16 January 2012 | Dinner Key Mooring Facility, Coconut Grove, Miami
Beth / downright chilly evenings but OK days - low 70's
We've driven through Miami on the way to the everglades and we've flown out of the Miami airport, but we have never sailed to Miami before so it was all new to us. What an awesome entrance! We came in through Government Cut, and then along Lummus and Dodge channels because the main channel was closed to provide security for the cruise ships in the harbour. (Art - we got a glimpse of the Epic!!) The route wound past skyscrapers and loading docks and fancy condos and boardwalks with joggers and was right up there in our list of exciting harbours to transit.
Friends have stopped at No Name Harbor on their way to the Bahamas, and other friends anchor at the Venetian causeway, but the friends we were with (Yonder) are partial to Dinner Key Marina at Coconut Grove and so we followed their recommendation. What a good decision! There were plentiful moorings (costing $20 per night/$300 per month) with launch service on the hour from 8 to 5. (We were a long way from shore so that was handy.) Coconut Grove is a lovely little neighbourhood - filled with galleries and shops and cafes and a state park. It has a Fresh Market (upscale groceries) along the waterfront with Home Depot and a marine store (Crooks and Crooks) within walking distance. It is accessible to downtown and the beaches via train and bus as well.
We arrived mid-day Saturday and after some confusion got ourselves tied up and ready to go exploring. The confusion was over "North channel vs South channel" approaches in conversation with the marina office. Really - there should be no confusion; go in the main channel to Dinner Key Marina - right up to the piers - turn to port past the little islet and back out the "South" channel to the mooring field. No Problem! Only those vessels with shallow draft can go in the south channel (if you can find it.)
We never did put our dinghy down which meant we spent evenings aboard Madcap, but that was just fine because we (along with Sandra and Steve) packed the days full! Having done a little reconnaissance on Saturday, we set off on the 8 am launch on Sunday to find breakfast and continue our exploration. Steve asked for a suggestion from a fellow on the launch and struck gold. Coral Bagels is THE place. Walk up 27th St (right across from the mooring field office) to US 1, wiggle your way to starboard behind Crooks and Crooks to find it. It's far more than bagels. We saw firemen and policemen and grandfathers with sweet little granddaughters and aging but elegant ladies (high heels and jewellery and expensive clothes) and families and scruffy dudes and even some slightly scruffy but comfortable folks who looked like cruisers! Oh yes - there was food too: eggs any way you like 'em and home fries and corn beef hash and ... bagels. I spotted an item called "Nova Scotia eggs and onions." Well - how could I resist? I did wonder what Nova Scotia eggs were even though I had a suspicion the term must have to do with smoked salmon. When I asked Krista (the effervescent server who labeled herself Cuban/Italian aka "dynamite on a match") she said, "Well, you know what nova is, right?" "Well, I know what Nova Scotia is ... I live there." " Really? Where is that?" "Umm, in Canada." Oh, but I digress ... So "Nova" is apparently a term for smoked salmon down here and Nova Scotia eggs are scrambled eggs with smoked salmon - and good they are indeed. We all loved our meals and the atmosphere and the décor. It was a total winner.
After a visit to Crooks and Crooks - whose motto is "We aim not to live up to our name" - and a stroll back to Grand Avenue, we got local info from a most helpful "ambassador" who suggested a visit to Barnacle State Park. Once again, we struck gold. This National Gold Medal winning park is composed of several acres of land that once belonged to Ralph Munroe and his family. The path wound along through a portion of tropical hardwood hammock (part of what was once the Miami hammock) to his architecturally interesting but modest house, built in 1891 and enlarged in 1908. A wide open lawn sloped down to Biscayne Bay and the boathouse where he designed and built sailboats.) Our guide, Frank, was so much more than a tour guide - he was an historian and story teller extraordinaire and he made the place come alive for us. We'll be on the lookout for a book (currently out of print) called "The Forgotten Frontier" because it is full of Munroe's exquisite photographs, and we'll remember the tales of his life and passion for this part of Florida. He was an entrepreneur, an environmentalist, a friend to Blacks, Indians and Whites alike - unusual for his time.
A stop at the Fresh Market for wonderful produce, local shrimp, interesting crackers, cereals and pastas ended the day. The evenings have been downright cold so we've been eating indoors lately - oven roasted veggies - sauteed garlicky shrimp - spicy pasta with garbanzo beans (better than it sounds) - and we even put our little fireplace on to take off the chill!