Tues. Dec. 7, 2010 (Week 10, Day 64): Destination: Ft. Lauderdale, Mandarin Isle Canal (Mile 1068) Weather: sunny, blue skies, but very cool! L=44 F H=61 Winds: W or N, I did not pay enough attention, strong! (15-25K)
After breakfast the 2 of us had boat showers & changed to cold weather clothes. Internet & emails, journal writing & proof read Tina’s Christmas Letter. A group discussion re a plan with scenarios for the next several days depending on the weather. The weather was to remain cold today & start to slightly warm tomorrow & subsequent days, with a high of 80F on Sunday. But another cold front predicted for early next week with winds all from the north or some north component & as high as 40-50K over the Bahamas. It was left that the Hunts would move down to Miami with us on Thurs. as Tina & Lee had to work + Ikea Christmas Party that same evening, then they would drive to Miami (35 mins.) Fri. or Sat. to pick the Hunts up if there was no crossing by Sat. Tina & Kim went shopping+++ & the guys dropped me off at the Morrows boat so I could deliver their 3 mail packages then shopped themselves for a bit. On return, snacks & a special drink prepared by Phil (30 mins. or more of preparation); it was called Caipirinha (Brazilian Margarita). Kim & Phil took the 6 of us out to dinner tonight (Bimini Boatyard); most enjoyed their choice of meals---Grouper for me & fantastic. Home & more conversation, more laughs & more drinks till midnight. A clear night sky with stars, but cold-->heater.
Wed. Dec. 8, 2010 (Week 10, Day 65): Destination: Tina & Lee’s Backyard (Mile 1068) Weather: sunny, blue skies, very cool with L-40F & H-65F Winds: NNE, less strong than yesterday (10-15K range)
The shopping must be finished today, the boat jobs as well ie new blades for the wind gen arrived yesterday pm & need to be installed, the dinghy washed, & prepare for the BBQ this evening-->done over the day. While the girls were in the hot tub in am, I vacuumed & worked on catching up with my journal writing as I was a few days behind; 3 weeks of my blog posted. Lunch & then Tina & I went to Winn Dixie for my shopping needs & for supper tonight. It is certainly time to move on whatever the weather maybe tomorrow. In hindsight we should have stayed in Lake Sylvia or where the Morrows were tied up by SE 3rd Bridge at $0.90 per ft. to await the arrival of the Hunts, to let the 2 couples have their visit & await Kim & Phil’s decision whether to move down to Miami &/or the crossing to Bimini with us. Lee generously offered to pick the Morrows up; introductions, a variety of snacks laid out in an amazing presentation of table lights, delicious BBQ pork chop dinner, rosemary grilled red potatoes & huge salad followed by key lime cheesecake--> the handy work of Tina & Lee! The evening ended at 2100 hrs. & Lee once again drove the Morrows back to their boat rather than call a taxi. Words cannot express Graeme & my thanks & appreciation to Tina & Lee for offering their place to our travelling partners, who wanted to meet & personally thank them as they had accepted their 3 mail packages. Kim unfortunately was steadily feeling worse as the evening progressed with her ailing hip & migraine. Returning to the boat, we read for a bit & chilled out. The night sky was clear & star filled, the temp cool-->heater, but I slept poorly.
Thurs. Dec. 9, 2010 (Week 10, Day 66): Destination: Ft. Lauderdale (Mile 1068) to Miami Beach (Mile 1088.4) Departure: 0940 hrs. Arrival: 1625 hrs. Mileage: 20.4 SM Weather: cloudy + red morn sky in the east for a brief moment, light on & off rain showers Winds: NW 15-22K, 1-2 ft. seas out in the Atlantic
Anxiously we were up at 0630 hrs.; breakfast & boat shower for me. The two of us hoisted the dinghy on deck, & as I prepare down below for our departure Graeme prepare the exterior. 1030 hrs. was the arranged rendezvous time with the Morrows. Prior to leaving I phoned Mom re our intentions, arranged more service time before it expires in Jan. (3 mons.) for my TracFone by buying time & thus eliminate all that crap I went through in Oct. when I tried to reactivate my US cell, read a few emails & answered some. Kim was feeling even worse this am & a definite no & Phil was a yes for at least the Miami leg. Good-byes & then we left at 0930 hrs. under Lee’s skillful instructions & pulling of sheets to turn our bow around in a very confined space of about 50 ft. width; a light rain falling & a N wind pushing us sideways down the canal. The first few bridge openings went well but as we approached the railroad bridge the bridge started lowering; we were being pushed by the current & slightly sideways by the wind & because we were not sure how long the train was or how long the bridge would remain closed, we took advantage of the city docks for daytime dockage on port & tied up. When the RR bridge opened so did the SE 3rd St. Bridge (bascule). The channel then widened as we entered the ICW channel to Lauderdale Marina where the Morrows & ourselves fuelled up. Kim & Lee had driven by car & met us; feed frozen shrimp to the jacks & tarpons in the waters by the fuel pumps. Good-byes again & caught the 17th E St. Bridge’s 1130 hrs. opening out into Port Everglades leading us out into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The US Navy were undergoing on water submarine exercises so we were obliged to sail 2 mi. east, jibbed sailing now due south X 19 or so miles. The skies appeared to be clearing in the south. We took the wide approach as recommended around R2 as we entered Government Cut (now on west direction); this is a very wide shipping channel that leads into Miami Harbour, south but runs parallel to MacArthur Memorial Causeway, passing Fisher Island, Lummus Island & Dodge island on port. We turned north & passed under the MacArthur memorial Causeway Fixed Bridge & once again turned immediately east parallel & along the north side of the causeway where we met ‘Artful Dodger’ & ‘Firecrest’ returning from Dinner Key. We all proceeded to the west shore of Miami Beach as far as possible. We anchored in 10 ft. (80 ft. chain). Still cloudy but no rain but quite cool; a cocoa with rum in order! The wind gen whirled all evening & night. We had a wonderful evening of conversation & chicken marengo for supper with potatoes & right, fresh beans again. Phil presented us with some very thoughtful gifts! A comfortable night.
Fri. Dec. 10, 2010 (Week 10, Day 67): Destination: Miami Beach (Mile 1098) waiting for a weather window Weather: sunny & warm, in the 70’s Winds: NE 8-10K
I slept well till 0100 hrs. & poorly from then on despite a very comfortable temp & anchorage. Graeme was up at 0700 hrs., made a pot of coffee as per usual & then walked about deck preparing to launch the dinghy, whereas I stayed in bed till 0730 hrs. & Phil till 0800 hrs.; he stated that was one of his better sleeps. Breakfast started with a cup of coffee of course, then an egg, English muffin & sausages. Phil helped Graeme launch the dinghy & lower the engine onto the dinghy. We were in touch with the Morrows re Chris Parker & Cruiseheimer & the weather predictions at 0800 & 0900 hrs.--> all winds north till Wed. & increasing considerable in strength both here & in the Bahamas + a colder cold front rolling in on Sun. evening & Mon. with a warming trend following on Tues.; little to no precipitation, in fact sunny. Therefore no crossing till Thurs. or Fri. In light of this news Phil called the lot in Ft. Lauderdale to come & get him; arrangements made for a noon pickup at the Venetian Causeway. Until then continued chatting, reading guides & playing with Phil’s new Garmin handheld GPS. At 1155 hrs. we all loaded into the dinghy & headed to Collins Canal with the Morrows behind. Once at the causeway Phil called Lee--> the girls were still out shopping & therefore Lee had not felt. We all dinghied further up to the to a near location of the Chamber of Commerce; Donna gave Larry & I loads of info & maps re buses, car rentals & highlighted tourist areas especially the Art Deco District. We obtained maps for Phil as well especially of South beach because he was going to hang out there until he was picked up. I hope that all transpired as we never heard otherwise; no details of time ect. We continued our explorations further east on Collins Canal to it’s end point, ducking under the many arches cross bridges-->high tide. Then we turned north on the Indian Creek up to 41st St. to a Walgreens & Verizon (info re MiFi). Then we back tracked to the junction of the Indian Creek & Collins Canal, tied up at 24th St., walked to 26th for a bite to eat (delicious Italian sub), then walked ‘The Boardwalk’ & dipped our toes in the cool waters of the Atlantic & walked the sand for a piece. Back to the dinghy we traced our steps this time west in the canal in low tide & took a detour under the Venetian Causeway to it’s north side to Island View Park & Sunset Harbor Marina, then paid Pat & Karin a short visit since they were aboard their boat. We moved our boat closer towards the causeway & the east shore, did some journal writing & reading of some tourist info that we obtained at the Chamber of Commerce. A late supper of ham & pineapple & beans because of our late & very tasty but filling lunch. Pat paid us a visit---so nice of him & he has been so helpful in setting up a wind & current program on my computer called Open CPN2. It was partly cloudy tonight with stars visible in the clear patches, the anchorage was quiet & calm with near flat water. Once again I must reiterate the generousity of human beings exemplified by Tina & Lee, & Kim & Phil to Morrows & ourselves. I do understand & felt the strain that we had imposed on Tina & Lee, & regret the way I did not foresee this happening, despite trying desperately not to be a burden. This will not ever happen again I can assure you!
Sat. Dec. 11, 2010 (Week 10, Day 68): Destination: Miami Beach (Mile 1089)--- still waiting Weather : sunny, slightly cool about 50’s in am, but a warm 75-80F by midday Winds: N & 5K or less
A good night sleep & up at 0715 hrs.; breakfast, some tidying up while looking for Phil’s swimsuit he thought he left. Pat Collins came aboard & offered his car rental to us today & tomorrow + the idea to sign on as an extra driver for these days & perhaps add Mon. to his contract; Graeme went over to the Morrows & discussed this plan, then Pat & Graeme went to the Enterprise office to make the arrangements. In the meantime I had a boat shower, did some housekeeping & cleaning & journal writing as the boat engine was running & my laptop was connected into the inverter charging. We relocated the boat slightly to allow more swing room all around us with the predictions of pending very high gusty winds & weather approaching tomorrow night; we noticed the domestic batteries not charging again as the electric windlass stopped working as we started to bring the anchor up; had to finish the rest of the maneuver manually. The Morrows came over late morning; Larry hoisted Graeme up the mast to replace the steaming light unit, while Lynn & I pondered over the charts. Soon after noon Karin & Pat were returning to their boat & we waved them over-->Skipper’s Meeting was held. At the moment there seems to be a weather window developing for about 5 days midweek; cold front is predicted to arrive Sun. night & Mon. followed by improving weather Wed. We will then move to Dinner Key on Wed., pick up a mooring ball for $21.00 with all facilities included, then leave early Thurs. am (0400 hrs. for 2 boats & 0500 hrs. for 2 others) to North Bimini & Blue Water Marina. That hopefully will give us time to clear customs & immigration immediately (business hours= 0800-1800 hrs.). The plan for Fri. would be to go to Russell Light & to the Berry Islands on Sat. Lynn made reservations for 4 boats in Dinner Key & in N. Bimini. Lunch at 1330 hrs., then afterwards Graeme dinghied me to shore at 1400 hrs. he helped put Larry up his mast to change his nav lights to LEDS & straighten up his instruments yet again. I walked to Publix first & picked up some hummus for a planned cruiser pot luck on Monument Island at 1500 hrs., then walked to locate St. Patrick’s Church & their mass hours for tomorrow ( Daily= 0800 hrs. Sat.= 1700 hrs. Sun.= 0800, 0930 & 1100 hrs.)-->a good 25 min. walk each way. Graeme was waiting for me at the predetermined pick up spot, dinghied home to gather food & drinks for potluck & across to west side of Monument Island. When talking to some of the cruisers we found out that Immigration problems have been somewhat ironed out-->3 mons. permits possible except there are still rumours that Canadians need visas; this doesn’t make sense. Near 1730 hrs. the party broke up, we dinghied over to the Morrows to report our findings (Larry had not been feeling well) then finally home at dark. We checked connections of the battery bank once again, turned the engine on & domestics now charging. Supper= leftover chicken Marengo & potatoes. Internet for a brief time & journal writing while Graeme slept.
Sun. Dec. 12, 2010 (Week 10, Day 69): Destination: still Miami Beach (Mile 1089) Weather: sunny & a very pleasant temp with a predicted high of 71F Winds: calm in am, but steadily built during the day, W, WNW, NW
An early am (0600 hrs.) as I was going to the earliest mass this am at St. Patrick’s Church. So it was a quick boat shower, dressed for church, breakfast & then got my bike out of the garage into the dinghy. By 0730 hrs. Graeme was taking me to shore & then it was a 10 min. bike ride to St. Pats. I was back at the pickup spot well before the specified time. Back at the boat we gathered our bags + the Morrows for our car excursion. It took some walking & a bit of time to locate the vehicle (Hyundai Accent) on Alton Rd, as Pat had used it yesterday & found a safe parking spot. We drove down Dade Blvd. to A1A North or Collins Ave.; gazillion hotels on the ocean side & some sections of large, beautiful homes on the canal to the west. At Sunny Isle we turned west till we found the Wal Mart--> picked up everything food wise except fresh bread, veggies & milk (last minute purchases on Tues.) + more Rotella Oil (5-6 now). We came upon a West Marine on Biscayne Blvd. (Hwy. 1)-->I found 2 pairs of boat shoes on sale. Great, a Total Wine also on Biscayne Blvd.--> Graeme: beer+++ & inexpensive rum for his coffee; Laura: 2-3L of box wine + 1-3L on Chianti (only in glass bottle). Enough shopping, time to go & eat lunch in a park or beach. So it was off to A1A South (Indian Creek Rd. for a piece then Collins Ave.) down to South Point Park. We sat on Miami Beach on the sand eating our freshly cooked lemon pepper chicken with fresh garlic & parmesan bread purchased at Wal Mart + can each of Yuengling wrapped in a paper towel-->yummy! We watched the many people on the beach & these 44 ft. carbon fiber hull & sail sailboats (12-14) competing in the Oracle Miami Cup; there were representatives from Sweden, Russia, GBR, Austria, Italy, Canary Islands-Spain, & a few from USA. While the rest returned to the car & grabbed a Hagen Das ice cream, I walked South Point Park overlooking Government Cut, South Beach Park & Miami Beach Marina--> beautiful, vast area of concrete boardwalk, many people picnicking, a child kite flying, people sitting on grass or benches, walking, cycling or blading. Once back to the car we drove to & north on Alton to a side street to unload our purchases into the dinghy. Then Graeme parked the car in Publix for overnight. The canal ride was calm but Biscayne Bay ride was anything but; we were heavily sprayed with salt water. A NW wind had whipped up a good (15-20K). A bouncy evening, with some short-lived rain, followed by a calm & then return of the wind. Our domestic batteries acted up again & with switching the engine & the power switches on & off several times in succession all returned to normal; this is all disconcerting. The W to NW winds (15-20K) blew all night, increasing suddenly to about 20-25K around 0300 hrs. I dozed in & out of sleep, certainly aware of the high gusting winds & boat rocking.
Mon. Dec. 13, 2010 (Week 10, Day 70): Destination: Miami Beach (Mile 1089) Weather: sunny then partially sunny & cloudy with temps falling steadily during the day from comfortable to barely 60F; tonight maybe as low as 28-32F! Winds: basically NW, sometimes more W or more N than NW; after dawn winds about 15K then increased around noon to gusts consistently 20-30 K; winds were the talk of the day; gale force winds of 50-60K in the Bahamas, perhaps Biscayne Bay will be the center of near 50K winds
Up & about at 0700 hrs. Graeme & Pat shortly after 0730 hrs. went to shore to turn in the car rental as we had no real need for it today with such a successful day yesterday. A quick boat shower for me & to shore. We walked south on Alton Rd. checking out 2 hardware stores then east at 17th St. onto Lincoln Rd. Mall, a pedestrian only mall with several cafes, restaurants & shops+++. We met Karin & Pat at the largest of 3 Starbucks on the Mall alone-->a very active internet café (free & strong signal). We worked away for 2-3 hrs. with Pat trying to download a wind, current & wave free download + emails to family & read some of the many unread emails. We walked the full length of the Mall which extends from Alton to Washington (11 blocks); a great place for people watching. Alternative living community is very prevalent in Ft. Lauderdale but appeared more prominent here in Miami Beach. A multi million dollar parking garage on Alton was recently completely & we were advised to visit it; we took the elevator to the 8th floor then walked up 1 flight of stairs to the roof terrace--> an amazing panoramic view of the ocean, the harbour, Biscayne Bay, Miami Beach & Miami! Frim there we noticed how very rough the anchorage was & Graeme could not spot our boat-->anxiety & near panic. We rushed back to the locked dinghy in Collins Canal; once we turned from the canal into Biscayne Bay we spotted ‘Sweet Chariot Too’ exactly where it should be; phewww! The dinghy crashed through 2 ft. rough seas, spraying us with sea water but wise this time as we were wearing foul weather gear; slow progress over to visit the Morrows for a couple of hours. Lynn’s source of weather indicated that winds would stay up till Tues. at 1300 hrs. On arriving home Graeme let out more anchor chain (near 100 ft. now). Supper= chili (how appropriate) + onion buns. A red sky at sunset & near ½ moon high & bright in a clear night sky. As the north winds howled away the wind gen went nuts; interesting feature--> if the winds are >50mph for an extended period of time then it would stall out for a period of 5 mins. with a red light flashing on the unit then resume; this indeed went on for hours & hours. I woke up at midnight with an increase in the frequently gusting howling north winds till dawn--> >4K. I decided to stay up & watch the boat tacking on the anchor in these high winds & tried to read to distract my attention. Assured that all was well, I returned to bed & indeed fell back to sleep, though a light sleep hearing all the sounds around.