FLORIDA 2013- WILL WE EVER LEAVE THIS PLACE?
22 February 2013 | Marathon, Florida
Greetings to all!
I am sure that you all think that Jim and I are happy, sailing throughout the Western Caribbean, exploring new islands, eating lobster, drinking beer and wine and scuba diving on beautiful reefs in Mexico and Belize. Not so. We are still in Florida.....
Highlights of our adventures so far:
1. Upon arriving in Stuart, Florida, we found Emerald Seas to be in tip top shape and well cared for by Hinckley Yachts. It did not take long to get our stuff packed away, sails on, solar panels and wind generator in place.
2. Missing Boxes!! We had mailed two large boxes from Canada and according to the online Canada Post website, our boxes had been delivered. According to Hinckley, they had not. I kept myself busy visiting the US Postal Service everyday until they tracked down the courier who had supposedly delivered the parcels. He said he had delivered them to their destination and told a story about dropping the boxes in the gravel at Hinckley Marine and two people coming to his rescue and taking the boxes from him. More searching ensued and lo and behold the boxes were located!
Jim was a bit disappointed by then as he had already decided on what new underwater camera system he was going to get to replace the ones that were in the carton. I was more concerned about my Western Caribbean cruising books and my sewing manuals. From now on, I will always send boxes via registered mail!
3. My son, James, was scheduled to arrive in Miami on January 19th . We were running behind schedule because of the lost boxes and now we only had three days to travel 100 miles on the Intracoastal Waterway to Miami. We decided to head to Fort Lauderdale, only 77 miles and 27 bridges to go. It took us two days and on the first day we cleared 7 bridges. This was just the bridge practice we needed because on day two we cleared 20 bridges.
We had the timing down to a science and had to keep up a steady 6 knots of speed in order to make each bridge opening. Some open on the half hour and hour, others on the quarter hour and three quarter hour. As we rushed down the Intracoastal Waterway, we met other sailboats on the same route. In no time we were chatting on the VHF radio with our new cruising friends. After arriving in Fort Lauderdale, we picked up a mooring ball at Las Olas Marina and made arrangements to rent a car so that we could drive to the Miami airport
4. We picked James up at midnight and then brought him to Emerald Seas. After a good nights sleep, Jim and I were up early and raring to go. James was still sleeping and we let him enjoy a long leisurely sleep till noon (which was really 10:00 AM Calgary time).
That afternoon we explored Fort Lauderdale and enjoyed the busy tourist area along the beach. We were getting a bit thirsty after all the walking so decided to have a Margarita. It was happy hour and that meant two margaritas for the price of one. The margaritas were super sized and each glass held at least a liter/quart. It took a very long time to drink one.
James was nice enough to share his second drink with Jim and I. The bar was full of interesting people and we had a good view of incredible acrobat performing on the other side of the road. Beautiful girls walked by in bikinis along with gorgeous, tanned and muscular guys. Sun was shining. Life is good!
Time to go home. Jim is absolutely plastered. James and I are astonished. Is he faking this? We both feel ok, how can Jim be drunk? We follow Jim as he stumbles across the busy street to thank the acrobat with a $20 tip. Yes, Jim is definitely drunk. Later, back home on Emerald Seas, Jim took a long nap while James and I partied on...
The following morning, we continued down the Intracoastal, past Miami and into Biscayne Bay where we took up a mooring ball at Dinner Key Marina. This became our base for the rest of the week. We explored Coconut Grove for a few days and then rented a car and headed to Everglades National Park.
On the first day we hiked the Anhinga Trail and saw lots of alligators, birds and turtles. Following that we drove to Flamingo City for lunch. This town had been virtually destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma. It is located right on the south tip of Florida, overlooking Florida Bay. On arrival, the first thing we noticed were millions of tiny, little flies. All the exterior cement walls were covered with them. In the restaurant, the tables and screens were crawling with flies. Despite the bugs, we were still hungry. We ordered alligator for lunch. Survived the flies.
That night we stayed at a motel in Florida City. Next morning, we were up bright and early, had a big breakfast and then drove to Cooper's Everglades Airboat Rides. When we arrived, we had the choice between a private trip or a group trip. We chose the private trip- it was longer and there would only be six of us on the boat, including the guide. The airboat trip was fantastic. It was fast, thrilling and fun. The Everglades were beautiful with tall grasses for as far as the eye could see. There were alligators, turtles and lots of bird life. Our guide was very interesting and shared stories about hunting deer in the everglades, walking through saw grass and getting cut to pieces with the sharp blades.
This trip was the highlight of our holiday with James. It was wonderful having him aboard and we look forward to future adventures together.
After James returned to Calgary, we reconnected with friends, Bill and Anne, aboard Wind Spirit. Together we sailed the two day trip from Biscayne Bay to Marathon. Along the way, we were joined by Wayne and Heidi, aboard Courageous.
The sail was totally perfect. We had 15- 20 knots on a perfect, fast moving beam reach. Once again, Chris Parker's weather forecast was spot on.
Here in Marathon, our lives are filled with social activities. Lots of sundowners, one bus trip with friends to Key West, more socializing, a trip back to Miami in a rented car so that we could visit the Miami Boat Show and look at all the toys and boats.
Now, we are back aboard and working at getting all the last minute things done before we can head to Cuba, 90 miles away. Our to-do list is long, but getting shorter everyday.
We hope to be heading to Cuba in the next few days. However, the weather is a bit unsettled for a Gulf Stream crossing. We shall see what happens.
Best regards to all of you. Love Renate & Jim