First, we have a dinghy now! We bought a 10-year-old hypalon inflatable from a guy in a canal. Got a pretty good deal, and it's in good shape for being that old (hypalon is magic stuff, way better than PVC). Of course, what good is a dinghy without a motor? Especially an inflatable (they don't row very well, being all fluffy and stuff). So we managed to find a 5-year-old Mercury outboard for a good price, too. So now we have a complete dinghy. Trevor is on his way right now to get it registered. Then it will be officially ours. Don't we look excited? We're like teenagers with a first car. We don't have to call the parents to come pick us up anymore. Totally sweet!
Besides the dinghy, it's been mostly softball, sunsets, and good food. But I told you I wouldn't bore you with food this time.
Tuesday, we took the bus down to Key West. We signed up for the Local Boaters Option with US Customs. What is this, you ask? Well, we register with Customs and Border Patrol with boat information and our personal information. When we come back to the US from the Bahamas, we call an 800 number to clear customs. This saves us from having to go in to the office in person. Well, it decreases our chances of having to go in face-to-face. But it saves the customs guys a lot of time and paperwork, and it saves us time, marina fees, and taxi fares. Win-win all around! We ended up getting to the Key West airport 2 hours earlier than our appointment, but the customs guys were super nice and had us registered in 10 minutes. They even kicked out a drunk captain while we were there. (Trying to clear customs while intoxicated? Pretty stupid, man, show some respect.)
After our fun at the airport, we took a bus to downtown Key West. Trevor got to see the glory that is Duvall Street. I'm sure he was impressed. Did I mention Tuesday was 86 degrees and windless? It was hot! We found an amazing hammock store, and had to try out a few of their awesome hammocks.
|Look how relaxed Trevor is.|
|This is the hammock I want. One day, when we have a house and money...|
After we wandered around for a bit, we were both quite ready for something cool and tasty. So we went to the Grand, where our friend Anika works. Now, I haven't told you about Anika. She's the Bryce Jemison of Key West. (Bryce was our hero in Crystal River, if you recall.) She's amazingly nice and super helpful. On our first trip to Key West last month, she took us on a small walking tour around downtown. This time, she let me and Trevor sleep at her place for the night, after letting us hang around with her and her softball buddies. We got to see how real athletes play softball. Boy, it's way different from playing with the old guys up here in Marathon! People run fast. It's a little intimidating. But her friends were really nice to us, and we had a good time.
Wednesday morning, we dragged ourselves out of bed by 6:30 and took a cab down to the waterfront. We had a date with the Dry Tortugas! When we first left on this trip, this was one of our key destinations. After reading up on it, we decided it was a little scary to take the boat there. Weather comes up unpredictably, and there's just nowhere to go. It's only slightly sheltered there at Fort Jefferson, so if the weather does come up, you're in for a bumpy ride. Did I mention it's 70 miles out there from Key West? Our boat is pretty slow, so it would take us quite a while to get there. The Marquesas are a small place to stop, but they're also not very sheltered. So if you get to the Dry Tortugas, and the weather turns sour, you're stuck out there. Weather windows are key, just like going to the Bahamas. But the weather defies forecasting and can change in a matter of hours. So we didn't want to go our there on our boat.
There are only 3 ways to get out there: private boat, sea plane, or fast cat. So we took the fast cat! And it was awesome! Instead of 14 hours to get out there, it took 2 and a half. Breakfast and lunch were provided, as was snorkel gear. When we got there, we did a quick tour of the fort. I was willing to skip it in favor of snorkeling, but Trevor talked me into taking a look. I'm so glad he did! The fort was awesome! Here's some history, if you're into that kind of stuff. And pictures! Lots of them!
|View from the boat as we were coming in.|
|Entering the fort. (And being photobombed from above.)|
|Inside the fort|
|Grounds inside the fort|
|Pretty cool, huh?|
|Trevor in the fort|
|There's a moat!|
|Looking out the window. How gorgeous is that water?|
|View from above.|
|That's me, conquering the fort. (or something)|
|Both of us, conquering the fort! That's why we're so happy.|
|Dad and Mom, looking like explorers (Dad is the pack mule).|
|Mom and Dad, overlooking the water.|
|Canon! Who doesn't like a huge canon?|
|Boats anchored outside Fort Jefferson|
|Trevor in front of the lighthouse.|
After we snorkeled the wall, we moved over to the coal pilings. And you know what? They were awesome, too! It was like a wreck dive, but with so much more coral growth than I've ever seen on a wreck. It was neat! The water was deeper there, too, so there were bigger fish hanging around. We saw some pretty good-sized jacks. I even saw a cuttlefish! It was less than 2 inches long, and yellow, with squiggly tentacles. It was so cute! Unfortunately, I was out of film by the time I spotted it.
After we got (relatively) cleaned up and dried off, it was time for the 2 1/2 hour ride back to Key West. Lots of sleepy faces and sunburns. When we got back to Key West, we took a cab out to Searstown, which is where we catch the bus back to Marathon. And home we came, exhausted and broke (did I mention the fast cat is expensive?), but happy. It was a pretty awesome day.
If I were to do the Dry Tortugas again, I would take the time to camp there a couple of nights. It's not much more expensive, but you'd get to spend more time there. We got about 4 hours, which was enough to see pretty much everything, but it would have been nice to have some more time. Camping there would be amazing!
Once we get the underwater pictures back, I'll post them (assuming any of them come out; underwater pictures are very hit or miss). Until then, we'll still be getting geared up for the Bahamas. Just a couple of weeks, and we'll be looking to head out. Exciting!