The Motor Vessel "Once Around"

The Motor Vessel "Once Around"
The Motor Vessel "Once Around" in the Florida Keys

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Although we hated to see him leave, last Thursday my First Mate and I drove our son, Leo, to Miami International Airport to catch his flight back to Sacramento.  We had just enjoyed a great week together.  We figured he would be beat when he got home, but 24 hours later he called and was on his way driving from Sacramento to San Diego (500 miles each way) to visit his sister for the weekend.  Oh, to be 23 again!
Once Around’s planned one week stay at Key Largo had to be extended a few days.  We had to wait out another north wind condition which had the Atlantic stirred up a bit.  The sea conditions were predicted to be favorable for our departure by Wednesday or Thursday.  We were ready to be “outta there”.
If you look past the two boats in the foreground, you can see the long runway into Port Key Largo
Don’t get me wrong.  If you are “stuck” somewhere, Key Largo is not a bad spot.  The harbor is well protected, and there are tons of restaurants in the area to sample.  The seafood around here is excellent.  My First Mate says the fish tacos at Calypso, about a mile from here, are the best she’s ever eaten.  Also, although the sea conditions were not great, the weather there was just fine.  Our friends Fred and Julaine from Boreas were two slips away, and we spent some time planning our trip up the east coast of Florida, enjoying cocktails on Once Around or Boreas on the warm evenings and sampling the local restaurants.
I guess we were all ready to hit the waterway, because although Thursday looked better, we decided to leave Wednesday for Boca Chita Key, a distance of about 40 miles.  The first half of the cruise, we were on the Atlantic side of the Keys and exposed to a beam sea.  Not bad, but enough to keep your attention.  We crossed through the Keys into Biscayne Bay and had a nice calm ride up the inside for the remainder of the day. 
Following Boreas between Hawk's Channel and Biscayne Bay

We saw the house of the day on the north shore of Key Largo as we cut through...

...and almost next door we saw the other house of the day!
We did get hit by a small rain squall, but it did little more than clean the salt off the boat before it blew past.  By 2:30 we were tied up on the wall at the Boca Chita National Park.  There is not much there, but a lighthouse, a few small beaches and a hiking trail around a very small island.  The lighthouse turned out to be “closed for renovation”, although there were no signs of work going on.  Hmm.  The hiking trail was a mosquito trap for human beings, and the four of us hurried around to return to the safety of our boats in the late afternoon.
The lighthouse at Boca Chita Key from inside the harbor...

...and Boreas and Once Around from the other side.

Carrie spotted this little hermit crab on top of the sea wall during our hike
I guess it was the mosquito swarms that reminded Carrie and me that we had the movie “African Queen” on board, and we learned that the Boreas crew had never seen it.  So, the afternoon matinee aboard Once Around was a big hit.  Geez, imagine a bunch of boaters would be fascinated by a 60 year old movie about going down a wild river in a boat!  We really are strange…
We slept in Thursday morning as our move today is only a short two hour cruise.  When we finally woke up, we received a telephone message from our friends on Algonquin.  Kathy, Garth and Zeke are crossing from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas today.  Likewise, we spoke with Captain Ron of Jolly Tolly yesterday.  He and Jan are still at home in Atlanta as Jolly Tolly is stuck in Key Largo for the next few weeks getting a new generator.  Then, they too are off to the Bahamas.  We wish them all the best of seas and the best of times.  There is a unique sadness to the Loop that involves knowing you may not cross wakes again with your friends for a very long time. 
When Italians part they say, “Arrivederci”.  It is much better than saying “goodbye”.  It means, “Till we meet again”. 
Arrivederci, my good friends.

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