Key West

Next was a day trip down the Keys to Key West. Our first port of call after we left Longboat Key in April 2015. Always a great place to visit, lively and interesting.

This time we walked down to the southern tip of the continental USA:

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A telephone cable ran from this point to Cuba and the first international call was made through that cable.

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The locals were not bothered by all the activity.

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Street scene:

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A beautiful Flame Tree

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Seven Mile Bridge

The next day we walked south along Highway 1 to seven mile bridge. On the right is the new bridge.

The old bridge was built 1908 – 1912 for a railway line but converted to road traffic in 1935.  At the time it was the longest bridge in the world. The new bridge was built in 1982.

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The old bridge had a swing section for boat traffic, the new bridge has a raised section to allow continuous boat traffic. The old swing section was removed but the bridge itself left as a walkway.

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Turtle Hospital

In Marathon we walked up Highway 1 to the Turtle Hospital and did the guided tour. An impressive place, the tour educational and the turtles very viewable.

They deal with a wide range of problems including human caused such as boat impacts, ingesting debris and fouling by ropes / nets but also natural ones as well.

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Floating is caused by gas build up in the shell which then makes it difficult for the turtle to dive for food or to avoid danger. They referred to the condition as ‘bubblebutt’.  It could be the result of illness or injury such as a boat strike.

The fix is to fit weights to the shell as below on Sam.  Unfortunately the shell outer coat is not permanent and  eventually the weight will fall off. The hospital has a number of these turtles that they will have for the remainder of the turtle’s life as they can’t survive in the wild once the weight falls off. They can live over 80 years so that’s some care.

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They have a very good surgery with heated table, x-ray facility and a team of vets who volunteer their time.

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Individual tanks for turtles needing frequent treatment. As they improve they can be moved to the larger tanks and then into a caged area in the sea in preparation for release.

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This turtle was in for ingestion of foreign objects which eventually get impacted. The hospital has treatment program for this developed through experience which includes edible oils and metamucil to assist in passing the debris.

They are opportunity feeders and will eat anything that floats in front of them. They are very firm about not putting your hands in the pools as you are likely to be bitten.

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Turtles are difficult to deal with, surgery can only be done through the natural openings in the shell which does not leave a lot of room. The shell does not heal so it can’t be cut to allow surgery. Surgery is a last resort.

Once treated and cured they are released back into the sea.

It is a great facility but needs support. Here is their website where you can learn more about them and, if you wish, also make a donation.

http://www.turtlehospital.org/

South

After a pleasant night at anchor we picked up the hook and said goodbye to Key Biscayne.

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Continued our rock hopping down the coast and started along the Keys until we came to the 5 Channel bridge where we went in and anchored for the night.

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Miami

After getting a few things done, including finding and curing the on going power problems on the navigation system, we sailed from North Palm Beach.

Went outside and down the coast, close to the coast to avoid the gulf stream and did a good speed.

Went back in at Miami heading for Key Biscayne.

Miami at sunset

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Old Port Cove Marina

Our destination was a little way up the ICW, the above named Marina. Often referred to as the Nordhavn capital. There was a lot of Nordhavns there and a good percentage of them were away cruising. Nordhavn have a base here so it was nice to get some support and certainly helped getting spares and stores.

We were assigned a berth in the Nth Basin, photo taken on the way in with the Sth Basin in the background:

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The marina was fantastically helpful and took old flares, used oil and had the best pump out facility we have ever come across.