I’m in Salt Lake City this week attending the SNAP Conference with a huge group of other bloggers. Earlier this week I said I’d share something a bit different. I hope you like it! For my readers who don’t know this about me already, when I’m not DIYing and fixing up our house, I’m most likely out sailing in my spare time. DH and I set out for an adventure and made a long-standing dream come true last year. I’ve wanted to share what sailing 500 miles to Key West was like ever since.
From the moment we thought about moving to the beach on the Florida Gulf Coast we dreamt of sailing to Key West. This is not a day or even a two day cruise. It was a 500+ mile, three week sail trip along the Florida coast, across the Gulf of Mexico, around the southernmost point of Key West, along the Eastern side of the Keys and back up the coast again. We did it, just the two of us in a 36 foot sailboat.
We are seasoned sailors, but we soon learned there is a big difference between sailing in the Gulf of Mexico for a weekend and cruising several hundred miles. Think road trip, but on the water.
Within the first few days, it became clear that a sailing vacation requires flexibility and a good attitude.
On our second night, we found ourselves hard-a-ground (not good) while anchored for the night. We woke about 3:30am, with our boat tilting sideways as the tide went out, grounded and stuck. It seems we’d drifted onto a shallow spot in the night. We waited 6 hours while the boat healed over hard (leaned a lot) and righted herself back up when the tide came back in. Six hours takes forever when you’re stuck in bed watching everything go sideways. Nope, you can’t walk around, you kind of climb over things at that point.
A day later while in a marina waiting for a simple part we ordered and had overnighted in, the technician dropped the part into the water climbing onto our boat! Oops!! It was Good Friday with no replacements available for 3 more days. We put our original part back in and left as precious time was ticking since we had a schedule we needed to stick to.
Later that night, we anchored in the Everglades in the black water of Shark River in the Everglades with a zillion bugs and a freakish current that made no sense like the Twilight Zone.
…I’ll mention it again, sailing requires a good attitude and a flexible spirit!
But, when the wind is right and the skies are blue nothing could be better.
Easter Sunday was spectacular as we crossed the Gulf of Mexico with no land or boats in sight for miles.
After 16 hours of sailing, we arrived at our marina in Key West and were greeted by the friendliest group of boaters we’ve ever met.
It took six days to sail here and we’d made it!
Key West is a gem of a place. Filled with Victorian homes, lovely cottages and plenty of porches. Most porches have beautiful blue ceilings. I read two explanations, one is that the color kept bugs away by confusing the ceiling for the sky and the other is that the blue extended daylight. Either story is charming and so are the pretty blue porch ceilings!
Bicycles are a main source of transportation as are scooters in Key West.
Vintage iron work is plentiful.
Keys West has a flavor all it’s own. The locals are referred to as Conchs and you’ll see Gypsy Chickens roaming the streets of Key West. They’ve been there for about 200 years. Yes, they are actually called Gypsy Chickens:)
I wonder if they migrate because we have some of these in our area too:)
A trip to Key West wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Hemingway House and Museum, home of Ernest Hemingway back in 1931. The house and grounds are spectacular as are the tour guides. Of course the Hemingway cats steal the show. Of the 40 + cats on the grounds many are polydactyl (6 toed) cats and descendents of a polydactyl cat given to Hemingway as a gift.
There were also many restaurants and fun bars along Duval Street that kept us entertained for more than one date night 🙂
After 5 fun-filled days in the Keys, it was time to set sail for home. It was a blissfully uneventful sail home. The Atlantic side of the Florida Keys had spectacular blue water. It reminded me of the Caribbean.
We had the occasional boat pass by, otherwise it was just us, the blue ocean and beautiful blue skies for as far as you could see.
Our timing of our sail back to the mainland left no other alternative but to spend the night in the Everglades again 🙁
I lay there for most of the night, not able to sleep as unknown creatures splashed in the water and went bump in the night. Hoot owls were calling, and once more a zillion bugs swarmed just outside our screens, and then there were the no see ums. Lots and lots of flying biting little gnat like creatures who had no problem fitting through the screen mesh.
We pulled up the anchor at daybreak and couldn’t wait to get out of there!
The bugs literally trailed behind us for several miles of our sail 🙁
As unfriendly as the Everglades were, they are beautiful. I took this photo with the moon in the sky as we quickly exited Shark River at daybreak.
As soon as the Everglades were behind us and we were back to our familiar coastal waters ,knowing we’d be home in a few days, I tried to squeeze in as much relaxation time as I possibly could.
It’s not everyday I get to sit still and read a good book.
Our cruise home was relaxing and blissfully uneventful. The sunsets were spectacular and so was the weather.
This is a mooring in Ft Meyers, where we spent a night alongside other water travelers.
We arrived home both worn out and well rested from our crazy adventure. A sailing vacation is a working vacation. While I was never afraid or worried about my safety on this trip, our voyage required team work, periodic nerves of steel, stamina and good communication. It took us out of our daily routines, and into a new routine of togetherness in lots of ways… 😉
Looking back as I write this a year later I’m a little sad I can’t turn back the clock and start our trip all over again. It was a trip of a lifetime, an amazing adventure and a dream fulfilled. I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
I’ll be back next week with a new fantastic DIY project and a home improvement project I waited a long-loooong time to get:)
Do you have a trip or an adventure that stands out in your memory as your favorite? Share below in the comment section!
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Jo May says
Wow! Incredible adventure. Amazing.
Hi Jo May, It was an incredible adventure! I can still picture what it felt like passing through our local draw bridge into the Gulf of Mexico, and thinkig we’d be gone for almost a month. It’s a wonderful sense of freedom! Thanks so much for your visit!
Amanda @The Kolb Corner says
Sounds like quite the adventure! Thank you for sharing at Merry Monday!
Hi Amanda. It was a wonderful adventure, one that I’d do again in heartbeat! Thanks so much for your visit)
What an adventure! It looks like it definitely required patience, hard work and a good attitude. Thanks for sharing your trip and I look forward to browsing your blog. I clicked over from Calypso in the Country.
Hi Tanya and welcome! It was a working vacation in a good way 🙂 I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Thanks so much for your visit and please come back again!
Wow, what a fun trip! I remember visiting Key West years ago, and it was amazing! Thanks for sharing the journey with us at the #HomeMattersParty
Hi Jamie and thank you:) It was an amazing trip. Key West is a place all it’s own, it barely feels like the US. We loved it and can’t wait to go back! Thanks so much for your visit!
the cape on the corner says
my gosh, what a wonderful adventure! so glad you guys got to realize a dream in sailing to key west. i would not have been ok with the everglades for two nights!
we do have an adventure coming up, actually. this summer we are headed to austria for over 2 weeks. we’ll visit vienna, salzburg, the alps, the wine region, a concentration camp, lake bled in slovenia, and a few places in germany. i’m nervous, but excited!
Thank you, it was an amazing adventure. To me it was even more meaningful that we did something we talked about a few years before. It really was our dream. Your adventure sounds wonderful too! You’ll make memories that will last a lifetime. Have a wonderful time & thank you for your visit:)
Wow! Thanks for sharing your amazing story. I wish I was as adventurous! 🙂
Hi Karen! It was an amazing trip. I’m not sure when we’ll get 3 weeks off again to travel on another big adventure, but if we do… Off we go again to somewhere fun:) Thanks so much for your visit:)
laura quaglia says
I have traved alot ,but never any thing like that
Thanks for the story , you are brave,
Hi Laura, trying new things at any age are what make life rich. We are also experienced sailors and come from sailing families. My husband and I have sailed together for years, so it’s easier to be comfortable on the water. We also are strict with safety and don’t take chances:) Glad you liked my story & adventure. Thanks for your visit!
What a great story Wendi! You are certainly braver than I am! No see ums!!! they are awful. ugh!
My Matthew is a six toed cat. My neice Missy calls him “thumbs”.
All beautiful pics… that beach towel brought a wave of sadness, I used it to cuddle Louie in his last trip to the vet. I still miss him so much, and the smallest things can bring him to mind… like a random picture from a best friend.
Thanks for sharing this with us!!
Oh, Gail I can’t begin to imagine how much you miss Louie. I’m so sorry. You’re the first person I’ve met who has a 6 toed cat! They were everywhere at Hemingway’s house. I hope we get you on the boat & down here some day! Thanks as always, for your visit..and friendship XO!
Can’t wait to come back and read more but no time right now. Caught my eye tho because my hubs and I are sailors too. For 9 yrs we’ve taken our Blue Bayou, 43 ft catamaran, out for trips to every blue water imaginable for months at a time. Mostly caribbean. And usually kept her in anchorage for hurricane season in Ft Myers. Most of our trips are logged on my blog in the archives. So fun to read other sailors adventures!!
Our last trip out was to British Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic for 4 months!
Janey… I’m so envious! Our neighboors live aboard their 41 ft & travel like you do. After 3 weeks away I was ready to keep going. I even tried to talk my hubby into it. Unfortunately, it’s not the time yet for us to take off. You might like my little post on cruising with my dad when he brought his 32 ft Nordic Tug down for the season last Dec. https://h2obungalow.com/2015/12/my-gift.html Keep an eye our for us on the water, Agora II, 36 ft Hunter, hail us with a hello if you do! Please stop by again & wishing you fair winds..
Calypso in the Country says
Once again – love this post! Thanks for linking up!
Calypso in the Country says
Wow – that really is a trip of a lifetime! I have never been to Key West but have always wanted to go. The color of the water is just like the Caribbean! So beautiful!
Hi Shelley… It was an amazing time. Yes, the water is incredibly blue. I had no idea we had that shade of blue so close to the states. What I found interesting was that the Atlantic side was a bit bluer and prettier in the Keys. Thanks so much for your vist:)
Mary-the boondocks blog says
Wendi what an amazing vacation. Indeed once in a lifetime. You did such a great job with your writing I actually cringed at the thought of the bugs and who knows what else in the everglades. I don’t care how beautiful it may be, you’ll never catch me there. On the flip side, there is nothing more magical than you with the sea and the sky. I’m just happy to know that you are seasoned sailors and know what you’re doing. I will be happy to reach the other side of the bay one day because we have a small boat, so we are going to brave that. Thanks for sharing this with us, and your stunning photography.
Thank you Mary! I know you get the draw of the water, the challenges and how beautiful it can be. The everglades were a lot scarier than I expected. I’ll take the open Gulf anyday of the week over another night in Shark River sleeping with things that go bump in the night! Looking forward to hearing about you reaching the other side of the bay in your boat! Have a great week!
handmade by amalia says
A fabulous adventure. I could almost feel the wind blowing in my hair.
Thank you Amalia! It was an adventure, and I’m thrilled I finally sat down to write it out and share it:) Thanks so much for your visit!
Denise Hardy says
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your great adventure – although at times a little scary, it sounds delightful and such beautiful sea and sky. Although I don’t think I would have liked the Everglades much, Key West looks and sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing 🙂
Thank you Denise! Sailing is always an adventure. The blue water and the Keys were such a fabulous experience, I’d do it again in a heartbeat…even if it meant stopping in the Keys again:) Thanks so much for your visit!
That’s a vacation that you and your husband will remember forever. What an adventure. I live smack in the middle of the continental US, with little ocean experience. It sounds exciting.
Hi Debbie! You’re right, this vacation will always be special. We love living on the coast, I can’t imagine not seeing the water everyday. Thanks for your visit:)
What an adventure!
Beautiful photos and those blue colors up and down (sky and sea).
I’d never do that willingly. Ever since my dad narrated The Jaws for me (when I was 5, I had insisted he tells me of the movie he watched and alas, he did a great job), I got scarred for life, lol. =)
I much rather get a great description like yours and wildly imagine the bazillions of bugs buzzing maliciously, the uncomfortable but really funny (I say that from my horizontal couch hehe) tilt and the pure luxury of sunbathing at the edge of a sailboat.
Great post. 🙂
Thank you! So glad you liked it and my storytelling. I’m glad my story is lots less gory than Jaws too, especially because we lived it;) The bugs may have been lethal if we’d let them eat away…or carry us away. I could have done without that part, but I guess that was part of the adventure too! Thanks so much for your super sweet note:) Have a great week.