February 20, 2010
Back in Miami Beach the next day, the weather was getting bad. Forecast called for 45 kt winds and heavy rain and lightening. We anchored between two fingers of the Venetian Islands for protection, which worked like a charm. The next day we moved back to our spot near South Beach’s Lincoln road and jumped on our bikes and hit the Miami Boat Show looking for deals and checking out the new sailboats. It was at this boat show a year ago that Galit and I decided to get serious about buying a sailboat and it is when we fell for the Benneteau 40. What a difference a year makes!
Galit went back to work, I began hanging out with Robert Thomassen. He owned a 1978 Jeanneau anchored near me and had just returned from Cuba. We sipped Cuban rum and smoked cigars and swapped sailing stories. He’s been sailing his whole life, including some transatlantic so his stories were better. He’s from the Faroe Islands and we hit it off. Then it was my turn to go to work. Galit and I crossed on different buses coming from/going to the airport. It was her turn to solo on the boat. Just in case, I asked Robert to keep an eye on her and another sailor named David from Belgium to also help if necessary. Turns our Lil’ Vill’s engine had troubles and Galit had to rely on Robert to ferry her back and forth. They ended up swapping stories and rum as well (eg, almost sailing into a whale sleeping).
When I got back, we took Robert to breakfast to thank him and say farewell. He was pulling his boat out of the water while he went back to the Faroe Islands. Casually, he asked if I wanted to sail with him up to Fort Pierce, help him get the boat on the hard, and then drive back with him – all in about 2.5 days. I thought about it. Galit would be leaving later that day and the weather was to be pretty stable so I said sure. Adventure! It was that, especially getting in and out of the ocean inlets without an engine. But it was also a lot of work, especially when we got there and had to decommission the boat.
Also, I finished several upgrades and maintenance projects on Villainy including installing two solar panels to help keep the batteries charged. Refrigeration is our biggest power hog and the panels should keep up with their use. Besides a bunch of little things Galit and I did that I won’t bore you with (LED lights, rewiring battery banks, installing alternator to battery smart charger, adding toggle switches on every light, mounting a spice rack, etc, etc), we did spend 4 days of back breaking work cleaning and treating the teak. Now it looks gorgeous and was worth the work. Remember I foreshadowed earlier that we’d come up with a nice answer to the dragging problem. One of our upgrades was a small LCD monitor that is typically used in headrests of SUVs. I hooked it up to our chart plotter and Galit and I painstakingly ran the cable all the way back to our bedroom. Now we can watch to see our position with regard to the location we dropped the anchor and monitor the wind speed and direction – all without having to leave the bed! Plus, we can watch movies on it in bed. Lazy, I know. Finally, we stocked up on all the food and drink we will need for the Bahamas as the prices over there are quite high because of import taxes. Now we are ready.
February 07, 2010
The next day we had to motor as the wind was right on our nose the whole way and it was strong. We decided to cut early and go explore around Noname harbor and Hurricane hole just South of Miami. We anchored near Hurricane hole for the night. These two places are popular jump-off points for sailors waiting for a weather window for the Bahamas. We’ll be there soon waiting for our window.
January 31, 2010
Galit left me alone to work another flight. In the meantime, I got pounded by a few fronts that rolled through Key West and spent some quality time at the Green Parrot watching the Super Bowl.
After Galit returned, we began our sail back to Miami, with planned stops in Marathon and Rodriquez Key. The sail back up North was not as nice as the sail down South. We fought high winds opposing us and cold weather and rain most of the way.
When we got to Marathon, there were not mooring balls and the anchoring inside Boot Harbor Key was so tight that several nicer larger sailboats had anchored outside the harbor near the entrance. We decided to join them. We set our anchor between a Jeanneau 39i and a nice big Tartan, all of us with plenty of swing room. The winds were to be near 30 kts, were shifting and were to do a 180 by midnight. Galit and I watched a movie and before hitting the sack she went to check out how we were doing. Screams! I ran up to find a puzzling configuration of boats and the Tartan about 25 feet off our bow. We yelled at them to wake them up assuming they had dragged. Trying to calm down as there was no immediate danger of hitting, we surmised that we had dragged, in fact we must have dragged past the Tartan. Two ships passing in the night within 10-20 feet of one another without either aware! Scary! Lucky! Our anchor must have unset when the wind switched 180 degrees, then we dragged as we slid past the Tartan, when the anchor set again. We pulled up anchor, moved, and dropped it away from everyone. We set it really hard and there was no indication we were dragging, but I did not sleep the rest of the night. (Foreshadowing: new solution). Everyone we’ve talked to has said it happens from time to time. I guess it’s like going aground – sooner or later it will happen. Lesson: When the wind is going to shift that much, be prepared to reanchor.
Got up early and headed out banging against the waves pretty much head on until we reached the middle of Hawk Channel, where we turned the engine off and hoisted the sails. Our tack was just about 30 degrees of the wind, but we managed to sail 6-7 kts all the way to Rodriquez Key in great time. We anchored very near where Ty and I did. We opened a bottle of wine and watched the sun set as we lounged lazily in the cockpit.
January 30, 2010
Ty and I rolled into Key West after another great day of sailing. We rounded the corner, consulted our guide book (Waterway) which said the City’s mooring field was “West” of Fleming Key. We motored up thru the many boats in various stages of repair (or disrepair) and began poking around some pretty crappy looking mooring balls just West of Fleming Key. We picked up one and noticed it was attached to a sunken boat. Not a good sign. We radioed in to confirm the location of the mooring field and it turns out it’s on the East side of Fleming Key. So, we flipped it and pulled up a ball that was on the closest row near the Garrison Bight where the dingy dock is supposed to be. Turns out we were lucky as everybody we ran into kept saying that the front of the field is coveted and boaters sometimes wait weeks or months to get such a spot. Not so sure it was that great. We were right next to a guy who ran his generator outside on the deck almost all day and into the evening. He told me it was so his wife could watch Fox News all day. Double evil.
After doing some boat cleaning and maintenance, Ty and I hit the town. Of course we hit several classic bars down Duval street, like Sloppy Joe’s of Hemingway lore. But we really had a great time at the Green Parrot off Whitehead, which had a great local scene with an incredible band that Galit and I had seen play a year ago in Miami. They mix latin, reggae, soul, and hip-hop and have a full horn section. For the life of me, I can’t recall their name. It’ll come to me. After a couple of nights, Galit returned and got back in the action. Ty rented a bike and we rode all over Key West to tourist spots, beaches, docks, shops, restaurants, and of course some bars. We had a great night at the Schooner Wharf Bar listening to great live music and smoking hand rolled cigars.
We said goodbye to Ty as he flew back to NYC for work and Galit and I goofed around Key West for another couple of days. We bought a great hammock that we string between the forestay and the mast. The waves rock you back and forth so nice.
January 29, 2010
Next stop: Key West! Got up, and threw up the main and genny and we were off to the races. It did feel really disorienting to be sailing West right at 270 degrees as almost all of our sailing has been South. Six hours later on a single tack we arrived in Key West.
January 27, 2010
The next morning, we got up early and again had great wind and sun all the way to our next destination, Boot Key Harbor in the City of Marathon. Marathon is one of those boater’s destinations that you hear about people staying for months. It was very well outfitted for boaters and has a huge mooring field. The nicest dingy docks I’ve ever seen, a large book exchange, weather stations, recycling centers, private showers, etc. It was well run and organized and close to supply stores. Historically, it was a place for outlaws and anarchists. Today, and to me, it seemed like a cult. But I’m a cynic and I’m sure I’ll get flamed for these remarks, but… For example, when we first arrived to the building where the dock master’s desk was, we noticed that several dozen people were all eating together at picnic tables. In fact, it was a big pot-luck, with food and drink spread along a long table. I avoided the Kool-Aid. Everybody seemed to know one another and we heard on the VHF coming in that most people calling in for a mooring ball wanted it for a month or two. We stayed for a couple of nights. Communal living is not really my thing. I deprogrammed Ty after he’d been brainwashed, but I still don’t trust him.
January 25, 2010
Another round of cold rainy weather kept us on anchor there for another week. Galit went to work to make some cash. Luckily, my friend Ty was able to come down and join the fun. After a couple of days goofing around SOBE (for instance, Operation Coconut), the weather turned favorable and we started our jaunt down to Key West.
First stop was a little protected anchorage off Key Largo between Key Rodgriquez. We had great wind 15-20 kts, if not a little too much on the ass, that propelled us with ease the 52 miles without tacking once. We went outside in the ocean, but stayed within the barrier reefs in Hawk Channel. The water became more and more turquoise as we went further south. Saw dolphins and several large sea turtles.
January 15, 2010
We headed out early in the morning out into the ocean where we raced some ominous looking clouds all the way to Miami. It felt so good to spread our wings after such a long break! We anchored just off Belle Island in South Beach. We celebrated with some pink champagne that I’d been saving since Galit and I did not get to spend New Year’s Eve together. Plus, we had a visitor! A huge manatee popped his head up, checked us out, then swam away slowly. Pic ain’t great, but I can only get to my camera so fast!
January 13, 2010
As soon as Ethan left, the weather got better (of course). We were anxious to leave and motored up towards Ft. Lauderdale so we could make an easy sail back down around the Julia Tuttle Bridge, which is too low for us to pass under. Yeah, because of that bridge, to go below 41st street, we have to go all the way to Ft. Lauderdale, out Port Everglades to the ocean, and sail down to Port Miami. We didn’t care because we were jonzin to do some sailing. We spent the night in South Lake, which the charts list as 4 feet deep but has been dredged to over 30 feet in some places (see iPhone screenshot). Galit took me to a bar and grill on the water called Le Tub, which has a bunch of bathtubs and toilet bowls with plants growing out of them everywhere. Cool spot to watch the sunset.
January 09, 2010
After a long holiday break, we rejoined Villainy right where we left her off Indian Creek. Our plan was to do a quick trip down to the Keys and back before the Miami Strictly Sail Boat Show. My friend Ethan flew to MIA to join us for the trip. Unfortunately, the weather was crazy! Miami was so cold that numerous records were set. So cold that Iguanas went into a stupor and were laying on the ground and we saw at least 15 floating dead in the water. Sad. But on the other hand, it doesn’t seem like Floridians like the iggies anyway (see ad for iggy be gone). Despite the weather, we made a grand time of it. Went to our friend Amir’s hip bar called Bardot, another friend Christian’s birthday party at Club Louis with a bevy of models and a leather clad midget dancing on the top of the bar with a huge airgun blasting the dancing crowd, some bike rides, some eating with the Brody’s, etc.