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January 2011

Is the first month of the new year already gone?  We have been moving slowly South on Livin the Dream during January and finally getting to warmer weather.  At each new destination, we have been able to remove one layer of blankets on our bed.  We ended the month in the Turks & Caicos and were back to 80 degree temperatures during the day and sleeping without any blankets.

We didn't write a December log, so we will cover a few of the December highlights.  We left the unusually cold temperatures of Ft. Myers beach on December 15 and arrived in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon in the Florida Keys the following day.  Marathon has it's share of cold fronts, but the temperatures are usually 15 - 20 degrees warmer than those we were experiencing in Ft. Myers Beach.

The city of Marathon runs a city marina with boating facilities to accommodate 266 boats on mooring buoys in their harbor.  The facility has been substantially upgraded since our last visit four years ago with ample dinghy docks, private showers, work shop, large laundry room and large boater lounge area with TV's, library, and internet access.  Many boaters spend two to three months in the Boot Key harbor on these moorings and enjoy the warmer temperatures and the conveniences of the community.

There are several organized activities for cruisers in Marathon.  John enjoyed playing softball about three times and week and Ann enjoyed the morning yoga classes.  The marina staff hosted a delicious Christmas luncheon with over 200 people attending.  Turkeys, hams, potatoes, and desserts were provided by the marina staff and everyone was asked to bring a dish to share.  Christmas Day was sunny and warm and the meal was delicious.

Bahia HondaIn Marathon, we met up with Bob and Sheila on Neverland, whom we had not seen since Guatemala.  John and Bob competed in the blind dinghy race on July 4 in the Rio Dulce in 2009 (see July 2009).  Like us, they were also in Marathon waiting to get some final repairs completed before traveling to the Bahamas for the winter. John studied for his Ham Radio General Level license exam for several days before passing the exam in early January.  While John was preparing for the exam, Ann visited Bahia Honda state park with Bob and Sheila and new friends Tom and Lisa on  Symmetry.  The water and beaches at Bahia Honda were beautiful and the water was warm enough for wading.

A couple of days after Christmas we had a visit with Eric and Michelle who were driving through Marathon on their way to Key West for a few days.  We hadn't seen Eric and Michelle since their wedding in late August.  We had a delicious lunch and enjoyed hearing about their honeymoon on St. Lucia where they enjoyed many of the same activities that we have enjoyed in St. Lucia on previous visits.

Polar Bear Plunge

 

On New Year's Day someone organized Marathon's own Polar Bear Plunge.  At Noon, anyone interested in participating gathered at one of the dinghy docks and jumped in the water.  The water temperature was about 67 degrees and no wet suits were allowed.  About twenty people were brave enough to make the plunge, but we both prefer our water in the 80 degree range.



 

Shroud CayWe finally received all of our spare parts and had a favorable weather forecast to travel to the Bahamas on January 8.  We sailed out of Marathon at sunrise and arrived in Nassau, Bahamas late in the afternoon of the following day.  The 244 mile trip was calm and uneventful.  We were last in the Bahamas four years ago and the water is still as clear and beautiful as we remembered.   After a quick stay in Nassau to clear into the country, we traveled to Shroud Cay in the Exuma Land and Sea Park.   Once again we enjoyed a dinghy ride in the beautiful tidal creeks which traverse from East to West providing easy access to both sides of the island.

 


Georgetown volleyballWe waited out a cold front at Shroud and continued further south stopping at Staniel Cay and Little Farmer's Cay before traveling further south to Georgetown.  Georgetown is a popular winter escape for cruisers and there is a whirlwind of organized activities catering to a variety of interests.  You can learn to play bridge, learn more about tying knots, learn native straw weaving, participate in yoga, play Texas Hold-em poker on two nights each week, attend church on the beach each Sunday, Bible study weekly, and play volleyball on the beach each day.  Of course, John couldn't wait to play volleyball and he played with several of the same players he found on our visit four years ago.  We both tried our luck at poker and were pleased with our luck investing only $5 each.



wahooOur one week visit in Georgetown was fun, but it was time for us to continue moving south and east before we got hooked on all the fun in Georgetown.   On January 26, we left Georgetown hoping to sail as far south and east as the Dominican Republic without stopping.  The weather forecast promised moderating winds from a favorable direction for about four days.  The promised moderation and wind direction did not materialize on our first day.  However, John caught his first wahoo (38 inches) about sunset on the first day and we have about 10 delicious wahoo steaks in the freezer to enjoy.  The second day was more favorable, but conditions declined overnight.  As we neared the Turks and Caicos we were once again promised very favorable conditions for another three to four days.  We had lost all confidence in the forecast and were tired, so we decided to stop in the Turks and Caicos.  Of course once we stopped the forecast became accurate and we have been kicking ourselves that we didn't press on.

We are following much the same route that we did four years ago and when we arrived on Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos on that trip, the island was undergoing a real estate and building boom (see January 2007).  Today, large luxury homes line the beaches and there are a even a few structures that were abandoned in mid-construction.  We are anchored near several large homes and we have discovered that many of them rent for about $2,000 per night. 

Grafitti

 

After reading about carvings left by ship wrecked sailors hundreds of years ago, we decided to seek them out on a small hill overlooking our anchorage.   We discovered a small path that led to the top of the hill and found several carvings on rocks dating back as far as the 1700's.  I'm sure those sailors would be amazed to learn that some people are paying $2,000 a night to spend some time here!

As the month ends, we are anxiously waiting for favorable weather to continue on to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.