Last 2 windy days in Key West

by Glen

Sunday and Monday 16-17 Jan, Cruising days 50-51, Key West: Riding out another weather front and prepare to depart for Mexico.

We wake up on Sunday morning to the expected weather change. The strong cold front arrives on queue at 9:30am, the same time as predicted even 4 days ago by the European weather model. And arrive it does, in all its grandeur. We can clearly see the squall line of low angry clouds racing towards us. The sky gets very dark and contrasts amazingly to the turquoise water around us. We just about manage to raise the tent and get it strapped down when …whammp, the squall hits us! Nearly 40 kts of wind for a few seconds then in the low 30s for the next 5 minutes then dropping back to teens. Then the rain and thunder. Lightning is striking very close by, so I run down and disconnect all the mast antenna below decks. Not sure if that helps but it’s a routine we always do in electric storms. The rain is extremely heavy for about 30 minutes then peters-out. Just enough to give the boat a good rinse. I would normally go out and do my usual with a sponge, but the temperature has just also dropped dramatically. From 25 degC to just 18. Not that I’m not hardy, but I do have my limits.

For the rest of the day the wind steadily increases, and we stay snug inside. Today and tomorrow will be video editing days for me. I really need to get these maintenance ones finished so we can start on this current cruising season. Sometimes this YouTubing feels like a weight around our necks, or at least my neck. But it also means I never have an excuse to be bored.

While the wind blows, I also put up the new FinDelta sail. I really want to record the boat yawing with and without it. So, I set up the GoPro in front of the instruments and set it to time-lapse (1 frame every 1 second). 15 minutes with the sail up, 15 with it down. The result is that we swing a full 60 degrees without the sail, and about 30 degrees max with it. With the sail up, and us only swinging 10-15 degrees either side the wind, it really feels like we are barely yawing at all. And certainly not pulling sideways on the anchor. Conclusion: it does work, as advertised.

And talking of equipment, I have now got prices for all the options of hydraulic vang, to replace our leaky one. I’m quite surprised at the price range. Reckmann are by far the most expensive at $7,000 for size 22 (our size) and $8,500 if I want to go up a size to size 30. Navtech come in the middle at $4,000 and $6,000. But by far the most economical is Selden at $2,800 for a size in-between the others (Selden 57). I think I know which one I will be buying! Although Selden have only recently started manufacturing hydraulic vangs, this is used on the new HR57. Hence I’m sure it’s fine.

On Monday I have a mission in town to get checked out with the CBP, post out UK SIM cards to UK to get them reset, some hardware and some food shopping. All in our last day before finally departing the USA, tomorrow. Aalthough it’s still very windy, I head off to town alone. No point in us both getting soaked. And wet I do get! Once through the Fleming Island bridge, the water is wild, and the spray is flying.
But in town, I learn today is Martin Luther King public holiday. CBP and the post office are closed. Damn, that means it will have to be done tomorrow which will delay our departure. We really needed to leave early morning if we want to arrive at Isla Mujeres before dark on Thursday. A bit annoying. I mean, compared to the rest of the world, USA has hardly any public holidays, yet this one lands on today for us! Bummer.

But I do manage to get all the hardware bits and pieces I had spied earlier and head back to the boat with my booty. Oana is a bit surprised when I show her everything I purchased. Clearly, I should not be allowed out alone with the credit card!

In the afternoon we venture to food shopping. And I do say venture. You may remember a few blogs ago, that an Uber driver told us where we can tie the dinghy in the mangroves and get close access to Winn Dixie supermarket. Well, that’s where we go and it’s pretty cool! But Oana is not impressed. Having got sprayed on the dinghy coming in, her sense of adventure is at a low point. All she sees is the mud that she has to step in to get off the dingy. We whip around Winn Dixie very quickly. Not much to buy. Just some fresh produce. Then back to the boat. Have to say, Winn-Dixie is certainly cheaper than Publix supermarket.

In the evening I set up the decks for departure. It looks like it will be good wind to use the Parasailor spinnaker. So the 2 tack lines, 2 sheets, barber haulers, sheaves on the bow-sprit etc are all set up. It’s a bit of a faff to set up for the spinnaker. But I do love sailing with it, making the effort all worthwhile.
While I’m doing this, Oana bakes bread. Then we head for an early night.
Tomorrow we head to Mexico!

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