Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 25, 2014 Miami and Beyond

We had a nice breakfast as more boats came into the harbor for the day.  Dave asked another sailboat about using the Cape Florida Channel, closest to the island.  They said we should have no problem with 5 foot draft.  So we left at 10:15am and took the short cut back to the ocean.  You could take the intracoastal waterway through Miami, but we thought that would be too slow and busy.  Besides it was another beautiful day with flat seas.  Actually, it would have been perfect weather to go to the Bahamas, but neither one of us brought that up. 

We went about 3 miles off shore to avoid hazards and a lot of traffic.  The water was a beautiful deep blue color. I checked the depth to see if that was the reason, it was 600 ft deep.  I guess that’s why I’ve never seen that blue before.  Later, Dave read that the Gulf Stream comes that close to Miami, so we could have been in the Gulf Stream.  We were making pretty good time. 

We rounded Key Biscayne and headed north along the coast of Miami.  It was 12:00 by the time we were at the south end of Miami Beach and 1:30 when we were off of north Miami Beach.  Seemed like we looked at the Miami skyline for half a day. 

At some point, we wanted to go into the IntraCoastal Waterway (ICW) to spend the night.  We had called on the VHF radio to ask about the best entrance into the Intracoastal waterway for a boat our size.  We have insurance with, but we were told that they would give anyone up to date information about any channel to avoid having to be towed.  And it worked.  They recommended Port Everglades Inlet (into Ft Lauderdale), or Hillsboro Inlet about 10 miles further north.  We wanted to stay outside of the ICW, but the Hillsboro inlet sounded like there might be a strong current with the tide rising when we would reach it.  Wanting to avoid drama, we went in at Port Everglades.  About 2:30 we turned towards shore.

What would have taken us 2 hours on the ocean turned into 4 hours on the ICW.  Heavy traffic is to be expected in a city, but this was also a holiday weekend. First, in the channel coming off the ocean, there were all sizes of boats roaring past us, which makes our boat roll side to side.  There were about 4 boats with blue flashing lights right at the shore line of the entrance.  They cleared out by the time we reached there. 

At 3:30, we turned around the first bend and approached a bridge that is said to be 55 feet, the 17th street bridge.  Our mast is 54, with an antenna.  so we called the bridge tender to see if we should wait for the next opening.  He said we’d have to come up to the bridge to read the tide level and decide for ourselves.  We see the tide levels all the time when we pass under bridges, but it is usually obvious whether it’s tall enough to pass under or to wait for the opening.  We didn’t want to get right up to the bridge and decide we would have to turn around, especially with all the boat traffic, so I got out the binoculars to read the water level.  There is a board that looks like a large ruler.  It shows you how much clearance there is depending on the tide.  It read 57 feet, so we went under and crossed our fingers and made it.

Twice we saw wide spots in the ICW that had about 50 ski boats anchored and people walking between them with drinks in their hands or on floaties.  I guess that was more calm than going to the beach.  We also saw huge homes along the waterway, huge boats, open air bars, some with steel drum music.  Lots of activity. 

The rest of the day was spent racing to the next bridge to catch the timed opening or waiting for the bridge to open.  At the second bridge we came to, East Las Olas Blvd bridge, we just missed the opening at 3:45, so we had to wait 30 minutes by circling around the channel avoiding other boats.  Another sailboat came up and called the bridge tender.  We were so smug thinking we knew when it would open and didn’t need to call the bridge.  When we passed though, the bridge tender called us with his loud speaker.  So we responded on the radio to see what he wanted.  He kind of scolded us by saying he had to log the name of every boat that goes though the bridge.  So we apologized and gave him our boat name.  I guess that other boat knew what he was doing, not us.  What bugged us was later that day, some tall power boats would wait for bridge opening, but they only needed to log the names of the sailboats going through.  Need to research the reasoning behind that. 

4:30 Sunrise Blvd Bridge
5:15 Oakland Park Bridge-had to wait 30 minutes.  Waiters at the bars along the ICW tried to talk us into tying up and getting a drink while we waited.
6:00 Atlantic Blvd Bridge-now we are racing between bridges to catch the next timed opening.
6:15 NE 14th Ave Bridge
6:30 we passed the Hillsboro inlet and wished we had taken it instead of the ICW. 
7:00 Hillsboro Blvd Bridge
7:20 Camino Real Bridge

We came to Lake Boca Raton on the ICW and it was suggested as a good overnight anchorage.  It is also known as a party area.  It was just a rectangular area off of the ICW surrounded by condos.  When they dredge the outer rim, they pile the spoils in the center.  So it is very shallow and to be avoided by sailboats with keels, like us.  But there were plenty of power boaters anchored there and 2 huge catamarans rafted together with people celebrating the holiday weekend.  The view was nothing like a night at a

We had dinner and after dark, moved our boat.  We felt we were a little close to shore with traffic going to the slips at the condos.  Several boats had left, so that gave us room to move more to the center, but still in 8 feet of water.  We could hear party music from a bar on shore across the “lake”.  Again, we liked the music, just wanted to go to sleep. 

We mapped out a distance to travel tomorrow, but we’d have to get an early start to go half way in the ICW and then half way outside.  So we’ll see how we sleep.

Key Biscayne lighthouse

Miami Beach

Tide level for our 54 ft mast with antena

partiers on the ICW in Ft Lauderdale

Lake Boca Raton
lake in South Dakota. 

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