16/01/2012/12:53 pm, Dinner Key Mooring Facility, Coconut Grove, Miami
We had planned to leave on Monday but, luckily, the wind was blowing 20 knots NE to E and any deep draft anchorage between here and Marathon would be uncomfortable that night so we happily delayed our departure.
It was such a good thing because it gave us time to go off to see South Beach. We met up with Steve and Sandi again and took the train from the Coconut Grove stop (Rt 1 and 27th St) to Government Centre where we switched to the bus. (#120 and S will both take you to the beaches). We bought day tickets - $5.00 for the whole day and good on both train and bus. It was a perfect day to go exploring the wide pathway along the beach and the streets lined with art deco buildings. We had been prepared to leave them for another time, but we're so glad we didn't have to.
We hopped off the bus at 17th St and joined the walkers along the winding beachfront pathway, headed south. There were a few hardy souls on the beach but the wind was whipping up a froth and inside the dunes was more pleasant. We missed Art Deco Weekend by a day, but we probably had a lot more sidewalk room without the festival crowds. After all, one needs room to stop and gawk at both people and buildings! (I never did get a good pic between the cars and trees and café awnings!)
The South Beach area was first developed by the Lummus brothers in 1912 and after "taming the jungle" they established a public park along the oceanfront from 15th to 5th Streets and sold off moderate sized lots for middle income people. Hundreds of apartments and hotels were built in the 1930's in what was then considered to be "modern" style. According to my reading material, the term Art Deco didn't come into being until the 60's and by then, the building boom had come and gone, the area was becoming run down and had settled into apartment hotels for retirees who could spend affordable winters here. In the 80's, a movement spearheaded by Barbara Capitman and destined to become the Miami Design Preservation League, took on the city to preserve and restore many of these wonderful buildings with their trademark relief ornamentation, curving lines, porthole windows, stepped rooflines and pastel colours. I don't know what happened to the modest living, because it is pretty classy now!
We stopped for lunch at Oceans Ten and spent a happy time people watching and enjoying our salads and sandwiches (at not a bad price either - $8.95 for the daily specials) before taking public transportation back to our own little neighbourhood of Coconut Grove where we were very happy to be based.
It was a special treat to take the launch back out to the mooring field with Cathy and Bill (Skeeter) who have spent several seasons in Isla Mujeres, Belize and Guatemala. I dug out my little notebook and scribbled down their suggestions as fast as I could. Once again, a day in the life of a cruiser turned out to be full of treasures - from sights and scenery to people to information to excitement about what tomorrow will bring.
And tomorrow will bring a departure toward Marathon!
16/01/2012/12:50 pm, Dinner Key Mooring Facility, Coconut Grove, Miami
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!
13/01/2012/10:42 am, Cooley's Landing, Fort Lauderdale, FL
We have had a delightful few days on the New River, walking to grocery stores and the theatre, taking land and water transportation to get to Total Wine, Bluewater Books, Sailor Man and the new West Marine store.
From Cooley's Landing near the 7th Ave Bridge, we caught a #6 bus to 24th St (State Road 84). This is Mecca for boaters because it has 3 marine stores and a great diner. (Bus is $1.75 each way or $4 for an all day pass.) Along with Steve and Sandi (Yonder) we made Lester's Diner our first stop to fortify ourselves for a happy prowl through Sailor Man - the well stocked consignment store. (We didn't see the pulled pork man, Pat - he must be waiting for you!) With a few new bits and pieces in hand (no really awesome finds) we checked out the huge new West Marine store to ooh and aah at all the brand new and pricy items, and then hoofed it across the street to Boat Owners Warehouse where we found new products at reasonable prices. Jim bought another macerator pump for our holding tank and thought about getting a fresh water pump just in case the need for one arises. We haven't gotten it yet so we hope the pump replacement disease felt by our friends on Estelle isn't catching! This process of keeping spares is a never ending and tricky one. It is expensive and space consuming to keep spares of all the parts of this boat aboard, and yet there are some items that make a part failure a quick and easy fix if we have them on hand instead of a time consuming and possibly expensive one if we need to locate and ship the replacements.
We walked all the way to Bluewater Books on another day (Cordova at 17th) and spent a happy hour checking out books and charts before wandering a few doors over to the Total Wine store. Friends have told us about this chain but we had never been in one and wow - our arms were loaded by the time we picked up bottles of well priced and unfamiliar wines. They had lots of the standards that we could find at Publix, but it was so much fun to find bottles we'd never heard of before. Based on last night's consumption, Lindeman's Bin 85 (Australia) beat out Conte Priola (Italy) in the Pinot Grigio category and Sobon Estate (California) was the Sauvignon Blanc of choice.
With our arms loaded we looked for an easier way home and found the water taxi right down at the bottom of 17th St. The inbound one brought us up the river to Stop 13 by the Broward Art Centre and only a block from home. We were even lucky enough to claim Steve as our token Senior and get a family fare for the ride!
Last time we were here, we spent an evening at the Broward Art Centre listening to the comedy of Capitol Steps. This year, we enjoyed the Jersey Boys - and what a treat it was - fantastic music and great cast. It is almost as much fun looking at the beautiful people at places like this, and being able to walk out the door under an almost full moon shining over the water to stroll along the boardwalk to our snug little home on the river was the icing on the cake.
Another familiar face was Shel - our neighbor last time. He is still here, living on his boat and greeting all comers with a cheery good morning.
As usual, watching the boat traffic is excellent entertainment here at Cooley's Landing. Tug boats fore and aft guide humongous yachts up and down the river, other tugs drag barges that take the full width of the river, and then there are all the regular 70 and 80 foot boats that in any other environment would seem huge but here are merely standard. We met a stunning new 155 ft motor yacht coming down river when we were on our way up. And this familiar face beamed at us from the wall near 3rd Ave Bridge! Theodore was here for the boat parade and is staying till February we heard. It is such fun to see our delightful NS ambassador down here. He's not quite the elegant Bluenose, but he attracts attention.
We're leaving Cooley's Landing on the high slack tide at noon to move down to Lake Sylvia for the night. We are all of us just superstitious enough to refrain from starting a passage on a Friday - let alone Friday the 13th, so we'll head out through the Port Everglades inlet and point south to Coconut Grove (south Miami area) tomorrow.
Cooley's landing info: Slips are $1.30 per ft (not quite sure) with a 15% Boat US discount. Power is $10 for the first 3 days and a free mobile pumpout is available. Clean showers and a laundry with 6 washers ($1.75) and 4 dryers ($1.50) and a change machine that works round out the amenities. But of course the best part of this place is location, location, location!