Down the Waterway

Fort Pierce, to Lake Worth to Miami Beach, Florida

Returning to our beloved Genesis in Fort Pierce before Thanksgiving, we decided that we weren't going to rush anything.  We were finally back where we wanted to be and wanted to take some time out for relaxation and travel. Since we had LuLu on the boat, we made little short trips so we could check on her periodically.  We rented a car, drove to the Keys, and had stone crab claws for Thanksgiving Eve in Marathon. We went to Key West, had a fabulous dinner at Louie's Back Yard and spent the night. The next morning, we had a great Thanksgiving brunch and returned to Fort Pierce.  Spent a few days in Fort Pierce, then headed to Orlando to visit Epcot for a day.  

 

Another day we drove to Miami to check out a mooring field, Dinner Key and ate stone crab claws again. We drove across Florida and attended the St. Petersburg Boat Show. Saw lots of boats, bought some neat boat gadgets and got in the mood to travel on our boat again.  We met new friends in Fort Pierce. Don and Betty, traveling on trawler Ram-Sea, from Maine.  Webb and Brenda, traveling on s/v Plan B, from Delaware.  

We renewed our friendship with Rene and Stacy Foree, s/v Pipe muh Bligh.  Having met in Marathon in 2008, we had not seen each other since Fall 2009 in Fernandina Beach. We followed them vicariously through their sailing blog during our "cruising interrupted" period throughout 2010.  It was good to see them again.  Discovering that we were both planning to travel to the Exumas in the Bahamas, we looked forward to seeing each other along the way once again.  Although we had a lot of fun in Fort Pierce, we knew it was time to head down the waterway and resume our travels.  After provisioning the boat (extensively, of course... we are now part-owners of Publix Grocery Store!!), we were ready to go.

 

What a thrill to be cruising again! 

We arrive in Lake Worth, Florida

We left Fort Pierce on December 16, 2010.... 2 days short of ONE YEAR when left Fernandina Beach back on December 18, 2009 to originally head to the Bahamas. Getting the boat out of the slip and onto the waterway, we felt free again.  Dolphins welcomed us to the waterway as we headed out of the channel.  

We motored down the waterway, spent a night at Lake Peck, then headed to Lake Worth to spend some time and plan our trip to the Bahamas.  Rene and Stacy, s/v Pipe muh Bligh, were already anchored in Lake Worth.  Not ones to miss another opportunity to provision, we immediately took our dinghies to shore to visit the local Publix.  Rene and Stacy knew the ropes in Lake Worth.... location of the grocery store, mall, bus schedules, etc.  There was no dinghy dock. There was a bridge about a block away from Publix that had a very small beach. We tied up the dinghies on shore and locked them to a fence.  It was a pain due to the tidal swing. You may be floating in the water when you landed, but be on the beach when you come back.  Not easy to get a 250-pound dinghy back in the water! 

We made many trips to shore during the 12 days we spent at Lake Worth. We visited the beautiful Garden Mall (three times!) where we spent more money buying things for the boat.  We finally replaced our old Berndes cookware with new All-Clad copper core cookware.  Merry Christmas to Us!  Stacy and I planned our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day gastronomic extravaganzas.  We visited an Italian deli, Carmello's, and bought some specialty foods for our boats. We ate at Duffy's Bar for lunch one day. And of course, we visited Publix. We "borrowed" a grocery cart from Publix to haul our groceries to the bridge, then pushed the empty cart back.  I'm sure the cars traveling by the bridge thought we were homeless people going under that bridge.  Not... I think our Williams-Sonoma bags were a dead giveaway!

Christmas Eve Brunch on Genesis

We planned to celebrate Christmas Eve with a brunch on Genesis.  The day before, Rene and Stacy's friends Jim and Laurie from New York arrived in Lake Worth on their Island Packet sailboat, Kismet.  They joined us for the festivities.  I got a chance to try out my new All-Clad cookware.... we drank mimosas (lots!) had scrambled eggs with creamed cheese, bacon and sausage, garlic cheese grits, and biscuits. A good time was had by all.  

 

We got off the boat later in the afternoon and made (yet another!) run to Publix.  By now, I am sure you are getting the idea that cruisers spend a lot of time in grocery stores... It gets to be an obsession... you eat (and DRINK) some of your provisions, then you IMMEDIATELY want to go back to the grocery store to replace them.  It gets to the point where you cannot fit another scintilla of food in your refrigerator, your freezer, or your boat, but you just cannot stop yourself.  The next stage of this condition, you start buying ice and using an ice chest to add more food.  I am sure there is a name for this condition (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Obsessive Eating Disorder (OED), or just plain old crazy). Anyway, we are not the only ones that have it, so we are somewhat reassured that this behavior is now the "norm" and the captains of the boats just have to deal with it. (PS...Sometimes captains have the behavior, too, but not only in the food department, but it extends to boat parts as well!).  

Christmas Day on Pipe muh Bligh

Christmas Day was a beautiful day in Lake Worth.  The ladies of Pipe, Genesis, and Kismet spent the morning on our boats preparing a great meal.  We met on the beautiful, spacious Pipe muh Bligh for Christmas afternoon festivities.  We had a glorious meal and lots of fun and lively conversation.  The celebration continued on into the night where we finally fell into our dinghies and traveled back to our own boats.

 

Time to Move On......

We were having such a good time with Stacy and Rene that we decided to travel together for a while.  There was really no formal decision... we just kinda kept making future plans together and before we knew it, we had our first "boat buddies" for traveling.  We had always heard about people traveling together on boats, but we had never met up with anyone going our way that we really wanted to spend time with.  We found that with Rene and Stacy Foree.  Rene and Stacy started cruising on their CatalinaMorgan 440 sailboat, Pipe muh Bligh, in Kemah, Texas, in the summer of 2008. Rene is originally from Holland and Stacy is from Seattle. Having retired at age 46 and 37 respectively, Rene was a computer software guru with Oracle, and Stacy was a aerospace engineer who worked in forecasting for Continental Airlines.  They know their way around boats, navigating, and weather forecasting. They get along well together, love to laugh, and have a good time.  As an added bonus, Stacy is a wonderful cook, so we have traded off cooking meals on each other's boats.  We'll travel together and then at some point go our separate ways.  Meantime, we'll have fun together exploring the Exumas!

Traveling in the Atlantic Ocean to Miami

When we started planning our trip from Lake Worth to Miami, we initially thought about going down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). When we looked at the chart, the trip down the waterway is an absolute nightmare.  I don't even know how many bridges there are that have to be hailed to get there.  It takes FOREVER to get down the waterway! Most folks make at least an overnight stop in Fort Lauderdale which makes the trip even longer.  

So, the only logical decision is to head out into the Atlantic Ocean. Next we planned to head out of the inlet at Lake Worth into the Atlantic Ocean and dart back in at Fort Lauderdale for a night, then go back on the outside to Miami the next day, avoiding an overnight run.  Rene and Stacy had already decided they were going to leave Lake Worth at night and make a 13-14 hour overnight passage directly down to Miami.  We were going to meet them at an anchorage in Miami's South Beach a day later.  We started making our plans to depart.. looking at the weather and the charts.  We looked at how long it was going to take us to travel the 46 nm (nautical miles) to Fort Lauderdale, and determined that it would take us about 9 hours. This didn't include the time to get in the inlet and get to our anchorage in Lake Sylvia.. add another 1.5 hours.  Sundown was at 5:30 p.m., so we would have to leave Lake Worth about 5:30 a.m. in the morning to get to the anchorage before dark. (Does anyone reading this know Susan?? She does NOT do 5:30 a.m.!)  From Fort Lauderdale to Miami, it was only another 20 nm to Government Cut inlet.  So, making an overnight passage from Lake Worth to Miami started to make sense to us, too.  We had not really planned to start off our cruising again after one year with an overnight offshore passage, but, hey, we had already made an 8 1/2 day crossing to Mexico, how hard could it be?? We were ready!

As passages usually go, they start out great!  We left Lake Worth on December 29 at 4:30 p.m., giving us plenty of time to travel from our anchorage to the ocean inlet in daylight.  Pipe muh Bligh was the lead boat.  Stacy was our weatherwoman and navigator for the trip (gotta love that aerospace engineer training!). We had a perfectly beautiful night, with calm seas.  No wind, so we all motored down the coastline.  The coastline of Florida is so populated that there is ambient light all the way.  LA and I decided on 2 hour watches, beginning at 8:30 p.m.  LA had the first watch.  He started getting sleepy around 10:00 p.m., so I took over. Stacy and I checked in with each other on the VHF from time to time.  Smooth sailing, so to speak.  At 12:30 p.m., LA came back to the helm.  He had not gotten much sleep.  

Right before my next watch at 2:30 a.m., the wind started piping up. LA stayed in the cockpit. About 30 minutes after I took over, the wind really started to blow and it got a little dicey.  The boat was pitching about, and I got seasick.  Yep, puking over the side rail.  If I had looked in a mirror, my face would have been green. I decided if I could just lie down for a while in the cockpit, I would feel better. Thank God for my captain LA.  He took over the watch, and never relinquished the helm for the rest of the trip.  I did get better, but I still felt queasy. Lulu decided to pull a stunt later in the morning and run wildly out on the deck.  Waves were pitching over the deck and she decided to check things out for herself! I wanted to kill her!  I finally coaxed her back into the cockpit, which won her a first-class ticket down below!  

The current pushed us faster down the coastline than we wanted to go. We were trying to approach the Miami inlet at daylight.  We had to slow our boats down so that we would not get there in the dark.  Further complicating things, a cloud bank moved in over Miami which darkened the sunrise.  By the time we got to the Miami "Government Cut" inlet, the seas were pitching about pretty good.  It was barely light outside. There were all kinds of lights in the inlet which made the red and green markers hard to see.  When we got near the cut, a container ship headed out of the pass into the ocean.  We had to move outside the cut and get out of the way and let him pass.  We started making our way into the inlet, and a cargo ship from the outside picked up anchor and headed into Miami.  Again, we had to move over to the side of the channel and get out of the way.  Ships cause a lot of turbulence when passing and you don't want to get too close. Big ships rule, sailboats drool!  

Government cut is the inlet that commercial traffic, include cruise ships, use to get in and out of Miami.  It is a bustling harbor with lots of action.  The main part of the channel is a restricted zone. We entered through Fisherman's Channel along the south side of Port of Miami's Dodge Island to get to our anchorage.  By the time we got in the channel, the sun was up and the city of Miami towered over us. We were finally in calm waters again!  We traveled north up the ICW near the Venetian Causeway and anchored south of a little island, Belle Island, right in the heart of South Beach, Miami.

Bringing in the New Year in Miami's South Beach!

Securely tucked into our anchorage, we had a spectacular view of South Beach.  Art-Deco condos towered over us and provided a panoramic backdrop for our upcoming New Year's Eve festivities.  We dropped anchor, ate breakfast, and went to bed.  We laid up on our boats for the day.  New Year's Eve day, we were ready to get off our boats and tour South Beach.  From the late 70's to the early 80's, many of the buildings on South Beach were filled with retirees living on small fixed incomes.  South Beach was known as a poor area high in crime and "cocaine cowboys" used the area for the drug trade.  The TV show "Miami Vice" used it as a location shoot.  In 1979, a group of activists led an effort to get the Art-Deco district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The area was restored and today the beach is full of high fashion and hot spots.  Toned and tan "pretty people" are everywhere and there is entertainment for every taste and lifestyle.  We gawked and walked, and ate in a great Cuban restaurant, David's Cafe II.  Later, we took a $75 round-trip cab ride over to Miami to a West Marine to pick up some boat parts for Pipe, visit a Home Depot, and a liquor store.  Then, back to Publix (yes, AGAIN... remember our provisioning illness). 

We came back to our boats and prepared to throw out 2010 with a blast!  We were ready for 2010 to be over and bring in 2011!  We dinghied over to Pipe muh Bligh for the celebration. The fireworks in South Beach were spectacular and a good time was had by all.  The champagne and wine was flowing, and LA and I barely remember falling in to our dinghy and making it back to Genesis.  

 

The following morning, sore heads ruled.  LA and I finally crawled out around 1:00 p.m. and decided to take a dinghy tour of downtown Miami.  We didn't know it at the time, but a canal runs straight through the city.  We stopped at an Italian restaurant and had a spectacular lunch of stone crab claws and white wine.  $100 later, we headed back to our boat to host dinner for the Pipe "cocktail flu" crowd. We had manicotti and red wine (more hair of the dog) and we all felt human again.

Stacy had been watching the weather closely and decided that Sunday was a good day to depart for the Bahamas.  Final destination..... Nassau.  We planned to leave late in the day, traveling at night to reach Mackie Shoals, a shallow shoal on the Bahama Bank where we could anchor and rest before resuming our trip to Nassau.  

I've got the ALL DAY Laundry Mat Blues!

We decided that a final laundry run needed to be done before we left the states. Together, both boats had five loads of laundry.  LA had run over in the dinghy to get fuel at the privately owned Miami Beach Marina.  He convinced the harbormaster to let us do our laundry.  However, the harbormaster would only let us come, not another boat.  I thought, well, I'll just do ALL the laundry.  Because that's just the kind of friend I am... that's how I roll.  I didn't want EVERYONE to be tied up in the laundromat. I gathered up the five loads and we headed to the laundromat.  It was around noon.  There were two washers and two dryers.  The two washers were already in use.  Now, "Plato" would have assessed this situation and determined that there was not enough time to wash and dry 5 loads of clothes and get back to the boat and leave by 4:30 p.m.  Obviously, Plato was not anywhere around, and I stupidly decided to wash clothes.  To further complicate matters, the harbormaster let me in the laundry room with his pass key, so once I was in, I could not leave.  Shortly after we got there, the washers stopped and I removed the clothes and placed them on top of the dryers.  Sometimes, at marina laundromats, sailors will leave clothes in the washer for hours on end.  My plan was to jump ahead of the lazy sailor and get a load or two done before they returned. Got two loads washed, then placed two loads in the dryer.  About 5 minutes after the dryer cycle starts, here comes the owner of the washed laundry that has been thrown on top of the dryer.  And to top it off, they were French... and spoke no English.  There was a lot of French tittering about with dismayed scowls thrown my way.  I just smiled and said "settle down... I'll put your load in".  (Of course, I was speaking English with a French accent so that I could properly convey my message to them!).  My clothes were summarily removed from the dryer, promptly deposited on top of the dryer and theirs were put in.  They were happy and left the scene. I thought, "no problem"....I can still make this deadline.... I'll just keep washing.  Unfortunately, at the end of their dryer cycle, their towels didn't get dry and I had to deposit more money to get them dry. I had decided these thick-ass french towels were from some snooty place in France and cost more money than my boat.  Imagine my dismay when they dried and I looked at the labels (covertly, of course) and mon dieu!! the towels were from Wal-Mart!  Finally, I was able to get on the dryer trail once again.  However, things were TOTALLY out of whack from the washing side of the operation.  Not to mention that I was locked in this hot laundry room and was about to pass out from the heat.  It got so hot that I finally dunked my head in cold water in the laundry sink.  I looked like a mad, maniac washerwoman.  By the time that LA checked in with me via telephone around 4 p.m., I was a raving lunatic and could not see the end of this laundry detail-hell. He finally came and rescued me and informed me that there was "no way in hell" all this laundry was going to get dry.  I was going to have to bag it up and get over it!  Well, what's a laundry lunatic to do??? I bagged up the dried laundry (yes, SOME of it had dried), but had to bag up jeans and towels and just deal with it.  But, of course, I worried about it.  Being responsible for someone else's laundry and know you are doing a bad job is the pits! I am a college graduate, but I can't even be responsible for the damn laundry!  When I got back to the boat and got underway, I hung out clothes all around the inside of our boat... sheets, jeans, towels, everything! This high-end drama finally came to a close at Mackie Shoal, where I was finally able to hang everything outside in the sun..... and finish the damn laundry 24 hours later!

Time to Leave Miami.... Heading to the Bahamas... Click here.

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