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From Mobile (AL) to Key West, Florida 2.1.- 28.1.2002

updates:  2.1.  10.1.  16.1.   22.1.  24.1.    28.1.

2.1.2002, Mobile, Alabama, USA
The one and half months long riverjourney ended at last to the Gulf of Mexico. It was wonderful to see the sea, even if it was just the 30 miles long Bay of Mobile. It was very shallow and we got stuck immediately when we left the ship channel to enter the marina. There are no small craft marinas in town, all is located about 15 kilometers away, along the Dog River. We got Kristiina off from the soft bottom, and called the marina with VHF to get some more instructions. There was an alternative route in, and keel just touching the bottom we pushed ourselves into the Turner Marina. It was full of sailing boats - what a great sight!

We spent a peaceful Christmas, having the traditional pork steak, herring, and mushroom salad, as well as a sweet potato casserole. Here Christmas is mainly celebrated on the Christmas Day, the day after is a working day.

We made a trip to New Orleans with Mic and Sylvie from Canada. They live in Houston and have their boat in Mobile. The French quarters of New Orleans is a must. The atmosphere is very special, actually quite European, with narrow streets, small bars, street players and the market. We tasted some alligator meat, it remained of calamares. We were told, fortunately this late, that the Southern rivers are full of alligators.

We started to make Kristiina a sailing boat again. We were prepared to step the masts just after the Christmas, but the travellift was broken. Instead, a truck with a crane was ordered for the new years eve. The cost: 100 dollars per hour!

Auli's brother Antti arrived on the 30th Dec. after 24 hours travel, pale but happy. The boat should have been ready to sail when he arrived, but now he faced a lot of work.
Kristiina's masts have never been stepped as fast as this time. Only 20 minutes after the truck had arrived, both masts were up. However, the charge was for 1,5 hours, the driving time was added. Well, we had to pay, and anyway it was 90 dollars less than in Chicago.
Stepping the masts was only the beginning. After that comes rigging, furlers, cables, the radar and phone antenna up to mizzen again, all the sails and sheets...

Sister and brother meeting after a long time

We spent the New Year's Eve with Mic and Sylvie as guests, having some barbecue. On the next day it was raining, so we had no bad connscience about sepnding the whole day inside, only getting out to meet the pizza delivery.

We anxious to get out to the sea again, and to sail! In addition, it is freezinly cold, hard to believe that it can be almost zero celsius here. As soon as Kristiina is ready to sail, we'll head to Florida. If we can get out from the shallow harbour. The boat is on the bottom, flowing free only once a day during the high tide.

Dog River, Turner Marina

10.1.2002 St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
On Friday, the 4th of Jan., Kristiina was a sailbout again, ready for the sea, and so were we. With the rising sun we started the two hour motoring out of the shallow Dog River, looking for some deep water. The Northerly wind had sunken the water level low, and we were afraid to be stuck. We followed with GPS the same route we came in, outside the boat channel. Inside I heard the keel touch the sand bottom several times. Goodbye antifouling...
We had spent two weeks in Mobile without visiting the city. It was 15 kilometers away, and the four lane highway was not for bicycles. Every time we got a lift by a car, we used it for something useful, such as crocery. Many thanks for all who gave us a lift, especially to Arlene and Greg, who also suprised us with a hot meal in the last evening. That was a perfect gift for a busy day. 
We had arrived to the Turner Marina during the holidays and most of the staff and the "younger generation" were on vacation. That gave us an opportunity to meet Mr and Mrs Turner, who established the place some 40 years ago. Almost as many years between us did not bother the communication, we got along well. We will remember the very warm welcome and the great  hospitality we met, and want to express once more our thanks for everything, especially for the Christmas Day lunch.

Kathy and Prince Turner are living next to 
the marina they have established.

Our first stop was Pensacola 60 miles away. We took the inside route, the Intra Coastal Waterway, although we were anxiously waiting the sea and sailing. The ICW runs along the shore all way from Mexico border around the Florida and up to New York. The dolphins as well as the changing colour of the water told us that we were at sea. In Pensacola we did some dredging again before we were in the Seville Marina.
Pensacola is one of the oldest settlements in the America. Spanish Don Tristan De Luna established the site in 1559. After three years, a hurricane demolished the place and the society was scattered, some back to Spain some to Mexico. In 1698 the next settlers moved in. The city is attractive, it has an old town with small wooden houses. There is a main street with walking paths, little shops and cafés.
Our aim was to spend one night in Pensacola, but a gale force wind hold us there for three nights. The harbour was open for Southerly winds and the boats were rolling like mad. People went out to secure mooring lines, and doing this one motorboat lady fell into the water, between the wildly rolling boat and the dock. She can thank Hannu for her life, that he was there, got a grip of her arm and pulled her out of the water.

On Monday, the 6th of Jan., the wind and waves had calmed down so much that we headed out - againg being afraid of getting stuck into the ground. That did not happend and at last we were out on the Gulf of Mexico and sailing! Having only a reefed genoa in the 15-20 m/s (30-40 knots) wind, however. We headed to St. Petersburg 300 miles away, hoping that there would be some warmth. We were still wearing our heavy overalls and the oil stove was burning. But the sea warmed up from about ten degrees to +20 deg. C - because of the Golf stream.
We hadn't sailed a long time, before Antti got his first tuna fish. At last there was a fisherman onboard! Tuna weighted about two kilos, more than enough for three people. Tuna files went into the oven, the sea was too rough for anyone to stay by the stove. Potatoes was made in the pressure cooker, and so the delicious dinner was ready. Another catch was made the day after. The wind died on the third day, and we had to motor again. On Wednesday (9.1.), just with the sunset, we anchored in the North Basin of St. Petersburg.

Fisherman with his first tuna

16.1.2002 St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
St. Petersburg turned out to be a nice city, especially with a free anchorage in the middle of the town, a crocery and the library within a couple of blocks. We have enjoyed culture:  the Harry Potter movie and the Salvador Dali museum, which has the most comprehensive collection of Dali's works.
The Spansih were first on this spot, too, in 1521. The city was founded much later, and it was named in 1890 according the Russian Peter Demens, who was from St. Petersburg. He involved in building the railway to St. Petersburg.
St. Pete - as some call it - is one of the boating centres in Florida. Huge marinas are full of motor- and sailing boats. Among the million dollar yachts there are a lot of small, under 20-feet long sailing boats. They hardly sail further than the Tampa Bay.
Besides being a tourist we have done some maintenance: the satellite phone antenna is getting a new part on Monday, the broken altenator is under repair, and we ordered one more solar panel.
On Thursday we will drive to Miami, see around, and take Auli's brother to the plane on Saturday. If he does not decide to stay with us...

Beside an exclusive marina is a free anchorage


22.1.2002 St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
The satellite phone has finally been repaired, now it works also when we are sailing.

We spent two warm, sunny and lazy days in the Miami Beach. By coincidence we endend to the Art Deco area, and stayed in an Art Deco hotel. There was also the annual Art Deco weekend in Miami Beach with a lot of street stalls selling all kind of things from furniture to jewel, as well as food. It was nice to stroll around. We spent just a short time on the beach, getting  little more colour on our white bodies.

Too soon it was time for goodbyes, the three weeks Antti spent with us were over. After driving him to the airport, we started our way back home. It was first time we had been nights away from our home, Kristiina.

We took the alligator route back to the west coast. The straight road runs 100 kilometers across the Florida peninsula in the middle of marsh land. Besides the road runs a canal. Tens of alligators were lying in shallow shore waters of the canal. We also saw some big turtles.

The thing in the middle is not a log, it's an alligator

In St. Petersburg, we were lucky to meet a Polish man, Maciej, who is working at the sailing center. With his ten years local experience, he has helped us a lot - f.ex. finding a place to repair our special Lucas altenator - and lots of other small things.

24.1.2002 Sarasota, Florida, USA
We spent two weeks and a double monthly budget in St. Petersburg, but got the things we wanted: a new sensor unit to the satellitephone antenna (1000 euros), a new big solar panel (320 euros), a new altenator and a repaired old one (300 euros). In addition we bought a lot of food to survive even to Panama, in case there is no supplies in Cuba.
Cuba is waiting, and we are anxiously waiting for a new country. And the southerly wind keeps us waiting, too, but on Saturday it should change to northerlies.
We got ourselves a bit closer by motoring the Intra Coastal Waterway to Sarasota, 30 miles from St. Pete. To the Hemingway buyo is 254 miles. We still have to stop in the Key West to clear out. To the Key West is 180 miles from here.

We had trouble with e-mail between 16.1. and 22.1. If you sent something then, send it again.

28.1.2002 Key West, Florida, USA
At last we arrived to our last American port, Key West. We anchored among tens of boats, including the Swedish Ahnri and a couple of Canadians. Marina fee would be 73 dollars, so that is no option. Weather is really hot and the sea temperature +25 Celsius. We have bimini over the cockpit and a fan inside.
Marina Hemingway and Cuba is 100 miles away and we will start there tomorrow Tuesday after clearing out.

We met our friend Mike and sv LaVida in Key West

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