SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Curry Hammock State Park, FL

January 14, 2013

Our primary goal when we started cruising in our AS-29 was to move slowly, miss nothing that we would regret, and try as many new anchoring spots as we could, retracing our Eurisko tracks as little as possible. With these goals in mind, we spent Christmas break cleaning up loose ends, finishing obligations that had kept us in Marathon for so long, and enjoying a holiday visit from our oldest son. Because he rows crew for UNCW, Nick was very appreciative of the kindness of a local friend who lent us a 17-foot dory for him to row during his stay. With me as a passenger, Dave rowed Irie alongside Nick and we headed to the ocean. They rowed two miles one way to land on Curry Hammock State Park. We left the dinghies and walked the beach to the far side of the park where a small anchorage separates it from Little Crawl Key. A powerboat was in the middle of the anchorage, but with our shallow draft, we were sure we could snuggle in close to the mangroves at the end of the anchorage and find ourselves a home.


Little Crawl Key

With our first stop picked out, I called the park to ensure that our landing there would not be a problem. A ranger told us that we could use the facilities (beach, picnic area, trash, water, showers and dinghy landing) for a $2.50 per person daily usage fee.

When Nick went back to school we raised the anchor that had held us in 2 feet of water just off Driftwood Marina for the previous month and motor-sailed the three miles to the entrance to the anchorage next to the park. The entrance is well-marked, but still too shallow for us to attempt in Eurisko with her 5 1/2 feet of draft. But Walküre wound easily through the narrow channel and around the powerboat that was still there, possibly moored there semi-permanently.

We circle around like a dog trying to get comfortable, looking for the best place to ride out the coming cold front. We could not tuck up in the dead end of the anchorage as far as we would have liked because of a mooring or crab pot buoy. But we finally found a comfortable spot between the buoy and the powerboat. We put out two anchors to keep us off the mangroves when the wind shifted as predicted and declared ourselves home.


Walküre tucked away

The anchorage is protected from most winds with the opening facing southerly. Though we were anchored in only 6 feet of water with 80 feet of rode on both anchors, we still did the anchor swap a few times, under running one to move it to a more favorable spot at the wind came around. This was more for our comfort than safety, since Walküre tends to yaw if she isn't hanging from two anchors.

Though we never saw anyone on the powerboat and the people fishing at the entrance were just spots on the horizon, we did have plenty of kayakers around us. After we were comfortably anchored we hopped in Irie to see what was attracting them at the end of our anchorage. We rowed through the cut in the mangroves and found excellent fishing, bird watching and exploring through the mangroves and under the bridge. In the calm and quiet of the mangroves, we started to relax, glad to be finally cruising again.


Mangrove exploring

Rowing out toward the entrance we saw kiteboarders taking advantage of the higher winds. After landing Irie on the beach, we watched the boarders for several minutes, enjoying the entertainment but not envying them the work or the cold that they endured in the name of fun.

We walked past the playground and picnic pavilions out the road to the entrance and paid our daily fee, then found the showers in the RV part of the Park. (We have since read that others before us have been charged as much as $8.50 each for a shower, but that they were considering changing that policy. Whether a change has been made or it depends on who you talk to, we're not sure.) The dumpsters were also in the RV area, so on our next trip we brought garbage out to that part, rather than putting it in the trashcans near the beach. We found water spigots at every pavilion and used the one closest to the dinghy, bringing our own hose to make filling the jugs easier. We walked around the park and along the beach, watching the brave souls swimming, the kiteboarders and the people fishing near the channel.


Uninvited guest

For the next few days our choice of anchoring spots proved worthy as the wind howled through the surrounding trees. We watched the iguanas shaking in the mangrove branches. Then, the morning after a particularly blustery night, as we moved around in the cockpit, I saw a strange colored line under the wooden slats of our seats. I started to ask when we got that particular line when I realized it wasn't line at all. It was a snake. As I backed away, Dave devised a way to push it from under the slats so that he could grab it by the neck before it could bite him, in case it was poisonous. We put him in a bucket, covered the top with a piece of canvas and secured it with line. My eyes never left that bucket as we rowed it to shore. Dave released him into the mangroves and we walked to the ranger station to ask them what it was. The picture they showed us was the exact snake we had just released. It seems he was a harmless rat snake (or corn snake), though at over four feet, he was still an unwelcomed guest onboard. We assume he must have gotten shaken out of the trees during the blow, but we're still not sure how he got onboard.

We stayed tucked up in our little hole until the front passed and the winds calmed, then we were off on our next adventure. With nowhere to be and months to get there, who cares if you only move three miles every week or so? After all, like life, cruising is about the trip, not the destination.

Several months ago a regular follower of Simply Sailing showed us a neat trick for transferring water and fuel. Even though we are not gadget-minded people, this one is worth the money and space it requires. MONDAY we'll share this cheap and easy trick.

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