Monday, April 13, 2009

Beaches, Dinghy Rides and Great Family of Friends

On Sunday morning @ 6:45 am, the planets Venus and Jupiter were high in the eastern sky. The low clouds had a hint of soft pink. The red ball popped up at 7:05 AM to provide the lovely background for our Easter Sun Rise Service held on the Marina’s Beach. The fellowship afterwards was accompanied by a “groaning board” of breakfast treats provided in the potluck fashion of the community. Kielbasa, quiche, deviled eggs, Danish-sweet rolls varieties galore, yogurt and fruit compote were enjoyed by over sixty boaters. At midday we put the Yamaha 4 outboard on the dinghy and headed out the channel to the beach near the Boca Chica channel entrance. A coral shelf prevents access except at high tide. Last year, Mac our beloved 13-year-old dachshund loved to sniff out the crab holes among the shells and seaweed beds. It fact, when we would beach the dingy, his enthusiasm for the adventure transformed him into a “puppy on a mission”. Those happy memories were replayed as we trekked along Atlantic washed sands. Our second destination was to cross the coral banks that separate our safe harbor from Stock Island and duck under the low US Highway 1 Bridge to enter the Gulf of Mexico side of the Keys. We didn’t go quite far enough among the mangrove islands to discover the deep submarine pens excavated in the coral after World War Two. They were aborted due to increased surveillance technology and the Navy decision to locate Submarine Bases elsewhere. They should be great fish aquariums. A spur of the moment suggestion for a sailing trip to the Dry Tortugas was proposed when we returned later in the afternoon. We hastily provisioned the galley, did a quick laundry and prepared for an early morning departure. As sailors do, we rechecked the weather forecast at 5:00 AM, this morning, anticipating a 6:30 AM convoy of three sailboats sailing the 68 nautical miles to Fort Jefferson. Wind velocity and seas had increased from the 9:00 PM Sunday NOAA report to their 4:33 AM one. After thinking through the impact on the anchorage (no protection from the south, the direction of the winds) we aborted our plans. John says, Zephyrina is a pleasure boat and we are pleasure sailors so we don’t knowingly take on uncomfortable situations. Sandcastle and Blithe Spirit have gone on and we hope the weather forecast will be more favorable than reported. We sailed to the Tortugas in 1992 and Helen went again last year. Fort Jefferson is an excellent example of pre and post Civil War construction and, of course, the prison to which Dr. Mudd was sentenced after the assassination of Abe Lincoln. We would have loved to snorkel the old coal docks but think the rough seas may cause low visibility. The substitute plan for today was a roundtrip long walk to the extensively equipped Navy Gym. The goal was to shed a few extra calories from Sunday’s brunch and later Fried Turkey, prepared by our dock mates Hank, Bridget, Leo and Sallie. Again our marina friends added stuffing, sweet potatoes, peas, salad and chocolate toffee oatmeal dessert – a low-cal Easter feast. Tonight we’ll cook Mahi Mahi fillet [from the fish caught last week] along with broccoli as our slim fast meal.

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