Thursday, December 31, 2009

Palm Beach to Key West

As we prepared to lift anchor, we listened to the NOAA weather forecast. To our surprise NOAA was warning Floridians that "if you must venture outdoors dress with layers and wear a hat due to wind chill and temperatures that could go below 35 degrees Fahrenheit until 9am EST and again tonight". We couldn't help but laugh for two reasons; the above freezing temperature warning and because, despite being so far south, it would be another cold night on deck. Time to pull the ski hat back out. I've needed my fleece lined wool ski hat every night at sea since we left Newport in early November. After each passage I wash and stow it thinking surely I won't wear it again until we head back north.

We could see our breath as we departed Palm Beach County in search of warmer weather in Key West. The passage started with a beautiful spinnaker run.

I was surprised that more than half of our 28-hour 214nm passage from Palm Beach to Key West was south of Miami/mainland USA. Key West is the most southern island of the Florida Keys, a 150 mi (240 km) long chain of coral and limestone islands that extend from south of Miami.

There were few wildlife sightings aside from endless swarms of flying fish we disturbed along the way. (Their defense mechanism is to jump out of the water.)

We caught a stunning sight of the sunset reflecting off Miami's tall buildings as we sailed beyond mainland USA.

By night shifty winds and a messy sea state created havoc with the sails making progress slow and sleep impossible. By morning the 60 degree wind shifts had finally ceased and we made comfortable progress sailing wing-on-wind until we reached the channel for Key West.

Exhausted, we anchored off Fleming Key, ate lunch and slept until the sun brought us New Year's Eve Day.

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