Nov 052013

And they are blowing indeed.  We had another front come through over the weekend.  There wasn’t much rain but lots of wind and the temps dipped down to almost 70.  This morning, as I was chipping the ice off the sides of the Spirit, I was reminded of why living aboard in a marina, even this one, is sometimes more preferable to living on the hook.  Take a look at the image below:


Thanks as always to google maps for the graphic.

The green square is the approximate location of the Key West City Mooring field.  In this area there are mooring balls lined up to hold 140 or so boats ranging up to 60′.  The two arrows show where you have to go to access land, through that little cut, into Garrison Bight and to the dinghy dock on Palm Avenue.  At the top of the square, between Fleming and Sigsbee, is due North.  So any north wind will come directly down between those two islands.  The current winds are out of the north east, so Sigsbee provides some shelter for those boats moored within the lee side of that island.

Still, it can get pretty rough out there and in this case, the winds are to blow from 20 to 25 knots for the next couple of days.  That means a lot of bouncing around if you are on the hook.  Your vessel will dependent on the line you have connecting said vessel to said mooring.  So you better hope like hell it’s of good quality and maybe have a secondary line hooked up, just in case.  The winds also make it difficult to get in and out of your dinghy to motor into shore.  Once inside Garrison Bight, you will be in the calm, but those few hundred yards of getting there might be a bit challenging.  And if you are carrying back and forth things that you would prefer to not get wet, like a computer or iPhone, you best have some dry bags handy for the journey.

As for being out there, if you have a large vessel, 27′ or better, you will probably be able to stay fairly comfortable.  Those size boats are made to handle rougher seas and won’t bounce around as badly.  As for my little 23′, not so much.  The Spirit can handle the waves and probably do fine, but it is not made to remain stable in heavy seas.  I would not take this boat out for a sail in any winds over 15 knots.  Just wouldn’t be safe.  A better sailor than me might be able to handle it, but I wouldn’t.   As for being out on the hook in this kind of weather, it may not be the ideal situation.

Right now, as the winds are blowing, the Spirit is bouncing around a little but overall is quite comfortable in the slip.  The deck is about even with the dock, depending on the tide, and I have big boats on both sides of me and a big boat house to the north, blocking most of the wind.  I have the lines set so I ain’t banging into the dock, and as long as they hold, of which there are 6 at the moment, this boat will remain where it is supposed to.

All this serves as a reminder of what you give up when you leave the security of a marina for living at anchor or on a mooring ball.  There is a small sailboat, very similar to mine, that sits at anchor in that bay area north of North Roosevelt.   Every time we get a big blow like this that boat winds up dragging it’s anchor across the bottom, and the sea grass and winding up in the mangroves, or near shore.  Not only is that dangerous, it’s illegal.  Over to the left of Fleming there are also a large contingent of boats hooked up to private mooring balls.  These are owned by individuals and are of questionable quality.  I have a standing offer to use one of these if I so wish, for free, but again, the legalities are in question, and the city along with the county would just as soon get rid of them and move everyone to the mooring field.

Marinas are expensive for a reason.  They provide the ability to live on a boat in a way that is not much different from land living.  You can step off your vessel and right onto hard ground, not worry much about the weather, and all your amenities are right there.  Out on the hook, it’s very different.  Yes, it’s cheaper, but you lose a lot.  So you need have a bit of adventure in you because every one of these fronts can be an adventure.

At some point, I will most likely wind up in the mooring field for a month or two, as I transition out of this marina.  I may like it, may hate it.  This current weather reminds me of why I would probably hate it.  So before I do go out there, I want to make sure this boat is ready.  Sufficient lines for tying up, a decent dinghy for getting back and forth, and the ability to stay on the boat for a couple days at a time, if need be, until the weather subsides enough to go back to shore.  I would like to try it though, just to see if it agrees with me.  Who knows, I may never want to set foot on land again.

Capt. Fritter