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Brian, wading on the beach at Eliot Key. We had the place to ourselves.

Morale was low back in No Name Harbor. Facing up to the fact that the seas were too rough for passage to the Bahamas and that the next opportunity was possibly weeks away, we were getting… grumpy. Rather than driving each other mad, we hatched a plan. We decided to go sailing in Biscayne Bay for a Christmas cruise in the Keys.

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When traveling to other countries, it’s required to display the flag for your country of origin. In preparation for our Bahamas passage, we rigged our flag to the topping lift on the mizzen boom and tested it out en route to Eliot Key from No Name Harbor.

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Not crossing the Gulf Stream, but happy to be sailing around the Keys while we wait for our weather window.

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We were the only boat anchored in Eliot Key, where we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The water surrounding the key is very shallow with a gradual slope, so the closest we could get was about a 1/4 mile from land. Luckily, there was no current and we could row the dinghy to shore without panic.

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Nightingale Tune at anchor in Eliot Key

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We were really excited about the idea of having the beach to ourselves at Eliot Key. We thought we’d uncovered this fabulous spot just for ourselves – all the other boats were suckers! Unfortunately, as soon as we landed the dinghy, we discovered that the beach was littered with shards of broken glass and clouds of blood-thirsty mosquitoes began devouring us. We speed-walked the length of the beach, slapping at ourselves the whole way like mental patients, before retreating in the dinghy. Match point for the mosquitoes.

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We left New York three months ago, but between boat projects and passages, we’ve had precious few days to stop and enjoy warm weather and leisurely activities. We decided to try that out during our “staycation” in the Keys.

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Nico, attacking a bitter end

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Christmas pancakes, a Soutiere Weisenthal tradition

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Christmas bubbles on the bow

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The day we generated enough solar power to run the blender and make frozen smoothies

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Bread that I baked using the flours Sabina ground using the grist aboard her boat, sv Brosel. The last time I baked with freshly ground spelt and rye, I was in culinary school.

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sv Sea Squirrel, anchored behind us in Pumpkin Key. A few weeks ago, our friend Parker (remember Parker? He was at our boat naming party) Face Timed us and introduced his childhood friend Courtney, who’s parents just happen to be cruising in Florida on their boat Sea Squirrel. One week later, they bumped into us in this otherwise deserted anchorage. The sailing world is teeny tiny.

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We enjoyed a rare night out after our sail from Pumpkin Key to Key Largo. Here we sit on the porch at Senior Frioles (Mr. Bean’s) and look out at Nightingale Tune in the harbor (with a parasail passing behind her). Sometimes, it still doesn’t feel real that she’s ours.

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Margarita and me. sv Nightingale Tune can be seen out in the harbor, over my left shoulder.

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Scorch, our new boat mascot, gifted by Justin before we parted ways.

The sails we’ve taken between Keys have been spectacular – we haven’t had as nice since last spring, when we delivered our boat from Annapolis to New York City. We’ve anchored in Eliot Key, Pumpkin Key, and Key Largo so far, each place so very different than the last. We’ll be in Key Largo for a few days, where it’s easy to row to shore in our dinghy (we’re so over not having an outboard). Here, we’ll restock fresh produce and pick up some things at West Marine, including a part for our BBQ grill that we’d lost at sea. Chris Parker indicated that the seas will be calmer toward the end of the week. If we’re lucky, come New Year’s Eve, we’ll be ringing in 2016 making our 160 mile passage to the Bahamas.