The market, the canal and the fire boat

A day of discovery and oodles of photos.  Made some progress with our sail drive repairs. Russ posted on the Cruisers Forum and got a few good ideas; one panned out. He discovered that the expansion tanks (small bottles) have a one way air vent in the cap that keeps them from functioning as needed. These are not typically required and the bottles were chosen by our Yanmar distributor to meet an expansion need. Long story short, we are due back at Marathon Boat Yard on Monday where they will remove the engines and replace the lip seals on the sail drives. The lip seals have been leaking due to possible pressure build up. Once replaced and the expansion bottles working properly, all- she says hopefully- will be well.

After breakfast we walked in. First stop The Fresh Market. For the underprivileged, The Fresh Market is similar to Whole Foods, but without the café dining, the chocolate bar nor the huge selection of cheese. Last winter we saw that construction was beginning with signs stating “Opening Spring 2011”. Great- by the time we came back this fall, they’d be open for sure. Grocery stores in cities take some getting used to. In Miami Beach at least, they are situated right on the street like any other shop, only larger with a parking garage next door.

New Fresh Market as seen from Collins Canal

After lunch we headed up the Collins canal aiming to find a spot to tie up and walk over the beach on the ocean side. The canal, 18 ft wide and 3-4 ft deep was constructed- well we’re not sure- but prior to 1967- likely for an industrial use. It meets up with Indian Creek, continuing for several miles alongside A1A and toward North Miami Beach. We found a good spot near the road with a small dock of sorts, tied up (lock too) and walked two short blocks east where we came upon a boardwalk along the beach and plenty of easy beach access. We are, remember, in Florida where beach and water access abound, the bridges open promptly for boats and Publix and The Fresh Market have a strong presence.


Lounging Lizard

Along the way my camera had a good workout with all the birds and iguanas tucked in amongst the mangroves and a couple guys paddle boarding. Ok, that covers the market and the canal.

As we approached the anchorage, a Coast Guard utility boat (like an inflatable on steroids) was rafted next to a monohull near us. That boat had entered the anchorage as we headed off toward the canal a couple hours earlier. Umm, the boat flew a Canadian flag. Was that a clue? No. Next thing we see is the City of Miami Fire Boat arriving and realize this is an injury or illness situation.

Not a happy sight

With the Coast Guard so close and being near a city with many facilities, if something had to happen this was the place to get immediate assistance. We will never know the proverbial rest of the story; we only hope the ending is a good one.

Good-bye Southern Florida


S/V Sanuk: once again our neighbor

Sunday, March 6 we bid farewell to Marathon with perfect sailing conditions for our “inside” trip.  Several other boats had the same idea, but they were headed for Hawk Channel, “outside”, most likely due to their draft exceeding ours. We traveled 75 miles, nearly all under sail with main and screacher.  What I’d like to know is, why when we’d come to a cut through a shallow bank (we are following the intra-coastal here) did it always mean a change of direction that necessitated a jibe, me at the helm and several times finding ourselves in less than 4 ft of water. We can draw as little as 2 1/2ft, but to protect the props and rudders we keep the dagger-boards down further. Boats who draw more than 5 ft- ish need to either traverse the skinny spots near high tide, or skip the scenic route and travel outside along the coast ( Hawk Channel).
Near the end of our trip, we passed through Key Largo and as I looked at boats anchored near shore I spotted s/v Sanuk; hey, thought they were farther ahead. At that same instant they were headed back in their dinghy from the Tiki Bar and saw us. I think Tracy exclaimed “look at that big ass cat. Oh wait, it’s Ortolan! They came up to anchor near us and we caught up on stuff since they’d left the Tuesday before.
Fast forward to Miami.

We arrived late morning on Wed after enough sailing hours the past few days to keep us happy for a while. Spent a lovely day anchored off Pumpkin Key and even doing boat chores, including scrubbing the hulls, did not ruin the day. Met up with Sanuk at Dinner Key Marina the next day, did laundry thing, shopped at The Fresh Market and filled our water tanks. The wind picked up out of the East which meant a rough ride on the mooring, so Wed mid-morning we headed off (I love our new mooring clip) to Marine Stadium on Virginia Key where better wave protection could be had. Felt like déjà vu- 3 mos ago we arrived here; our first stop in Miami, now we will depart from here on Thursday. Winds look reasonably decent, but T-storms are in the forecast.
The captain says, “if you stayed put whenever a thunderstorm is in the forecast you’d never go anywhere.” Hee Hee. Not sure that’s true, but today we left anyway and got a juicy taste of being underway along the coast when a storm passes over. The day began well enough. Raised the main and jib and headed north in moderate winds on a starboard tack, averaging 6kts. By 10:15 the storm warnings were popping up on all pieces of equipment and conservative sailors we are, we dropped the main promptly.  We didn’t get to the jib fast enough (plus it doesn’t help that the furl line is too short) and we thought for sure it was going to tear big time the way it was flapping wildly.  Still have a useful jib sail. One didn’t need radar weather to see the line of the storm- it was a big one that stretched the entire length of Florida including the Keys.
The rain was torrential, which ruins visibility but flattens the water.  For 20 mins the wind howled – I never looked at the wind display (what you don’t know won’t scare you)  but Russ said he saw gusts as high as 35kts. Ortolan flew straight and true at a reduced speed. Although I was tense I didn’t mind mopping up water and wiping the Strataglass panels so we could see if this was as bad as it was going to get. Heard some thunder and saw a bolt or two of lightning.  The storm was more intense at our day’s destination (West Palm Beach/Lake Worth) and we had the good luck to be between two bad cells and so did not get the worst of it. So many Coast Guard announcements on Chnl 16 for boats and people in trouble. Always makes me cringe to hear them.
The storm changed the wind direction and so the sails popped up again briefly near trip’s end. Once more, an outside trip contains little “strictly sail” time. On the bright side, we saw flying fish.  Russ thought I was seeing things when I described them but of course we Googled them later and sure enough we did see flying fish. About 8 inches long, with oversized dragonfly type wings, they pop out of the water and fly over the waves for 5-7 seconds  before plunging back in. Was the coolest thing.

tug lake worth

One of 3 tugs moving dredging pipe

Here we are anchored in Lake Worth for a few days until conditions are right to sail north to Vero Beach via Ft. Pierce inlet