Jillian arrived in mid December on the west side of Florida for a Christmas vacation and relax after writing her exams.
Some of our favourite things to do were enjoying the wildlife, shelling, enjoying the scenery, and snorkelling.
Here we are watching the dolphins swim under our bow through the Wilderness Waterway in the Everglades until we got splashed with their fishy breath!
We went shelling on the west coast of Florida and every beach has a different selection of shells.
At Marathon we are tied up spiderweb style to mooring poles. The docks don’t float so the boat can be level with the dock or much lower when the tide goes out a couple of times a day which presents boarding issues.
We snorkelled right off the back of our boat. I found a number of coral heads on our charts (maps) a few miles off the coast from Key West and, after waiting for calm days, we cruised out an hour or more to find the sites. Roger plugged the location into the chart plotter and we can see a line on the chart directly to the location we select which aids navigation.
When we arrive we are not allowed to anchor on the coral as it destroys it, so to conserve the coral, the local dive companies have installed anchored mooring buoys on the dive sites. These present a challenge to the uninitiated.
On arriving I bring the the boat slowly up to the mooring buoy on the starboard side, so I can see it. Roger, who is waiting on the bow, hooks the buoy’s ring with a boat hook. He then loops the bow line (rope) through the buoy ring and ties it back onto the bow cleat so it’s easy to release, quickly if necessary, if the wind comes up.
We love the new swim platform and reboarding device (ladder) on the stern of TA TA. Even in rough water we can get on our gear, dip our flippers into the sea water to slip them on and spit into our masks and rinse them (to enhance vision) there and enter the water. The ladder pulls down from the swim platform so we can easily reboard. This is a great safety feature.
We all shared Roger’s wetsuit gear which was generous of him. This ensured that Jilly and I were reasonably warm, but Roger was cold.
Jilly had the farmer john which has legs and torso. On the second day she used a bungee around her waist to keep the water from getting in. Her shoulders and chest are smaller than her father’s so there was quite a current of water passing into her suit. I had the shortie wetsuit with arms and short legs which was tight enough to help keep me warm and Roger had just a t-shirt designed for water sports.
It’s always cold when you enter the water until the water inside your wetsuit warms with your body heat. In Canada, where the water is much colder, people often pour warm water into their wetsuits before entering the water, but the Gulf Stream keeps the water around 75 degrees so we were fine.
There were Bermuda Chub fish right under the boat and we love to see new species. The water clarity is wonderful and the colours are fantastic.
These are a Butterflyfish with the pointed snout, an Angelfish and a blue Surgeon Fish with the barb near the caudal fin.
When we got back to the boat there was a big barracuda enjoying the shade under our boat. He left after checking us out.