Monday, January 20, 2020

Tavernier - at a dock

It's a very tight slip, but snug.
Today, we went to Blue Waters marina. We'll stay there for a while, to do laundry, take out the trash, and get some groceries. Unlike Miami, we had a place to get ashore( :) ).  It was a school day today. I only had to do spelling, math, and reading. That was all that happened today, but again, I wasn't bored out of my mind. When it was dark, I went with Grandpa to walk Hoolie( I was scared out of my mind because It looked like the Upside Down from Stranger Things.). That was all today. bye.

The farther into the Keys we get, the better the sunsets
We use the Blue Waters Marina at Tavernier when there's a prediction of high winds and we need a place to wait out the weather. It is mainly a liveaboard marina but they occasionally have slips open with their owners away for some reason. That was the case for us. We had been there before so we knew the dockmaster and he made room for us. At $2/ft, it's a very reasonable marina for the keys. You have to watch your approach since the MLLW varies from 4.3 to 5.2 ft depending upon wind direction. With a 2.5 ft tide, you can make it in depending on your keel. Once inside, it 10 to 30 ft deep. It used to be a quarry that was later flooded after it had run its course and now it's surrounded by residences and two marinas.

We have high winds predicted here for the next three days. We hope that the forecast for Sunday holds and if it does, we'll move on to Marathon with Key West on the itinerary the next day. With the cold front roaring through, it's due to dip down into the 40's overnight! Chilly for the keys. One great positive is the internet service. I clocked it at 200 Mbps! It's great to be connected.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Miami - Art day and we leave Monday

Rowan's art assignment: one realistic (as a 9 year old can make it) and one with imagination
Hello everyone! Today was a PANCAKE Sunday instead of donuts. It was a normal day, but without any travel. Tomorrow, we set off to Blue Waters marina. During the trip, we will pass a place called "Stiltsville." It really is what the name suggests. A town, on the water, held up by stilts. It's an abandoned fishing community, which the old residents had no plumbing, water, or electricity. The highlight of today was that I GOT STUNG BY A JELLYFISH!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was swimming in the water when I felt something prick my arm. I thought it was just some pointy seaweed, but then I felt it in multiple places. Then I came to realize that it was NOT seaweed, and then started screaming," FRICK, SOMETHING JUST STUNG ME!!!! GET ME OUT OF THE FRIKIN' WATER!!!!!!!!!" The thing that stung me was a Man O War jellyfish. Right now I am fine. I can still feel the sting, but it's very weak.

Here's a better view of the rocks we take Hoolie to, no problem
Well, Rowan had some excitement today. He was happily swimming away when a Portuguese Man O' War came floating by. It was a very small one but it packed a wallop! If he could walk on water, he would have. We searched the internet on how to best treat the problem and settled on vinegar followed by a hot water bottle press on the area affected. The sting gradually abated but not before a lot of complaining by our third crew member.

Miami is nearby
Rowan had an art assignment today. He was top paint two pictures of a turtle, one to be realistic and one with different colors. He produced the painting at the top of the blog. He was inspired by Susie Poff who paints marine scenes but with color not found in nature. We met her at the Key West art show at the end of February.

Today is our last day at anchor. On Monday we are headed for Blue Waters Marina for a stay to wait out the bad weather. We expect to stay a week and hope for an opening for a run to Key West by the weekend. The weather continues to include high winds and rough seas, not good for an extended run with a 9 year old. Monday is supposed to be calm before the wild weather starts the next day .

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Miami - We plan for Blue Waters Marina

Rowan likes to wear his space helmet for serious work, like doing his blog
Today was sunny ( :) ), finally. No rain at all.Yay!!! Today I only had 2 hours of screen time ( A personal best!). I didn't use my legos as much today. I thought I would use them more. Even though there wasn't much to do today, I wasn't bored out of my mind. It was also clear enough for me to go swimming ( In frigid water.)! Since there are no motorboats permitted on the beach, we have to take Hoolie to a bunch of rocks to do his biz. It can be VERY difficult to take him there at high tide. That's all. 

There is a convenient place for Hoolie nearby
We went through several options today in waiting for the weather to clear out for our trip to Key West. There are just no three-day windows to go east. First, we thought of spending some time at Black Point Marina where we've been before. You can rent a car there from Enterprise and explore the area, including the Everglades park. It's only $1.50/ft. There's a 4.5 ft spot at the entrance that's best taken at high tide, depending upon your draft.

We always like sunsets!
The other choice was the Pilot House Marina but it's $3/ft although it's on the way east at least and has a great restaurant on site. Our third choice was Blue Waters Marina which is very hard to get into, they are usually full and the entrance only carries 4.5 ft at low tide. We were lucky enough to get a slip at Blue Waters. We've been there before and they remembered us and worked to find a place. We will probably be there a week waiting for better weather.

And, Miami at night from the anchorage
Sunday will be another waiting day and we'll move on to Blue Waters Marina on Monday. It's a liveaboard marina which suits us just fine. Our slip will open up on 1/28 and we intend making that date on time.

Friday, January 17, 2020

High winds in Miami - a layover day

We're snug up for a northeast wind. Hoolie's relief is by the Waterway Guide anchor symbol.
We finally didn't have a travel day! But it was pretty boring. There was really nothing to do, other than play on my tablet, do school work, and read. I did my school work pretty fast, I had limited screen time, and I already read all my books a thousand times and counting. Even if there was something I hadn't read, I wasn't that into it. It was very rainy today, so I couldn't go swimming. That was all today. 

Well, I guess you can't please a 9-year-old all the time. The topic of interest to the crew is weather. We need two good days to reach Marathon and then another good day to reach Key West. It appears that the first opportunity will be Monday to head south although Sunday is an outside possibility. If all goes according to plan, we'll spend Monday night at the Pilot House Marina and try for the next weather window.

Meanwhile, we're running the genset twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. That keeps the batteries and hot water in order and we sure do need both, especially with a 9 year old aboard for all his electronics. Hoolie has gotten into a routine where we take him to the "rocks" for his outings. It's in a cove next to land and with the wind out of the northeast, it's completely calm for a landing there.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Miami - at anchor

Cuddled up for the ride, with Hoolie too
Sorry, but yesterday I lied! Today was really a travel day, and we'll be anchored in Miami, south of the Rickenbacker bridge, for a couple of days. After a while, I went swimming off the back (In freezing water.). Before we anchored, we saw a shipping port, filled with container ships and barges. There were HUGE cranes, loading and unloading ships. After, we anchored just little ways out from a beach. And the ice cream truck comes every once in a while, which I know is a good sign. Tomorrow will not be a travel day, :), which is good, because I'm getting sick of them

Fleetwing looked fine at Bahia Mar - but expensive at $3.50/foot
We thought we would have a calm ride south from Ft Lauderdale but it was a lot more bouncy than we anticipated. Rowan took it in stride and even read a book along the way, something I would not try. He certainly has his sea legs.

We got all the way to Miami before seeing our first sunset!
We found that our favorite anchorage was closed! Marine Stadium was closed so they could install the docks for the Miami Boat Show. High winds out of the northeast are predicted for the next two days so we rounded the corner and anchored on the south side of Rickenbacker. It will provide protection from the north, northeast, and east - and a little even from the southeast. The beach itself is off-limits to dinghies with motors but dogs are allowed if on a leash. I found some rocks to the east so I used those for Hoolie relief.

The next two to three days are not good for traveling. We are due winds up to 22 kts with higher gusts. Perhaps we can move on Monday depending on the details of the forecast. The weather has been strange this trip, lots of variable weather we usually didn't see in the past.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Ft Lauderdale at Bahia Mar

"Fleetwing clear, thank you ____ bridge"
We got moving again. After 15 DRAWBRIDGES, we made it to Ft Lauderdale. When we got to an open mooring, but a police boat came by and said we couldn't moor there, so right now we're docked at a marina. After we docked, we took Hoolie out. We found out that there was a beach across the street. Tomorrow we'll stay here (Thank god, I'm done moving.) (Editor's note: we're going to Marine Stadium on Thursday, there's bad weather coming after that). So we can prepare for Marathon. For a few days, we'll do laundry, go out to Walmart, and we're already refueled

Rowan has taken on the duties of announcing our passage through a bridge. It's customary to thank for bridge operator for the opening and to let him know when you're through. We only missed one bridge today and that was due to the constant current against us all the way. There were probably some times when we didn't have an adverse current but we don't remember those times. In order to have a chance at not waiting between bridges, you have to be able to cruise at 7 kts which we can do except then there's a foul current of more than 0.5 kts.

Some of the houses could have been museums, perhaps they were.
We we get to Las Olas and we're waiting for the bridge to open, our first chore is to get out the binoculars and see if there's an empty mooring. This time they were all empty! That should have been a warning. Sure enough, a short time later, a police boat came by and told us we would have to move, all the moorings were closed! In talking to the marina office later, I found out that there was a barge waiting for an opening that was pushed by wind directly into the mooring field, wiping out everything there. They are now in a rebuilding mode and the office manager expected the mooring field to reopen by the end of January.

A remodeled Trumpy??
So we went to Plan B, a dock nearby. Las Olas was full so we went to Bahia Mar Yachting Center. Unfortunately, $40/night turned into $3.50/ft. We had wanted to stay several days to provision and catch our breath but the weather will not let us rest. Thursday will be the last good day to go south outside until Tuesday of next week. So our plan is to go outside to Miami and anchor in Marine Stadium to stage for the trip to Key West towards the latter part of next week.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Lantana - We eat out at Old Key Lime House with Joe

This is the temporary Southern Blvd Bridge with a clearance of 65 ft but only at low tide!
We got the boat moving again. Right now, we are in an anchorage in Lantana. To get here, we had to go through 11 DRAW BRIDGES! I remember one was called a"lift bridge". Picture a normal, two-lane bridge, but at each corner, there is a tall, piece of scaffolding and when a tall boat wanted to come through, the entire bridge went up. It really wasn't ideal for sailboats, because at low tide, it only was 65 feet tall. Fleetwing barely made the clearance the last one we went through, Nana REALLY didn't like the bridge master. "If you don't get to the bridge at 3:30, I'm not going to open it," He said. I can see why Nana didn't like him. After all, he did sound kinda mean over the radio. A few hours after we anchored, we went to "The Old Key Lime House" so Nana and Grandpa could meet up with some friends of theirs. I had a grilled cheese and fries (I had to order off the kids' menu :( .), and their fries were really good. After, we took Hoolie ashore to again, do his biz. That was all today. Tomorrow, we set sail for Fort Lauderdale.

The place was packed! You'd think they were giving away money!
We usually don't miss any bridges in this stretch of the ICW in Florida since we cruise at 7.3 kts but today was different, we missed four (meaning, we had to wait for the next opening). The complicating factor was the 1.5 to 2.5 kt of adverse current over the entire stretch. That was too much for Fleetwing to overcome. One wonders at how the current can be against you for the entire day, even as you pass inlets where you would think the current would reverse! Half a knot or even a full knot is manageable but not 1.5 to 2.5 kts!

Hoolie guarded Fleetwing while we were gone. You can see our dinghy at their dock, convenient. 
The new news is the vertical clearance of the Southern Blvd bridge. It's supposed to be 65 ft but the bridge operator north of the Blvd bridge was asking each sailboat for their height and warning that the Southern Blvd bridge only had a clearance of 65 ft at low tide, not a high tide. The sailboat behind us had a mast of 63.5 ft and with the 2 ft tide at the time, they decided to stop and stay overnight and leave the next morning at low tide.

We met with Joe Mastri, an old friend from the Poughkeepsie YC for dinner at the Old Key Lime House restaurant. The place was hopping, even on a Tuesday night. They even had a sign posted saying that staying at a table was limited to a maximum of two hours! I've never seen that before. However, the dinner was excellent which is the attraction of the place.

On Wednesday, we make the run through 15 bridges to Ft Lauderdale and hopefully, a mooring. We'll then look at the weather for an outside sail to Miami and a stay at Marine Stadium.