Conditions: Sunny and also warm. Winds native the east/southeast 5 – 10 mph. Seas less than 2 feet.

Distance traveled: 99 nautical miles (114 state miles)

Time underway: 9 hours 14 minutes

Average Speed: 10.7 knots

Max Speed: 18 knots

Fuel used: 156 gallons

The large day was lastly upon united state – our crossing of the southeast corner of the Gulf the Mexico native Marco Island to key West. A most planning, preparation, and also energy had gone into this “event.” Why to be it such an event for us? after all, world make this pilgrimage every day. In fact, us made the trip once before when we lugged Soggy Dog IV from Marco to vital West ago in 2011. But the much longer we have been boating the more cautious and also careful we have become. End the years we’ve learned that being thorough v our due-diligence around any take trip day is important, however especially one that will certainly take us forty miles far from land. Some civilization think we’d become more relaxed through time, yet the much more miles you have actually under your keel the more you have actually experienced the range of what mommy nature, Neptune and every one of the various other boating powers deserve to throw at you and also there is no such thing as being too prepared. We discover something new every time we room on the water, no matter just how perfect the passage.

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First, the weather. Other than our last, easy run from Captiva to Marco Island, this was going to it is in the very first time we were offshore due to the fact that our exceptionally unpleasant foot in the Atlantic from Brunswick, GA to Fernandina, Florida in beforehand January. That experience certainly made us trepidatious and also we were not going come head out for this reasonably long job so far from land there is no carefully evaluating the weather and picking what looked favor the best possible day based on lots of obtainable information. Together we all know, the prediction aren’t always right and also the Gulf is well-known to adjust in an instant, yet you have the right to study patterns and really come to understand what creates what need to be the best collection of situations for suitable forecast. And that’s what we wanted. And as lot as we know around evaluating our trove the weather data, it always helps to consult v someone who is an especially familiar v the nuances that the weather in a details area. That’s why we didn’t hesitate come reach out to our dear friend Pete who has actually spent years in this cruising grounds and has travel on his watercrafts to the Keys plenty of times. He was thrilled to assist and had actually a an excellent summary the what we have to expect/be feather for. Us took the liberty of posting his notes below as we think this is super-helpful because that newbies come this trip or even seasoned travelers:

For cross to crucial West there space a pair of things to save in mind that the weather forecasts don’t often tend to reflect. The prevailing winds this time of the year are practically always the end of the E/SE. That said, the wind direction transforms as the job progresses and also the further south you enter open water. In the morning, the wind is likely to it is in from the east, blow offshore v calm to minimal complying with seas. As the sun heats up the air, the sea breeze increases and begins shift much more to the south, even transforming onshore (on her nose) so late in the day. Together a result, the conditions you have at the start will practically assuredly be various when friend arrive. No necessarily worse, just different. 
Unlike the Atlantic, the Gulf “swells” are an extremely mild and shallow but close with each other so don’t let the frequency scare you. It’s the wind waves that can present the difficulty — near together, choppy and often confused. The great news is you have the whole Florida peninsula and also the barrier islands of the keys to help keep the sea fetch down with eastern winds right now. Your best option would be to find a home window with a identified high pressure device over your route of travel. Those often tend to be an ext stable and also easier come predict sea problems from start to finish.

So the an excellent news for us is that high pressure had actually ruled the area because that the whole week and was estimate to continue past our planned travel day. The projection for the day us picked to be for winds out of the east and southeast at 5-10 mph along our whole travel route other than for the very last several miles whereby it was predicted to clock around a bit much more from the south. Seas were forecast to be less than 2 feet with a duration of 3 secs – in other words, basically flat.

With the forecast as great as we might hope because that we concentrated our pre-travel job on prepping the boat. We did thorough engine room checks, searching for anything that appeared abnormal, topping turn off fluids where necessary and generally putting our hand on every little thing on ours 825 hp strength plants. Exact same for the generator, thrusters and steering system. Us deployed ours anchor to check that our windlass (the motorized mechanism that lowers and raises our anchor) to be in an excellent working order. The pretty thing about crossing this section of the Gulf is even though you are far offshore, you are rarely in much more than fifty feet of water therefore you deserve to drop the anchor if you need to organize your position.

" data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" loading="lazy" class="size-full wp-image-2923 jetpack-lazy-image" src="" alt width="980" height="735" data-recalc-dims="1" data-lazy-src="" srcset="data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7">We inspected our life raft and also placed the in a good position for deployment. Us inspected our PFD’s (lifejackets) and also positioned castle “at the ready.” we unpacked and repacked ours “ditch bag.” This is a small, water-resistant, floating bag in which us stash, among other things, a personal locator beacon that have the right to be triggered to aid in search and also rescue, a fully-charged handheld VHF radio, a an initial aid kit, flares, a mirror (for mirroring the sunlight to attract attention come one’s location), an wait horn and also whistle, lines, a variety of really sharp knives, water, boat paperwork and even our computers’ back-up hard drives. We debated various scenarios and revisited our emergency protocols. Again, you just cannot be as well prepared.

Now that we were prepared to go, our best hope was that we would certainly wake up to a clean morning. There was heavy fog to begin the day before we left and we had actually no interest in start our travel day in the soup, an especially because we would certainly be transiting the rather tricky huge Marco Pass, the inlet to get ago onto the Gulf, one hour prior to low tide.

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We were turn off the docks in ~ 6:35am, simply as the an initial light the dawn started to appear to the east. Dockmaster Captain Richard came down early to see us off and also toss us our lines.

After clearing the inlet without occurrence just prior to the sun began to climb we to be greeted by a pod the dolphins play ahead of united state – a sign of good luck!