Position: N 24 34.175 W 081 48.206
Location: Key West, Florida, USA
Our last 2 days have been busy and tiring. We slogged along the north coast of Cuba for a day and 2 nights, into the wind, which is never fun. However, there were times of reprieve when the winds died down and made the ride a little more comfortable. Our plan was to head for Miami ahead of some bad weather this weekend, but after checking the weather this morning we saw the wind was expected to shift more easterly. This meant 2 more days of close hauled sailing into the wind and waves. Suddenly Key West was looking much more attractive!!
We turned Rachel toward Key West and immediately she rode the waves better, sailed faster and more easily, and we all felt much happier.
About 50 miles off Key West we got a call on the VHF radio from the Coast Guard. They asked for basic information about the boat and told us to stand by. About 5 minutes later they call back and say they'll be sending a boarding party to do a 'safety check'.
|US Coast Guard cutter|
A pretty good sized Coast Guard cutter suddenly comes into view, they lift a big inflatable into the water off the side deck, 4 officers get into it and they head toward Rachel. While we are still sailing 3 of them jumped aboard Rachel to do our safety check. Everything went really well, they were very professional but friendly and after about 30 minutes they were on their way. We told them it was so nice to talk to someone other than each other and they got a chuckle out of that!! Apparently the Coast Guard cutter had been 300 yards off our boat while we were sailing along the Cuban coast last night, we had never seen them (even using our radar!!), and neither did Osprey, our travel companions.
30 miles from Key West a pod of dolphins came to play with us. About 15 of them swam in front of the boat doing tricks and leaping out of the water. What a lovely welcome back!!
20 miles from Key West we started seeing a lot of port traffic and hearing LOTS of chatter on the radio. All vessels with a VHF radio are required to monitor channel 16. Unfortunately, there is so much yakking on that channel that we looked at each wondering why we came back. We couldn't even have a conversation with each other without interruption. The constant chatter really got on our "last nerve". We'll take a dolphin welcome, any day!!
Despite the constant interruptions we managed to communicate with each other and slowly work our way into Key West harbor in the dark. We anchored at 9:30 pm and are safe and well. Tomorrow we have to figure out how to check in to the US here. Until then it's a good nights sleep for Rachel's crew. And we get to sleep at the same time for the first time in 10 days!
It's good to be back. Good Night