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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Dolphins!
Hideko
11/16/2006, Key Biscayne

I missed the fist dolphin encounter when Randy and Roq went to the park at No Name harbor. The very next day as I was hanging out on the swim platform they came to visit me! I called Randy and we caught them on camera. I think it was a Momma, Papa and baby. They were jumping over each other and playing around the boat for an hour or so.

Key Biscayne
11/20/2006 | rick
it was a pleasure meeting and chatting with you aboard 'swinging on a star' at no name harbor. good luck on your voyage.

rick and rosie
s/v MERLIN
10/15/2007 | Randy
Thanks you guys! Your Exuma tips came in handy!
No Name Harbor
Randy
11/15/2006, Key Biscayne

A suspicious Dog PFD hanging by the dinghy...

This is one of the spots Roq really likes. We don't anchor here because it is like a swimming pool with an inlet to Biscayne Bay. A few bugs, no view and a park service with it's hand out for $15 per night. Very sheltered though and there's a basic restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The park is pretty nice, with views of Stiltsville, the south point lighthouse and lots of fish (no fishing).

Key Biscayne
Stiltsville
Randy
11/14/2006, Biscayne Bay

Winding through the shoal areas just south of Key Biscayne is Hawk's Channel, which leads down the Atlantic side of the Florida Keys. Just south of the Key Biscayne lighthouse in the middle of the water on some of these shoals you will find a small community built on stilts, all a mile or so from the closest land. A channel leading into the bay is like Main Street for these folks. We discovered the place on the way in to our current anchorage. The houses here were all threatened in 1999 when the local government wanted to remove them. It seems an activist group has petitioned congress to make the unique area a National Landmark. Stiltsville is in purgatory at present with their future undecided. I'm glad we got to see it before it is gone.

Key Biscayne
First anchorage out
Randy
11/13/2006, Key Biscayne

We got up really early this morning to make the jump to the Bahamas. After 5 weeks of provisioning, packing, stowing, upgrading, adding, adjusting, configuring and testing, we were ready to go.

Well it was overcast this morning and so we really couldn't get underway at 6AM. When the sun rose at 6:30 we found some hydraulic fluid under the starboard ram. Took a bit to ensure that was just a leak that tightening down a bleed nipple fixed. Then it was 7:30 and all of the bridges stay closed for rush hour (7:30 - 8:30). Then it was something else, then the Jungle Queen was on the way and no way we were going to try to pass that thing in a catamaran.

So finally at 11AM we saw a barge heading out and Hideko and I looked at each other and said, "let's go", in unison. We tossed the dock lines and dropped in behind the king of the New River. Grady's Pile or something. He had all of the bridges opened for us and everyone waited for him (and us) to go by. We arrived at the 17th street causeway (54' bridge) just in time for the Noon opening and shot out into the Atlantic.

Seeing as how it was noon we decided that Cat Cay Bahamas was a bit out of reach, especially with no wind. So we rerouted to our alternate, Key Biscayne. We are at anchor in 10 feet of water on the North East side of Key Biscayne, just South of the Key Biscayne Yacht Club, watching the lights come up on the Miami coastline. Not bad for a first anchorage on the way around the world. I guess it would have been a shame to never have spent a day in our home country on this trip, it is a pretty cool place.

Key Biscayne
The 17th Street Causway
Randy
11/12/2006, Fort Lauderdale

Another part of our survey included the 17th Street Causeway, which stands between any moderate sized sail boat on the Intercoastal and the ocean. Unlike the other bridges on the New River this one doesn't open on request. As you can see from the photo the local Leopard and Lagoon dealers are keeping busy.

Refit
The New River
Randy
11/11/2006, The New River

The New River is a strange thing to non-FLers, and we are a mile up it. You can see the stylish Santa off to the right in this snap. Fort Lauderdale has been called the Venice of America (perhaps a stretch) due to its web of interconnected rivers and canals.

I am a sailor, not a barge Capitan. Driving a 26 foot wide catamaran a mile down a narrow river with 5 bridges and hair pin turns, not to mention big commercial vessels and carefree mega-yacht skippers, was a new challenge.

Hideko and I decided that we should survey the route at least once before the maiden voyage. So we did it, we suffered the full cheese of the round trip jungle queen tour. The Jungle Queen is a large double decker river boat looking thing that departs from a marina on the Intercoastal Waterway and makes a short stop just past our marina before returning. It was actually a lot of fun and gave me a good look at what I was in for the first time out in our new boat.

Refit
Kenny and Jenny
Hideko
11/10/2006, The Wake Zone

We look forward to Fridays. Not because it's the end of work week but it's because a lunch coach at Lauderdale Marine Center, The Wake Zone, has yummy Argentina Churrasco steak sandwiches!!!

Kenny and Jenny, the owners of the Wake Zone, sent us off with champagne. They are great people. If you are in the neighborhood, you should stop by for a steak sandwich.

You can see the traveler arch opened up in the background where Kenny and Randy were trying to loosen up a siezed block that made it hard to bring in the davit. The only tool narrow enough to get the bolt loose was a 17mm closed end ratched wrench which we secured from McDonalds hardware, a Fort Lauderdale institution. This kept us in port another day but on the bright side we got to hang out with Kenny and Jenny before we left!

Refit

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