As I write this I'm sitting comfortably at anchor just north of the Miami Yacht Club. It's a beautiful sunny day that should reach 80 degrees with the turquoise water a toasty 80 degrees. Although I'm within rock throwing distance of central Miami it's quiet and there are a large number of cruisers anchored here. But this is just a stop before the keys. My friends Jack and Patricia from Whoosh have left this morning for the Bahamas. We'll catch up together there later...
I stopped in Stuart because I was going to go across the Okeechobee Waterway (even measured my mast in Ft. Pierce so that I could be sure I'd fit). But time constraints (the bane of a cruiser's existence) made me switch plans and go down the east coast. All for a very good reason though that will be revealed later!
I've mentioned the Harborage Yacht Club and Marina before, and I can't say enough good things about them. But while there I had a bit of a walk into Stuart where I found the 'old town' consisting of two streets of shops and restaurants that are so short that you could (and I almost did) miss them.
While I was perambulating, however, I found a kayak shop that had an inflatable two person kayak and who was willing to take mine in trade, so the whole thing cost me only two hundred dollars brand new. It's not a top-of-the-line kayak, but serviceable and surprisingly easy to use and very stable. There will be more about that later.
However, by removing the hard kayak from the coach roof I found out yesterday how badly the hatch above the galley leaked and in a half hour of no rain (and there was lots of it), I removed the glass, cleaned the frame, gooped it up with the proper sealant, and replaced the glass. Ten minutes later, it poured and continued raining all day - enough to clean the boat pretty well! Of course, today dawned beautifully! There is one more leak to deal with and at least I know where it is...
One of the major reason for stopping in Stuart is to get Adel Kahlil of Rainbow Canvas (561) 844 0557 to build me a new dodger - he's been working with my friend Cory for years (decades) and does excellent work fast - it was a pleasure to meet him and he was very professional, easy to deal with, and the results speak for themselves. I asked him for the dodger, a cover for the windows to help protect them, and a shade cover for the cockpit. It's really hard with a ketch to make a bimini, so I passed on that.
Anyway, he wasn't able to get it back to me while I was in Stuart but as I was stopping in Riviera Beach on the way to Miami it was even better - his shop is only a few minutes away. His crew came to my slip at the Riviera Beach Municipal Marina to do the fitting and install - and with a couple of simple alterations had it done by 7:00 at night. You can see the results - the biggest change for me is that I can see through the dodger and I have a window I can open for the breeze easily.
I went outside from Stuart to Lake Worth - it was a motor sail (so what's new), and the wind was just a little bit too far forward to just sail. Still, it was a pleasant if wet (no dodger yet...) ride and just six hours long. It took over an hour to just get from Stuart to the St. Lucie inlet!
As I was coming up to the Riviera Beach Municipal Marina, I was boarded by the Coast Guard. Naturally, I was in a narrow channel, with boats coming down the ICW (large, power, fast) and an incoming current and a mooring field just a few hundred feet away. Of course, I was polite to the Coasties, but they could not have found a worse place or time to board. There's the whole of Lake Worth just a few hundred yards away. Plenty of maneuvering room etc. , etc. But I gave them my TWIC card and told them where the documentation number was and they seemed happy with that. I said I was alone and if they wanted to inspect the boat I'd be happy to have them aboard once I docked but as I a little busy just now, would they mind waiting?
They indicated they were just doing a DHS inspection - where I was from, where I was going, and how long I'd be there. Now that I think about it, it's fairly invasive and Pelican certainly doesn't look like a vessel of interest. There used to be a thing called 'probable cause'. Apparently no longer. This is what is happening to our 'freedom'. Anyway, they were happy with the TWIC card and were off in a few minutes. Then the real fun began!
The Riviera Beach Municipal Marina is pretty bare bones. The fingers are fixed, well above high water level and only 12 feet long. I ended up having to back in against a knot or so cross current. Thankfully, there was a number of helpers on the dock and I managed it without hitting anything. It was quite an experience and reinforced a; you must use the throttle with authority sometimes, and b; the fact that Pelican backs to starboard when pressed. It really helped to keep those in mind.
Once docked, my friend Lou came aboard for a cocktail and pepperoni, our favorite nosh. The canvas people showed up, and a little while later left for their shop and Lou and I left for dinner with his significant other, Jane, and her sister and friend. We went to a place called 'Dockside' in North Palm Beach. The food was really good! And priced well. Very enjoyable! Recommended if you can find it.
I decided to stay another day there and work on some deferred maintenance (that's short hand for fooling around on the boat) and later in the day, Lou and Jane gave a dinner party which was excellent! Good company and food, very healthy.
After the party, Jane gave Lou and me a ride to the boat where we shared a scotch and went to bed. My plan was to leave around 5 am, but we discussed it and got up at five and left at six. The day was overcast but pleasant. As we left Lake Worth Inlet we took a turn right and set the autopilot on a route to Miami - Government Cut.
I should mention the water color is changing daily as I head south - this day it was azure, very pretty. The wind built from the north so we popped out the jib and staysail and off we went at 7 plus knots using the engine just above an idle!
I had used OpenCPN to figure a route and at an estimated 6 knots we'd arrive around 5 pm. At 7 knots plus, we got there at 3! Government Cut is a very easy and well marked inlet. You can't miss it. We ended up sailing into it for about a half hour just for the pure fun of sailing without the engine.
In Government Cut when cruise ships are in port the Coast Guard prevents pleasure craft from going all the way through to the ICW. They make everyone go south of Dodge Island. It's not a terrible inconvenience, but under the guise of anti-terrorism, the private cruise lines have public protection. I think that's wrong. I'm sure they're not paying for it, but we all are.
We ended up anchoring just north of the Miami Yacht Club. The water had changed to a turquoise color. It was beautiful!
Lou got a ride into shore with Bill and Maureen from Carpe Diem eh from Winnipeg. He got the Tri-Rail home and that was that. I stayed the next day and found leaks in the rain and fixed them when the rain stopped.
The Miami Yacht Club has a restaurant and they have awesome burgers - just so you know if you're ever there!
Now I'm at Cross Key and I'll have a report later in the week about Biscayne Bay to Key Largo, Islamorada and Marathon.
See you on the water!