We are now anchored in South Miami Beach. What an incredible feeling that we’ve actually made it this far south. I had doubts earlier on our trip. And what a change of scenery and weather from the 30 something degrees, murky water, and foliage of the low country to the mid 80’s, turquoise waters, and sandy beaches with palm trees everywhere!
For the first time on this trip, we sailed on the ocean from the Port Everglades inlet to Miami. We left the Fort Lauderdale Municipal Marina where we had provisioned, washed clothes, made some minor repairs, cleaned the boat, and had multiple hot showers, at 7 am on Tuesday morning. After crossing under our 20th + bascule bridge with one more to go before leaving the waters of the ICW, we began to mentally change our attitude from cruising to sailing. The weather was perfect-no thunderstorms predicted, partly sunny and winds of 10-15 knots. James had plotted a course on our GPS about a mile off shore. We had no sooner got up our sails when we spotted a submarine in the distance. Of course I immediately got the camera to take pictures. Within a minute, we had a BOATUS boat on our beam, shouting that we were in a Naval Test Range where they were conducting surface operations. Apparently he had been trying to hail us on 16, but we had forgotten to change the radio back from 9 where we had been talking to the bridges. We were told we either had to change our course from less than ½ mile from shore or 3 miles from shore. James reluctantly altered our course towards shore. The guy began shouting you need to move faster and James being obstinate said, “This is as fast as a sailboat can move.” He replied quite forcefully, “Turn on your engine!” We obliged.
We had a nice sail along the shore before we needed to tack out to the 3 miles to avoid some unknown obstructions on the chart. Three miles out can make a huge difference in wind and waves. It became extremely rolly with at least 8 foot swells! Neither one of us became sick, but we didn’t we also didn’t have an appetite for any lunch. We settled for ginger ale and crackers. At around 1 pm we entered the channel for Miami. The channel is well marked and even with all the traffic it wasn’t hard to maneuver into. The only glitch coming in was that the easiest and most direct way into the harbor is through Government Cut, but apparently whenever a cruise ship is docked there all traffic is directed through Fisherman’s Channel. I guess they are afraid we might be carrying a bomb. After Boston I would imagine they are on even more high alert. Another hour of motoring through the channels found us in a quiet little anchorage called Sunset Lake. Last night we dinghed over to the small fixed bridge at the end of the lake, tied up to a post by the bridge, climbed up to the road, and walked over to Walgreens and Publix.
We slept in this morning and had a leisurely lazy breakfast of cereal and coffee. There was a cool breeze blowing through the boat so we decided to not get in a hurry to go anywhere. We did a little housekeeping, checked email on our phones, and read. About noon we closed up the boat and decided to do a little sightseeing in the dinghy. First we rode all the way up Collins Canal looking for the dinghy dock to go to the other Publix, which we thought was the newer and nicer one. When we found the dock, it didn’t look easy to climb up and since the neighborhood looked a little shady, James wasn’t comfortable leaving the dinghy. We went back to the dinghy dock by the police department (seemed to be much safer) and set off on foot. We came upon the Publix by the canal and realized it was the one we had gone to last night. We sure were glad we didn’t climb up the dock on the canal! We eventually found the “big” Publix. They are very close to each other and neither is that far from our docking near Sunset Lake. We will finish provisioning tomorrow.
Next we walked to the Lincoln Street Pedestrian Mall. I had hoped there would be lots of interesting little shops but mostly it was your mall stores-Gap, Swatch, Victoria Secret, etc. But there were many interesting restaurants. We decided to eat at The Café at Books and Books because Bill and Adair had recommended plus I liked the theme. It is a bookstore as well as café. While looking at the menu outside, a nice lady encouraged us to eat there and commented that we looked like tourists. We said, “Yes, we’re from Tennessee.” She replied that she thought we were probably from New Zealand or somewhere! Maybe it was James’ boat hat and our backpacks???
After lunch we caught the SOBE Local Mini Bus. It makes a huge loop around South Beach for only 25 cents. What a deal! We eventually rode the entire route which gave us a good overview of the area. Of course we had to see what all the hoopla is about South Beach, so we walked many blocks on Ocean Drive past numerous street side restaurants where they hawked their “wares” trying to get us to eat and drink the Happy Hour specials. We were still full from lunch plus the monster drinks looked large enough to make you so drunk you wouldn’t be able to even walk home or they would be so sickening sweet that you would feel like you were drinking a gallon of Kool-Aid. We passed. We did make a trek to the beach to do a quick walk in the surf and collect a small baggie of sand. Before leaving the area, we had ice cream and people watched. We did enjoy looking at all the art deco architecture of the old hotels that are now the restaurants, clubs and bars. An interesting note was that the Johnny Rockets advertised spiked milkshakes. We’re not in the Bible Belt that’s for sure. J All in all yesterday, I spent a whopping total of $1.00 to buy a little trinket at one of the shops.
Here is an interesting story. When we motored into Sunset Lake where we are anchored, the first thing we noticed was this fleet of small “demasted” Pico sailing dinghies. We thought, “Oh, how neat, they must have fleet races on this lake.” NOT…Bill Murdoch told us that the man who lives in the house with all the little boats in his backyard, anchored them there to keep people like us from anchoring in front of his house! Initially he had attempted to play loud rap music and shine bright spotlights toward anchored boats but got eight visits and two tickets from the local police for that approach. What strange things people do. I counted 27 boats with their masts replaced with pvc pipe and a solar light on top.
Tomorrow we will get some more groceries and I’ll cook some dishes ahead of time. We will do some more trip planning and then probably move somewhere in Key Biscayne, hopefully a marina. We need to pump out, fuel, and get water.