Monday, February 25, 2008

Paradise Found

After nearly losing our boat at the Atlantic Avenue Bridge earlier on Thursday, we dropped the hook about 4:00 p.m. that evening in a quiet, protected anchorage at Lake Sylvia in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.

We discovered both new and old friends there.

The old friends were Rick and Mary from Tranquillity, the couple who had circumnavigated the globe and whom we had met a couple of weeks earlier at our Lake Worth anchorage.

The new friends were Don and Diane of Fitzcat, a PDQ 36 just like our boat. There aren't many PDQ 36's out there, and Phil had gotten advice from Don on the phone a few weeks ago when we had an engine problem. But we had never met them. Here they were anchored next to us at Lake Sylvia! We spent an enjoyable evening getting to know them. They have lived on their boat for eight years and had many wonderful stories to tell.

We knew we had to go "outside" between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, because there is a fixed bridge, the Julia Tuttle, inside on the Intracoastal Waterway, with only 57' of clearance. Our mast would likely not fit under it.

We listened to the weather reports and it looked like Monday would be the first day with northerly winds. Until then, winds were predicted from the south, which would make a rough trip.

Lo and behold, Rick and Mary called us early Saturday morning and said the weather report had changed and it looked like calm seas with winds from the east between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Rick and Mary planned to exit to the Atlantic at the Everglades Inlet just north of us and motor the 25 miles to Miami. They invited us to follow them if we wished.

We jumped at the chance to experience our first "outside" trip with veteran cruisers like Rick and Mary. We upped the anchor around 9:15 and followed them out of Lake Sylvia and through the Everglades Inlet.

It was a little "bumpy" as we exited the cut to the Atlantic, especially with a huge container ship entering the channel as we exited. But we held our own and followed Rick and Mary due east until we were about 1-1/2 miles offshore. Then we headed south at a heading of 180 degrees.

The first half of the trip was exhilarating. We could see Miami, even make out people sunbathing on the beach. They were only dots, but we could clearly see them.

As we moved south, the wind picked up and the seas became "bumpier."

Within an hour, we had 20 knots of wind on our nose, causing waves in the 3-5' range. Our row of books in the salon tumbled to the floor. Cabinets that weren't secure opened up, spilling out their contents. The HD TV, attached by an arm to the wall of the salon, began to move back and forth in a dangerous arc.

Phil found bungie cords to secure the television and we took turns going inside to pick up items that had fallen and secure them. In the cockpit, the turbulence soon forced us to wedge ourselves in with a foot here and a strong arm there. We took turns at the helm, giving each other needed breaks.

Amazingly, during this rough ride, we caught two good-sized fish on a trolling line we had set off the back of the boat. One was a Tunny and the other was a Spanish Mackerel. Somehow, we managed to fillet them en route and put them in the fridge.

We made it to the Miami Inlet about 3:30 p.m. and turned west into the channel that would take us back inside. As we turned, another huge container ship was heading toward us, needing the middle of the channel for water deep enough to float. We edged over to the right as far as we could, watching Tranquillity in front of us bobbing and weaving precariously close to the container ship.

At the same time, high-powered pleasure boats were entering and exiting the same channel with little regard for the turbulence they created. It took us nearly an hour to reach calmer water and head south. We anchored near the Eddie Rickenbacker Bridge a couple of miles inland and were thankful for a respite from the excitement.

Early the next morning, Tranquillity left for points south. We took our time and upped the anchor about 9:30 a.m. and headed south into Biscayne Bay.

A couple of hours later, we found an anchorage at a place called Dinner Key. There are many boats anchored here, including several catamarans.

Biscayne Bay is paradise if there ever was one. The water is like glass first thing in the morning. Later on, the winds pick up and sailboats appear everywhere. Biscayne Bay is a huge, protected area south of Miami where you can sail to your heart's content. The water is 8-10 feet deep throughout the bay, protected from the Atlantic by the upper Florida Keys. It's a perfect place for us.

As I write this post, the skies are blue, the temperature is about 80 degrees, there is a wonderful refreshing wind across our bow, and life is good.

It took some effort and interesting experiences to get here, but Biscayne Bay is everything we hoped for.

We will now learn how to sail this boat!

1 comment:

Greg and Dianne said...

It's been 5 days since you posted. We want to know more....we NEED to know more!!! Have you gotten so caught up in your own adventures that you have forgotten your audience?!