Stuart, FL to Miami / Key Biscayne January 1 - 11, 2006

Click on the above thumbnail for a map of points visited during this time period.

Getting ready for the crossing...

While we were at the Stuart Cay Marina Chuck took the opportunity to give our cap rails several coats of varnish.  Barb was thrilled that Chuck has taken over the varnishing responsibility.   He has high standards and is keeping them in top form.  His goal is to have them look as nice as those on the 42' Krogen named "Cocoon".  Tom Davenport of Cocoon has varnishing down to an art.  Chuck also tackled changing out the water pump -- a task which turned out to be relatively painless.  He did have to raise the platform for the pump to keep air bubbles from getting trapped in the water line.  This entailed some carpentry work and then painting.  Once that was out of the way, he had the pump quickly installed.  We are thrilled with the quietness of the pump.  The old one had bearings or an impeller going, and so its racket could wake up the dead.  We have to really listen to know if the new one is running. 

We took the opportunity do some serious provisioning while in Stuart.  Staci and Bil McLaughlan (the previous owners of our boat) returned to Stuart Cay Marina while we were there.   They had docked their new 58' Krogen there while spending the holidays in Maryland.  They immediately and graciously offered us the use of their car.  We now have paper towels and canned goods stored all over the boat.  At least we won't run out of those particular items.  

The last thing we had to do was to test our water maker in clean salt water.  So on Wednesday we headed for the ocean -- or rather the St. Lucie Inlet which was only eight miles from Stuart.  Our test showed that all was well, so there was no need to immediately continue on to Ft. Lauderdale, where service for the unit was available.  Hence, we decided to head back to Stuart instead of going south.  Just as we were about to pass under the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart, a sailboat ahead of us hailed the South Point Anchorage and was directed into a particular mooring.  On the spur of the moment we decided to do the same.  The anchorage has almost 100 moorings (which one ties up to in lieu of setting one's own anchor), great facilities including a large dinghy dock, a nice lounge, laundry and shower facilities, and most of all, friendly folks -- almost as friendly as the Krogen folks at Stuart Cay, who always bend over backwards to be accommodating.  The anchorage is more or less downtown in the old city of Stuart whereas the marina is about a mile away.  We really enjoyed the convenience of the place.   Our friends Jacki and Roger Arrowood on "Goin' South" were also in the anchorage.  We shared an excellent meal at Casa Bella's one night and drinks on their boat the next.  Roger helped Barb get set up for collecting weather reports and GRIB files from various weather sources. 

On Saturday morning we decided it was time to head south so we could be staged for crossing to Bimini at the first opportunity.  On the way south we admired the incredible mansions and yachts along the waterway.  Quite impressive.  When we were halfway to Lake Worth, Barb downloaded the weather report and discovered that the next good weather window looks to be on Thursday next week rather than earlier in the week.  We were dismayed that we hadn't bothered to check it earlier as we could have stayed in Stuart for at least another day.  Such is life.  At least this will allow us to spend time near Miami, which will be good as we haven't been there by boat before.

We stopped in Lake Worth early in the afternoon in order to spend the night.  There is a huge anchorage area there.  But boaters are warned not to leave things unattended as thieves are rampant in the area.  We had heard earlier about dinghies and/or dinghy motors disappearing from the dinghy tie-up area which is up a small creek and near grocery and marine stores.   But our latest web sources reported dinghies and bicycles even disappearing from mother vessels in broad daylight!   Thus, Barb dropped Chuck off at the landing so he could stop at the local West Marine store for a couple of items while she stayed with the boat and dinghy to ensure nothing disappeared.  This is the only place along the ICW where we have heard that this is a problem.  What a bummer.

Boaters:  are you getting curious about the perpetual visits to marine stores?   Wondering what the heck Chuck could be buying at this point, after all of these months of cruising?   The general answer is that there is always something.   The specific answers in this case:  several miniature fuses that Chuck (back when we were having a problem with the DVD player) discovered were in various components of the audio system, a cover for an electrical bus that he used in the new pump installation, and an 18-lb. mushroom anchor that will be used as the basis for a kellet that will be used when anchoring with rope rode.

Non-boaters:  your assignment for the day is to learn what "kellet" and "rode" mean in marine contexts.

On Sunday we cruised to Ft. Lauderdale and anchored in Lake Sylvia which is in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.  The incredibly beautiful homes and all the canals in Ft. Lauderdale are something.  Supposedly there are 270 miles of canals, whereas Venice only has 45 miles of canals.  Charles Rode moved to Ft. Lauderdale in the early 1900s and decided to make Ft. Lauderdale the "Venice of America" -- and he did.  Unfortunately, you don't see gondolas there, but you do see huge yachts  owned not by millionares but rather by billionaires.  On Monday we dinghied to a friendly marina, left the dinghy and walked to two of the "can't miss" stores in the area.  The first was Bluewater Books and Charts.  They have about any book or chart you could ever want.  We bought new electronic charts for the Bahamas and an upgrade of our navigation software.  We then headed to Sailorman which is a marine parts store that has both new and used stuff.  We were looking for a 50' extension to our 50 amp power cord, but the new ones were almost the same price as in West Marine and the used ones were in bad shape.  Maybe when we come back through in the spring they will have one.  After lunch we headed back to the boat, pulled up anchor and headed offshore and south to Miami.  The seas were 3' to 5' off the beam and we were glad to be in a stabilized boat.  We arrived at No Name Harbor just south of Miami in Key Biscayne just in time to settle in for the night.   Here we will wait with the folks on Dream Weaver and Seaclusion for a weather window so we can head to the Bahamas. 

Key Biscayne is a beautiful island south of Miami that is divided into two sections -- one part is a nature preserve / state park and the other half is full of exclusive homes for the rich and famous.  Our anchorage is in the park, but things are so civilized that there is a restaurant in the park (about 200 feet from our boat) where we had shrimp omelets for breakfast the first morning.  We had a chance to explore the island, see the lighthouse, see lots of iguanas, and kayak up to the exclusive residential area -- pretty impressive!

Barb's dad (at the age of 80) just completed his first book of short stories.  We are extremely proud of him for becoming a writer, mastering computer skills and publishing his first book.  Barb talked him into sending her one of his first printed copies.  Since we cannot receive mail here, it was sent to Ted and Pat Edmunds at their marina in Key Largo.  They are cruising up to join us Wednesday and have agreed to bring the package with them. 

We are not sure how long we will be here, but hope to be headed to the Bahamas in the next few days.  Once we leave the US we will only have access to the web at internet cafes, so our trip reports for the next few months will be spotty -- if at all.  That means we will also not have much access to our email accounts except for the SSB email account we have set up.  If you need to reach us in an emergency, you can contact Chris Parker at (863) 248-2702 who will pass on the message to us at the start of his daily SSB weather report. 

We are looking forward to our island travels for the next four to five months and are hoping for "fair winds and following seas".