To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

Ph. IV, day 6, Boot Key/Vaca Key

Our fourth Island-hopping "day sailing". (Ugh. Again. Not actually sailing, the wind was almost on the nose, so it was a 5-hour motor.)

Boot Key Harbor
Boot Key Harbor

We're moored on ball K-9 (at 24°42.250′N 081°05.550′W) in Boot Key Harbor. It's between Boot Key and Vaca Key, also known as the City Marina of Marathon, FL. There are hundreds of boats crammed in here. Including some folks we know. Deb and Terry are here visiting Dick and Lynne on Dick's Kadey-Krogen. (Dick used to have a Brewer, Deb and Terry still do.) So. It turns out, we know people here.

The sea state was (again) "lumpy". On lakes, the waves match the wind. In most bays, also, the waves generally follow the wind with a predictable regularity. On a large bay, a wind shift leads to waves continuing from the wind's old direction: the boat rolls. At, sea, however, the energy behind wave may come from a long, long way away. The waves come from many directions, and it seemed like none of those directions were driven bvy the wind. We had 10 knots of wind, but waves at least 3′, and a few higher than that. We figure if we can see the splash we hit a 4′-er. Over the bow is 6′-er, and we need to find shelter or stop plowing into the waves.

For about an hour, the wind was over 35° off the bow, and I could pull out a headsail, and motor-sail into the wind. That was fun. 6.5 knots. Then the wind clocked 15° to get closer to being on the nose.

The Light Issue

The last few days, we used our forward range light instead of the mast-head all-around light.

We did this because the all-around light appears dead. For a while it was intermittent. For a while, the strobe feature on the mast-head caused me much head-scratching. I've checked the wiring and up to the base of the mast, we're solid. So. It's wiring up the mast somewhere.

The mast-head fitting is an OGM-LXTA-S (I think.) South Bay Rigging installed it in 2010. It's a sealed unit packed with LED's. No bulbs. Sophisticated controller to tolerate 10-24 volts. My expectation is 50,000 hours of service.

50,000 divided by 12 hours a night divided by 365.25 days in a year is 11.4 years. Years. Assuming it's on every single night.

We lived aboard for 2 years. We weekended for the next 8. Weems and Plath owns OGM now. They kinda-sorta honor the original lifetime warranty with a "mail it to us and we'll take 8 weeks to fix it if you have the original receipt" kind of policy. That's not really going to help us anchoring out in the keys, the Dry Tortugas, and the fringes of the Everglades.

I hate to replace it with something else, because the mounting bracket and drilling holes and rearranging the wires is daunting. I want a W&P OGM LXTA-S (or LXTA-SP) that will last 50,000 hours.

Wiring at the base of the mast is solid. This is clearly a mast-head issue.

The Other Light Issue

The fallback for an anchor light is the forward range light. It's up high. It's white. It shines on the headsails, so it's reasonably visible from a wide variety of angles at night. It's not completely all-around, though.

The running lights are not supposed to be visible all around. The range light is supposed to be visible most of the way around; a stern light completes the circle around the boat. These two white lights are mounted at different elevations so you can tell if a boat moving toward you or away from you. The red and green lights on each side (with a shield so they shine to their correct side and forward only) complete the running lights. It's a pretty clever scheme. Really big boats have two white lights. Tugs and fishing boats will have additional all-around red and white lights to clarify if they're pushing or pulling. Barges have yet more kinds of lights.

The range light was working intermittently. And now it's stopped working. It has incandescent bulbs. I'm not surprised it's dead.

Wiring at the base of the mast is solid. Voltages all make sense.

Either it's the bulb or it's wiring at the fitting on the mast.

I installed it about 10 years ago. I'm unsure of my crimp connections. I think that means it's time to redo the connectors. At the very least I've got to go up there and take a close look.


Attribute Value
Depart Lower Matecumbe Key 24°51.762′N 080°44.516′W
Arrive Boot Key Harbor 24°42.250′N 081°05.550′W
Distance 22 nm
Time 6h 10m
Engine 6h 10m