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Friday, February 25, 2011

Baker Haulover - sounds like a piece of furniture!

Sorry these pictures are so disorganized, but with my technical skills (or lack thereoff), we are lucky there is any blog at all!.

The skyline of Miami is an incredible sight. The journey from No Name Harbor at Key Biscayne to our next anchorage was only about 15 miles, but OHHHH! We passed by Government Pass, where the cruise ships were docked, as well as other large ships. Crawdad is so tiny compared to these huge vessels! Fortunately, the traffic was sparse and we traveled eyes-wide-open and jaws dropped as we traveled the ICW through the maze.

Our destination was Baker Haulover Inlet. The Baker Haulover Marina building is an art deco, new building and is located across from our destination. I had reviewed the charts and cruise books the night before, so we knew our height of almost 25 feet would cause us delay as we waited for the drawbridges to open. Some bridges open at request, but most open on the hour or half hour, or 15 minutes and 45 minutes after the hour. The schedules are not flexible and we found ourselves turning circles for 45 minutes for the 79th Street bridge. The wind at 15 knots blew us toward shore, so paying attention is a must!

The Bay across from the Baker Haulover inlet was not a disappointment. Our first attempt at entering the Bay brought our depth sounder to places no boater wants to go and we found ourselves backing up into the ICW. We have learned that at the first sight of LOW numbers on the depth sounder, the best action is to immediately back into the area "from whence we came". One of our cruise guides had advised that seeing low numbers meant "you missed the channel". We heed the advice of caution!

The Oleta River State Park borders the Bay, as does Florida International University. We looked for the "green dome on the field house". Amazing what one will use for landmarks! The Park rents kayaks and kayakers were enjoying a fine 80 degree day. We met a man kayaking who flies to Miami every 4th weekend and loved the Park. The sandy beach was a welcome sight for us as well.

The dinghy allows us flexibility in our adventures. A mangrove river with many arms travels north into the mangrove. We found an area previously named by Adrienne as "the creepies", defined as a narrow river lined with mangroves with an occasional abandoned boat. After hitting a few logs, we turned back to civilization.

What's in a name? No Name Harbor

What is the name of the most peaceful and beautiful Harbor on Key Biscayne? No Name Harbor, of course! Bill Biggs State Park is located at the southern tip of Key Biscayne and there is a beautiful white, brick lighthouse originally built in 1826 at the southern tip. The walkway from the car parking lot is lined on each side with flowing palm trees. Gorgeous!

The Harbor is well protected and a restaurant, The Boat Grill was a nice surprise. Since we had not washed in a few weeks (!), we were delighted to find A (yes 1) washer and A (yes again 1) dryer. After waiting about an hour, we were able to read, relax and do the wash. (takes forever!!!) A woman from a 50 foot Discovery catamaran was finishing her wash. Caroline and her husband, John, had traveled from the UK, where they build sailboats. They had built this boat and 3 others. They sailed across the Atlantic, up to Maine, down the coast to the Bahamas. Next week they leave for two weeks in Cuba. Discovery Magic will carry them around the world. How exciting!

Mangroves surround the Harbor, but 20 story condominiums are not far away. Peaceful, but so close to sophistication! We loved riding our bicycles through the park and into the developed adjacent community, but using the dinghy to transport the bikes to land is no easy task! Located nearby were Ace Hardware, Winn Dixie and CVS. Everything a Looper could want! The Looper joke is, though, is that Loopers need the "three W's". West Marine, Walmart and Walgreens!

Our view from the entrance of the Harbor was Stiltsville. Amazing buildings on stilts, built many years ago and still standing

The location and weather was so perfect, we decided to stay for another day to relax and have fun....I mean give the boat a good cleaning!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Markus has a boat!

Our nephew, Markus, lives in Key Largo. He is driving a cab and does not own a car. We really wanted to see him while we were in the area and when he said he was available, we jumped at the chance and backtracked to Tarpon Basin.

We had traveled through Tarpon Basin on our way to Anchorage Marina and marveled at the beauty and the peacefulness, so we were pleased to anchor in the Basin for a few days to see Mark.

When we dropped the anchor four "poofs" of sand came up from the bottom. Big areas and we wondered if it was safe to anchor in the area, not imagining what could cause this phenomenon, when 4 manatees came to the surface. Amazing! We continued to anchor and we were able to see the bottom and our anchor, as it rested on the bottom!

Jim and Pete, from Blue Yonder, had installed a new VHF radio with AIS. It is the coolest of radios and we are aware of all boats and ships that are in the area. The radio that was removed never seemed to work the way we expected it to work and we were excited about having access to AIS. We pondered what to do with the radio and stored it with all our other "stuff" in the forward bathroom. Great place!

Mark informed us a few months he had purchased a Hobie Cat and was sailing it to Cuba. Going to Cuba has been a dream for some time for Mark and his entire family has been discouraging him, for safety reasons. Mark is not to be deterred and just a week before, a woman had given him a Cheoy Lee 32, 1967. Needs work doesn't describe the effort needed, but Mark is thrilled and wants to make it a safe boat he can sail to Cuba.

The bottom has barnacles and grass growing on the bottom and the diesel engine needs work, but Mark is thrilled.

We will keep you posted as Mark continues to work on his project. We hope it takes a LONG time and we are excited that he has a focus for his energy!

Got an extra $20 mil for a new yacht? Miami Boat Show

Jim and I were excited at the opportunity to attend the Miami International Boat Show. We had talked about flying down to attend in the past, but somehow it never worked out ....until now!

Our boat was in Key West and as I wrote earlier, BooBoo was living the life of luxury with Sharon and Steve - so off we went to Miami. Not to buy a boat, of course, but there are all those accessories! We must certainly need something!

We met up with Charlie and Brandy, from Bama Belle and off we went. The Convention Center is loaded with vendors and boats of every make. Oh, those new Chris Crafts are amazing. Reminds me of my childhood and "oohing" over the new Chris Crafts out in the yard on Ottawa Beach Road, though they are much smaller and about the same price!

We looked at the Formulas, Sea Rays, Tiaras, Beneteaus and then the accessories. Did you know you can have teak everywhere on your boat without really having teak? The options are unlimited and Hobie - the kayaks are amazing.

We left the convention center with a bag full of literature, weighing 20 pounds and headed on the bus to the Brokers Yacht Show along the ICW. Amazing! The number of boats is beyond counting as we walked and walked along the ICW. We never got to the end, but we did tour a few "big" boats.

Thousands of people attend this show and we very coincidentally ran into an old friend of mine, Rick Lueders. Rick and his wife Susie have a home in Coral Springs as well as Grosse Pointe Park and Rick was walking the show, when we ran into each other. So nice to see him!

You'll be glad to know we did not buy a new boat and Crawdad remains safe in the hands of Jim & Glo with Boo and sometimes Buddy in tow.

Backup, backup and know your navigation. You never know......

On the way to Key Largo, dodging the shoals and shallow water, we lost both of our Garmin chartplotters. Intermittently they would return, but in between was a screamer! Fortunately, we had obtained a copy of Coastal Explorer from a friend (who remains unnamed, thanks Bill!) for backup. I had used it on and off for a few weeks, so that I was able to function in case of loss.

Bingo! Get out the computer with the Coastal Explorer. Actually the software is pretty easy to use, once you get going and while Jim was struggling up above, I was down below setting up our backup. Also, as an experienced mariner, I have charts - lots and lots of charts, so that if we HAD TO, we could resort to good old navigation. (Yes Ray & Winnie, I ALWAYS know where I am on the chart! Thanks for all those years of training!)

We got on the phone with Garmin and they told us the merger with XM and Sirius had caused a failure in chartplotters. Oh thanks! They suggested we remove XM and do a chartplotter update. Don't they understand we know the system is out because we are out in the Ocean cruising! Get real!

Good news was the "fix" seemed to work (after 6' 4" Jim crawled into the cabinet) and we had Coastal Explorer running along with Garmin. Once again, we dodged a bullet!

Boca Chita, traveling up the Keys toward Miami

We have been fortunate to meet friends along the way from around the country. Two of our dearest friends from Monkey Girl, are from Ft. Lauderdale. Laura and Bill have offered wonderful advice on where to anchor. They taught us a lot about anchoring over the few months we traveled together.

Laura recommended Boca Chita, a National Park. The island is small and was developed in the early 30's by Mark Honeywell. He built a few buildings and had plans for more, when his wife was killed in a fall. Over the years the property was used for conferences and Mark owned a boat, Olivette, an 80 foot wooden yacht from the 20's which anchored in the harbor. He built a beautiful lighthouse of coral, which still stands today, despite being located near Homestead, FL.

The sunset and sunrise were beautiful from our spot on the wall and Jim walked 50 yards to the ocean for a dip in the sea. How refreshing!

We shared the small harbor with a 76 foot Marlow, VAGABUNDO. Nice boat!