Swift

To Bimini and Back with no Beer

Tuesday, January 24
"Where have you been" asks our mooring field neighbor, Tom.
"Miami Marine Stadium", Matt replies.
"They let you anchor there?"
"Not really".
"Why did you leave? We were all fine in the mooring field. We've been drinking beer and watching the World Cup practice runs".

Why did we leave, travel 85 miles, cross the Gulf Stream twice, and become criminals, in order to make good 0 feet? It's a fine question.

Friday, January 20 
I'm putting away my new fenders when some Team USA World Cup sailors mosey up. "How are you?" I ask. "Having more fun than you!" They respond.

I shake my head. Sure, sailing around the bay IS fun. You know what's more fun? I'm stowing my fenders because I'm going to the Bahamas! On my dream boat! With my adorable family! Take that!

We motored over to Cape Florida, our departure point. No Name Harbor was full, so we anchored 250 feet off a lee shore, with 10 other boats, in a channel that power boaters use all night long. I did an anchor watch until it was time to leave.

Saturday, January 21

We left at 2AM just as the moon was rising. Off to the Bahamas! Finally! Tonight we'll be drinking celebratory sundowners on a movie-set beach in a foriegn country! We had less than 5 knots of wind and motored using just the port engine. We crossed the Gulf Stream and noted it's northerly push - 30-40 degrees! Impressive. The wind increased to a 20 knot headwind. 15 miles outside of Bimini we decided to switch engines. 

Sunrise. Before the incident, before the event, and before the storm. Lovely!
The SB engine started fine, but produced no power. We glared at it. Matt put our GoPro on a tripod and took a video of the prop. Now, our propellors are Flex-o-folds and "fold" when not in use. This is really efficient and saves us 1 knot of drag when sailing. It's really not cool when it decides to get stuck in a partially folded position. 

Matt put on his wetsuit, grabbed his snorkel gear and went for a swim in 2,700 feet of water. We were both thinking about deep sea creatures, but no one wanted to mention them. If the deep sea creatures have TV, Matt will be fine; they'll be absorbed in The Bachelor. But what if theres a commercial break? Surely someone swimming around and banging on their propellor with a hammer will be the most interesting thing going on? Matt tried to get the prop to un-stick, but it was stuck good. We kept motoring on one engine towards Bimini.

Sadly, with the wind and seas against us our speed slowed to 2 knots. We could probably make it to Bimini, anchor, hopefully fix the prop, and then motor into a marina to prepare for the forecasted cold front. This plan needed everything to go right, and that's not the way the day was going. We decided to head to the nearest port we could sail to - Miami. We made great speeds (8 knots, slowed to 6 by the Gulf Stream) over rising seas and sailed into Government Cut. By now the winds were gustering to 25 knots and the seas were 4 to 6 feet, sometimes a bit more. The weather was moving in much quicker than anticipated and we cut it much closer than we would've liked. We anchored off Miami's Marine Stadium and were very happy to have a safe harbor for the forecasted gale force winds for the next few days.

Did we have one of our 29 beers to recover? No, of course not! Beer might be a suitable salve for surviving a week of 9-5, but when you've survived nearly sailing your dream boat to the Bahamas with your lovely family and you have no responsibilities and no worries, it's only the super-secret off-the-record bottle of Tequila that will get you through.

Sunday, January 22
It's not the Bahamas, but it is a cute, private island!
Island beach with cruise ships in Government in the background. 
We were admiring our lovely, safe, and curiously quiet anchorage when the Police came over to tell us we had to leave - the anchorage is closed because of the boat show (in two weeks) (and the boat show boats don't anchor). They suggested an anchorage out in the bay with a lee shore. I'm guessing people who get to go home and sleep in a house aren't worried about the forecasted gale with 40 knot winds and lee shores. 


Thankfully, the police left and didn't hang out to watch to see how obedient we are. I did a lot of thinking and researching and trying to come up with another plan, however, we're on one engine, there are no other safe harbors (yes, No Name Harbor is safe, but it was packed and was a few miles away). Miami Beach might be nice, but oh, yeah, it's illegal to anchor there too! To my amazement, the other 5 boats anchored with us left. They motored off into sustained 30 knot winds. They motored off even though this storm front has produced tornadoes that have already killed more people that all the tornadoes of 2016. Where are they going?

Do I feel like leaving? No. Do I get in a rage at the Miami and Ft. Lauderdale police and all their anchoring restrictions? You betcha! Do I reach for one of my 29 beers to calm my nerves? Ha! Beer is for people who's work printer has jammed. Beer is for people who can't decide whether to watch the Bachelor because it's an amazing show or boycott it because it's simply too amazing.

Monday, Jan 23
The squall line came through about 4AM and we held fast.

We thought about leaving at first light to avoid another encounter with the police, but the wind was sustained about 30 knots with higher gusts and we didn't feel like plowing off into the weather. Besides, jail is beginning to sound pretty nice. The boat will be impounded and I won't be able to go sailing anymore? Thank god! There's a $50 fine? Doesn't that sound cheaper than a recovery operation after the boat ends up on the rocks? (Yes, I'm very bitter about this whole "no anchoring" fiasco). ( I guess the police also didn't feel like raging around in 30 plus knots as we were left alone).

Squalls in Miami Marine Stadium Anchorage
Tuesday, Jan 24
We lept up, took Hastings to shore, and left, anxious to avoid the police. By this point, Matt has disassembled and re-assembled the propellor underwater 4 times and it's no longer completely stuck. (And we didn't drop a single thing during these operations). It's not moving as freely as the other prop but it is working. As soon as we were out of the anchorage, the wind really increased.

"It must have been really bad out here in the storm", I told Matt.
"Maybe it was fine. Maybe other people aren't as cautious as you and I are, and they have less trouble because of it", Matt said.

We motored under the bridge and saw the beach anchorage that the police told us to move to. There were 5 boats that had come a-cropper on the lee shore, exposed to the bay.

We sailed across the bay and called Dinner Key Marina. Our old mooring ball is waiting for us. How lovely! We entered the moorings. It's a tradition to entertain the neighbors while picking up a mooring ball, so we obliged by exchanging words, that, when amplified by the wind, probably sounded like yelling. We wanted to give the full show and attempt to pick up the mooring 5 times, according to deeply held tradition, but we managed it in just one act. Glad we printed "No Refunds" on the admission tickets.

Back on Ball 56, Team USA sails by. They're making amazing speed, far too fast for chit chat. "Looks fun, doesn't it?" Matt asks. 

Yeah. I bet anything is more fun than sailing to the Bahamas.
Dinner Key Mooring Field, Miami

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10 comments

  1. You're so funny! It's hard to find humor in engine troubles and stupid anchoring restrictions, but somehow you manage to.

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    1. I have to laugh or I'd go insane.....wait....maybe I already am insane!

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  2. Yeah . . . we would have stayed too. But I have to say, we've never had to deal with anchoring restrictions. Not like that, anyway. I can see why you reached for something stronger than a beer!

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

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    1. The anchoring restrictions are new... Miami and Ft Lauderdale home owners (people like Shaq and Madonna) claim they don't like looking at sailboats, and power boaters want to waterski without having to dodge anchored boats, and our governor agrees with them.

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  3. Yep. The rich and the powerful; they make the rules. You will make it to the Bahamas, and away from it all! So sorry you had "one of those days" (or a few). Humor is a better reaction than frustration, something we were good at on moments like the ones you describe! The good will win from the bad, eventually. :-)

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    1. Yes, we can't let bad times get us down. The sun will rise again tomorrow!

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  4. Tough to turn around when you were so close! But sometimes that's just want needs to happen. Better luck next crossing

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    1. Thanks Bill! In the meantime, we're enjoying Elliot Key and Pumpkin Key.

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  5. When old age and 20+ years of experience kicks in, you'll laugh at this adventure. I am glad you are still in your careful phase! So when we next read of you bringing out the tequila, we'll have perspective of the frustration level aboard the Independence. You have such a carefree life. Posted from my toasty bed with the rhythm of "sleep of the innocent" snoring by my side.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, the tequila is emergency use only- hopefully we can leave it in its hidey hole for a few months!

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