This is it! The final leg of our Shakedown trip to the Dry Tortugas. I drove down to Ft. Myers Beach from St. Petersburg with our friends, Josh and Jessie. I had a terrible cold but I knew that being on the water was a better option than lying around at home.. Nick was also under the weather but he captained on. 🙂
We started our journey with a short sail down the ICW to Cabbage Key. We left around noon and arrived around 5:00pm. Just in time for happy hour at the Dollar Bar! I wasn’t feeling well at all but I figured a shot of whiskey and some food would do my cold good. We also wanted to check and make sure dollar was were we left it 2 weeks prior. Sure enough, there it was next to our friends Ohana. When we got back to Satori, I decided to make it an early night, I knew we had a long sail the next day and I wanted to enjoy it.
Nick and I woke up at sunrise and I was in really bad shape! He sent me back to bed for more rest. Josh and Jessie were still asleep. Nick pulled the anchor up and put the sails up by himself. Its impressive to me that he can do this and with such ease it seems. As soon as he does all the hard work, our friends wake up. They missed all the fun! But at least our Captain gets some breakfast out of it.
I wake up in the late morning and started to feel human again. I laid around a lot and tried to rest. After all, I had to go to work the next day, yikes! We had a nice relaxing sail from Cabbage Key to our home dock in St. Pete. It took about 13 hours. We lounged, fished, made food, played with dolphins, and threw in couple of Facebook Live feeds while we were at it. Those were a little rough, it was our first time and none of us had a clue what we were doing. It was fun though.
As the sun was setting, we had a Conch blowing ceremony. I did not participate because I figured no one would want my cold germs! Nick dressed as the captain that he is with a special surprise underneath his coat. (hint hint….speedo!) Leave it to Nick to take the fun to the next level, always. 🙂
Stay tuned as we prep Satori and get ourselves ready to be full time cruisers!
After a fun week holding up in Key West (tough, I know), it was time to head back north. In this leg of the trip, Fort Myers Beach is the destination. Nick, with the help of his Brother and nephew who just happened to be vacationing in South Florida, sail Satori overnight to Fort Myers Beach. Nicks nephew Kagan, Trumpet player for the University of Wisconsin Badgers Marching band, show off his skills in an epic conch blowing session. It’s a long motor sail into the wind, but that’s better then ass kicking the whole way.
After a little tour of Fort Myers Beach, Kelly and new crew arrive for the final leg of the trip… in the next episode. Enjoy!
Thank you so much for taking the time to watch. Lotta love, Nick, Kelly and Arthur
After being trapped in The Dry Tortuga’s due to weather, we finally saw an opportunity to skirt over to Key West. We left at sunrise and due to the weather conditions, we expected to be in Key West in 12 hours. The seas were still a little rough but nothing like the previous day. It was still too risky to go out on the deck so Nick and I stayed in the cockpit for the whole sail. We took naps, talked about anything and everything, ate pasta salad that we had made a couple days before, and enjoyed each other’s company. I had many “K.R.T.” moments which you will learn translates to “Kelly Random Thoughts.” If you know me then you know this is something that happens frequently and on a daily basis. Call it my artistic brain making strange connections between random things and I blurt it out! It makes Nick laugh while giving me a crazy “where did that come from look!” It’s par for the course when you and I are in a conversation.
When we made the turn into Key West Harbor, we heard one of our friends “2nd Unit” calling Tow Boat US. Unfortunately their fuel filter was clogged and they were unable to use their motor. They got to Key West around midnight and we pulled in around 10:00pm. Ohana was shortly behind us and rafted up with us in the City Dock. We all freshened up a bit and went to Duval Street. The main objective was to head to Irish Kevin’s but we stopped at Sloppy Joe’s to check out the band. It’s always a great time there! We finally made it to Irish Kevin’s and it did not disappoint. Dwayne (one of Ohana’s crew members) bought us all Irish Car Bombs. As you can see in the video, it didn’t go down so easy for me. When I tried to finish it, it was like paste! That was my first one so I call it a rooky mistake haha! As we started to head back to the boat, there it stood…the ultimate street food, Pete’s Meats! After a couple of drinks, there is nothing that tastes better.
The next day, I had a flight at 6:00pm. That gave us time to have some brunch then hang out at Dante’s poolside bar for the afternoon. We sipped on margaritas and enjoyed the sunny day. When I got in the cab, I literally had tears in my eyes, I didn’t want to leave! The trip had proven to be one of the most memorable of my life. I realized at that moment how lucky I was and how much I looked forward to starting our cruising life.
After I left, Nick is forced to make a tough decision about how he gets home. His brother and family happened to be vacationing in Fort Myers Beach so they could easily could hop on the Key West Express. However, Ohana and 2nd Unit were leaving the next day and Nick could sail solo along side them. I didn’t like that idea because he would have to keep watch all night by himself! We talked about it and he decided to go with the first idea. I also gathered a few friends to make the drive down with me so we could sail back to St. Pete with him. Nick’s brother and nephew met him in Key West. They hung out for the day and left the next morning. The sail to Ft. Myers Beach is 24 hours.
Stay tuned for the next episode to see Nick’s 24 hour sail with his family while myself and friends meet him down in FMB!
Just after the storm, we were able to make our way back to Satori Monday afternoon (The day after Hurricane Irma). This video chronicles the condition of Salty Sam’s Marina and Satori as we saw it for the first time.
Soon after arriving in the Dry Tortugas, the wind and waves immediately picked up and ultimately ”trapped” us in the remote islands. The weather wasn’t great and after about two days, we saw what there was to see in Fort Jefferson. With that being said…Nick and I can make our own fun, wherever we are, even if there is nothing to do! We took some more dinghy rides and made a couple more trips to explore the fort further. We were keeping a close watch on the weather and discussing our options with the crew of Ohana and 2nd Unit. Our first attempt at leaving was the Thursday of that week. Our plan was to leave around sunrise and head to Key West. We wanted so badly to spend St. Patricks Day at Irish Kevin’s. It would have been a blast! Sadly, when we got up that morning, the weather was still not good enough for us. The winds were consistently blowing around 25 knots and the seas were 5-6 feet. Although Satori could handle that, it would not be a comfortable sail so we chose to wait it out. Nick and I went back to sleep to be woken up suddenly because our anchor was dragging. Luckily Jeff from Ohana saw it happening so he jumped on his dinghy to help. I tried my hardest to get Satori straight while Nick was on the bow. The wind was howling and I didn’t have enough experience to know what to do. Jeff jumped onboard and helped me get her straight. We came within 5 feet of a catamaran that was also in the anchorage. I was surprised that our chain didn’t get caught in their prop or visa versa. We were lucky!
Later that day, we hung out on the fort and prepared a Happy Hour on Satori for our friends. That was always a fun part of the day. We would sit together for a couple hours and have some delicious snacks and cocktails while sharing stories. I always looked forward to those happy hours. At that happy hour, we discussed our plan for leaving. We all decided the weather forecast looked decent so we decided to go for it. Only this time instead of heading to Key West, we would go straight to Ft. Myers. Since it is a 24 hour sail, we didn’t have to leave early. We decided to leave at noon. When we started to head out, everything seemed okay. The seas were a little rough but nothing crazy. After about an hour we heard Jeff from Ohana on the radio contemplating on turning back. The further we got from the protection of the reefs, the worse the seas got. The waves were crashing on the bow, the windows were soaked and Satori caught some air on a few of those waves. There must have been some 7-8 foot waves while they were consistently 5-6 feet. I know the video doesn’t do it justice but alas that was the situation we were in. Satori was handling the conditions like a champ so Nick and I decided to keep going. Until……our anchor bounced out of the bow sprit and went flying over the side. It was banging against the hull, quite the terrible predicament. Nick had to do something, the anchor could have easily put a hole in the hull! He hooked himself in and went to the bow with a razor blade. The only thing he could do was to grab the anchor and cut the line. Luckily he got it free pretty quickly. He brought it to the stern and tied her up. That was the moment we decided to turn around with Ohana and 2nd Unit.
When we returned, it was time for another Happy Hour on Ohana! We enjoyed snacks and some Irish Whiskey in honor of St. Patricks Day while looking at the weather. All of us agreed and decided to head to Key West the next Day. This was our best chance in terms of the weather and I had to get back to work on Monday. Key West has flights to Tampa everyday so that made it easy for me.
Stay tuned for our next episode where we have a rough ride to Key West but make it in time to go let loose at Irish Kevin’s! Until then…Fair winds!
Sailing to the Dry Tortuga’s is one of those things every sailor has in their bucket list. The fact that it’s only 70 miles west of Key West makes it accessible to the average coastal cruiser, though it is considered a remote destination. On a good day, it’s a 10-12 hour sail to Key West… but the weather often does not cooperate. I have personally attempted to make the trip 4 times and was only successful twice. This trip, we made it… but almost didn’t make it out. The reality is if you get stuck in the Dry tortuous, you better be well equipped. You better have ample food, fuel, and most importantly, water (or a water maker).
We set sail for the Dry Tortugas from Charlotte harbor, about 75 miles south of Tampa Bay, a 24 hour sail to the Dry Tortugas. Our plan was to time our sail so that we would arrive at the same time as two other boats in our party.They were to depart St. Petersburg in Tampa bay the night before. This would take them approximately 36 hours. As we approached our destination, I fully expected to get them on the radio at some point. From my understanding, the average sailboat radio should be able to send/receive a radio signal up to 30 miles.As long as we were within 3-4 hours of each others arrival time, there should be no issue. Even though I’ve been sailing for a number of years, I now realize that I had never tried to make contact with any other boat more that a few miles away. Well, this experience has shed some new light on this idea. We were very concerned as we approached our anchorage, with no sign of our friends. But as they sailed in shortly after we arrived, we were relieved to say the least.
The Dry Tortugas is known for its vibrant coral reefs and beautiful turquoise water. Its a haven for both fisherman and snorkelers alike. There are a number of sunken ships around they islands that make for an amazing snorkel experience. In the anchorages you will often find large barracuda, goliath grouper, and even shark. They have learned they can get a free meal from the visiting fishing boats as they clean their daily catch. We were lucky enough to have a close encounter with two goliath grouper that set up camp under Satori for much of our stay.
The designated anchorage in the Dry Tortugas is located near Garden Key and Fort Jefferson. Fort Jefferson was built in the early 1800’s after the Spanish American war. It was originally built to protect these major shipping waters from pirates and military threats to the united states. It is considered one of the most strategies deepwater anchorages in North America. Construction of the fort was never completed and amazingly, this structure is still considered unfinished.
As we toured the fort, it was fascinating to think that by the mid 1800’s, there were close to 2000 people living within the walls at any one time. During the civil war, the federal government decided to use the fort as a prison, even though it was still in construction. being sent to fort Jefferson was considered a fate worse than death. It meant hard labor, blazing sun, scarce food, very little fresh water, swarms of mosquitos, not to mention bouts of malaria and yellow fever. Prisoners were forced to wear a ball and chain while working day and night to build the enormous brick structure.
The forts most famous prisoner was Dr. Samuel Mudd. Dr. Mudd was sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of treason. Dr. Mudd treated the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. After a failed attempt at escape in 1865, Dr. Mudds heroic efforts during a Yellow Fever outbreak earned him a pardon in 1869. Now the only prisoner at Fort Jefferson is this saltwater crocodile that has been stranded on the island for years.
By the end of our second day in the Tortugas, there wasn’t much we had not seen or done. We had swam with goliath grouper, snorkeled the fort and a sunken wreck, braved a wicked overnight storm and repaired the dinghy motor. There was only one thing left to do… rescue a man overboard! Ok, so Jeff from Sailing S/V Ohana rescued him, but we saw him first! As the last boat in our group arrived the day after us, half the crew was seasick as dogs after making a very rough passage from Key West. One of the crew members was puking over the side as they approached the anchorage. He lost his balance and went over the side. Luckily, Jeff was already on his way to guide our friend into a safe anchoring position within the already crowded anchorage. Luckily, no-one was injured.
Now, the only thing left for us to do, is get home. Easier said than done however.The seas in the Gulf of Mexico had picked up as soon as we arrived in the Tortugas and the forecast had no sign of letting up. How did we get home… we’ll cover that in the next blog. until then, fair winds!
In this episode, we pick up where we left off in our last video. We make our way down to the Dry Tortugas in a 2 day trip. We stopped in Cabbage Key, FL to rest up before our 24 hour sail to Fort Jefferson.
Along the way, I got seasick. I’m usually okay in rough seas, however I happened to have a bad sinus infection a few days prior and had to take a round of antibiotics. This makes me nauseous to begin with so that is probably the reason the conditions affected me this time. Good news, it didn’t last that long!
After anchoring in Cabbage Key, we took the dinghy to the “dollar bar” and had the chef prepare our fresh catch. It was delicious! The next day, we had a great time on our sail to the Dry Tortugas. Dolphins interrupted our ice cream treat, but we didn’t mind! They hung with us a good 10 minutes. What an amazing site to see them in their natural habitat!
As the night approaches, we prepare a fantastic dinner and settle into the night. Nick and I took 3 hour shifts on the night watch. While I was on my last watch, a few dozen shrimp boats were all over the place. The radar alarm was going off every minute. I noticed a boat that looked like it was headed straight for us. I woke Nick up and he confirmed they were too close for comfort. It was a close call…
As we approach our destination, we become worried about our friends. They were sailing on a different course but we should have been able to get in contact by that point. We must have called them 20 times. Nothing…Stay tuned to see what happens!
In this episode, we see Kelly is not feeling so well…a case of seasickness! This makes for a very long day…We’ll see more of that later on.
Nick has a couple of last minute projects to complete before their shakedown trip to the Dry Tortugas. The first thing he has to get done is re-bedding the hatch above the V-birth. This task usually takes about 4 hours to complete.
Next they go on a trip to Magical Disney World. Hollywood Studios to be exact. Nick has a 4 day pass to use up before they start cruising. Kelly is a Disney fanatic so she has an annual pass and can go anytime! Nick and Kelly decide to really “ham” it up and play tourist for the day. They stop at the ultimate gift shop in Orlando, “Gift Land!” It does not disappoint. Every tacky tourist item you could ever want is in this place. Kelly finds Nick a beautifully horrible fanny pack along with a classic tourist Mickey shirt. They are set! Upon arriving at the park, Nick changes into his tourist gear and off they go to explore the park. As always, the park is crowded and full of strollers. Nick and Kelly decide to make the best of it. They talk to a few random Disney guests about their plans to sail the world. They met some pretty cool people and a few “crazy” ones as well.
As the day progresses, Nick and Kelly head over to Epcot to check out the countries and buy a snack and a beer. Epcot proves to be even more crowded! But in Nick and Kelly fashion, they still had the best time. They end their Disney day at Hollywood Studios riding a few classic rides, “Rockin Rollercoaster” and “The Tower of Terror.” Awesome!
You’ll also see Kelly has a teeny tiny bladder and has to find a bathroom every 5 minutes it seems. Nick is used to this and just “shakes his head…”
In the middle of all this Disney madness, “The Adventures of King Arthur” comes on. Is this episode, Arthur takes on a meat bone. This bone is fit for a King! His servant tries to take the bone from him but Arthur uses that to his advantage and kindly accepts the “help.” Arthur hides from his bone, he does this from time to time. Only Arthur knows why he does this but one would guess he is trying to “trick” his food into becoming more tender.
As final preparations are underway, Nick decides to get a new anchor chain for the trip. His friend Jeff gets him and a few others on the dock a good deal. They go to pick up the Canadian made anchor chain and install it. It’s beautiful and shiny but we all know that will only last until it goes into the water.
Lastly, Nick and Kelly cast off for their trip. The first stop is Cabbage Key near Boca Grand. This is about 12 hours away. Not bad! Except…Kelly gets seasick and is like that for a good 5-6 hours. It was not a pleasant morning.
The next episode will pick up where they left off. Thanks for watching everyone!
In this episode, we start out by taking some friends out for a fun daysail in Tampa Bay near Saint Petersburg, FL. Our friend Chase decides he is now Satori’s head bartender and gets the party started. We felt this scene was so awesome, it needed some epic 80’s rock to set the mood.
We also continue work on the swim platform. This project extends beyond this episode, but we get it to a point where we can test it. Pizza and Coffee are the perfect morning fuel for a project such as this. We have sped up this build process so as not to bore you. We will release a more detailed project video in the near future for those interested in more of the step by step “boring” stuff. Since we are not 100% sure how our design is going to work, we just wanted to get it to a point where we can use it during our upcoming trip to the Dry Tortugas. Then we can make any adjustments or design changes afterwards. We were able to get out and give a little test run while sailing however. The purpose of the platform is more for getting on and off the dinghy as well as swimming while at anchor, but we couldn’t help ourselves. We just had to climb down there during a little sunset sail.
Our little five pound chihuahua also joins us onboard in this episode. Arthur has been a frequent visitor in the months leading up to this episode, but not yet a permanent crew member of Satori. Arthur begins to settle into his new home in this episode. Unfortunately, that comes with a price. In this case, that price is Kelly’s need to “bug” him at all times. He is just too irresistibly cute for her… but this little dog is such a good sport.