11/18/2006, Biscayne Bay
The Norther coming in is supposed to blow through Thanksgiving. Not only is it stacking up the Gulf Stream* to as high as 13 feet but it is also making it cold! We were not prepared for cold, at least not 40 degrees cold!! Hideko and I have been using all of the blankets on the boat, but I haven't convinced her to let Roq on the bed yet.
We moved to No Name Harbor this morning because it is the only place around here protected from the North wind. It's also nice to be able to row Roq ashore fast. There's a restaurant in the harbor with great fish. Our nightly fee went from $0 to $15 but after paying by the foot and getting beat up by the chop on the bay I'm happy with $15.
* For our non sailing friends, the Gulf Stream is a current running North up the coast of Florida carrying more water than all of the rivers in America combined. When the wind blows against it (i.e. a Norther, which in Florida is a winter storm coming from the North) the waves in the Gulf Stream get tall, and worse, steep. No fun to sail in.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.