After returning to Mexico after visiting Boone for Makenzie’s graduation, we left Cozumel early on the morning of Saturday, May 14th. We enjoyed a pleasant day of motor sailing north to arrive in Isla Mujeres (an island across from Cancun) just before sunset and anchored for the night.
With the sun just coming up, it was time to get moving to the Dry Tortugas!
We had 2 days and nights of sailing ahead of us.
We were now on a northeastern path headed straight to the southern most FL key. The charts said we had 2 days, 6 hours to go if we stayed at a consistent speed of 5.2. When you are sailing, speed is not a consistent. You are at the mercy of the wind as well as your own knowledge and ability of how to best point your boat and trim the sails.
During our overnight passages we each take 3-4 hour shifts during dark hours, so each person can get a few solid hours of sleep. It was not until some of these later spring passages that we would actually go below to our bedroom and sleep. Tonight we got to watch a total lunar eclipse.
Our phones can not begin to capture how truly amazing this was so see.
On passage, the water and the sky become our focal point. Today, we were gifted with a marvelous sunrise.
Later that morning we had a stunning encounter with 30-40 dolphins. We could see them coming from far away to swim with us and enjoy the ride our boat waves provide.
There are always boat repairs and today it was one of the electric wenches, which helps us raise and low the sails.
Smooth sailing days are always enjoyable and give Ashley the ability to create.
It was a lovely day on the water.
The second night of this passage provided another night time show with lightning over to our east. Luckily it was far enough away that we did not need to change our course.
About mid-day we got sight of land, Bush Key. One of the seven islands that make up the Dry Tortugas. These islands got the name Tortuga from Ponce de Leon because of all the turtles and later they became known as Dry Tortugas because there is no fresh water.
Fort Jefferson National Park is a bucket list item and even more so to visit it in your own boat.
The fort is located on Garden Key, 70 miles west of Key West.
It is the largest all-masonry fort in the United States; built between 1846 and 1875 to protect the nation’s gateway to the Gulf of Mexico.
We got to join a tour of the Fort that one of the day-boats was doing. This was really lucky because the park does not do their own tours.
We had a great anchor spot just outside of the Fort.
May 19th arrived, our 27th Anniversary, we celebrated by going on an adventure. We dinghied over to the lighthouse and hiked to the other side of the island where we found a beautiful secluded beach. Addie hung out on the beach while Shannon and Ashley snorkeled. It turned out to be a buckle list item. We even had a black tip reef shark check us out.
We are extremely fortunate to be able to live this life with each other.
With the sun just starting to come up we set out in the direction of Key West.
We got within about 10 miles of Key West and anchored for the night at a little barrier island.
Time to chill
We landed in Key West for a little boat work; no fancy marina. It was more like taking your car to the garage.
We had a few days to check out the lower keys.
Our hotel had a nice pool, breakfast on the patio, and waterside bar.
We were excited to find a neat brewery.
Always up for a little research to find our favorites.
Addie is a great sport. She loves trying all the different drink options, too.
Ashley and Shannon had a date night.
Happy Birthday Mak! We love you!
Boat work is done and it is time to make our way toward Fort Lauderdale.
After an easy day sailing north up the Keys, we make it to Marathon Key.
After a day on the water there is nothing our family likes more than hanging out in the water with a drink in their hands.
Except for Chance, he prefers to nap in shade.
Another stunning sunset to end a productive day.
We woke to very still water, but it turned out to be the calm before the storm.
We made our way up the rest of the keys and tucked in for our last night just across from Miami in Key Biscayne.
Turned out to be a fairly restless night with us making a full circle due to a lot of wind, rain and the currents. One of the first upgrades we did years ago was to install an 85 pound manta anchor just for this reason.
Up early and on our way to Safe Harbor Lauderdale Marine Center. We have a Monday morning haul out.
We had great weather with low winds, making the haul out much less stressful Our haul out weight was a staggering 22 tons.
We came in to see about bottom paint and to get our sail drives repaired. Unfortunately, the repairs were more excessive than we had imagined and we were going to have to sit out of the water for a week or so longer than we had planned.
We took up residence in a nice house near the marina so we could easily go back and forth to check on her progress and get Aventis cleaned up.
Addie did a good bit of hanging out with the dogs that week while we worked on the boat.
It was really warm in early June and we were very thankful to have a pool to cool off in at our house at the end of the day.
Our work on the boat started as just a deep cleaning to get her ready to sit vacant for hurricane season, but it quickly became something very different. The thing that had brought us so much happiness had also brought us much headache. We had tried to look past the constant repairs and maintenance, but it had finally caught up to us. We had to make the hard decision and make it quick. There were buyers ready and waiting.
We decided there were too many signs and we needed to listen. Before she was even listed there was an offer for more than we had asked. That part was easy.
The hard part was removing ourselves (and our 7 tons of stuff) and our memories from this vehicle, that had been our home and had carried us safely for so many nautical miles and allow our eyes to see so many unbelievable new places.
We are thankful for dinghy too, as she was an integral part of allowing us to get to and from land.
With the boat emptied and cleaned, we are ready to relax and frequent some of our favorite spots. Addie’s top pick, Le Tub for the Old Bay shrimp.
We visited old friends at Suntex Marina. It was great to see Joffry (Willow), as well as Steve and Thea (El Jefe).
Kent and Kathy (Wind Ensemble) were back in their original spot on the dock. This was a stop over on their way to Savannah, where they will put their boat on the hard for hurricane season.
One last celebration of our time together, Happy Birthday Kent!! This experience would not have been the same without our boat family!! We love you all boat family!!
It was with a heavy heart that we said goodbye to our home, s/v Aventis! She had provided us with the opportunity to be explorers in a way that few get to have. Four years of water adventures through the Bahamas, US, Spanish and British Virgin Islands, Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba, Jamaica, Belize, Mexico and back to Florida. So many beaches, exotic foods, diverse cultures, and amazing new experiences. We are so grateful for all of it!!
Life on a boat is not for everyone. You go days without seeing land and much longer without stepping foot into a grocery store. Seeing family and friends becomes much more complicated and costly. The weather determines everything you do. But everyday you are surrounded by water, you see the sunrise and set, you feel the power of Mother Nature, you learn to live with what you have and all of this is truly invigorating. Life on Sailing Vessel Aventis was absolutely a gift, our memories will live with us forever! We are not done living the water life, just taking a break.
Our toast to our time on Aventis and all those we encountered:
To incredible adventures with the people that we love; So grateful for the life changing time we shared on the boat and looking forward to all the marvelous experiences to come in our next phase of life.
So, what now? Well, we start by doing what we originally planned for hurricane season – we head to Asheville, NC for a few months.
Asheville here we come! With an apartment waiting, we will hangout for the next 4 months or so.