When I last sent an update, Richard and I were on Lucky, anchored in the Lake at Bakers’ Haulover, just north of Florida International University in North Miami. Our friends from Wales, Mick and Sue, were anchored beside us.
We enjoy this spot. It’s quiet, with mostly paddlers, manatees and dolphins going by. There used to be many long-term anchorers here, but all of the water taps have been removed to discourage them. (We had a good supply of water on board, but still had to use it sparingly.)
Finally, after we had patched our leaking dinghy and all of the big power boats from the Miami Boat Show had passed by our lake, we continued south and sailed on a beautiful wind from Rickenbacher Bridge to No Name Harbor, at the south tip of Key Biscayne – the first of many wonderful passages in the Intracoastal Waterway under full sail this year.
No Name is a good place to get water, do laundry, go for long walks, meet other sailors and walk to the Winn Dixie for groceries, which we did. But earplugs are necessary on the weekend at night, as many powerboats with very large speakers zoom over from Miami then. Their crews tie up to the dock and party all night.
On the positive side, I did a painting of the entrance and found new homes for some of my books.
On Feb. 28, we moved south to Sands Key – four other sailboats there but isolated enough to swim without suits, and sometimes we spot a loggerhead turtle, although not this year.
After a day or two, we continued south and anchored southeast of the first bridge from the mainland to the Keys. We were alone there, except for the manatees of all sizes that we watched cavorting in the shallows. We have seen manatees do this before and think it may have to do with reproduction, although maybe they were just playing. Watching them was a delight.
A relaxing couple of days. Richard cooked crȇpes and baked bread, and we explored Steamboat Creek. We watched another of the good movies that Rebecca had left on the boat – Denial, about the Holocaust.
The next day, after a great sail south, we anchored in Tarpon Basin, which has become our favourite anchorage. Water, propane and groceries are all available there, albeit with long walks dragging the heavily loaded bundle buggy. There are quite a few live-aboards there and most have cars or bicycles to get around. We had happy hour with an older couple that we had met a few years ago, who live permanently on their boat there. We toured Hemingway Creek and I spent a couple of afternoons painting in the dinghy, tied to a mangrove root. Then on March 6th, a great sail back to No Name to meet up with Rick, Rebecca, Colin, Dylan and Dylan’s friend Raj. The boys liked to scamper up Lucky’s ratlines and dive into the water from the masthead. Lots of noisy fun.
Diny, the single-hander that was towed into No Name in the middle of the night last year, arrived. Her boat was leaking and Richard found serious hull problems. We took to calling Diny every night to make sure her boat hadn’t sunk yet. Richard would give her good advice, which she didn’t always take, but talking to Richard seemed to reassure her. It was lovely having a smart phone so we could keep in touch and have access to internet on the boat.
On March 21, we were in Tarpon Basin again, when friend Elizabeth Miller arrived via plane from Toronto to Miami and shuttlebus to the government building in Key Largo. She added life to the boat. Richard gets along well with her and they like to cook together. The next day I took her on a long tour of the mangrove creeks, with the outboard motor tilted up because the creeks were shallow in spots. I had forgotten that the motor can only be tilted up for a short time or it runs dry, heats up and the seals melt. This mistake would seriously restrict our ability to get to shore, but it didn’t show up for a few days. We ordered a new impeller and Steve and Janet, friends from Toronto who have a condo in the Keys, picked it up and delivered it to us at the Lorelei, where we have been reconnecting every year and drinking a toast to Alan, an old sailing friend who died a few years ago. We rowed the dinghy in to see them and it was wonderful to visit with them. The sail south to the Lorelei and back to Tarpon Basin (off Key Largo) was another perfect trip, with good wind both ways.
Over the next two days, Elizabeth found a U- tube video of instruction and the three of us worked on getting the new impeller on the motor.
We rented a car one day to drive down and see Diny, who had her boat hauled out in Marathon. She would try to fix the hull herself, rather than have the boat yard do it, on Richard’s advice. The boat yard owner seemed a bit miffed. He may have expected her to use his staff. We stopped at Boot Key Marina, which seems to have lost its allure for me – trees gone and the front dinghy dock torn away in the hurricane. And it’s become expensive to anchor there, as the dinghy landing fees have been increased.
We had lunch at the Stuffed Pig and made a stop for Elizabeth at the Key Lime Pie Factory on the way back to the boat, in Tarpon Basin.
On Mar. 29, we had a beautiful sail from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (me on the tiller except for breaks) to get back to No Name Harbor so Elizabeth could catch the plane the next day and fly back to Toronto. I walked her out of the park to the bus stop and walked back to what seemed like a very quiet boat with just Richard and me on it.
The rest of the trip was a rewind of the beginning – anchoring at night in spots we have been to many times, and going through many bridges that only open for boats with masts or really big power boats on the hour and half-hour. The bridges seem to be spaced perfectly for a boat going seven knots instead of our five or six knots so, unless we have one of those boats just ahead of us, we do a lot of waiting.
Our last anchorage before Indiantown was the Four Rivers Loop, just east of and below the St. Lucie Lock, a lovely, isolated spot. We took the sails off there and folded them, then packed them below in the quarter berth. Lucky looked a bit naked.
Just after that, on April 11, a vicious storm came through with sixty-knot gusts and heavy rainfall. Lucky dragged several times while we tried to her out of the trees and re-anchor. Eventually the anchor set and we had a good night’s sleep. Richard made crȇpes for breakfast, with maple syrup and dark cherries, a nice find in our diminishing store of groceries, and then we headed for the marina. We anchored outside the marina in the canal as the docks were crowded and the rates had gone up.
After we drove to West Palm Beach and got new parts for the outboard motor, Richard tried to work on it in the cockpit, but decided to take it home in the car so he could work on it in the shop. How guilty I felt for tipping that motor out of the water and causing these problems!
Lucky was hauled out Monday April 17 and we worked all day putting her to bed. Richard was especially careful to make sure no rats could get into the boat. I guess we will know if he was successful when we open the boat next season.
In the morning we got rid of the garbage and put leftover groceries on the free table. After breakfast at Crackers, the cowboy restaurant with Richard and Renita Brooks, we were driving north. Two days later, just before midnight, we were home in Bothwell. The house was warm and cozy, despite a bit of snow outside.
Will we still be cruising next year? At 75 and 78, it’s a good question, but we’re optimistic.