Monday, April 3, 2017

We are now in the Florida Keys after having spent 4 days in Delray Beach due to high winds. Because the boat is a catamaran she does not do well in high waves and winds. I have also been asked several questions about the boat so here are the answers. Yes, we do have radar, GPS and a depth finder to help with the navigation. We do approx 7-8 miles per hour and get 2 miles to the gallon of diesel fuel. We have two engines but usually run on one one day and the next day swap to the alternate engine.
Whilst at Delray Beach we visited the Mckee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach and spent a nice day wandering around the gardens. We coincided our visit with The Lego Exhibition which we had seen twice before at different gardens. The McKee Tropical Garden did not contain many flowers but was arranged as a garden you may find in the tropics.

Each Lego Sculpture had a write up telling you how many pieces went into the Sculpture. I think the Butterfly had the most pieces, 42,000.
There was another interesting sculpture I photographed.
Gary suggested taking a close-up to get the reflections in each of the water globes.
We also visited Merritt Island again to see the birds but due to being later in the year there were no large flocks of birds. We saw herons, egrets, ibis, coots, moorhens, grebes and several smaller birds I do not know the name of. We also saw a very large alligator resting in the shade. He appeared to have a big smile on his face.

The Island has a very large wild hog population and this time were were able to see 2 fairly close up whilst they were looking for grubs.
The visitor centre had a bird feeder being visited by squirrels, red wing blackbirds and painted buntings. The male painted bunting is very colorful indeed.
We ate several times in Delray Beach at a pub called "The Blue Anchor" and had a good meal both times. The meals were based on an English Menu so Gary had roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding and I had lamb shank.The front facade of the pub was brought from London an unknown number of years ago. The facade dates back to the 19th century and it is rumoured that 2 of Jack the Ripper's victims were said to have spent their last nights alive drinking at the pub.Winston Churchill was also said to been a frequent visitor  in his days as a Fleet Street Journalist and Member of Parliament.

We had a very good journey once the winds had subsided and passed many huge personal boats and cruise ships. Some of them must have cost several million dollars. I wonder how many miles to the gallon they get or should I say gallons to the mile!!! One very large boat even had a side door at water level that allowed a small boat to be berthed safely.

We passed a window washer washing the port holes on a cruise ship. He was in a cage attached to a rail that went along the full side of the ship.

We passed this beautiful sailing galleon moored next to a modern day boat so I just had to take a piccy!!
Whilst we have been in the Keys we have visited several places within a taxi ride distance from where the boat is moored in Marathon. We went to the Turtle Hospital which is a not for profit rescue center for injured turtles. Most of them had been injured by boat strikes and were recuperating well at the hospital. The hospital hopes to release all of its residents when they are well enough to return to where they were captured. Some unfortunately cannot be release due to their injuries and being unable to care for themselves in the wild. Whoever finds the turtle gets to name it and there were some funny names seen on the back of the turtle's shell.

 The three turtles above were some of the injured turtles we saw. The top one, George was suffering from "Bubble Butt Syndrome". This is where a turtle is unable to dive due to air getting trapped under the shell, damage to the lungs and muscles surrounding them and nerve damage. The staff add lead weights to their shells to help the turtle dive down for its food. Unfortunately, the lead weights will drop off requiring new weights to be added so these turtles must remain as permanent residents of the hospital. The next few photos I thought were cute. One of them shows a close-up of the carrapace and how beautiful it is. Turtles were almost rendered extinct in the late 19th century due to the ladies of the time wanting objects made from tortoise shell. They were also captured for their meat and made into turtle soup. Today, it is illegal to trap and capture turtles so they are now protected from being harvested.

 Being a hospital there is an operating room which you can view on your way to the turtles. It looked very well equipped.

We have seen several green iguanas down here in the Keys. Here are two photos showing the iguanas with different camouflage coloring to match their surroundings.

Another place we visited was Crane Point. The complex has a natural history museum, marine touch tanks, a bird rescue centre and nature trails. One of the objects that was of interest to me was a boat called a chug in which 11 men and one women crossed the Atlantic from Cuba last year. How they ever got 11 people in the boat, I do not know. A docent told us that the people were allowed to stay in the US because of a law called "Wet foot, dry foot policy". This law states that anyone who fled Cuba and entered the US would be allowed to pursue residency a year after entering the US. A person caught with "wet feet" would be returned to Cuba but those with "dry feet" would be allowed to stay. The law has since been repealed earlier this year.
The final place we have visited in the Keys was the Dolphin Research Center. We spent an enjoyable 5 hours there watching dolphins being trained to follow instructions, weighed, watered and played with. The Center also had 4 Sea Lions one of whom was blind. Her name was Karen and she always swam with her head out of the water.

 Each dolphin's fluke is as individual as our fingerprints.

 The dolphins seemed quite happy and loved to leap out of the water.

We also saw the handlers weighing the dolphins and giving them medication and water to keep them in tip top shape.
Dolphins, apparently have 3 stomachs and the water is poured into their first stomach.
I almost forgot that we also visited the EAA Air Museum. The museum was quite small but had very knowledgeable volunteers to answer any question you could think of.

The last photo showed a kit plane made from parts that you put together yourself. As you can see, it was very small. I think Gary and I would have had a difficult time getting in and out of it. Its wing span was approx 14 feet across.
Well, I think that is enough for one day. We hope to leave Marathon tomorrow (Tuesday) and go to Key West doing some snorkeling on the way. However, we have heard it maybe too windy to leave so we may have to spend another pleasant day here.

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