Pucker Factor #1 - Tuesday, January 28th
Once we came under the bridge we spied some markers across the bay locating the entrance to a channel or cut if you will, through a mangrove island and since there was no indication on chart plotter where the ICW was and this was the only markers we could find, we naturally assumed it must be the ICW. We both honestly thought it was. When we got to the entrance and saw a sign saying " Caution, narrow channel, we didn't think much of it, supposing it was just a little narrower than normal.
It looked ok from the beginning so we proceeded. Once we turn the first corner the channel suddenly slimmed down to about 15' wide. The Arc is 13.5' across leaving no way to turn around so we just had to hope that we didn't meet anyone coming our way. About a 1/4 mile in we did meet up with a small fishing boat and thankfully the channel widened up just enough for us to pass at that point but we were both brushing the mangroves on each side as we passed.
Then around the next turn the mangrove treetops started closing in on us! What's that crashing noise? We had lowered the panels and we knew the mast was clearing but we forgot about the VHF antenna! Up to the sundeck I scurry just in time to lower the rod in the nick of time as we came up on major branch. Finally, the channel ends and we are back into the bay. Shew!
Pucker Factor #2 - Wednesday & Thursday, January 29 & 30
We anchored later that day at 5:00 at Islamorada and began dinner preparations which is when we discovered that we were slap out of water. The well was dry. Ok, we have enough bottled water to get us through tonight but we were going to have to find water first thing in the morning. Normally, we fill up our water tanks at the same time we empty the holding tank but that last pump out was such a disaster, we didn't even want to ask about getting water. That was a mistake but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
Carter got up early the next day and got on the phone to the only marina listed in our guidebook in this area. No, they have no facilities to accommodate tying up our boat and they don't dispense water to boaters anyway but gave us another phone number of another place to try. Thanks. Carter calls this number which turns out to be the Lor-e-lei Yacht Club. He got the bar so the lady transferred him to a gentleman named "Bugsy", and Carter begins to inquire about filling our water tanks. Bugsy stops Carter and asks, "Are you the solar boat out in the anchorage?" Our mouths dropped...yes. How in the Hell did he know that! I guess he just knew everyone in the anchorage and we were the only new boat but it was still kind of weird.
Bugsy was great. He said he'd move some boats around and make a space big enough to accommodate us and said "come on in". What a relief because believe me, everything stops when you run out of water.
Thanks so much to the Lor-e-lei Yacht Club for coming to our rescue. It was lunch time so we stayed long enough to enjoy a delicious lunch at the restaurant. Check out the local taxi, Nautilimo?
We departed Islamorada right after lunch and after being "on the road" for just a little bit, I turned around and noticed a boat high tailing it over to us and then hanging back just a little. Looking through the binoculars I realized it was the FWC! Oh Great! What could this be about? Even when you're not doing anything wrong, it's still a bit disconcerting when you get pulled over. He came up beside us and began asking questions about the solar boat. Ok..... He was just another curious boater with a badge.
We dropped anchor that evening in Cowpens Anchorage just off the shore of Plantation. It rained the next day so we ended staying an extra day but that didn't bother Carter. He had spotted several lobsters on the bottom of the clear blue water on the way in and he was super excited to get him some bugs! He went diving that evening and again the next day catching a total of 5 lobsters!
Pucker Factor #4 - Friday, January 31
We weighed anchor on Friday and set out with Tavernier Harbor as our destination which is only about 5 miles away from Key Largo. After studying the charts and comparing them with our upcoming planned activities, Carter decided that we would take a slight detour back into the Atlantic in order to get us closer to John Pennekamp State Park. Getting back into the Atlantic required us to cross under the Tavernier Creek Bridge which has a 15' clearance which is the lowest bridge we have ever been under. Carter got out a tape measure to double check our mast height, yep still just under 14'. Woo hoo, a whole 1' to spare.
Onward to our destination, Rodriguez Key. Rather than go all the way around the island to approach the anchorage from the the East side, Carter decides to take a short cut around the West side through a shallow section. Yes, I did say shortcut...again! And guess what? We ran aground! Shock!!! Turns out it was an ultra low tide, like -1' and we arrived just in time for it. Since it was 4 pm it wasn't lunch or dinner time so we got the snorkel and masks out and explored the beautiful clear water while we waited for the tide to roll in and clear the way.
It was great! We dropped anchor for about an hour and there was a strong current going in the right direction so once we were floating again Carter ended up guiding the Arc through the shallows and we drifted on through. We are now safe at anchor just a couple miles from John Pennekamp State Park!
Oh yeah....life is Good!