Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bienvenidos a Miami

The plan was to leave the North Palm Beach anchorage on a schedule to make the slack tide leaving Lake Worth Inlet at 2:47 pm (Junie likes to be punctual). So, in the morning, we got moving but not very early. We dinghied in to the spot under the bridge at the north end of the anchorage and walked up to Publix grocery store. We picked up paper towels, some cheese danish thing and some sourdough bread. We were pretty excited about the upcoming offshore trip. Because of the hiatus for traveling north, it had been over a month since our last ocean trip. It had been over a month since the last time we had even anchored out or gotten Roux into the dinghy. We had some refresher work to do to get back into the swing.

We had a friend in North Palm. Way back in the summer, when we were having our bow thrusters installed, we met Captain Ted on Ann Warrick. Junie (the communications officer) had kept in touch with him so we knew that he might be around the area and, sure enough, he was in the marina at the other end of the anchorage. He gave us the scoop on the weather, including his run in with the inlet the day before that cracked a window on the big sportfisher. That gave us pause for thought.
The anchorage at North Palm Beach

We had a pretty good weather window for the trip down the coast from Lake Worth, past Fort Lauderdale and into Miami. We had a long discussion regarding the possibility of just sailing near Miami and turning left toward the Bahamas sometime in the middle of the night. The final decision was that there was too much risk of the wind switch to the north getting to us before we finished the crossing. So, Miami is the destination.

We finally got too antsy to sit around and weighed anchor at about 1:00 pm and headed toward the inlet. By the time we reached the inlet, it was pouring down rain. In a clear indication of just how much more comfortable we have become as sailors, neither one of us even made note of the fact. Our weather window was open, the rain didn't matter and we were headed out the inlet on the tail of the tide. Of course, it doesn't hurt that we have a full enclosure that keeps the rain away.
First sail set. Headed south to Miami!

The rain, as is typical in Florida, didn't last very long. The sun came out, the breeze filled in from the southwest and we put out the first sailset - staysail and reefed main. Remember, we hadn't been in the ocean for a while. It wasn't long before we shook out the reef, added the genny and were flying the full cutter rig. With 15 to 20 knots of wind, 2 - 3 foot seas, clear skies and a full moon rising. Are you kidding me? We have waited forever for this kind of evening. It was awesome. Wish we could have gotten more decent pictures. We did get a large batch of memories.

We sailed on like that until it was nearly dark. Then, as per our agreement made long before our first ocean trip, we backed the sails down to the staysail and double-reefed main. We have heard too many stories of people getting caught with too much sail out in the middle of the night. Why take the chance? Especially when we have a predicted wind increase and switch to the north in the 3:00 am time frame?

Beautiful water in right-up-against-the-Gulf-Stream blue.
We, predictably, started to drop speed so we decided to motorsail through the night. This probably meant we would get to Miami just around 3:00. Better to be there before the weather change and wait for daylight.

It was a gorgeous night on the ocean. The full moon was with us almost the entire trip. To the east, there was constant lightning over the Gulf Stream - confirmation of our decision not to try the crossing to the Bahamas on this night. We were very close to shore, although in 300 -500 feet of water. In fact, we only past the Three Mile line once all night so we had great views of the lights along the coast. We past Port Everglades at Fort Lauderdale just after midnight, weaving through the tankers and cargo ships in the commercial anchorage area. Not nearly as scary under a big, bright moon.

By the time we reached Government Cut, the big channel into Miami, is was just about 3:00 am as planned. So, now what? We could wait until daylight. We could go into one of the busiest working ports on the east coast in the dark.  We could go an hour further south and go in to Biscayne Bay. Yeah, that's it! Let's go into a poorly marked channel, that we have never been through, that has ruins of old houses standing out in the middle of the water- in the dark. When I write it now, it seems like that should have been an obvious 'no'. But that is exactly what we proceeded to do.

We went the hour south, past Cape Florida Light, dropped the sails, got out the spotlight and went through the channel and the creepy Stiltsville (remember the ruins of the houses?) in the dark. Of course, the clouds came in, the moon went away, the wind came up and we were tired. Nether of us got much sleep just because the weather and the trip had been so nice we didn't want to sleep. (Well, Junie's pains may have kept her awake.) In retrospect, not the brightest decision but we, actually, did not have any problems. We motored into Biscayne Bay and hung out with our bow pointed into the north wind and did a slow crawl towards Dinner Key channel waiting for daylight.

Roux spotted a dolphin on the dinghy
ride in toward Coconut Grove. Check out
his new, double-handled life jacket.
By 7:30 am, we were on a mooring ball. At 8:00, we caught the first water taxi of the morning to get Roux to grass as quickly as possible. If he had to wait for us to 'un-oceanize' the boat, unlash the ramp, get the dinghy and motor together, et cetera, it would have taken another 45 - 60 minutes. By 9:30, we were back on the boat and we all took a nap.

Tonight, we have Miami as our backdrop, Coconut Grove is right at our dinghy dock and we are only 43 miles from Bimini. The next weather window may not be until next week but that's OK. We have some chores to take care of, a watermaker issue to troubleshoot and, apparently, quite a few good restaurants to hit. Including the Chart House at Dinner Key where, thanks to Jeffrey and Alyssa, we have a gift certificate for dinner.

From what we see in the mooring field, Canada must be a very lonely place because they all seem to be here. Pretty smart, I would say.

1 comment:

  1. June and Duane,

    Have a safe trip across the stream. We picked up our new old boat in Cape Canaveral on Nov 24th and sailed her home to Deerfield Beach. Technically we motored home but we crossed the same stretch of the Intracoastal just after you. The Indian River is beautiful and we enjoyed the company of many dolphins as well.

    Hope you have great weather and I'll be following your blog.