7.12.15 – Monday – Some shopping for food for the next few days, then reading, chatting, passing the time until the next day. I used the time to plan my single-handed trip to Miami; doing 25-30 miles each day would bring me on Friday to Key Biscayne, near Miami, enabling me to go into Miami port and the Intracoastal waterway and proceed some 14 miles to Juda’s place.
8.12.15 – Tuesday – I took Danny ashore for his airport shuttle. During breakfast, the sentimental man that he is, he handed me a letter he wrote, summarizing the two months we spent together on the boat. It included some warm words that he thought I deserved. I’m no letter writer, my tool of expression is this blog and I use it now to say how much I enjoyed Danny’s company; his energies, optimism and positive attitude make him the ultimate crew and friend.
With Danny in the rain
Starting out at 1130 I did not have a lot of time on my hands and so elected to sail to Duck Key, about 14 miles away. As I powered the nav instruments in preparation for leaving, I noticed that the depth instrument was showing three dashes instead of the depth information. I was sailing a predetermined route at depths of 4-6 meters and having a serviceable depth gauge was absolutely essential. I played with the instrument but it only operated intermittently.
I reached Duck Key and the waypoint for anchoring at three meters; the instrument was in coma and the water not clear enough to read the bottom. That location was choppy and I started looking for a calmer spot; in one that I thought to be good the anchor dragged over what felt like rubble. I finally found an area, the color of which indicated a sandy bottom, dropped the anchor and got excellent holding.
The starboard engine has reached the hours for oil change so I went into the engine room and did it. I suddenly saw that one of the belts of the big alternator was broken, the other one in a bad state of repair; I replaced both belts. I also dived to look at the outside of the depth sounder to see whether it was fouled in any way; it was not. Looking at the Raymarine manual I found out that the problem might be with the cable or the transducer itself, nothing I could repair myself. Bad news! Got to be extra careful going into shallow anchorages.
9.12.15 – Wednesday – Early to bed early to rise, at 0700 I was already out of the anchorage. Finally a nice day! Blue skies, flat seas and good wind which enabled me to sail 24 of the 30 miles to Rodriguez Key without using an engine. I sailed through the Hawk channel, which is shallow but safe. I had to be at the helm continuously to avoid those floats which were simply everywhere. I saw the fishing boats taking them out and they were all connected to crab or lobster pots.
My depth gauge came back to life for a time and for a while I thought it would stay but at the moment I needed it most – coming to anchor near Rodriguez Key – it started flashing again, showing the last depth received. I just went to the waypoint, saw a monohull at anchor nearby and dropped mine. During the afternoon more yachts came until we were seven. A popular place. Oh! Almost forgot; the island is off the shores of Key Largo, which for people like me (the Oldies) brings up memories of the movie by that name, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Nostalgia…
10.12.15 – Thursday – Once again I went out at 0700, sailing northeast on my way towards Miami. My destination of the day was the area of Pumpkin Key, a private island rumored to be on the market for 110 million bucks. To get there I would have to pass through Angelfish creek to the west of the Keys line. The depths out of it as shown on the chart were minimal and with my unreliable depth gauge I was loath to do it. Instead, I found Caesar creek, a few miles further, which gave entry to an anchorage between Adams and Meigs keys at reasonable depth. Going in there required following a three miles narrow channel, marked by red and green markers.
looking back towards the entrance
At one point, passing between two keys, a current of two knots sprang up; I started the second engine and reached my intended spot just in time for lunch. By the way, apart from the first few minutes, the depth gauge operated flawlessly!
11.12.15 – Friday – I was awakened by the clatter of rain and hail; the time was 0400. I went out to take the fuel tank out of the dinghy so that if it filled with water the tank would not capsize and spill fuel. Of course I got a bit wet and back in my cabin I opened the cupboard where we keep towels and found everything there saturated with water including all of Gili’s clothes. How come? In the past we had some leaks from water pipes passing behind the cupboard but we thought we fixed it. Need to investigate and to do a lot of laundry!
When morning came there were still some big black clouds around.
I decided to wait until they would dissipate; having a leg of only 22 miles to Key Biscayne I could take my time. When I went out there was light wind and I had to motor all the way.
The entrance to Key Biscayne is very shallow in places, so of course the depth gauge did not work. I navigated by the charts but it was very stressful. Once I rounded Cape Florida, on the southernmost tip of the island, I had a pleasant surprise. The area is a national park, densely wooded, has trails for walking and cycling and some platforms for fishermen. There were a few yachts in the anchorage near the entry to “No Name Harbor”, which is a small inlet, where boats can anchor, paying by honor code. There is also a nice restaurant in there.
Once at anchor, I decided to ask local yachties about the entry procedures into Miami port. I spotted a Seawind 1000 catamaran coming out of the “No Name” and anchoring near “Two Oceans” and went visiting. Andrea and Tom are from California; they are sailing winters, mainly in Central America. They invited me on board, opened the charts and a Florida guide book and started filling in the holes in my Florida knowledge. The first thing they said was that with my 57 foot mast height I cannot go to Juda’s place in Sunny Isles via Miami port; the Julia Tuttle causeway bridge has only 56 foot clearance…I’d need to go 32 miles north to Fort Lauderdale and then 10 miles back south on the Intracoastal Waterway.
So now that I had all the information I needed and after going for a walk in the park, I sat down at the boat and opened the weather channel on the V.H.F. The forecast I took in the morning said Saturday would be “breezy” but what I heard in the evening was bad. Gusts up to 30 knots were mentioned – no go situation! Sunday would be even worse but on Monday the winds would be from the southeast – perfect! I was in no rush and decided to wait; I might try the “No Name” restaurant tomorrow. I called Humberto, who works for Juda and who is now my contact in Fort Lauderdale (Juda is in N.Y.C for a wedding) and let him know of my decision.
12.12.15 – Saturday – The morning seemed nice enough; as is my habit I listened to the forecast. Not as bad as it was presented yesterday. To make sure I visited the NOAA internet site and this is what I saw: “TODAY EAST NORTHEAST WINDS 10 TO 15 KNOTS. SEAS 3 TO 5 FEET WITH OCCASIONAL SEAS TO 6 FEET. DOMINANT PERIOD 10 SECONDS BECOMING 5 SECONDS IN THE AFTERNOON. INTRACOASTAL WATERS A MODERATE CHOP.” That’s not bad at all! Forget the restaurant, let’s move!
I took the anchor out and using both engines motored through the exit, depth not working again but following yesterday’s waypoints. An initial course to clear Miami port and then sails only, heading north to Fort L. At some point the wind strengthened to more than 20 knots true and with Two Oceans romping along at more than 7 knots I reefed the main to first reef. We were going quite fast; The entrance to Fort Lauderdale was reached at noon, four and a half hours from departure. I thought I would anchor in Sylvia Lake for the night but Humberto, to whom I spoke on the phone, convinced me that I had time enough to come to Sunny Isles; he would wait there for me.
Entering the Intracoastal Waterway was interesting. After passing cruise ships and other commercial vessels it looked like driving on a motorway inside a city. A lot of traffic going both ways. I had to cross five opening bridges and a fixed, 65 foot one. The operation of the bridges was very efficient; by keeping 6-6.5 knots I came to each of them in time and did not have to wait for their opening.
I reached Sunny Isles, Humberto guided me in and “Two Oceans” went into her home for the next two months.
I hope to do a lot of maintenance jobs here and then resume cruising, initially to the Bahamas I expect. A lot of ideas regarding our sailing way of life are being considered by Gili and me but I won’t get into that before any firm decision is taken.
With that bit of suspense I leave you now,
Adios from Miki on “Two Oceans”.