Florida – The Second Half
We are still in south Florida, poised and ready to make our jump to the Bahamas at the first weather window. More about that later. First, a little about our last few stops in Florida and Christmas.
Vero Beach was where we left off. I remember being in Vero Beach as a child when my uncle lived there, but I couldn’t tell you much about it. It is an EXTREMELY popular place for cruisers, and the mooring field at the City Marina can be a very crowded place. In the height of the season, boats may be rafted up three across on the mooring balls. We did, indeed, need to raft up, as seen in the picture below.
We planned to spend a couple of nights in Vero, so the ladies took advantage and suggested that the chicks head one direction and the guys head the other way for the day! Understand, we love our partners very much, but it is a LOT of together time on the boat, so all of us found it very appealing to go hang with “one of our own” for an afternoon! While prepping for this trip, we did a lot of reading by people who have done this before. One of the most highly recommended books to have on board is Men Are From Mars – Women Are From Venus. Of the whole Mars-Venus book series, someone should write the “Mars and Venus Living on a Boat” version. It was classic: Annette and I decided to go into town by the beach, walk the shops and have a ladies lunch out. The guys went to, like, the hardware store and shopping for electronics at Target and some other guy stuff. The ladies talked about family and people and whatever popped into our heads. We took our time . . . we didn’t rush. We lollygagged, in fact. When we told each other stories, we didn’t edit them down to the headlines . . . we elaborated. We happily went into detail! The guys probably scratched and grunted and exchanged a few very pertinent stories, but I would lay odds that none of the stories lasted more than 4 minutes. They got back an hour ahead of us and had the generators running on the boats while finding something that needed to be fixed. Moral of the story: everybody was happy at the end of the day from having time on their own planet. We keep reminding ourselves that it is okay – more than okay, it is downright HEALTHY – to get time apart on occasion. And the nice thing is that at the end of an afternoon like that, we’re happy to be back together again.
We went to a cruisers cocktail reception and then six of us went to dinner in town. Annette and Anthony introduced us to a very nice couple on Journey who they had met a few weeks earlier. They had just begun their cruising days in November and we enjoyed sharing stories and plans over dinner.
We enjoyed Vero and wished we had more time to spend there, but we needed to keep progressing south. It was onward to Lake Worth/Palm Beach area. It was a crowded anchorage and we found a spot parked outside of some nice real estate. Dinner was on Magnolia and we had a chance to meet their good friends and mentors Greg and Marie who we had heard so much about. Next morning, up and out early. Although we had hoped to get off of the ICW and go outside, again the weather prevented us from doing that. The winds were just too snarly on the ocean. But we were determined to keep making tracks, so we prepared ourselves for what the day was going to bring: eighteen draw bridges. EIGHTEEN! Some bridges open on request, but a number of these bridges were on a schedule. It is far more complicated than you would think about to time your arrival at a bridge. If you’re too early, you have to do a lot of tricky maneuvering to “station keep” in front of the bridge, and when there are a lot of other boats, it gets more interesting. If you slow down too much so as not to arrive too early, you risk running into a current you didn’t expect and not making it to the bridge on time at all. It is pretty high stress and a very high level of focus is necessary. Frank does most of the time at the helm for this, but I needed to start getting more adept at the station keeping myself – he can’t be at the helm for 9 hours straight! So I took my turn on a couple of bridges as well, learning the fine art of timing our arrival and keeping the boat in place in spite of the current. We had all agreed that we would get as far as we could until we got tired, or we’d go to Ft. Lauderdale, whichever came first. We did, in fact, make it clear to Lauderdale that day. Frank and I agreed that it was a cool accomplishment, an interesting (and scenic) day, and one that we would always remember. But we also agreed that we did not EVER need to do that one again! Eighteen bridges. Eighteen. EIGHTEEN! We were so exhausted when we got in. And the person not at the helm doesn’t get much down time, because that person’s job is to check to see when and where the next bridge is, to know what time it opens, and often to call by cell to confirm this because there have been some changes to the schedules since our guide book was published. And every bridge tender has to be contacted by radio by every boat. Just listening to the radio chatter that day was tiring! I must say that only two of the eighteen bridge tenders were total grumps; the rest were quite congenial. There is an art to being a good tender.
After anchoring for the first night, we moved right next door into the Coral Ridge Yacht Club to stay through the holiday. We would use this as our last opportunity to really do final preparations and provisioning for our trip to the Bahamas, plus we would enjoy the holiday.
This is the first Christmas that Frank hasn’t been employed, and he has always made a point of making an appearance at work to show support for those who have to work the holiday. Well, old habits die hard, because he kept thanking all the employees for working on Christmas Eve and asking them what time they were getting off of work and making a big fuss over all of them. I had to remind him a couple of times that he was off duty and that this wasn’t the restaurant in the casino!! It was very sweet.
So what did we do on Christmas Day?
Magnolia hosted Christmas dinner and we had another nice night of camaraderie, good food, and good fun. We were all missing our families, but we made the best of the situation and had a nice day together!
The next day was a work day . . . laundry, grocery shopping and boat maintenance! We did a good job of dividing and conquering chores that day.
And then Friday, we took off for Miami. Still had to go through one more bridge before getting to the ocean to travel down to the Miami area. We can’t take the ICW to there (as is the case for most sail boats) because there is one fixed bridge that was built some time ago that is lower than the height of our mast. It was a good day on the water and . . . gasp . . . we saw those white things that flap in the breeze come out and our engine was turned off for a couple hours of the trip! Yahoo!
We got into Miami and anchored in Sunset Lake for a couple of nights. From there we could take the dinghy in and explore Miami Beach/South Beach area!
Today we moved to an anchorage south of Miami and closer to the ocean where we will leave tomorrow for our big adventure to the Bahamas! We are parked outside of No Name Harbor . . . I swear, that’s its name! Anchor up at first light and off to Bimini! It is only 40 some miles as the crow flies, but the Gulf Stream will pull us north for a while and our path will essentially be in the shape of an “S”. Tomorrow we will try to hustle to the local phone office to set up new phone numbers while we are in the Bahamas and to get a mobile WiFi unit hooked up. Our US phones are not usable in the Bahamas, so our current phone numbers will be useless for the next few months! We are hoping that we will be happily surprised by the amount of connectivity we’ll be able to have, but only time will tell! Wish us luck! New Years in Bimini, here we come!