Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Crossing the Great Bahama Bank. (A Loooooooooong Trip)

Yesterday morning dawned cloudy and breezy.  We checked forecasts from many sources, and they all agreed that the wind was going to get strong this afternoon.  We figured if we didn't leave then, we'd be stuck in Bimini until the weekend.  We can't afford that much time in a marina, so it was time to leave.
We left just before 10:00 am.
We headed south out of Bimini into a headwind (of course).  Once we were just low enough to clear the shallow waters, we turned to the east.  At this point the wind turned southeast, so it was just enough for us to gain some speed from it.  It was awesome!  We cut across the 5-foot-deep area!  The water was so clear, it was almost blindingly beautiful!  Very bright and the lightest blue.  Totally sweet.
Photos never do the water justice.  It was practically glowing!  So gorgeous!

Gradually, the wind shifted east.  Blast!  In our faces again!  And this time it really slowed us down.  So we tacked.  We zig-zagged all night trying to gain a little speed.  Sometimes we would hit that sweet spot where the main sail would stay full, and we'd hit the waves at just the right angle that we'd just ride over them.  Those were the best.  But they didn't happen very often.  We spent the night going 2-4 knots.  Very slow.
In the middle of the night, the wind switched around slightly to the southeast.  Once we got to the Northwest Channel, we would have to go southeast, right into the wind again.  So we decided to head northeast and cut to the northern part of the Berry Islands.  This would let us work our way down the islands and see everything we wanted before going over to the Exumas.  Once we turned northeast, our speed doubled.  Sweet!  (Of course, doubling 2 knots is still a slow 4 knots, but it was still a victory.)
Our engine tends to burn a bit of oil, so we were stopping it every 5 hours to check the level and top it off.  I think it may have been the 5am oil check when I suggested we top off the diesel.  Don't want to run it dry in the middle of nowhere and have to bleed those darned fuel lines.  Did you know it's really hard to pour a 5-gallon fuel can into a little fitting?  It is.  Imagine doing it in rocky seas.  Whoa!  Fuel went everywhere!  I think we managed to get most of it in the actual tank, but it did make a fearsome mess.  And smelly.  Made both of us queasy off and on for the rest of the night.  Adventures!
Around sunrise, the wind and waves balanced out really well.  We were rocking about 5 knots and weren't getting the crap beat out of us at all.  Awesome!  Well, every once in a while, we'd get a wave splash over the bow, but that's no big deal.  Or is it?  No, usually it isn't.  But somehow, we'd forgotten to close the hatch over the v-berth completely, and the bed was pretty wet by the time we made it in.  Oops.
But at last, around 8:35 this morning, Trevor spotted land.  We realized we'd been out of sight of land for about 17 hours.  Yikes.  "Land Ho!"  (I insisted Trevor say it, since he spotted land first.)  Woohoo!  Our journey was finally drawing to an end.  Of course, that little dot of land is still many miles away.  But we chugged and sailed along.
We finally made it in to a marina around 11:30 this morning.  The trip took us over 25 hours.
Yep, we're exhausted.  But surprisingly not as bad as the last crossing attempt.  Probably because we were well-rested when we started out.  And we realized that napping on the cabin floor is much easier to do than napping in the v-berth.  The front of the boat bucks and bobs in the waves, but the middle just kinda rocks.  Good to know.
And now Trevor is up doing laundry (diesel spill + leaking hatch = lots of things needing washing).  We both had showers (Yay!!! We were so salty from the splashies). 
Hello, Great Harbour Cay and the Berry Islands!

And, since I finally have internet that's fast enough, here are some pictures!
Carysfort Reef Light House

Leaving Bimini Sands Marina. Check out that water!

My first fish in the Bahamas!

My second fish in the Bahamas. (Hey, it's bigger than the first.)

Sunset over Bimini Beach Club

Aw, sunset picture!

Sunset over the ocean. Not too shabby.

We finally got Trevor his Corona commercial moment.

I got a moment, too.

Last night's sunset.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Not-Quite-There and Back Again. A Hobble Back to Bimini.

Friday morning (morning-ish), we left Bimini Sands Marina to mosey down to Nixon's Harbor at the south end of South Bimini.  We had wind and waves from the north, so we would be protected there until the winds shifted to the south.  We figured if it got bumpy on us, we'd get into the marina down there.

We anchored in Nixon's Harbor.  It was a little rolly in there, but no big deal.  The water was gorgeous.  I decided to try some fishing.  I have what's called a Sabiki rig for catching little bait fish, and I thought I'd give it a try.  I caught 2 fish!  They were too cute and colorful to use as bait, so I tossed them back.  We didn't seem to be in an area with a lot of fish, so I didn't want to kill one fish to not catch another.  There will be serious fishing later.

As the afternoon wore on, the wind shifted south.  It got a little wavier in the harbor.  Around 5:00, we decided to head in to the beach club marina.  It was a struggle to maneuver the boat into a slip with the winds and underpowered motor that hates going in reverse.  But we finally managed.  We watched the sunset over the water.  Gorgeous!  The next morning, we were rudely awakened by obnoxiously noisy seagulls and a boat full of biting sand gnats.  They managed to squeeze through our screens, they're so tiny.

We left the marina and headed south toward Gun Cay and Cat Cay.  We saw a few boats at Gun Cay (and the lighthouse).  Then we mosied our way down Cat Cay and eventually anchored just east of South Cat Cay.  It was a great spot!  The water was smooth, no waves at all.  We worked on projects.  We finally got a wind scoop put together.  It needs some finishing, but it works.  We also put up curtain rods in the cabin.  No curtains yet, but they'll get made eventually.  After a scrumptious dinner of crab alfredo (imitation crab, but still tasty), we tried to nap for the night crossing.  We napped and read a little, but were getting a bit anxious to leave.  The weather was so gorgeous, we wanted to be out in it!

So we left around 8:00, after the sun went down, but before it was fully dark.  The wind was out of the south and fairly light.  I didn't want to get to Northwest Channel in the dark, so we were under sail alone, going anywhere from 2.5 - 4 knots.  We were getting our mosey on!  It was lovely.  The stars were out, the breeze was nice, no noises but the wind and the water.  Totally sweet!  Gradually the wind picked up.  And so did the waves, but they were fine for a while.  I went down to get some rest, but it got bumpier, and I couldn't sleep.  I came back out and let Trevor rest for a bit.  The wind eased off a little and the seas calmed again.  Trevor came back out, and the wind picked up again.  But not bad.  So I went down to try to sleep again.  And then it got really bumpy.  We had turned on the engine and taken down the jib because the wind was a little too on the nose for it.  As I was trying to sleep, we were really riding up and down the waves.  I came back out, and it was way bumpy!  We rode on for a little while, then Trevor went to rest again.  We were making about 4 knots into the waves.  But the waves kept getting bigger and bigger.  Finally, I was hit with what felt like a whole bucket of water on the side of my neck.  That was enough.  "Trevor, we have to go back!" I called down.  "Okay!", and he jumped right up.  We had only gone about 18 miles in 6 hours, with the slow start.  And we had another 60 miles to go.  We were already exhausted, and it was 3:00 in the morning.  We turned around and headed back toward Bimini.  This time, the waves were following us, so the ride was much easier and much faster.  We went around the north end of Bimini in the hopes that it would be a little sheltered on that side from the south winds.  Nope.  Just after sunrise, we anchored off the beach north and east of Alicetown.  We were so tired that the rocking and rolling of the boat didn't even keep us awake.

We were up around 9 or 10, after some much needed napping.  We thought about going back down to Cat Cay to anchor for the day, thinking it might be smooth like it was the day before.  Once we started heading south, though, we knew it would take forever to get there.  The waves were big, probably 4-6 feet.  They were rollers, mostly, so were weren't getting the crap beat out of us.  But it was work, and we didn't want to go the 10-ish miles down there.  We decided to head back to the Bimini Sands marina, because we knew that would be sheltered from the waves.  So we got in, tied up, and spent the rest of the day trying to recover.  We were exhausted.

 Have you ever been so tired you just broke down crying for no reason?  Yep, that was me last night.  I couldn't even pick out a can of soup to cook for dinner.  So Trevor, being the awesome dude that he is, cooked dinner and even cleaned up afterward.  We slept pretty hard last night.  I woke up in the middle of the night with crazy itchy legs and feet from those blasted sand flies!  It was torture!  I got up for some Benadryl and smeared some aloe (with blessed lidocaine in it) on my bites.  That worked, and I conked out for the rest of the night.

Naturally, we checked the weather forecasts first thing this morning.  It was calling for strong winds today, easing up tonight through Wednesday evening.  So we took the ferry over to Alice Town.  There's, um, not much there.  I didn't expect a great, bustling metropolis or anything, but it was even less than expected.  But it got us off the boat for a few hours.  And those strong winds?  Nowhere to be found.  It blew for a few hours this morning, and now the air is dead.  The forecasts here seem to be as bad as the northern Gulf of Mexico forecasts.  Uh oh. 

Our current plan is to head out first thing in the morning to attempt the crossing again.  As far as we can tell, the wind should be light for a couple of days.  We'll see.  But we've kicked the idea of leaving in the middle of the night.  We were just too exhausted from the first time around.  If we have to stop and anchor north of the Northwest Channel for a few hours' rest, that's what we'll do.  But I think an 80-mile crossing all at once is just a little much for us right now.  Who knows, though, maybe the weather will be nice enough we can actually take turns driving and get some real rest and power through the night.  Like I said, we'll see.

But we'll get over eventually!  I'm so ready to see the Berry Islands! 

I tried to upload pictures, but I think the internet here is too slow or something. Can't get them to load.  I'll have to try again later.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

We're in Bimini! Hello, Bahamas!

Alright, so we left Boot Key Tuesday morning.  We had a headwind the whole day, but the water wasn't too rough.  But we made slow progress and anchored at Fiesta Key.  Got up early yesterday and went outside because the wind was forecast to be favorable.  And do you know what we had?  Headwinds.  Yep, it's a theme.  But halfway through the day, the winds shifted, and we managed to sail.  And zoom we went!  As we were passing Rodriguez Key, we called a friend of ours on the VHF.  (Rodriguez is where most people jump off to the Bahamas.)  He was planning to sit on a mooring ball out on the reef, get some sleep, and then head out that night.  A mooring ball on the reef.  Why didn't we think of that?  Sitting out on the reef would give us a jump start on the trip.  We wouldn't have to weave through crab pots, or the reef for that matter.  Sounded like a winner of a plan.
So we tied up to a ball at Carysfort Reef last night.  When we got there, the seas were rolly, but the reef blocked quite a bit of it.  So we grabbed a ball in the lee of the reef and enjoyed smooth waters and a lovely sunset.  We could see all the way to the bottom, the water was so clear.  It was only 8 feet deep, but it was still impressive.  Gorgeous!  And we had a lighthouse to look at.  Sweet!  Unfortunately, by the time we went to bed, the wind and waves shifted.  They rolled us all night, causing the water in our tank to knock around and make horrible bowling-ball noises.  I didn't sleep very well. 
But we were up early this morning, ready to conquer the day!  As we left, it was a little rough.  But it wasn't horrible.  We thought maybe it would smooth out a little once we got into the Gulf Stream.  It was funny, I actually saw where the stream started.  The water was a little choppy (emphasis on little; it was kinda cute, actually) and there was a grass line.  And then we were booking it!  And yes, the water even smoothed out a little.  Win!  So we're hauling ass toward Bimini, when we realized the wind had shifted north.  A north wind goes opposite of the direction of the Gulf Stream, which kicks up some serious waves.  Well, it was just a little choppy, not bad.  We had rollers coming up from the south, and the north wind actually knocked them down a little.  Then the wind got a little stronger.  The forecast said it wouldn't get above 10 knots, so we thought it'd be alright.  I'm not sure if it made it above 10 knots or not, but it was pretty bumpy out there for a while.  We put up the main sail, which stabilized us a little and gave us another spurt of speed.  I saw 8.4 knots on the gps at one point.  Whoa!  Totally sweet! 
So the waves were uncomfortable, no doubt about that, but it never got dangerous.  Just up and down and side to side and rockin' and rollin'.  Not exactly the boring crossing we were looking forward to. 
Around 2:45, I thought I saw something that wasn't a boat.  I looked through the binoculars to make sure.  And "LAND HO!!!"  Yes indeedy, I saw the Bahamas for the first time!  I was psyched!  We were still 10 miles off Bimini, and the GPS said it was in a different direction, so we figured out we were looking at Cat Cay and Gun Cay.  We're planning to head down there next, so we're pretty happy they're so close (we can see them from Bimini). 
As we got close to Bimini, we finally saw the legendary colors of the water.  Now, we'd heard (and read) about how crazy beautiful the waters are.  Crystal clear and amazing shades of blue.  You know what the reality is?  They're indescribably gorgeous!!!  I couldn't believe how amazing it was!  Even in 80 feet of water, we could see the bottom.  And it lightened from dark blue to amazing shades I've never even thought about.  Absolutely beautiful!  And this is just the start.  We're only at the first island!
So it might have been an exhausting day, but now we're here and so excited!  Cleared customs without any problem. We have a 60-day cruising permit, though we have no idea how long we'll actually stay.
Next time we have internet, I'll post pictures.  But I left the camera on the boat. 
Yay!  Bahamas!

Monday, March 21, 2011

We're Heading to Bimini!

Alright, the weather has finally shifted in our favor!  The forecast is calling for light winds from the south on Thursday.  So we're leaving Marathon tomorrow, heading up Florida bay toward Key Largo.  Bay waters will still be a little choppy, but we'll be okay.  It's supposed to get calmer throughout the day.  Wednesday is calming even more. Wednesday night, we'll be anchoring around Angelfish Creek, ready to jump across to Bimini.

View Larger Map
Pretty sweet, right?
From there, we'll head out as soon as it's light enough to dodge crab pots.  Then it's east-northeast to Bimini!
If you liked that last map, you'll like this one even more.

View Larger Map

Angelfish Creek is point A.  Bimini is point B.  From there, we'll head a little bit south (just a few hours) and anchor to the east of Gun Cay.  Then we'll leave in the middle of the night (midnight, 2am, something like that) and go east to point C, which is Chub Cay.  The group of islands east and north of Chub Cay are the Berry Islands.  They're pretty undeveloped, and we'll probably spend a bit of time there.  Then you see that island that Nassau is on?  That's New Providence Island, and we'll be anchoring in West Bay, which we've heard is a truly excellent anchorage.  We'll probably skip Nassau, unless we're in need of groceries.  It's a big, crowded city, and we're okay with not going there.  Then we're heading over to the Exumas!  You see point D on the map?  And then George Town, down below that?  Those islands are all prime cruising grounds!  Beautiful beaches, fantastic snorkeling, even a Land and Sea Park.  We are totally psyched about the Exumas.  Once we decide to head back, we'll head back north a bit.  We might spend a little time in Eleuthera, then the Abacos (where Marsh Harbor and Freeport are).  And from the Abacos, we'll jump across the Gulf Stream back to the States, landing where we land.
Pretty exciting, right?  I know I'm excited!
There are down sides to traveling over there.  We won't be able to use our phones.  And internet is not as readily available as it is here.  And groceries are more expensive and also less available.  But we'll make do!  We've stocked the boat with foodstuffs until our waterline has nearly disappeared (and the engine objected).  We'll buy a phone card once we're over there to call the parents and let them know we're okay.  And I'll blog as often as I have internet. 
Today, we've been running around, trying to get those last little things to get ready.  One more trip to West Marine and one more load of laundry, and we'll be pretty much finished.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Trip to Bahia Honda!

We've been plotting, planning, supplying, and waiting (and waiting and waiting) for our trip to the Bahamas.  A favorable wind was nowhere in sight.

Our friends Kristopher and Lita from Wee Happy (another tiny boat in the harbor, a 27-foot Albin Vega) came over for some drinks last Friday night.  They talked about how they were heading toward the Dry Tortugas, stopping first at Bahia Honda, which is only 10 miles west of here.  It's free to anchor, the beach is lovely, and they have ice cream there!  Without too much arm twisting, they convinced us to go with them.  A change of scenery was just what we needed.  Why wait in Boot Key Harbor when you can wait at Bahia Honda!?

So Sunday morning-ish (maybe closer to noon), we set out.  There were 4 little sailboats going down there, all 27 feet. Besides Wee Happy, there was Wave Dancer and Gemini Dreams.  We had our big rainbow genoa up, and Wee Happy had their colorful spinnaker flying.  Over the radio, they called us the 27-Foot Groove Armada.
Gemini Dreams, Wave Dancer, and Wee Happy with the 7-Mile Bridge behind
Wee Happy sailing wing-and-wing

We left a little earlier than the rest of them, so we made it into the anchorage in time to take pictures of the rest coming in.
Capt Wes, single-handing Gemini Dreams like a pro

Wee Happy, cruising into the anchorage

Wave Dancer, anchoring (with their super fluffy dog ready to jump)
 Once we were all settled in, we hung out in Wee Happy's cockpit for some cocktails.  There was a bit of unsuccessful fishing (I caught one fish, but you can't feed 7 people with one fish).  Then we had an awesome potluck on our boat.  Yep, we can actually fit 7 people on our boat for dinner.  Who knew?  We even managed to play cards until we were all ready to drop.  11:30 is way past my bedtime.  It was a fantastic night, full of friends and fun.

The next morning, Trevor and I went to shore for breakfast.  It was a nice treat to not make coffee or clean up dishes.  At least, I assume it was (right, Trevor?).  And the day just got better from there.  We walked on the beach.  We took the dinghy out to a little island and hung out.  By this time, Curt and Christina from Drifter had come out to join us. 
Drifter going past the island
Drifter coming through the bridge into the anchorage
The island is pretty nifty.  It's a lot of eroded coral, with some tidal pools that I couldn't help but check out.  They mostly contained thousands of hermit crabs (itty bitty ones), but a couple had some fish, and even some live coral. 
The eroded coral almost looked like volcanic rock

Waves splashing on the island.

Coral living in the tidal pool.

Trevor, Christina, and Lita on the island.
After the island, we hung out on the beach for a little while.  Then we got some ice cream and had showers.  Then it was time for dinner again!  Wes brought some shrimp for us to cook.  We had grilled shrimp kabobs with some corn, green beans, and creamy pasta.  Delicious!  Eventually, a park ranger informed us the park closed at sunset, so we had to leave.  It was a fantastic day! 
Sunset at Bahia Honda

More sunset (it was a really good one)

Last sunset picture for this blog (too many pictures to choose from)
Yesterday the plan was to head out to Looe Key for some snorkeling, and then to Newfound Harbor for the evening before heading back to Boot Key this morning.  But you know how plans go sometimes.  Almost as soon as we were out of the anchorage, the water was choppy.  We thought we'd raise a sail once we got out there, but it was too rough for Trevor to attempt.  Looe Key was out of the question, so we thought we'd just head back to Boot Key.  That was the idea, anyway.  The water got rougher, the seas choppy and confused.  We'd rock one way, then another.  And then the engine started acting funny, spitting out black crud with the exhaust.  We had this problem a while back, but thought it was taken care of.  We decided to head back to Bahia Honda. 

Meanwhile, Wee Happy and Gemini Dreams were headed toward Key West.  With the rough seas bouncing them around so much, a shackle on Wee Happy's sail let go and nearly dumped the whole thing in the water.  Luckily, they were able to recover it before it was a major disaster.  They decided to head back to Bahia Honda, too.  Wes was traveling with them, so he headed back, too.  On the way, his jib was torn.  Three wee boats set out, and three wee boats limped back in. 

Our toilet was getting pretty full.  The park has pumpout, but the channel getting in is only 3 1/2 feet deep.  That's what we draw.  So we had to wait until high tide and hope for the best.  We made it in without a problem, and so did Wee Happy.  Yay for empty toilets!  We left the dinghy attached to the anchor, so we didn't have to reset once we got out there.  It was a good plan, and we just picked up the line and tied back on.

And with us all together again, we had dinner together again!  Delicious lobster alfredo pasta with veggies in it.  So good!  Another excellent meal with good friends (the location wasn't bad, either). 

This morning, we headed out at the reasonable hour of 10:00.  The water was much calmer today!  We had 2-3 foot seas, but they were rolling, instead of choppy.  So it was a pretty good, if slow, trip in.  We couldn't run the motor above about 60% because it would start spitting out the black crud.  But we made it back onto the mooring ball with no excitement.  Then we shared our adventures with Mom and Dad (they were happy to see us).

Now we'll have to see what's going on with the motor.  Trevor emailed the mechanic we've been using.  Hopefully, it won't be a major problem.  It looks like another week before a weather window opens up, so I think we'll have time to get repairs done. 

One of these days, we'll get over to the Bahamas!  But it was nice to get out of the harbor for a little while.
Earendil at anchor

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Still Waiting.

The last blog was titled "Gearing Up and Waiting It Out".  A week later, that's still what's going on.  Waiting.  And checking a few more items off the ole To-Do list.  Yesterday, for example, we made a bracket for the dinghy's outboard motor to sit on while we make the crossing.  Because we are not towing that dinghy across the Gulf Stream.  We're pretty slow as it is, and we don't need the extra drag slowing us down even more.  So we had to find a place to put that big, awkward, clunky old motor.  After several redesigns of the plan, I finally came up with something that would work.  I then spent an hour sawing wood to make the bloody thing.  It probably wouldn't have taken so long if we had a hack saw that was actually made for cutting wood.  One day, we will have a garage or shed or something that has all kinds of tools, and we'll always have the right tool for the job.  This is my dream.  But after lots of minor modifications, we managed to get the motor secure on our back rail where it won't scuff or scratch or break anything.  Yay!

But that's not all that's been going on.  Trevor's parents came in for a visit.  It was so awesome to see them!  They got to see our boat and my parents' boat.  They hadn't gotten to see them before (mine was a huge mess in Chattanooga because I was working on it to get it ready [and because I'm a slob], so they didn't get to see it then).  But with Trevor's good habits and impeccable (and unshakable) tidiness, I was okay with them seeing where we live.  They even got to see us play softball.  I'm sure it was a thrill for them. 

So with a visit from the parents curbing Trevor's homesickness, we were ready to head over to the Bahamas!  Except the weather didn't cooperate.  I guess "weather" isn't the right word.  The weather is great.  Sunny and warm!  It's that wind that keeps fighting us.  In order to have a safe and comfortable passage over to Bimini, we need either a south wind or a west wind.  If we have a north wind, it will go against the Gulf Stream and make for a very bumpy (and potentially dangerous) crossing.  If we have an east wind, it'll be in our face, and we'll go extra super frustratingly slow (and an 8-hour crossing will turn into a 16-hour crossing).  So we keep waiting for a good weather window to first head up to Key Largo and then scoot across to Bimini.  And you know what we've got coming up for the next week?  North winds for the next day or so, then turning east through next Thursday.  Yep, we're going to be here for a while longer yet.  As eager as we are to get over to paradise, we're not going to fight the weather to get there.  Oh, look at this snippet from the forecast "Friday: North winds 17 to 22 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet near shore and up to 6 to 8 feet in the Gulf Stream."  6 to 8 feet?!  That doesn't sound fun at all (or does it sound really, really fun? this is an adventure after all).  Beyond uncomfortable, that's edging toward dangerous. 

So we remain here in Marathon, waiting out the weather.  I have to say, there are definitely worse places to be stuck.  And the Seafood Festival is this weekend!  Huzzah!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gearing Up and Waiting It Out

We've been stocking up the boat in preparation for heading over to the Bahamas.  Massive grocery shopping, multiple trips to Home Depot and KMart, finishing off those last little projects (or at least thinking about finishing them).  Are we ready yet?  Heck no!  We still have lots of little things to buy.  New sunglasses (ours are scratched from being worn all the time), more sunscreen (always need more), film for the underwater camera (oh yes, we have an underwater camera)...  You get the idea.  Little things we can live without, but would like to have (especially film!).  And we're waiting to get the bottom of the boat cleaned.  It was supposed to be done today, but the wind has picked up something fierce, so Diver Mike is waiting until Sunday.  So it's a lot of hurry up and wait.  Waiting on the weather mostly.  We were hoping to get out of here Sunday or Monday, but it's looking like that won't happen.  Because the three days after that are predicted to have strong winds out of the east.  You know what's to the east?  The Bahamas.  An east wind will keep us from getting there.  So we'll be waiting a little longer.  Maybe another week.  But that's okay.

Because Trevor's parents are coming to visit!  His dad called around 9:00 last night, making small talk and asking about our plans.  Then he said "yeah, we'll probably be there tomorrow afternoon."  What?!  They're coming to visit for an early birthday surprise for Trevor.  And if they didn't see us before we head to the Bahamas, they won't see us until probably May.  So they decided to take a road trip on down here to say hi.  How cool is that?  But in the tradition of people coming to visit, the wind has picked up and is blowing hard enough to chop up the bay (splashy splashy, we all get soaked coming to shore in the dinghies).  If you recall, Thaddeus brought some fierce wind with him when he came to see us last month.  It's starting to look like a trend.  So a note if you intend to come visit us (and you should, wherever we are!), plan a week so you might get some nice weather.  If you're here for three days, it's almost guaranteed to be some nasty weather. 

But you don't read the blog for news.  You read it for pictures!  And I hate to disappoint.  Remember that underwater camera I mentioned?  Oh yeah, we totally had that in the Dry Tortugas!  Along with a couple of disposables.  We finally got them developed, so here are the underwater pictures from the Dry Tortugas!

First, these are pictures from snorkeling along the wall along Ft. Jefferson's moat.  After the moat wall, we went to the coal pilings. 
Coral growing on a fallen piece of brick wall.

more coral growing on the wall

Pretty cool, huh?  Coral on the bricks.

We were surrounded by thousands (millions?) of these little fish.

An entrance into the moat.

Another wall picture.

More of those little fish at the wall.
Crevalle jacks under the coal pilings.

They're so shiny!

Coral growing on the pilings.

More coral growing on the pilings.  It was so cool.

Look, more coral!

Yep, coral on the pilings.

Pilings at the surface of the water.

Oh my gosh!  We're so cute!
Yep, good stuff going on here.  Don't hate us because we live an awesome life.  We worked hard for it.  :)