Cruising Cortado and Christmas 2014

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We started out writing this blog, as a way to communicate with our families in Indiana, Maryland, Virginia and New York. This may explain why some posts are not about ideas or newfound wisdom, but just a glorified, public diary of our journey. Please understand at this time, we are just figuring things out. Our first over-night at anchor, first birthdays far from home and friends, our first holidays onboard – all a bit scary the first time around!
Anyway, our little boat has been so much fun. We left Islamorada and cruised to Marathon in need of food and supplies.  We lost two pocket knives overboard this week, which is a necessary boat tool.  Marathon is a small stretch of land in the middle of the Florida Keys, but fortunately for us, has several marina options and a full sized Home Depot.
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We also were lucky to connect with some old friends, Geri and Bill, who have a dreamy setup in Marathon. It was a pleasure to be able to spend time with them and their family.  
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Leaving Banana Bay Harbor for Key West with a full crew. The calm before the storm!
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We cruised the inside route to Key West, in a bit of a rush to beat an on-coming weather system we had known about for several days. Nasty storms were headed our way and vulnerable does not adequately describe our little boat in big water. After a full day of dodging crab pots and shallow water, it hit. A wall of fog, lightning, waves, rain squalls… it was equal parts the most beautiful sight I have ever seen and also one of the scariest. I am in awe of my husband who navigated us with expert calm and professional skill through the waves and into safe harbor. Once the storm passed, the sun came out, and we pulled in to Conch Harbor Marina in Key West.  The docks were full of people and it was as if nothing had ever happened. 

 

We arrived in Key West on Christmas Eve after our first big storm at sea.  

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Back in October, I thought hard about how to provision the boat for the holidays, and I knew it was not going to be easy! I found a great Christmas blog post on the website of a friend: www.sailingtotem.com.  I loved seeing how other cruising families kept the holiday spirit and so I was determined to follow suit.
 
Well, we nailed it. We brought a small travel tree with us, even though we were longing for the  pine scent of a real one. Christmas Eve was as un-conventional as they come, and yet.  We grilled dinner on the boat and had a cozy evening, just us and Cortado.  Milk and cookies were set out for Santa under our tiny tree. Tony read “Twas the Night before Christmas” to the kids on the engine boxes. Oliver and Sophia wake up Christmas morning ready to go! It rained during the night which made for some adventure, but Christmas morning came with a glow of sun, warmth and lots of presents for all!

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The presents filled the main salon, including R-E-Y Code Flags, which were promptly hung.

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The days that followed included walking about Key West, paddle-boarding, fishing. Boxing day was spent deep-sea fishing with Mo on the Lucky Dream.  It was a spectacular, yet foggy, rough sea day beyond the reef in deep waters South and East of Florida.  We fought hard for our dinner of fresh mahi and tuna.
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Dan and Sydney left for NYC and we missed them immediately. The boat seemed a little empty without them!  We spent the remainder of 2014 visiting some dear friends and making new ones.  On the 30th we started to make our way north to Hawk’s Key Resort in Marathon for a break from the action in Key West and a quiet New Year’s Eve.

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Sophia at the wheel en route North to Marathon and Hawk’s Cay in the deep, calm Atlantic.

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