Bucolic Yet Boisterous
25 February 2012
With the worst of the real skinny sections of the ICW between Marathon and Miami behind us, we have to plan our next few days. We know that there is a brisk front coming Saturday afternoon and we'll want to have good protection. And, we're like the horses anticipating the barn, aiming to work our way back to be with our respective families for the various events this spring is presenting.
So we decide to head further north, perhaps to Biscayne Bay. Our possible destination is Sands Key about mid-way up Biscayne Bay. We don't have to leave early because we still have to play the tides to ensure we have enough water to transit a few more thin spots. There are very few boats on this waterway; mostly small sport fishing boats which dart about, heading out to the innumerable flats to do bone fishing. We do come across one sailboat who we know and have a nice chat on VHF. Weather is superb and we cross several sounds and cuts and it is very peaceful. Dolphins join us for a while as we motor leisurely through these azure waters determinately towards our indeterminate destination.
In the distance we hear a distant rumble then shortly feel a tremor in the water and then see off on the horizon, what appear to be geysers in the water. At this particular point in time, we are approaching a very narrow passage which leads to one of the two bridges we have to transit today. In no time, this huge, black thundering boat charges buy us, spouting a rooster tail high into the air an with deafening sound of hundreds if not thousands of horsepower propelling this beast through the water at probably 80 miles an hour or more. We are terrified yet transfixed. We take our eyes off this quickly vanishing beast to look ahead to a horizon filled with the now tell-tale rooster tale of innumerable "cigarette boats" hot on the heals of this front runner. What started out as a scare, then a rude interruption of our peace and quite, turned out to be a compelling spectacle as probably more than thirty of these behemoths roared by us. Judy is up on deck taking pictures and waving to them. Most wave back, if you consider that putting their arms in the air at 80 mph is a somewhat risky gesture. These garishly painted and fossil fuel consumptive creatures are both obscene and fascinating. They are followed by a couple of helicopters swirling around taking pictures of them as they charge their way through what we left behind as an almost deserted and desolate waterway. Judy worries about the poor dolphins which had earlier visited us but I assure her that they can surely sense these beasts coming and will stay out of their way.
So I started to think about how much fuel these things burn and found out that they'll use up 100 gallons per hour! We figure these were heading to Key West for racing so it'd take them two hours to get there. If there were 30 of them and at that 100 gallons per hour , they would collectively consume 6,000 gallons for this short jaunt.
And as if to contrast this conspicuous consumption, shortly after the last of them pass us we were able to shut off our motor, unfurl our sails and without using a sip of fuel, make the last twenty or so miles to our destination. Now, we try not to be holier than thou but we are concerned about our carbon footprint and maybe we did some modest carbon credit offset to those fuel guzzling creatures.
The rest of the journey returned to the serenity and peace that is sailing. We got to our destination but the winds were great, the weather warm and sunny and we didn't want it to end so we kept carrying on. As the afternoon waned, we were approaching Key Biscayne but didn't want to quite make our ultimate destination, Crandon Park ,so opted to anchor off in the company of a flotilla of sail boats and power boats. To end a perfect day, we were treated to a glorious sunset and while Judy and I dined on stuffed salmon in the cockpit of our snail-slow little vessel Sea Sharp, with old boat mascot Chopin roaming around the deck, we reflected on our day of poignant contrasts!