th. But I'm not sure the weather is going to cooperate. And we are, after all, not in control of the weather. I'm not talking huge weather here but, after all, the safety and comfort of the ship and crew is my responsibility. And, I don't want to pull an anchor watch.
And so, we play our game. A game in which we have no control, as the rules are written by mother nature. When the weather lets us move, we'll move. Probably to the confines of Biscayne Bay, just south of Miami, there to do some further explorations, and have some more adventures.
The weather here is nice, whether we go or whether we stay. But go we will, even if we decide to go to weather.