Visitors Doug and Shirley, October 2004

We had decided to take the easy, comfortable route to Miami - 10 hours direct with Virgin Atlantic to meet up with Keith and Christine. There was no sign of the high seas, high winds and hurricane-type weather that our hosts had encountered in making our rendezvous - Miami Beach Marina. We had planned to spend our two weeks / 25th wedding anniversary holiday with them in October. Following an overnight stay at the over-pricey marina we began our sail south through the Florida Keys. We ended our stay at Key West.

Here is a brief note about our 2 weeks with Keith and Christine on Poco Andante.

The first thing to mention, as always, must be the weather. We generally enjoyed temperatures of 80+ degrees by day with bright sunny days and around 10 to 15 knots of wind. It was perfect - although, without any air conditioning, the night time temperatures of around 75degrees got a little uncomfortable sometimes with both of us laying in the buff, starfish-pose, sweating away and Shirley keep saying "don't touch me, don't touch me". Nothing new there, I suppose! This minor issue was soon forgotten each morning though, awakening to blue skies and sunshine in mid-October - it was a very welcome change from the grey of England that we left behind. The exception to the rule was the day we sailed into the tail end of a tropical storm. I have never seen rain like it - with the visibility closing right in for about 20 minutes or so. The interesting colours of the ocean became even more vibrant under the heavy skies and the sight of Christine wearing her storm jacket over her colourful sarong and sandals was very amusing.

During our stay we had some wonderful socials (both on board and ashore) together with some great meals from the boat's executive chef, Keith. He even spent time teaching yours truly how to do a mean Risotto and Stir Fry. Shirley, for some reason, felt I needed to learn to cook. Anyway, all on board heartedly tucked away both the meals, washed down with plenty of the usual red wine and beer. I believe there may be hope for me yet! The ritual of having sundowners at around 7pm was something we both very quickly got into the groove with; watching the wonderful sunsets on board Poco. In Key West we were just yards away from the big cruise liners full of fare-paying large Americans visiting for the same reason.

The two sails we made to the Looe and Sombrero coral reefs were highlights I shall not forget for sometime. Snorkelling in the crystal clear waters of 29 degrees with the diverse array of coral being populated by a variety of colourful fish almost eating bread from your hand was wonderful. At Sombrero whilst Keith and I swam about, Shirley relaxed in the moored RIB, saying later that she had been in heaven, surrounded by the deep blue coloured sea and skies, miles from the shore. I also remember her saying she had reached heaven on our Anniversary night. Perhaps there are two heavens! The sighting of large green turtles, dolphins off the bow and even a shark swimming proved we were in a marine paradise - but we were a little disappointed that the nearest we got to spotting a manatee was Keith in his green shorts snorkelling in the shallows! Keith's fishing talents were questioned during our stay when Shirley caught a fish (about 6 inches long) within half an hour of trying. Keith, you must understand, has been trying since they left England without much success. We did feel he had a real "jaws" style monster of a fish hooked two days later when we were approaching Key West channel. With the rod set over the stern the reel suddenly started letting out at a fierce rate with a loud whirring noise. Before he could put his gloves on, the line had run out, snapped, and losing not only the Fish (or was it weed?) but also his newly purchased all-singing and all-dancing tackle!

Our holiday came to an end too quickly, with us leaving Christine and Keith in Key West to board the Keys shuttle bus for the 170mile scenic journey back to Miami. Travelling along Highway 1, it took us over 47 bridges out of the Keys; the longest being 7 miles long and, strangely enough, called 7 Mile Bridge. Our driver Dave was a licensed lobster fisherman from Long Key and he spoke of his interesting fishing tales and of the continued problems he encountered with sailors breaking the lines of his lobster pots. I did come to the defence of Poco Andante and explained that we had seen many and had in fact sailed over some but the long keel shape of Poco's bottom always ensured the pots emerged undamaged.

We had enjoyed our two-week adventure very much and would like to thank Keith and Christine for their hospitality. We left them looking forward to planning the next stage of their own longer adventure - Cuba and then onto the Caribbean for Christmas, I believe. For a more detailed account of that journey visit the dairy section where you can find comprehensive writings by the much more accomplished authors, Keith and Christine.