Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26, 2010.

I hope everyone’s holiday wishes were answered. Mine were, Christy and I spent some time in the water doing a little hunting after exchanging gifts.

We were in the water a half hour before slack tide so we decided to seek lobster in one of the cuts that has an unusually high tidal current. With no current running it was easy to dilly dally and check under ledges for our first lobster of the year.

While swimming along I saw a huge fish below me. He was about 4 feet in length and on a rod and reel it would put up a hell of a fight. I figured that unless I could land a perfect head shot he just might beat me to death if I were to try and spear him. But before my mind knew what was happening my body was stalking him.

I decided to see if I could get close enough to take a shot. I promised myself that I would only shoot if a perfect head shot presented itself. Usually when you see something from the surface it turns out to be much smaller when you get close to it. Not this fish. I dove down and planned to intersect his path as he came out from some sea fans. Before I had enough time to really think things through the perfect head shot presented itself.

My spear caught him unaware and entered his head just above and behind his eye. His head was so thick that my spear didn’t come out the other side of his head. His mouth instantly shot wide open and he just went stiff and instantly died. Fish have little tiny brains and evidently I had gotten my wish and had fired a perfect brain shot, or so I thought.

I dragged his big ass to the surface and started to wave Christy over in the dink. I was treading water for about 30 seconds and I felt the spear starting to move in my hand. Ut-oh. I looked down and he was starting to very slowly get his shit together and was starting to swim in a slow circle.

I thought that I had killed him but I guess he was only stunned and was starting to recover like a boxer after absorbing a really good shot. That’s about when round 2 started. In another couple of seconds he was thrashing wildly at the end of my spear. Crap. I was holding onto it by the firing band and I was starting to worry that it might part so I choked up a bit and grabbed firmly onto the spear. By then he was acting like dragging me along by my 6 foot spear with its 3 inch barbs inside his head was only a minor inconvenience.

I was able to keep him at the surface but calling him “lively” is an understatement. I was already thinking about how I was going to have to kill him before I tried to get him into the dinghy as he was just too big and powerful to be flopping around in the dink. He was NOT going to fit in the bucket. Just then fate intervened as my spear assembly completely came apart. The tip didn’t fail, the entire threaded shaft assembly ripped off the front of the spear. You scaly bastard. I’ve had this spear for years and it had been reduced to junk.

He immediately shot down to the bottom with about 8 inches of my spear assembly protruding from the side of his head. By now Christy was alongside. She quickly put a tip on her spear and when I looked up for just a moment to grab it from her, he was gone. I searched for hours without finding him. Bastard. I did stumble onto a 2 pound lobster so we did manage to catch lunch, but I went home distraught as we are now down to one spear.

After lunch I was able to jury rig my spear with a portable vise, a drill, some threaded rod, some epoxy,
a steel pin and some shrink tubing. By all that is holy and good, I will find and finish him, Christ, I feel like Captain Ahab.

We celebrated Christmas dinner with several friends over on First Edition. All the couples brought their own meat and a side dish to share. After a cocktail hour, the meat was grilled and a fabulous meal was served complete with multiple desserts. It was a great time with a lot of laughs, but I couldn’t help but to remember in the back of my mind that he’s out there…….

Saturday, December 25, 2010

December 24, 2010.

Now that we’re in Pipe Creek we’ve decided to stay for the Holidays. There's a bit of a blow forecast to arrive on the day after Christmas so since the protection here is pretty much unparalleled, we’ll sit the front out here.

You could probably fit 50 boats comfortably into the various Pipe Creek anchorages. When we arrived there were about a dozen boats all jammed into one smallish pocket of deep water. We have always anchored in a more remote area of Pipe Creek known as The Mice.

There was no one there when we arrived so it was perfect for us as we slipped in. At the end of the rising tide the next morning My Destiny, First Edition and Savage Son all arrived and took spots near us behind The Mice. Later that evening the wind built and veered a bit and the evening turned into a bit of anchorage hijinks.

The area between The Mice and Rat Cay is so narrow that the boats anchored there have to anchor in a single file row. Theres easily room for a dozen boats behind The Mice and with only 4 of us the evenings bit o’ breeze was a non event for all of us. The others however….

The full keels were hanging to the current, the fin keels turned to face the building breeze and the solitary power boat in the crowd was wildly sailing about. Some had 2 hooks down because they’re jammed in so tightly that they can’t afford to swing. Some have 1 hook down and they’re swinging as the conditions change. It ended up being a pretty lively night on the radio as this boats swinging into other boats while another boats been driven aground. All night anchor watches and just general mayhem for everyone.

So there was some complaining on the radio this morning about what a crappy night it had been. So I was pretty surprised that nobody pulled their hooks and moved to better or at least more widely spaced spots. If they thought last night sucked wait until they see what rolls in on Sunday.

We hit the water for the first time on Thursday and came home empty handed. Grouper season is still closed so of course I saw a couple of really nice ones. One of the 2 lobsters that I saw was undersized and the other guy was living under a rock that was ravaged by the current. I’d get swept past his lair before I could grab onto a ledge and take a shot. By the time Christy picked me up in the dink and brought me back upstream we had covered 200 yards. We’d drop me off where I thought we were before only to find myself rocketing past the staring lobster 40 feet off to the side. After a half dozen exhausting futile attempts we had to throw in the towel and head home.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

December 22, 2010.

Today was just one of those days. It had a bit of everything, the good, the bad and the ridiculous.

Last night we sailed into our chosen anchorage and dropped the hook as the main luffed. Its fun to do once in a while, the only draw back being that if the breeze is slight enough, setting the anchor just doesn’t happen.

On the bright side we did awaken right where we had gone to bed, so the day was off to a great start. Shortly after that while I was using a pair of scissors in a manner other than which they were intended, I managed to ram one of the scissor blades into the end of my index finger. The resulting bloody mess would prove to be one of those all day, throbbing affairs. Crap.

We jumped in the dink and headed to the north end of the cay to explore the meandering mangrove channel that bisects the cay. We took the dogs with us and they happily frolicked on the ocean side beach during their first time ashore since October.

We were back to the boat and had the hook up by 1000 hours. There was only a light breeze from the north as we sailed of the anchor and headed south.

Lets compare Bermuda and the Bahamas for a minute. Bermuda is a spec of an island 700 miles from anything. Travel there and I think you're relegated to spending your time there drinking overpriced beers or foo foo drinks poolside or having your picture taken with some guy wearing a pithe helmet.

The Bahamas on the other hand is freaking huge. I’m not or have never been a professional cartographer and I’m too lazy to go look at my charts BUT, the Bahamas are like 800 islands and cays spread over 750 miles. They’re also about 200 miles wide so that maths out to like 200 billion square miles of crystal clear warm blue water, give or take.

Considering that our boat is roughly 42 feet by 13 feet, what are the chances that another random boat, in the middle of a clear, sun drenched day would try to occupy our 546 square feet of personal space? And yet today it happened.

We were sailing almost dead down wind yet not quite downwind enough to go wing and wing. We were on starboard tack making about 3.4 knots in 6 knots of breeze. Everybody else on the water was motorsailing southward. We watched as 3 sailboats were slowly overtaking us.

One of them seemed to be on a converging course with us. It was a smaller boat of about 32 feet. He was motoring at over 5 knots and with 6 knots of breeze coming over his stern and his genoa was just hanging there. Unfortunately, we were in the blind spot created by his useless genoa. He was off our starboard quarter and bearing down rapidly. Visibility was unlimited. You could literally see for miles and miles yet he evidently didn’t see us. His course was fairly erratic as he seemed to be hand steering. He might be planning to cross our stern or maybe he’s going to overtake us to starboard. With each passing moment he was getting annoyingly closer. Now we had to get dressed. Crap. We couldn’t turn off to port as our sails would collapse and we’d be dead in the water. We were moving so slowly that gybing away wasn’t really an option. If we turned to starboard we *might* be able to cross him safely, unless he did see us and was planning to overtake us to starboard.

Technically we were the “stand on” vessel. We were being overtaken, we were sailing on starboard tack and we were leeward. Even though we were in the right, it's every mariners responsibility to avoid a collision but it was basically looking like we were screwed. No response on the VHF, then there was screaming and then finally the air horn blasting as he bore down upon us.

It was insanely frustrating to watch as the distance quickly closed from 60 to 20 to finally 10 feet before impact. We were both standing on the starboard quarter with Christy blaring the air horn while I looked for something to fend with. The only thing within reach was an unusual pole spear. Our friend Scott sold his cruising boat this summer and he gave us a bunch of his stuff when he cleaned out the boat. One of the items was a trident type pole spear and today it came in handy.

I choked up on the spear and slipped the forks over the idiots bow pulpit and really leaned into it in an effort to fend him away. Then as he slammed into us I pulled back the spear and fended off on his shrouds as Christy was now fending the bow pulpit. We never saw a body on the other boat until the point of impact. Boy, were they surprised.

It ended up being a very hard but glancing blow with Veranda absorbing the blow entirely on her aft starboard rub rail. Veranda’s rub rail sticks out about 4 inches and has a gnarly screwhead sticking out of a stainless steel plate every six inches. It was pretty cool to see just how much gelcoat those screwheads were able to gouge out of the other guys hull.

Evidently the “captain’ was below while the crew was “navigating”. At the impact the captain jumped up from below and started apologizing for running us down while the crewman opted to scurry below as I verbally criticized his watch keeping and ship handling skills. I might have been foaming at the mouth. After the glancing blow they were soon several boat lengths ahead and out of effective verbal communication range so I was soon reduced to flipping the double handed bird as they veered away. But we were not done; they turned around…..

With the captain now doing the boat handling he attempted to come alongside to apologize even more profusely. Of course they yet again approached us from the starboard side, they still couldn’t seem to see us with their sail in the way and almost succeeded in ramming us again before I could get him to cross our stern and come up the other side.

By now I’d put down the pole spear because I was afraid I might kill someone. I had time to go forward and get our boat pole. They attempted to come close enough to hand us a bottle of wine for our troubles. I was not holding the boat pole; I was brandishing the boat pole. We own 2 boat poles so if I lost this one in this guy’s ass we’d still have another. The rest of the interaction went something like, we don’t want your f’ing wine, pay f’ing attention before you kill someone, don’t come any closer and bear off NOW!! As they bore away he launched a few more “sorry’s” before asking “So, where you guys headed tonight?” Holy f’me, was he kidding, I almost laughed.

Fortunately, the only damage seems to be the gelcoat that he lost and the holes in the side of his dodger where I tried to fend them away with the trident.

So what did you do before lunch today?
December 21, 2010.

We pulled the hook, raised the mainsail and headed east out of Nassau Harbor. As soon as we cleared the harbor the genoa was out and trimmed and then the engine was off.

We were treated to a very special day of sailing. The wind was lightly blowing over our left shoulder for the better part of the day. It was pleasant downwind sailing in a light breeze. Our speed was anywhere from 3.5 to 6.5 knots over the course of the day. As per usual our traveling companions motorsailed over the horizon and arrived at Shroud Cay 3 hours before we did.

I’m not sure how they spent those extra moments but I know how we spent ours. Without the drone of the engine we listened as the IPOD did its thing. It was the first time in months and months and months and months and months and months and months without having somebody following 200 feet directly behind us so we engaged in a bit of sunbathing. Sailboats dotted the horizon all around us and made for a spectacular backdrop. Crystal clear water, Rover driving, bright sun and a cool breeze made for a very special day.

The forecast is for very little wind in the morning so while everyone else heads wherever, we’ll stay and explore a bit. In the afternoon when the breeze builds we’ll move 20 miles or so south where we’ll stay for a few days and maybe even do some spearfishing. I can’t freaking wait.
December 20, 2010.

Let’s talk about the crap shoot, that is, Bahamanian Immigration. There’s just no rhyme or reason to it. When you check into the country the boat can automatically stay for a year. The people on board, well, that’s something completely different.

It’s entirely up to the “whim” of the individual Immigration officer. It’s a huge pain in the ass if you’re only granted 90 days or less if you want to spend a lot of time way out of the way in some remote place like the southern Jumentos.

We were granted only 90 days and that means we’ll have to travel to the nearest Port of Entry to renew our cruising permit on March 16th. That means we’ll have to travel a day north, a day east and then a day west to arrive in Georgetown to renew our permit. What are the chances that the wind and weather in general will cooperate for us in the correct order to allow us to accomplish this? Slim. This simple 3 day trip could take us 2 weeks or more, oh yeah and it’s right in prime lobster season. Bitches.

So deciding where to check in is something not to be taken lightly. The last 2 years in Lucaya we were granted 94 and 90 days respectively. Screw Lucaya. We’ve never heard of anybody getting less than 180 days in Morgans Bluff, so Morgans Bluff it was.

You dinghy into the local pub and someone will call Customs and Immigration out at the airport and they’ll head out to see you. The woman from Customs showed up in less than 30 minutes and was professional and personable as she took care of us and our 3 compadres. The Immigration experience was a little different.

That woman showed up after 3 hours and the first thing out of her mouth before even looking at any paperwork was “Everybody’s getting 90 days and that’s that”. Bitch. She went on to explain that it wasn’t her fault, that it was a new policy and that her hands were tied. My ass. I wondered, if her hands were tied then how has she been eating those 5 square meals a day that she’s obviously been packing away. Overweight Bitch.

Since we had weather coming and the main office for Immigration is in Nassau why not travel the 35 miles over there and see WTF? So the next day we traveled to Nassau, pounding into 15 knots of wind and associated seas and found that the office was closed until Monday at 0900.

When we finally did get in to plead our case, Bob of the Savages talked his way in to see the wizard. He tried to explain what a pain in the ass this random immigration policy was and how it made it so difficult for tourists (us) to see the remote areas of the Bahamas. The woman he dealt with assured him that she was the top dog, the grand pubah, the boss of bosses but that there was nothing that she could/would do. Useless bitch with a throne.

I’m sorry, I’m confused. In these difficult economic times, has the Bahamian government decided that they don’t need or want the cruisers dollars? The cruisers come here and spend money, we come here and give, what do we take? We pay insanely crazy prices for fuel and food. We eat out at their restaurants where you can get your food fried, fried or fried. We are not some of the cruisers who make a beeline to Georgetown, Exumas and sit there for 5 months, though certainly they spend tons of money there. We like to visit all the islands, from the Abacos all the way down to the Ragged Islands. We support all the little settlements, attending all their fund raising events for the schools, churches and whatever other event there is. We support all the little businesses along the way. I wonder what the percentage of income from the cruisers, fisherman and Mega Yachts is for say, McDuffs on Norman’s Cay, Highborne Cay YC, Exumas Land & Sea Park, Compass Cay & Sampson Cay Marinas, Staniel Cay YC, Emerald Bay, All of Georgetown, Island Breezes of Long Island, just to mention a few. Then there all the little people, Lorraine and her “Mom”, who have small businesses which cater to the cruisers. Trifina in Long Island depends totally on the cruiser’s to support her for the year. I wonder how Maxine in Duncantown, Ragged Island feels about the cruisers not being allowed to stay in the Bahamas long enough to visit her and support her tiny store. We bring school supplies, seeds for gardening, eyeglasses and lures for the fisherman. Yet, we can not stay as long as we would like.

So we were forced to leave with our 90 day permits but not before I was able to extract a tiny bit of personal revenge. Of the 8 of us, Di on Far Niente and Judy from My Destiny kind of have a resemblance. They’re both about the same age and have cute smiles, are quick to laugh and a twinkle in their eye. An immigration officer was walking through the waiting room and looked at them and said “sisters?”. They smiled and said “no” but I jumped in and said “Mother and daughter, can you tell which ones which?”. The woman all of a sudden got that deer in the headlights look, mumbled “mother and daughter?”, refused to guess and backed into an office and disappeared.

Fight the power.

Monday, December 20, 2010

December 18, 2010.

Hi, my name is Bill and I’m a chocoholic. *Hello Bill*. Thanks. Anyway, my chocolate of choice is M&M’s. They taste great and don’t melt which makes them the perfect boat chocolate. We bring a half dozen of the giant sized 45 ounce bags to last me through the Bahamas. With Christy’s “help” I limit myself to a bag a month. We have this small metal replica of an M&M. It holds about a shot glass worth of M&M’s which Christy doles out just about every day. So on the evening of our crossing I ate a few of these tiny, tasty treats and stuck the half full container in a cockpit cubby for safe keeping. Unfortunately, I forgot that they were there but Tucker found them for me while we were off the boat in Morgans Bluff to check into the Bahamas.

They say that a Schnauzer’s nose is delicate enough to recognize and record 800 different smells.
Evidently, chocolate is one of Tuckers 800. We came back to the boat and found him cupping the metal container in his paws after having worked unsuccessfully towards chewing his way through to the chocolate. I was left with no choice but to show off my thumbs and pop open the tin and eat the balance of the M&M’s in front of him.

While still in the South Beach anchorage we watched as several window washers hung in bosuns chairs and cleaned windows in 35 knots of wind. If it was me I would have been up there forever cleaning my own shit off the windows.
Forget that crap, 14 stories up in 35 knots of breeze.

So we did finally escape Miami and cross to the Bahamas. We left as soon as the forecast looked the least bit optimistic. We all raised our mainsails and then the hooks at 1130 on Wednesday morning and headed out into the Atlantic. It had been blowing stink outta the north for a few days so we were waiting for the seas to moderate a bit.

We had to motorsail in light northerlies in about a 5 foot swell out of the north. We reached North Rock at 2000 hours after what proved to be a very comfortable and easy crossing. Since we were across the stream and onto the relative safety of the banks we killed the engine and sailed for the next 6 1/2 hours until the wind clocked onto our nose. The wind was light at only 7 knots and we motored the rest of the way to Morgans Bluff arriving at 1100 hours on Thursday.

We’ve since left Morgans Bluff and now sit anchored in Nassau Harbor waiting for the squalls of a cold front to pass through tonight.

The rest of the boats traveling with us opted to take slips in a nearby marina. The marina is nice, although a bit rolly, with a beautiful waterside pool but I think it’s the laundry room that Christy covets.

The internet here requires taking the laptop into town to sit in a coffee shop or pub. I thought that since we’re anchored in sight of several cruise ships that I’d jump in and borrow some of their wifi from the comfort of our salon. If I paid thousands on dollars to take a cruise I would be shocked to find that shipboard wifi was pay per view. Expensive pay per view.
24 dollars an hour, are you kidding me? Screw that, I’ll grab the laptop and walk to Starbucks.

Christy and I went on walkabout today and asked several people for directions including a kid of about 17 who was pumping gas at a filling station. Each person we encountered seemed very happy that we had chosen them to ask. It really is a pleasure being here and I can say that Bahamanians are just the nicest people. And then theres the French…..

Today I jugged some fuel to top off our tanks and there was a 52 foot “French” catamaran at the fuel dock. I don’t understand the whole French Canadian thing. born and live in Canada, never been to France but they’re French, get over it, you’re Canadian. I just don't see whats wrong with being Canadian. I chatted with the owners a bit while the attendant had to run up the dock to the marina for a moment. It was pleasant enough and when the attendant returned he exclaimed that the “French” had used 400 gallons of water and that they were expected to pay for it. He had let them use the hose to top off their tanks for free since they had purchased a decent amount of fuel. He had no idea that they would continue to wash the entire boat including an entire trampoline covered with rugs from the interior while he was away. All of a sudden they were unable to comprehend English and left without paying for the water with the attendant loudly announcing to them the next time they showed up at his dock they’d be paying for every drop they used.

They motored out into the anchorage and dropped the hook near us. Karma reared her head when shortly afterwards a German catamaran came in and dropped the hook nearby. I’m sure that even the fake French start to sweat a bit every time a German moves into the neighborhood.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 11, 2010.

So when was the last time you saw someone perform an incredibly romantic act and you inadvertently crushed the moment? Let me start from the beginning….

There’s at least 40 cruising boats in the immediate area waiting for this forecast cold front to pass through. The weather is once again warm so why not have a little fun while we’re waiting.

Monument Island is a couple of hundred yards away so a cocktail hour was planned for this afternoon for anyone who wanted to attend. Everyone is going a little stir crazy so at 1500 hours about 50 people and dozens of dinghies were crammed onto a very tiny wood lined beach.

I was standing near the tree line when I happened to see a man creeping towards us down a path. He was dressed like a limo driver and when he realized that we saw him he turned and trotted back up the trail. A jacket, slacks and polished shoes…..I’m thinkin’ that he’s way overdressed for cocktail hour. FBI? I dunno. He approached several more times during the next ten minutes. He was bug eyed and looked absolutely panic stricken and retreated every time someone attempted to engage him.

This is the same island where Christy and I had discovered a boatload of Cuban refugees several years ago. I’m thinkin that this guy might be the best dressed “rafter” ever.

Finally Christy and her friend Lynn cornered him and got him to talk. It turns out that he’s having his girlfriend brought here on a power yacht and delivered to the island by dinghy. We never noticed that he had created a trail of bougainvillea petals from the beach, up the trail, ending in a large heart shaped flower covered clearing. She’s enroute on the yacht, he’s been spreading flowers and awaiting her arrival and 50 cruisers with cocktails and snacks show up just before she’s due to arrive. He’s waiting to propose to her, he’s nervous as hell and we all show up. SURPRISE!!! Hey what’s that stuck to the bottom of my foot…..Oh, its romance.

We’re packed like sardines on this tiny ass beach but the women try to help the guy out. They offer to have us all stand aside as best we can while she’s landed and ignore her as she follows the flowery path. The dude is semi crushed but he adapts and calls the power boat and changes the plan. She’s inside the large power boat and while her attention is diverted the dinghy runs to shore, picks him up and whisks him back to the yacht without her being aware. Then they sneak him up to the flybridge where he waits until she lured topside on some pretense. We all watched from the beach while he dropped to one knee and asked for

her hand in marriage. The tension was palpable while we watched but could not hear. Finally he stood and she threw her arms around his neck, SUCCESS!!!

They went out on a harbor tour in the powerboat while we resumed the business of our cocktail hour. By chance the powerboat was coming slowly by as we all headed home from the beach. The newly betrothed couple were ear to ear grins as one dink after another sped by yelling out their congratulations. So inspite of our unintentional attempt to completely crush romance it seems that alls well that ends well.

Wait’ll we show up on the honeymoon….

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December 8, 2010.

We’re sitting here in South Beach ready to go but the weather is just not cooperating. We could leave on Thursday and motor the entire way, but by Sunday night a brutal cold front will be pushing well down into the Bahamas. Getting there, getting checked in to the country and then finding someplace to hide with adequate protection is a pretty tall order on a tight schedule. Anything goes wrong and you can be pretty well screwed. We’ll pass on this “opportunity” and await the next window.

In the meantime we’ve spent some time walking around town. Soon after securing the dink we came
across this line of over a dozen 7 foot tall pink snails lining the side of the road. It’s some artsy fartsy crapola that’s supposed to be promoting recycling and the promoters promise to have their display popping up all over the country. It reminds me of that “artist” that made a statement by wrapping trees in Central Park in brightly colored bolts of cloth. Somebody has definitely slipped some hallucinogens into their crappa frappe chinos.

After that we visited the Holocaust Victims Memorial. It’s kinda bizarre in the fact that when you first come upon it you are standing with your back to a fairly busy, very loud roadway. But after only a few steps

into the memorial the sounds of the city disappear. Central to the memorial is a huge sculpted forearm that reaches skyward. I think the designer/ sculptor really nailed it with the design and recommend that anyone visiting the area take the time to walk through this thought provoking memorial.

Next, it was a few short blocks to the Lincoln Mall. We’ve been here before and after dark it certainly qualifies as a freak show. There are block after block of excellent people watching. Even during the daytime it’s a lot like going to the circus but without the elephant smell. At every turn you’re likely to come face to face with model like beautiful young women or guys built like Greek gods. But the reason I like to take this stroll is that there’s an even more likely chance that you’ll run into a dude that’s a few decades past his prime but still out there workin’ it like John Travolta strutting down the boulevard in Saturday Night Fever. Dude, they’re not smiling at you, they’re suppressing laughter. Then there are the older women with lips pumped as thick as my thumbs and their boobs pushed up so high they can barely open their mouths. They strive to be on the cutting edge of fashion including shoes that force them to gimp around like they have some type of scoliosis. Ooohh, you look so sexy when you hobble along like Quasimodo on his way to ring his bells.

The anchorage here is landlocked with good protection depending on where you decide to drop the hook. The only drawback is that during the weekend it can get a little lively as the large powerboats blast from one bridge to another. But it is a good sand bottom with room to swing so we'll sit here through this next cold front.

I need a weather window bad.....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December 6, 2010.

I awoke yesterday with anticipation to explore the shore along our anchorage in the Middle River. We had heard about a dinghy dock in a park where you could get fresh water, dump your garbage and take a short walk to West Marine, Publix, a liquor store and a laundromat. Sounds like traveling boater nirvana to me. But alas, it was not to be.

Our traveling companions were nervous about getting to Miami before the next front was due, which was sure to make the ocean uncomfortable for the next 3 days. I didn’t understand why we couldn’t wait out the weather here but I also didn’t want to miss the chance to sail to Miami on what promised to be a golden opportunity to sail in perfect conditions.

So we pulled the hook and set out for the inlet at Fort Lauderdale.
Once we motored under the 17th Street Bridge we raised the sail and headed east into the ocean. As soon as we cleared the inlet we pulled out the genoa, killed the engine and settled in for a too die for day of sailing.

Just south of the inlet we ran the gauntlet of small fishing boats trying their luck. Then there was a fleet of high performance sail boats racing from mark to mark. We dodged the occasional fishing boat over the next 15 miles before running into another small racing fleet warming up for an afternoon of racing.

When we arrived in

Miami we found that the main channel, Government Cut, was closed to pleasure traffic. Whenever there are 2 or more cruise ships at the docks they close the cut. When we arrived there were 4 of these behemoths tied in a row. We had to take the long way in but it’s just a slight inconvenience adding only a half mile or less to the trip.

We led our row of ducklings in through the “secret” ultra shallow entrance to our favorite anchorage just off Miami Beach. As we neared our preferred anchorage we were met by the sight of a welcoming committee of sorts. We were passing behind one expensive house after another when I spotted what looked to be…..yes, yes it is, the fabled Beast With Two Backs. Right there in the middle of the lawn was a couple going at it like a pair of 17 year olds at the drive in. I grabbed the mic and called back to our traveling companions so they would feel the warmth of Miami’s welcome as well. Surprisingly, even though there were four boats passing by the yard in quick succession none of us thought to grab a camera. I guess we were all preoccupied with the binoculars. Crap.

We’ll sit here for a few days awaiting the next weather window and a shot at crossing to the Bahamas.
December 4, 2010

We've done the ICW trip a few times and I have found myself to be a little lax in the picture taking department. The Savage Sons have a friend, Mike, aboard who is seeing this area for the first time and he put together a really good series of snapshots depicting our 20 bridge day.