Up with the sun, we had breakfast together in our secluded stretch of river, weighed anchor and made our way back into the Gulf and toward the Florida Bay. We saw a handful of fishermen pulling traps onboard in a rapid, coordinated rhythm of tugging, opening, extracting and resetting. We shared a glass-like green bay with the fishermen, enjoying the warm air, light breeze and abundant sunshine.
We zig-zagged most the way to stay clear of the rainbow of crab traps, brightly colored and typically set in strings of five or ten buoys. With Keenan and Daria spotting with binoculars, we safely passed through the thickest parts of the maze. I relieved them once we seemed to be in a clear stretch, and they went back to their books. Then…bump bump bump, the unnatural sound of styrofoam on fiberglass. Captain’s error, again! I ran directly over a trap and we could hear it on the hull underside making its way aft at 8 knots.
The kids immediately went to the aft cockpit and saw the trap marker exploded into a hundred pieces. We don’t have line cutters on our prop shaft, and it seems the marker missed our roll stabilizer fins and was sucked directly into our propeller. We slowed and checked for cavitation and were relieved to find none. No knife in teeth necessary for the captain this round. We’d dive it later that day and confirm all was clear.
By early afternoon, we could see a radio tower in the distance and knew we were nearing the Keys. Familiar cruising grounds for Muddy Waters. Before long, we had the Seven Mile Bridge in our sights. The excitement level was rising aboard Muddy. The aquamarine waters below us, light breeze around us and dolphins in our bow wave all felt so familiar and inviting. We gathered in the pilothouse and at 2 pm sharp we passed under the Seven Mile Bridge through the Moser Channel, officially crossing our wake in the Great Loop.
We hugged one another and said a quiet thank you to all who encouraged and helped us make it through the journey. Jennifer and I told Keenan and Daria how proud we were of what they’d accomplished over the past year – their hard work, patience, willingness and smiles – and we shared a second round of warm hugs.
We started our journey from our home port of Miami Beach on January 1, 2011 and cruised south in the Keys all the way to Key West to start off the year. We spent time at anchor and on a mooring ball right here in Boot Key Harbor in Marathon. While this isn’t the end of our year-long journey, this is the first place where we’ve covered water we’ve been over before. That’s where the expression “crossing your wake” comes from in Looper speak.
At the beginning of the year we were on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Keys, mostly cruising in Hawk Channel, and here we arrived in the same spot, having traveled about 7,000 miles in between visits to the Keys, coming back around from the Florida Bay side after traveling through. Thousands of miles by water across parts of America, the Bahamas and Canada. And all as a family. What a gift. And a great circle.