June 11, 2007

We're Back in the USA!

We're back! We had an uneventful, but long, motoring trip back from Isla Mujeres. We had to await the passage of a lot of tropical squalls, which eventually turned into Barry just north of us. 

I'm glad we waited. At times the see was as calm as a bathtub, but Minke's powerful motor kept churning along and we were soon arriving in the Dry Tortugas, where we overnighted. The Yucatan current was hard to find and follow. We had some waypoints that Chris Parker provided to another cruiser, but they didn't prove to be much good. For much of the trip we had only a half knot or so of favorable current, and then at the end, when we were supposed to have almost nothing we had a wonderful two-knot boost. 

In short, don't believe the pilot charts or the government current charts found on the Navy site. I think the best advice is to head almost directly to the Dry Tortugas at first, letting the Yucatan current carry you northward of the rhumb line, and then gradually angle over to the east after you pass 85 longitude. In any case, we had a smooth, fast trip.

We left the Dry Tortugas with a weather report of scattered showers and thunderstorms, which soon became continuous and stayed that way all day. In fact, I think it was the worst one-day weather of our entire two-year cruise. Visibility was near zero most of the day, winds were gusting well over 40 knots, rain was torrential, and the seas became six-foot monsters, with huge holes in between. Again, Minke's powerful engine came into play as most the wind was dead on the nose for getting to Key West. 

We lumped and slogged our way along all day, anchoring at 8 PM just west of Wisteria Island off of Key West. The next morning we went ashore to clear into the U.S.A. and we were surprised to find you can't bring any electronics into the court building, not even a cell phone or a camera. Of course my 1.5-inch pocket knife couldn't go either. We felt like criminals heading off to jail. They had no facilities for holding all this stuff, which I always carry with me, so Leslie had to wait outside while I went in with the children. Then we switched places while they asked Leslie questions. In no other part of the Caribbean were we treated like this when clearing in or out. I don't think the answer to the supposed "war on terrorism" is to restrict all of our own rights! If we do that, the terrorists have already won, because that's what they want us to do.