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Old 03-31-2016, 09:44 AM   #1
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Conalls boat Key West

Greetings all.

I'm typing this note, early Thursday morning sitting on my aft deck at A&B Marina in Key West having coffee. A&B has proven to be a great harbor so I'd recommend it to anyone heading this way. The A&B staff is awesome, our dock neighborhood is super friendly, and the boats are spectacular.

Our kids have almost two weeks of spring break so this is the how and the why of us taking this ten day trip. Because my wife has to be back to work on Monday, and not wanting to risk a return delay due to weather, she drove here with her daughter and friend from our home in Cape Coral. I, on the other hand, made the trip with my 7 year old son, 12 year old step son, and my 17 year old step son along with his girlfriend.

Our float plan heading down to the Key's was leave Ft Myers Yacht Basin to anchor off Sanibel, then off shore to Panther Key in the 10,000 Island area, next to Little Shark River, then on to Key West via the northern channel.

Because we let the older kids each bring a friend the logistics of getting the friend on board had us leaving Ft Myers Yacht Basin sort of late Friday to anchor off Sanibel lighthouse. Because the rains have eased up, Florida has stopped releasing water from lake Okeechobee and the water here is no longer brown. Being somewhat protected, this is a nice spot to anchor with good holding. To dinghy to ashore and spend the rest of the afternoon on the beach was a good way to spend our first afternoon.

The next morning had us hoisting anchor at sun up heading to Panther Key. I've always used Danforth type anchors with great success. Recently I purchased a new, somewhat heavier Danforth online, and truth be told, wasn't too impressed with how it looked when it showed up. I rigged the anchor any way and relegated my 10 year old Danforth as a spare. When we pulled anchor on this morning, the new Danforth came up bent like a pretzel. We were set good and firm in a sand bottom, and the tide flipped us around once overnight, and other than being cheap junk, I saw no real reason for the failure. Once we were under way, I got a file from the tool box and ran it across various parts of the new anchor. The file test showed the metal to have the same hardness as imported re-bar. The same file test showed the old Danforth to have at least double the hardness as the new anchor.

I'm typing this using my phone, and the kids are bugging me to cruise them around the harbor in the dink so they can see some tarpon. I'll continue this boat on the move post a little later on. I'll get some pictures up once I get home and am able to shrink them.

Cheers

Conall
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Old 03-31-2016, 11:11 AM   #2
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Sounds like a fun trip. What brand was the anchor?
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Old 03-31-2016, 11:14 AM   #3
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Thanks for sharing, sounds like a nice family trip!
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Old 03-31-2016, 11:25 AM   #4
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I've always enjoyed A&B. They have great T shirts. Have fun.
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Old 03-31-2016, 11:58 AM   #5
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Danforth is stamped on the shank, but I'm suspecting the Ch-ineese company.

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Old 03-31-2016, 01:26 PM   #6
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Nice trip, nice time to be there hanging out at A&B. Too bad about that cheesy Danforth, but it's best you figured out in a situation where it mattered less than it would have in an exposed, remote anchorage.
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Old 03-31-2016, 02:27 PM   #7
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Danforth anchors are owned by Tie Down Engineering. They say they're made in the USA.

They make two versions. A Standard and a High Tensile. I wonder if your old anchor is a high tensile and the new one a standard?

You can tell by the shank. The high tensile is forged and has some shape to it. The shank on the standard is rough cut from plate steel.

The flukes on the high tensile have a T cross section and the standard has an L cross section.
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Old 03-31-2016, 02:32 PM   #8
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Conall,

Very nice to hear from you! I have been wondering how things were going. Sure am glad to see you and the family are enjoying the boat.

Jealous as heck,

Jim
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Old 03-31-2016, 02:50 PM   #9
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Your spot on hop car. The older anchor's shank has some shape, and the newer one looks to have a shank sheared from plate. I'll get some pictures up later on.

I'll call later on Jim.

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Old 04-04-2016, 08:43 AM   #10
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Because my wife had to work, and could not be in Key West until Monday, our slow trip to the Keys had us headed as our next stop to Panther Key.

Panther Key is below Cape Ramano and in the 10,000 island area. We had about a 50 mile run in seas forecast 2' or less. The seas and wind forecast was pretty accurate and we good conditions with the waves and wind basically behind us. The Cape Ramano shoals extend pretty far in to the Gulf, and because I'd never been to this part of Florida, I charted a fairly wide transit around the shoals. There's a light marking the shoals, and we kept about a mile outside the light before we made our turn to Panther Key. Looking at the chart it seems reasonable that one could weave a course through the shoal water, but I didn't see the need to try to bump the bottom.

The charts to get into Panther key were accurate and we saw no less than 9' of water. We arrived early enough to dinghy to the beach and spent a few relaxing hours on the beach while the kids had a great time. The bugs were not bad, but I suspect they could be as summer gets stronger. This anchorage has a clear view to the west, and with high pressure over the area, the sunset was perfect. Panther Key is a great spot.

35 or so miles further down the coast is the Little Shark river which was our next stop. The sea forecast was again 2' or less, and started out that way. A few hours in to the trip, the wind quickly picked up and we had 3-4' on our starboard bow. My stepsons girlfriend was still a little ill from yesterdays miles, and with the added action, it was a no doubter as to how ill she was feeling. The wind stayed strong for the rest of the trip, and when we entered in to the Little Shark, we chose to go around the bend of the river to anchor out of the wind. There was enough swing room at this spot, but given the 3' tides on this river, we made sure we were centered up and had a good set on the anchor.

The Little Shark river area is about as wild and unspoiled area of Florida one could find. We took the dinghy out for a few hours of slow speed exploring, and saw loads of wild life in dolphins, manatee, sea turtles and various birds. When we got back to the boat, six other boats had found the anchorage in the bend and the scene was ideal. Sitting on the roof of the boat, the tide had flipped as the sun was finding the horizon, we were grilling our dinner and watching tarpon feeding on whatever the tide was sending towards the gulf. Watching the sun begin to hide below the horizon, I got bit by a bug... then another.... then about 200 others. Looking at the kids, they were all now swatting at bugs they couldn't see, while folding up the chairs. We were under a full assault and couldn't get inside fast enough. The grill food was still cooking, so I sprayed on bug repellent and headed back to the roof to finish the work. The bug spray seemed to help a bit, but not enough. All the windows are screened, but that only seemed to slow the no-seeums down just a bit as they were able to get through the screens.

Because I'm the builder of my boat, one of the items still on the "to do list" is installing the salon/wheel house air conditioner. The lower sleeping cabins are air conditioned, and that's where I headed once dinner was finished. The kids stayed up a while longer before going down below to go to bed. I didn't tell them to shut the windows before they retired, so when I woke up at 5:30 to do my pre flight before crossing to Key West, I was greeted by a few hundred thousand no seeums on the ceiling of the salon and wheelhouse. Shutting all the windows, I sprayed on bug reppelant, and got out the shop vac to start clearing the cabin of bugs. The shop vac worked pretty good, and after about ten minutes, life was OK. The only problem was it was a little warm inside, but I'll take that over the swarm. At 6:30 I woke my stepson to pull anchor while I watched from inside the wheel house as he got attacked by no-seeums. Once we cleared the last marker for the river on our course towards Key West, we opened the windows to let that cool morning air flood the boat and dispose of whats left of the no-seeums. Drinking my coffee while watching the sun rise over a dead flat Gulf of Mexico, I looked in my cup trying to decide if a few coffee grounds were floating in my brew or those were more no-seems. Deciding I didn't care what was floating in the cup, I downed it looking towards Key West.

Cheers

Conall
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:48 AM   #11
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Conalls boat Key West

😄😄😄😄

We did the exact same thing at Shark River last June. We were all outside relaxing watching the sunset and seriously got attacked. Good times!
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:21 PM   #12
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Conall, I'm enjoying your trip. Please keep posting.
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:34 AM   #13
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Conall,


I think I speak for everyone....where are the pics? Your killing us here.

By the way we have snow on the ground and a low of 9 last night. Funny we have to keep our windows close too.

Best Regards,

Jim
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:41 AM   #14
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"Deciding I didn't care what was floating in the cup, I downed it looking towards Key West. "

Good man!

Rob
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:12 AM   #15
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Conall, that's a very interesting well written log. Those kids will never forget that trip.
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Old 04-06-2016, 05:50 PM   #16
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Thanks Moonstruck.

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Old 04-06-2016, 09:24 PM   #17
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The Little Shark River to the northwest channel inlet of Key West is about 56 miles away with another 7 miles down the channel before one finds the Key West harbors. The forecast for the seas on this day was less than 2' with a 5 kt breeze.

After clearing the last marker for the Little Shark River, my stepson quickly ran down below to get back to bed, and with everyone else still sleeping, I got settled in for a nine or ten hour day. Getting a push from the tide, I kept the RPM's at 1500 and was making 7.5 kt. 7 knots seems to be my target speed these days, so anytime I'm over that at low RPM's, life is good. Without an auto pilot installed yet, I'm obviously hand steering, so I switched from the plotter screen to the radar screen and started playing the game of keeping the white boat line on top of the black course line. The two lines on the radar screen crossing over each other kind or remind me of that tool piano players use to keep the beat, so I that got me thinking about some music and more coffee. Our boat with it's large rudder, long deep keel, and heavy duty engine driven hydraulic steering, tracks as straight as string. With the seas as flat as they were on this day, I'm able to walk away from the helm for a few minutes at a time without the boat heading changing. The Portuguese bridge around the wheel house is about 42" tall so I feel safe stepping outside and enjoying the view while under way.

The seas today were less than 1', and for all practical purposes, the Gulf looked more like a lake. A few hours into my day, the water started changing color from the brownish green silt of the coastal water to a more clear, greenish blue of the gulf as the water finally began to get some depth. The crab pots were plentiful and kept kept me occupied trying to spot them with slight deviations of heading to stay clear. On a fairly regular basis, I'd spot Dolphins in the distance, and it never seemed to fail that these magnificent animals would head for the bow of our boat. When the dolphins showed up, I'd alert my six year old son, and his 12 year old brother so they could go the the bow and watch the dolphins hitch a ride on our bow wake. The bulwarks on the fore deck area of the boat are 36" tall, and I added a 1 1/2" handrail on top of the bulwark, so the fore deck of the boat feels very safe. The young boys spent most of the day between the fridge and the fore deck watching dolphins, a few sea turtles, and lots of bait being chased to the surface by a predator we could only guess of.

A long straight course line such as I was traveling on this particular day makes me think about that saying " a watch pot never boils". I'd be looking at the "distance to next" number, step away from the helm for a minute or so, then back to the helm to look at the "distance to next" number again, and think to myself, "it's not changed... life at seven knots". Every hour or so, I'd call my stepson to take the helm so I could poke my head into the engine room. The engine room door is a big heavy, dogged steel door with port light in it. I have a thermometer stuck to the glass on the inside of the port light so I can note the ER temperature. My engine room checks are: observe ER temperature, go in to the ER and sit on the house battery box and stare at the fuel lines and filters. Then move to rear of engine and lift the hinged sole panel above the drip less shaft seal and look for water, while putting my hand on the seal to feel for heat. Next I move around the engine, grab a flashlight off of the work bench and look at the injectors on top of the engine, the injection pump, and the bilge. The bilge never has water in it so I'm looking for water or oil. The ER is pretty room, and with handrails around the engine, and 5'4" of head room, it's pretty easy in and out, so the ER check takes less than 5 minutes. If the generator is running, I always take a quick look at that to make sure all is OK.

With our radar set for 36 miles, a couple hours after lunch, the black dot representing our next turn soon shows up on our radar screen. The distance to next starts getting down to numbers that the dingy can relate too, and we began to hear radio chatter from Key West. Making the turn down the north west channel, I call for my step son so he can start getting the dock lines and bumpers in place. By the time he gets the deck ready, and we discuss our strategery to get into A@B marina, were in view of Key West.

One would think life at 7 knots is slow, but things seem to happen quickly sometimes. Approaching Key West, I was thinking this is about the busiest place I've ever seen: Four or five para sail boats speeding around with sails in the air, armies of wet bikes racing every direction, sail boats coming and going, big sport fish boats coming down the channel doing 25 knots and throwing 4' rollers... you get the picture. We raised A@B on the VHF, got our slip assignment and location, idled into the harbor, almost crushed a para sail boat who snuck up behind us, backed into the slip, shut down the engine, hook up shore power, meet the dock hand, start to decompress.

It felt good to be in Key West, and while I like anchoring out, it was nice to be on a dock. My wife and two more girls were arriving by car soon, so we had a bit of work to get the boat "woman ready". I can for sure tell you I was pumped to be in Key West.

Cheers,

Conall
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Old 04-06-2016, 09:33 PM   #18
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Greetings,
Mr. 63. Good stuff. Thanks. I can almost feel the sunshine.
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Old 04-06-2016, 09:53 PM   #19
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"Living The Dream" Good for You!!!

Thanks for the pics they are a great inspiration.

Jim
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Old 04-06-2016, 10:02 PM   #20
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Awesome reports they are much appreciated. In another 20 years maybe I will be doing this!
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