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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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It looks like a go for tomorrow
82 and mostly sunny
02/13/2009, Miami, Fl

Friday, February 13, 2009

Well after listening to the weather and looking at the weather patterns on the web in the morning and this evening it looks like we'll be leaving in the morning ~ 4am so we can make the Bahama Banks by 3pm in order to be able to see the coral heads and shallows in the right lights. 2pm would be better but we'll work with 3 LOL.

So today was a workday. We dinghied over to the Miami Marina near Government Cut to fill up our Diesel cans, then hauled water (3 trips to the police station) to top off our water and get a little extra (stored in the tub) so we wouldn't have to pay for it as soon once down there. Next the dinghy emptied, engine off it and onto the boat rail, then dinghy on the boat deck, course calculated, and plotted from Government Cut to Bimini and entered into the chart plotter; everything stowed away again.

So our tentative itinerary (weather permitting) is tomorrow we head for Bimini and clear customs there. Depending on how many boaters are there (we heard it's a favorite power boat destination and it's a holiday weekend) we may be there one or two days. From there we're planning on heading to Chub Cay but may anchor on the bank before getting there depending on the time/weather element. From Chub Cay we'll head south to Andros Island. There's a place called Morgan's Bluff we've heard about on Andros so we'll probably stay a couple days there and from there we'll either head further south on Andros to Fresh Creek or cut across to New Providence to the West End. After that we'll head further south into the Exumas but aren't sure which islands yet.

Because Internet and wireless are poor to nil there - we'll be out of communication until I can find areas. I'll post more to the journal when I'm able and will try and stay in contact and check my email as often as possible.

I'm nervous and excited to start this next chapter - hope I can get some sleep before the alarm goes off at 3 am...

Love and hugs to all!

Moving Day but not the right move
84 and sunny
02/12/2009, Miami, Fl

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Needless to say we're still in Miami. We still need to get water & fuel, plot where we're going, etc... We got up this morning and over coffee started going over the charts and our options. There was a little friction since I tend to question things - sometimes it seems - a bit too much... During our discussions a motor yacht - Dolphin Moon - decided to zoom, zoom us from 15 feet away, kicking up a 4 foot wave, then came back a few more times for good measure a little closer and faster with larger wakes. A few things went flying below and I was just glad that my water filtration container didn't break as it went flying off the galley counter. I got on the radio and hailed him - thanking him for the consideration. I'm sure the property owners appreciated it too with all the salt water coming up over the seawall to water their grass and sending their skidoos bobbing into the wall. It looks like a lot of the mega yachts are filming their wakes for some reason - probably a selling point at the Miami Boat Show!

We decided to move to the east end of the Venetian Causeway, so after finishing coffee we re-anchored near Spirit and Last Boat. They spotted us coming in, dinghied over as the welcoming committee, and filled us in on where to get water, where the Publix is, hardware, etc., etc., etc... They were given a pink slip by the police and told they can only anchor 7 days total in the Miami Proper area so we were waiting for that welcoming committee only it never came. We dinghied over to the Police Station (we're anchored in front of it) to ask about anchoring and where we could get copies at, only nobody was there. Lunch time and water patrol would probably be two good reasons why nobody was there - so we walked to the Publix (yes I got 2 more Cubans- love that crusty bread), then we went to the gas station to get transmission fluid, and Office Depot to make copies of our boat documentation for Customs at Bimini. It was interesting wandering around Miami. Most of the people we heard talking, were speaking Spanish and the people that we spoke to had accents. I almost felt like we were in a foreign country already - but we're in Florida.

After we got back to the boat Wayne scrubbed the waterline of the boat & Marie and Chris (Spirit) came by to invite us over to the boat for dinner with Ondra and Nelson (Last Boat). We had a very nice time. Marie made a wonderful dinner of Lasagna with a mild sausage, salad, and cheesecake and I found out that Marie and Ondra were also teachers at one time! After dinner we went over some of Chris's Bahama Charts. He had a full set of the large ones that were really terrific! They're heading down to the Keys before heading to the Exumas so maybe we'll see them down there. Last Boat is heading for Cape Coral to visit with family - seems we both have brothers there! It'd be funny if they knew each other!

It was a most enjoyable anchorage and evening - tomorrow would be a good weather window to head out but we're not ready yet. Laura emailed us about Friday the 13th and 2 Abens heading into the Bermuda Triangle - did we want to do that - LOL annnnd she's probably right - good thing we're not leaving tomorrow! Saturday and Sunday are looking good so, if we can take care of everything tomorrow, and the weather holds, it looks like Saturday will be our departure day.

Moon over Miami
Very nice weather
02/11/2009, Biscayne Bay, Miami FL

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I had to check to see if there was a full moon... I couldn't sleep much last night. I kept waking up to the dream/thought that I'd be standing in water if I got out of bed. So I'd lay there, listening to silence, waiting and expecting for the bilge pump to kick on, only it never did. New fear: the bilge pump has stopped working! But, it hadn't, it came on in the morning during my coffee.

I tried finding the phone number to any of the bridges, around here, on the charts and couldn't. I wanted to call one of them to see if they could give me any data on the restricted times for the bridges on the Miami River. I know the first one is restricted between 7 and 8:30 in the morning and 4 to 5:30 but didn't know the schedules to the rest of the bascule bridges. Since there are so many that we need to transit to get to Riverside, in order for them to look at our leaking stuffing box, I figured it would be a good idea to check the times. The river is narrow with a lot of freighters in it (on Google Earth) and one of our books says it has swift currents so I wanted to know what to expect and how many of the bridges opened on demand. I figured not many since it was down in the heart of Miami. I finally decided to call Tow Boat US. I figured they'd probably know the bridge schedules (since they're local). In chatting with the guy, he asked if we were the sailboat with the stuffing box problem from yesterday and I told him yes and how nobody had ever returned our calls yesterday but we did manage to get through to Riverside finally and they're up the Miami River. He'd never heard of them, and asked if we were getting hauled out? I told him I hoped not, and told him about our problem of not being able to turn the locking nut and hoping that was all we needed to do. He said he'd come out and take a look (to my surprise and relief), so we gave him our coordinates and waited for them to show up. They didn't have a specialized wrench but actually had something better - a filter changer with a tarp type cloth that wraps around the item. With that and a hammer, the stuffing box tightened in a jiffy. He then asked if we had a wire brush so the next time we had to do this it was cleaned up for us and then proceeded to remove the patina from the locking nut. We then heard a clunk, then "oops" and a comment "my you have a deep bilge". Wayne said, "oh oh, you added to our collection?" He added our wire brush to the bowels of Kolibrie, so we now have an antique hammer, chisel, and wire brush in Kolibrie's growing toolbox! I gotta tell you - Towboat US are my heros. They always seem to come to our rescue. So to the guys at Biscayne Towing and Salvage/Boat US - Cudos to you for your help! You fixed our problem (hopefully), saved us a trip up a river that I didn't want to make, and hopefully spared us from losing our weather window if they talked us into hauling out and repacking our gland in the stuffing box (hence saving us some needed funds too)!

After squaring things away again below deck, I radioed over to the Island Packet - "Surprise" to see if they were heading to the Bahamas (they are). They're waiting for the same window. In looking at the projected forecasts it looks like it's backed up to Saturday instead of Thursday and Tom said that Chris Parker was projecting the same thing. Tom & Linda (Surprise) are heading for Nassau which is a longer jaunt then ours to Bimini - 30 hours.

While I was up top I spotted 2 dinghies coming our way from the West. I looked and saw a beautiful head of white hair and thought "is that Marie from Spirit?" I didn't think so because I thought they'd headed for the Keys with Last Boat, so strained my eyes a bit more - Yes it was - the dinghies from Spirit and Last Boat. I had to laugh because I couldn't believe they were here - I thought both couples had headed for the Keys. It was good to see them again - they were tooling around in the dinghies visiting various places at the boat show and were anchored down in front of the Sunset Marina in the east end of the Venetian Causeway. It sounds like it's a quieter anchorage (wake wise). [We keep getting these huge motor yachts roaring by us and waking us - and I mean a couple come really close to us going back and forth like they're on a mission. A couple of them had cameras going off the back end so they might be video for the boat show, but some of the wakes had things falling over below.] Anyhow from what they were saying, there's a Publix, hardware, etc... in dinghy/walking distance and they're anchored in front of the Police station & we can get water there, so it might be worth taking a look...

02/13/2009 | Pat Hock
Have been following your adventure and we about 2 weeks behind you as we have been in Melbourne Fl since the 1st. It really must be the Aben's luck with the weather. We will be here until April. We were also in NC just after you. Beckie had a baby girl. Have fun in the islands. Will keep following you. Pat
02/13/2009 | Pat
Aha - 3 Abens in Florida - now we know the reallll reason for the cold streak LOL I'm so glad Becky had a girl! Daughters are wonderful! We hope the weather warms up for you here! I'm ready to start looking for shells and some snorkling!

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