Friday, April 20, 2007

South Lake to Crandon Park Marina, FL

20.6 nm
Wind: N 10 knots, shifting to the E 15 knots
Seas: Light chop
Maximum speed: 6.5 knots (pulled by current)
Average speed: 3.3 knots
Latitude: 25°43.35’N
Longitude: 080°09.49’W

It was a very frustrating day today, at least to begin with. We estimated that it was only about fifteen miles from Hollywood, where we anchored last night, to Key Biscayne, where we are tonight with Lise and Marcel, our crazy Canadian friends. After our glorious day of sailing yesterday, almost fifty miles, we figured that’d be a quick zip down the ICW. I was estimating two hours until we’d be able to see long lost Sea Belle and lounge beneath the setting sun.

Instead, it was one of our more gruesome days in Florida. We knew that there were a ton of restricted bridges in the Miami area, which is why people recommend that you go outside in the ocean rather than the ICW, but we’ve been requesting bridge openings for some time now, and I thought these looked fairly well spaced. How it works, at least in big cities, is that many bridges only open every half-hour or hour, and you have to hail them on your VHF radio and ask for a specific bridge opening. Today, we’d get through one bridge only to realize that the next was just out of range for us to hit in time for the next opening. So we either had to race ahead at six knots, burning our precious and increasingly expensive diesel, or dawdle along at three knots in the burning hot sun.

I think the sun was more worrisome today for me than it has been lately, mainly because of the brutal sunburn from yesterday. I’m beginning to think that we should have bought that bimini frame in St. Lucie. But we didn’t, so now we have to rig something up or buy a different one. My much-bragged-about heat tolerance may be getting wilted somewhat. On the plus side, it was interesting motoring through the multi-million-dollar Miami waterfront houses, one of which I’m sure is where Madonna lives. These houses were on a totally different level than the ones we’ve gone by so far--they were vast palatial estates, with elaborate manicured grounds, Tuscan-style piazzas and pillars, and abstract expressionist sculpture on the waterfront. As usual, the only people we saw were the Latino gardeners and housekeepers.

By the time we got south of Miami into Biscayne Bay the wind had picked up and we were both feeling very crabby and snapping at each other. We knew we had to pay for a mooring ball in this harbor, where anchoring is prohibited, but when we arrived at 5:15 the marina wouldn’t answer our hails. As seems obvious to me now, of course they were closed. We were frustrated angry, tired, hungry, and hot, and we couldn’t even find a place to rest. After circling the harbor about eight times we finally decided to try to dock at the deserted fuel dock, which was an ordeal in itself without any docklines or fenders out and about three knots of current off the dock. Thanks to some brilliant maneuvers on the part of Captain Karl we finally got tied up, and went to find the Canadians. It was great to see them again, but we were still upset, not knowing whether we should anchor, against the prohibitions in our guidebook, or pick up a random mooring ball in hopes that it didn’t belong to someone out sailing, or stay at the fuel dock all night and risk a vast fine in the morning.

We finally decided to anchor, only to meet a wonderful live-aboard Good Samaritan, who told us that the three mooring balls behind him were empty and that we could pay for them in the morning. So we picked one up and rowed over to Sea Belle for dinner, and as of now, things have definitely improved. We were able to lounge around in the sunset, and as our icebox is now exceedingly bare, Lise’s gourmet repast was even better than usual. Both Karl and I devoured gigantic salads, having not seen a fresh vegetable in about two weeks, and the lush, perfectly grilled pork chops were delectable. Our Canadian friends are far too good to us.

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