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Wayfarers Return to Cedar Key, FL
Rally Report by Jim Heffernan

updated: 4 March 2019 at 1146 hrs

The Cedar Key town docks and boat launch ramps get busy just before sunrise and stay active until the last of the sun's rays have disappeared behind Seahorse  Key. Six Wayfarers trailered there after the Lake Eustis Midwinters to spend time exploring the Keys and enjoying local seafood.
W276        Annette Grefe and husband, Dave Blair, plus dogs, Axl and Sienna
W449        Ken Butler/Gail Walters
W1066      Jim & Linda Heffernan
W3487      John Cadman/Charles Child
W3854      Al Schonborn
W11135    Patty Kuntz

Hi-ho! Hi-ho! It's off to work we go.

We launched and recovered amidst working watermen heading off to fish, clam, shrimp and dive in the beautiful Gulf of Mexico water.  Along the shore, the water is more tannin colored since the Suwannee River empties into the Gulf about fifteen miles northeast of Cedar Key. The mixture of fresh and sea water provides the perfect salinity for growing shellfish.

Monday evening in the Cedar Cove Hotel's Island Room

typical morning view from our hotel rooms

Sailing is tricky in these waters due to many shallow areas and the currents in the deep channels. The morning sail to Seahorse Key had to wait until there was enough water under the anchored boats to allow easy passage to the old ship channel. With a strong incoming tide and a headwind our plan to visit Seahorse was finally abandoned when the entire key disappeared in a fog bank. Time for plan B: we followed Pat Kuntz and Uncle Al into a protected white sand beach on Atsena Otie Key.

The fog begins to swallow Seahorse Key.

the beached boats on Atsena Otie Key

Intrepid mariner meets cemetery during the 2018 Rally.

On Atsena Otie we read a brief history of the early residents and visited the graveyard where the tombstones showed that folks did not live long lives there. Disease and hurricanes made life tough as they worked to produce cedar blanks for the Faber Pencil Co.

John Cadman with crew Charles Child along with Jim and Linda Heffernan followed the distinctive call of an owl and were happy to see a Great Horned Owl taking up a lot of space on a pine branch. Dinner that night was with the locals in a restaurant finally opened after heavy damage from a hurricane 17 months earlier.

The Wednesday sail had Snake Key as a planned destination. After an hour of light-air sailing we opted to break for lunch and sail/paddled over to a poster perfect narrow beach with natural fallen tree benches thanks to erosion by recent hurricanes.

Snake Key beach with Gail Walters

Some resident bald eagles gave us the wary eye and were happy to see us depart as a sea breeze filled in making Snake Key attainable. We had heard from a local sailor that there was a narrow passage through the mangroves that was passable at high tide albeit a bit difficult to see until one ventured into the shadowy lagoon interior surrounded by marsh and mangroves.  Ken Butler and Gail Walters let out a whoop as they discovered the channel and we all worked downwind through the narrow but navigable waterway. Memories of the Parry Sound "Hole in the Wall" passage between granite walls but shorter, skinny and softer edges.

the passage on Snake Key as shown by Google

Annette and Dave invited us to view the Wednesday sunset from their pet-friendly cottage.

Annette and Dave discover a much fancier way to "walk" their dogs!!

Most of us did not sail on the final day so we watched as Annette Grefe in Epiphany take Dave and the dogs on a motor cruise to try out her new Torqeedo electric motor while showing off her beautiful wooden W276 to the Cedar Key water watchers. We will return next February and enjoy the local clam chowder. 

Jim Heffernan, W1066