Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Key West .. The Adventure Begins!

Key West Airport!

 If you follow our Facebook page, you know that we've had some exciting times this past month. If you've been in the dark then you don't know that Ken & I went to Mexico ... and we sailed there! Yep, we actually sailed from Key West to Isla Mujeres!

Okay, we didn't sail Nirvana to Mexico .. and neither one of us was the captain, but this was a major "first" for us.  Ken & I had never sailed overnight before, and we'd never left our Lake Pontchartrain, so a 3-day sail across the Gulf of Mexico to a tropical destination had only been a dream until now.

So this all started when we met our friend, Charlie, at the marina that we've been living at since last May. This past November, Charlie sailed from Louisiana to Key West with plans to sail to Isla Mujeres after a few months. When Charlie mentioned that he'd like crew to sail with him from Key West, Ken and I jumped at the chance! 

On March 6th, we flew to Key West to join Charlie on his Hylas 47 sailboat. We were excited and a little nervous, and I hoped that this experience wouldn't have us selling Nirvana when we got back to her!

Ken & I had never been to Key West before, so we spent a couple hours exploring the area before meeting Charlie at a local "happy hour" on the water. While we half expected to be disappointed after years of hearing about Key West, we were pleasantly surprised. Key West was larger than we expected, and Duval Street was a lot cleaner than our Bourbon Street! We loved the colorful cottages, beautiful tropical foliage, and fun vibe that Key West provided. 

After meeting Charlie for drinks, we boarded his dinghy and rode about 2 miles in the dark to where his boat was anchored. It was a surreal feeling to be actually taking a dinghy ride to board a sailboat that we'd be sailing to Mexico! BTW, stepping into the inflatable dinghy from the dock, then climbing onto the sailboat from the dinghy took a little getting used to, but I got better at it.

That first night at anchor was magical! I often stuck my head out of the v-berth hatch throughout the night to view a ton of stars in the sky and the glow of anchor lights from the sailboats surrounding us. It was truly beautiful, and I was giddy with excitement. While I couldn't capture the night show, here's a view from our hatch in the morning ...

While tackling a few boat projects and taking a couple of dinghy rides to the grocery store for provisioning, we also squeezed in some tourist stuff. We hopped on the free bus that goes around Key West, which is a great way to get a feel for the island! We had to check out the "Southernmost Point", along with a ton of other folks. We didn't expect a line of tourists waiting for a photo, so we just snapped a quick shot instead of joining the crowd.

We also found a tiny beach, which looked like a great place to lounge for a day ..

A tour of the local rum distillery (with free samples) was fun, and there was a lot of interesting information in there about past "characters".

We watched the sunset at the famous Mallory Square .. very crowded, but pretty! 

We then explored the bars of Duval Street, including the famous Capt. Tony's Saloon. The saloon had tons of interesting photos and articles about Capt. Tony .. the former mayor of Key West and a true character. He had an amazing life!

Speaking of mayors ... we also met with our friend, Sammie Mays, who is the Honorary Mayor of Key West and has a Trop 40 Countdown show on Radio A1A.com (check it out) .. always a good time. Sammie had our float plan .. just in case!

After three days of exploring Key West and prepping for the passage, it was time to pull up the anchor and sail to Mexico! Obviously, we made it. But, were we scared? Did we have a good passage? Did we want to sell Nirvana afterwards?  Stay tuned!

Hasta luego .. until then. Mid-Life Cruising!


The Cynical Sailor said...

Looks like you guys had a fantastic time :-)

Ken n Cheryl said...

We did Ellen .. can't wait to get back!

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