Leaving Key West

Valt & Sandy
Sat 25 May 2013 15:08
26:46:172N 081:97:274W
May 24, 2013
Taking advantage of the good weather, we left Key West earlier than planned. Our tucked away anchorage is an hour away and we wanted that hour behind us. We continued on another hour to be better positioned for the crossing to Marco island 80 miles away. Dropping anchor into the charted 22' depths, we immediately knew we'd hooked something solid below. Too late to snorkel down to see, we'd do it in the morning. But when we checked it again before bed, it seemed the chain was even more tangled. Tomorrow morning Valt would snorkel it to see what we'd hooked. If it was possible to unwrap the chain,we'd deploy the air compressor and he could dive down. If impossible, he'd cut the chain at the deepest point and sacrifice the anchor. Luckily we carry spare anchors. At least we had the beginnings of a plan. But " visions of sugar plums" danced in our heads. The tidal currents here were very strong. How to make sure Valt would not be swept away, or banged into the hull? Where to find new chain? Where to ship a 500 pound Chain? Where to go to install it? How would the Memorial Day weekend delay delivery? Where to stay? Missing this fine weather window might also set us back. Neither of us slept. At 2:00 am Valt announced we would cut the chain at the bow and move north in the light of the full moon.
Valt went to the bow to release the anchor chain bridle. Then he tried to take up some slack chain. He raised 10', then another 10'. After 60', things had changed for the better. The chain hung straight down, so we knew the chain was free but the anchor was still hooked. Starting the engines, we eased the boat forward a bit, and I took up 5' more. Then 5' more. I was elated to see the anchor swim for the surface, One fluke was slightly bent, but otherwise it was a beautiful sight. We secured it in its place on the bow pulpit and drove away.
Squealing and hollering, we did a little jig in sheer relief! It felt so good to be underway again. To be FREE. We set the auto pilot heading to 359 degrees. With the electronics, radar, AIS, and 4 chart plotters, plus the full moon, we could safely cross the Gulf of Mexico and arrive at Ft. Myers by 5:00pm. We watched the moon set just at sunrise. We decided to take turns sleeping to catch up on what we'd missed. It would be a long passage. Somewhere along the way we'd switch out the anchor. What a night!
The seas were good until about 3:00pm and the winds switched to the northwest and raising a 5' swell. We continued on another 3 hours to Ft. Myers Beach and tied to a mooring ball. The mooring field was very protected and there was not a ripple. Ahhhhhhhh.