We are not completely nuts. We did seek advice and checked weather and wind reports before making our decision to push on to Key West.
Take a look at this forecast for Saturday night. It looks very similar to the forecast for our overnight sail to Key West. It shows a max of 30 knots of wind, the bright red arrows. If you can see the scale, the red gets darker and darker as the wind gets stronger until it turns black-red at 45-50 knots, which is as high as this scale goes. Anything higher is tropical storm and hurricane force. However, if there are red arrows indicating 30-35 knots, would we be able to distinguish them from 25-30? I think they could do a better job separating the colors.
If the forecast map had reflected the actual wind we saw, it would have had the darkest red-black arrows on it. Now, if the forecast had shown some darker red arrows (say 30-35 or 35-40 knots), of course we would not have even left Marco Island. We would not purposely put ourselves in harm’s way.
We learned a lot and recognize our mistakes, such as take Dramamine early if the winds start climbing and take it periodically; have your exact route charted before ever leaving the dock, mooring, or anchorage; triple check that all hatches are tightly secured; time the trip better for arriving after daybreak; and listen closely to any wind advisories by the U.S. Coast Guard. We also gained a lot of trust in the boat. It performed beautifully and never once did we feel in danger of anything but fatigue and seasickness. Livin’ Life took a beating and we felt like a tiny speck being tossed around in a huge ocean, but only a few things even fell over. Amazing! We LOVE our boat!
The winds were still at least 25 knots in the anchorage last night, which is much more protected than the Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, with the continued winds, the Gulf sea state continues to deteriorate. The longer the winds blow, the higher the swells build. I would not have wanted to be out there last night! The wind and water were too rough to take the dinghy to land and we needed a lot of rest anyway. The winds are supposed to calm today, so we are hoping to go ashore and celebrate making it to Key West!