Yesterday we left John Pennekamp State Park on Key Largo (ICW mile 1140) and cruised down the outside of the Keys, past Plantation Key to Snake Creek, where we could cut across to the inside. It was a tight fit, and we saw truly scary numbers on the depth sounder as we crossed through, and still as we traveled on the inside in like 5 feet of water (Spray draws 4 ft). Eventually we reached Islamorada (mile 1160) and found the renowned restaurant Loreleis. We anchored offshore in somewhat exposed conditions and the 3 of us dinghied in for a late lunch. Our cruising guide had said the Loreleis allowed dogs but when we arrived there were signs saying no dogs. It turns out that one of their managers doesn't like dogs (can you imagine?). With some pleading and a few tears we were allowed to stay with Riggs and had a great (and huge) lunch. The restaurant's resident cat came by to torture Riggs, and everybody was happy.
Back on Spray we dozed for awhile (see above where Bev assumes her yoga pose 'Snorked Off Swan') and had a light supper. We cruised on this morning, first on the inside, then crossing through 'Channel Five' to the outside, where we found some small swells to keep things rocking.
There are 2 entrances to Boot Key Harbor (ICW mile 1195), the main one is from the west, but there is a shallow-draft option in from the south through Sister Creek, and we squeezed into the latter, winding through the mangroves. Boot Key Harbor is a very protected lagoon where many cruisers spend most of the winter. The city of Marathon maintains 226 moorings here, and they were all filled when we pulled in. What an impressive grouping of vessels! There is anchorage space too which was pretty full but we squeezed ourselves in and dropped the hook. After lunch (grilled cheese) we dropped a 2nd anchor to hold a tighter position, then dinghied ashore to the largest dinghy dock setup I've ever seen, and registered at the city marina. This is quite an operation, with a huge cruiser's lounge, bathroom/shower facility, pumpouts, etc.
We walked Riggs through a city park, then up busy Route 1 to a supermarket where we bought a few items for tonight's supper.
One of the aspects of Bev's visit I've most looked forward to has been her cooking skills. It turns out that I cooked the first few meals while she was aboard, both to show off my meager skills and to let her get acquainted with Spray's galley. Bev cooked us a great breakfast yesterday but tonight she showed her stuff: First frying some thin-sliced potatoes, then some broccoli and onions, capping things with sauteed tilapia filets with mustard sauce. What a fantastic meal!
So we arise at daylight, I make a quick run to shore with Riggs, then we share a nice breakfast and get underway. We spend the day on the flying bridge, watching the Keys slide by, in awe of the turquoise waters. Finally we snake our way into an anchorage, explore the shoreside ammenities, and return to Spray for a great meal and beautiful sunset. What more could one ask for?
The picture below shows just some of the anchor lights here in Boot Key harbor.