Plunging, Snorkeling and Fishing

Happy 2016!

The year has started off incredibly well for the Cortado crew.  Our annual chilly “Polar Bear Plunge” went off without a hitch as we found an area to anchor in 6 feet of clear aqua blue water in the Florida Keys and 82 degrees of air temperature. Not too bad!

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(Oliver after his warm-water “Polar Bear Plunge” to welcome 2016)

Plunging, for us, is a family tradition dating back to 1998 when Tony and Sydney began jumping on New Years day into the icy waters of Narragansett Bay, RI. The concept is to literally start the new year with a brisk wash, a fresh sense of adventure and also to raise money for charity. We have maintained this family tradition in RI for years, save for the occasional warm-weather holiday.

As this is our 4th consecutive Florida New Years’ it has been a pleasure to continue the custom in warm weather and warmer waters.

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On day two of 2016 we cruised to Sombrero Reef for the best snorkeling we have had. Sombrero Reef is one of the few “living” Coral Reefs in the United States and did not disappoint. The reef is between 10-35 feet deep and has 11 free mooring balls located on the south side of the light which are easy to tie up to as long as you can find one available. The reef is a Sanctuary Preservation Area (SPA) and strictly regulated so anchoring is not an option.

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Dodging jellyfish was our biggest challenge.

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According to Divers Direct, the 142-foot Lighthouse was constructed 8 miles offshore prior to the Civil War. It is still functioning and in service. Here is some more info from Divespots.com:  “Sombrero Reef is one of the largest and surely the most magnificent coral reefs in the Middle Keys, home to some of the best spur and groove reef formations in all the Keys. The amount of coral is breath-taking. As soon as you descend, gorgonians, brain, finger and lettuce corals can be seen. Schools of colorful tropicals, southern stingrays and nurse sharks make their home on this reef. Large barracuda hang out by the lighthouse structure. The coral limestone has an “Arch” which is large enough to swim through.” 

It was a fabulous spot and has inspired us to find more places to snorkel this winter!

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Goldfish crackers on the transom after snorkeling. Awesome.

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Passing under 7-Mile Bridge on the way back to Marathon harbor.

Day three of 2016 was for fishing. Tony worked hard to set up our trawling gear and outriggers in order to do some serious fishing in 2016.

Our first time out, we caught a Spanish Mackerel with a trolling rod.

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Tony, very proud of his catch; kids in awe of their brave dad.

So for us, 2016 is off to a great start. We have discovered the ease and beauty of moorings and this is our new preferred way to “anchor out.”  Life changing!  Our favorite overnight moorings so far, have been Lignum Vitae and the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State park – both in or near Key Largo.

As I write this post, it is raining and the Cortado has been hauled out in the Keys for some minor repairs. This is where the ‘balance’ comes in. We are loving our boat and salty water days, but for this week, it’s time to pause and get to some serious work and school.

Wishing all our family and friends a warm and adventurous 2016!

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