A Travellerspoint blog

Miami Beach

sunny 78 °F

As we were sitting around in Ft. Lauderdale thinking about when to leave, we noticed that the engine had rolled another 100 hours and it was time for our scheduled maintenance, mostly changing fluids, belts, filters, et. alia. However, when I was doing my topside inspection I noticed that the pin which holds the boom to the mast had worked its way loose and was way too close to falling out. Major Issue! The downside could have been horrible .... the boom swinging free, under full sail, crushing everything in its path, and we would have been unable to recover the sail to stop the damage. The proximate cause: a cotter pin that, maybe, was never there, or, maybe, was lost since we have owned the boat. Regardless, it was something at which I have never even looked . It was a very easy fix, but the boom had to be disconnected from the mast to reposition the holding pin. We now have it on the 100 hour maintenance list and have a supply of very large cotter pins just in case.

The mechanical issues continued to Thursday, the day we left for Miami. We had been having an issue with the transmission cable disconnecting when going from reverse to forward quickly; the disconnection put the transmission in forward, no access to neutral or reverse . I had thought that I made the proper adjustments in Brunswick …. not so! With folks on the dock to handle our lines it happened again, the result being that I rammed the bow into the dock at a pretty good power level. No style points from the audience. It’s a rather simple adjustment which I quickly made after tearing apart the back cabin to get to the cable. I think that I’ll replace the cable portion of the mechanism; it cannot be a very expensive part.

The trip through the three bridges was not overly traumatic and things were going pretty well until a white, fiberglass version of the USS North Carolina approached from the other direction. We got very small and, almost, were so far over that we could have moored at a starboard side dock.

The trip into and out of Port Everglades entails going under a bascule bridge that has a 55-ft. vertical clearance. Our mast is a little over 51-ft. high and with the sundry things on top probably goes to 53-ft. Every time we pass under this bridge the heart just seems naturally to move up to the mouth.


On the way out we passed these two sailboats, the largest which we have ever seen. I got on the radio to see if the owners wanted to swap, offering the lower mooring and maintenance fees of our 36-ft. boat. No takers, which is good, since we probably could not have afforded 24-hours of ownership for either of these boats. But ….. oh, the dreams.

The trip to the Miami channel is a modest 20-nm, something that we should have been able to transit, with the good wind that we had, in less than 4-hours. In the event, it was 5.5-hours, two of those aided by the motor. Despite this being the 3d year we have made the same trip, I still have not got it into my aging brain that the western edge of the Gulf Stream is only 5~7 miles off shore. When I moved from 300-ft. of depth to less than 100-ft. we gained 2.0 knots. And we needed to be much closer to shore that, maybe in 20-ft. to escape the Gulf Stream GLUE that always slows us down. Maybe, next year, we’ll get it right, or not. Sometimes, it is more interesting to curse the darkness than to light a candle.

On the way south we saw this boat towing a tender that probably cost more than our boat did.


The trip into the channel was, again, frustrating, the three gerbils working extremely hard, and not succeeding, to make 3.0 knots against the flowing tide. For the first time I actually thought about a new, more powerful engine along with a larger prop to push the boat. Way too expensive to contemplate.

We made good time once we were “inside” and caught the 1700 bridge opening to get to Sunset Lake which meant that we could anchor before sunset. When we approached the lake through the channel we saw that all the several sailboats in the anchorage were in the southern half, good for us because there is a nice wide point on the northern half. It struck us as unusual bit did not really click. As we maneuvered the boat to drop the anchor some guy was yelling at Carol to move away from where we were or that he would bother us with loud music. We did move a little north, away from his house, but that was for our purposes, not his.

This was our first anchor exercise in about a year. Anchoring, for us, is always a challenge …. low confidence and bad memories. We had changed the anchor, while in Ft. Lauderdale, putting the big Danforth/Fortress out, one which we know to work well in Sunset Lake. Despite this, the boat at anchor was not behaving in a predictable manner, i.e. the bow never swung into the wind, at the time being almost 180 degrees to the wind.

So, we kept the motor running for a good while as we studied our boat, to see if the anchor was really, firmly set. We were about 98% sure that it was, but the other 2% can bite the backside. While we were sitting around doing this, the man on his dock made good his promise to bombard us with music, in this case, very bad, very loud RAP music which is not very musical. If he could have found a Bob Seger CD I might have asked him to turn up the volume. As darkness fell, he upped the ante: shining a very bright strobe spotlight on the boat.

While this was going on a couple came over in their dinghy to comment that they had also suffered similar actions and that they had moved as a consequence. It was dark and we were not moving and I was getting into a typical male combative posture. So, rather than go to his place and do something stupid, I turned on the wifi hot spot, got out the iPad and found a non-emergency number for the Miami Beach P.D. I expected them to be polite but to blow us off, he is a local tax payer, after all. I explained the situation and said that we were being harassed. They were very polite and even called back for some additional information. They wanted to know where the house is; I gave a pretty good location from the lakeside but did not expect them to locate it with a patrol car.

Miracle of miracles … in about an hour a police patrol boat motors past ours. The two officers had no trouble finding the offending location. In fact, they too may not have liked the music because on went the flashing blue lights and the siren. Pretty cool! A few minutes later the music died (it should have been buried, too); soon after that the light went off. The police were there for 15~20 minutes so, things must have happened. Our night was quiet and dark. And, back to that male thing .... I won!!!

Still concerned about the anchor, when the bladder alarm went off at its usual 0330, I put out more chain and put on the chain snubber. We held firm and rode well through the night.

The next morning we saw these three guys out for their morning exercise? They look to be surfboards propelled by a long paddle with a single blade. Carol noted that their clothing was all dry so no one had fallen off his board.


On the plus side of mechanical issues:

  • Tightening the hose clamps seems to have done the trick for the shaft seal. We stayed dry from Ft. Pierce to Ft. Lauderdale and again to Miami.
  • The new oil pan seal and new oil pressure alarm sender unit cured the minor oil drips that we had.
  • The refrigeration guy seems to have broken the code with his repairs; amp hour usage is now back in the 5 amp range, at which the unit is rated, but it still cycles a lot.

On Friday we lowered the dinghy and motor and got ready to leave the boat and to go ashore. Carol and I have been doing this for about three years now and if in the improbable even that we had to abandon ship I'm afraid that it would not go well for Carol. Based on three years of direct observation, Carol cannot leave the boat without: (1) drinking a Coke; (2) evacuating the prior Coke that she drank; (3) changing her shoes; (4) selecting the proper hat; (5) applying yet another layer of sun screen; (6) selecting which pair of gloves to take since she will be touching the dinghy line. The list omits the mundane aspects of purse selection and organization. At least she does change the order of events to keep it interesting.

The first stops were a Walgreens and a Publix grocery store. Very pedestrian. There is a fairly good "inner city" hardware store on Alton Road; this was the first trip to Miami where we did not have a long list of things to buy. In fact, we just don't have that many open boat projects, a rarity. We stopped at Epicure where Carol was prepared to spend hours without actually buying anything. She wanted to buy some ceviche but it didn't taste like supper, maybe an appetizer.

The Lincoln Road Mall was next. This has to be one of the best places ever for people watching. I wish that I had a little of Studs Terkel's ability to capture a city, his was Chicago, through its people. The mall strikes me as that sort of place. It's such a contrast ... the Rodeo Drive wannabe fashion mecca at one end and where the traffic starts again you are in the souk somewhere in the Levant, where Lebanese or Tunisians or whomever run camera and luggage stores and bargain on their wares as if they were the fabled carpets of the orient.

We had a nice lunch in the wannabe section, only moderately over priced and the wait staff was actually pleasant even if the hostess was not.


For folks that are proud to live in Spring Creek, and we are, it is like entering an alternate universe. Many of the people are very stylish and sleek, Carol noting several women that could have been, and maybe were, professional models. Walking along the wannabe section Carol said that one guy checked me out pretty thoroughly; I'm all in favor of multi-culturism but not at that personal a level. The people on the mall are a fascinating brew with youth, looks and money being the ingredients that play out in individual measures. The rules of the game seem to be that if you have one, or more, of the ingredients then flaunt it; if not, then try to fake it; and for those old souls like us .... forget it.

Along the way we passed a church, United Church of Christ, which we had "seen" before but never noticed. It struck me a a beautiful in its unadorned simplicity. It's an old-ish building with wonderful wood construction, probably Southern Long Leaf Pine, the dark color coming from wood stain.


We made it to the beach, for a minute or two, before Carol headed for the shade and a bathroom. For both she chose the Ritz-Carlton hotel. Carol seems to have the innate genetic ability to go anywhere, at least in the northern hemisphere, and locate the nearest bathroom and source of Coca-Cola both of which are existential issues for her.

On the way back we walked on the other side of the mall to get to a place we visit every year, almost a pilgrimage: the Peter Lik studio. With apologies to Ansel Adams et. al. he takes the most remarkable nature photos that I have ever seen, and that fact alone would make his oeuvre distinctive. But, beyond that, he enlarges the photos, sometimes to 4/5-ft. on a dimension, somehow prints the pictures on glass or a clear laminate, then mounts them over a light box which back lights the art. The back lighting adds special drama. 30 years of my best photos cannot equal one of his mundane shots. I finally got the courage to ask the sales person the cost of for a piece: $3,000 to $8,000 for some of the smaller works, up to $95,000 for some of the limited edition pieces. Peter Lik Photos

When we got back to the boat it was time for my first "cruisers bath" of this trip. I wanted to check the zinc on the propeller shaft and bath time seemed a good time to do it. The bath consists of putting on a Speedo bathing suit, at least in a populated area which this is, and jumping into the water from the stern, wash down in salt water, and try to rinse the salt off with a teaspoon to a cup of fresh water in a camp shower bag. Despite the fact that the water is relatively warm, it's still not a hot bath; my affinity for warm means that easing into the water can take hours .... a direct plunge is the only way to overcome the temperature. The salt water bath is not a very complicated process but there have still been learning opportunities: (1) do not, ever, ever, rinse the razor in salt water because your face will take a long time to heal from the shave the next day; (2) bars of Irish Spring soap do not float, even for a nanosecond. Carol's cruising ablutions are a mystery to me and I hope that they remain so.

On Saturday we visited another cousin, one of Carol's, Bill with whom she grew up in Coral Gables. It was a nice visit and Bill drove us by the house where Carol grew up. She, more or less, recognized the front wall as still being kind of original. The rest of the house had been subjected to the tear down huge-erator and had become just another McMansion. Still, in all, better than the fate of my former house which was razed to the ground. It is Florida after all.


More excitement on a Saturday morning: Carol managed, somehow, to break a critical part of the toilet without which it doesn't work. This was a piece that is not supposed to break, so we had no replacement (it is injection molded plastic and there was a void in the plastic where it broke). Si, hay problema! Replacing turned out to be very expensive .... not for the part whose cost was nominal but to rent a car and to drive to Ft. Lauderdale which was where the only replacement could be found. It seemed a fair price to pay after 24 hours of actually having a pot to pee in.

We have noticed a new(?) thing this year. Many of the huge yachts we've seen have been home ported/registered in Bikini, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, where Georgetown in the Cayman Islands had seemed to dominate. A quick internet search came up with the unsurprising result that taxes do matter to people who can afford these types of boats.

We want to head to Boot Key Harbor in Marathon, FL, but that inn is full. There is also weather headed our way and all of the anchorages we might use in the keys will be very exposed so, we guess, that we'll stay here for a while and wait to see what happens. The anchorage is fairly protected so that is not a bad choice.

Posted by sailziveli 09:13 Archived in USA

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