Monday, May 13, 2013

Our First Outside Run

Bud and I exploring the grassy flats just south of Key Biscayne.

For those of you waiting anxiously to hear about our first outside run, we did survive.  We apologize for the delay, but some memories needed to sink in before relaying.  The trip from Fort Lauderdale to Miami turned out not to be the easiest or prettiest 25 miles, but we made it still the same.  Before deciding on when to head south, as all good sailors do, we carefully followed the weather predictions.  The front that just had passed left the skies sunny, and we decided that 10 to 15 mph winds would not be a problem for Layla.  What we failed to appreciate was that Layla is capable of handling a whole lot more abuse than the two of us combined.  The day that we left Fort Lauderdale, the winds were from the east, and had been from the northeast for the previous couple of days.  These winds had enough time to build up waves near shore, and the waves were pushing directly onshore.  Naively we headed out the inlet, which itself was rough starting at the turning basin due to all the big yacht wakes.  Despite having to hang on with clenched grips as Layla plowed through the wakes, I was invigorated.  The water was a beautiful turquoise, and we both figured that the seas would calm down as soon as we got out of the channel.  We got out to +165 foot depths, watching the water turn from turquoise to deep crystal blue, and turned south.  With the winds now directly on our side, Layla was rocking and rolling side to side.  Bud braced himself at the wheel, and we continued.  An hour into the trip, conditions hadn’t changed a bit.  Neither of us wanted to even suggest heading back, as that would still mean an awful ride back through the inlet and not making any headway south.  So we were committed for the next four hours.  On one of the rocks and rolls, we heard banging noises from down below.  I decided to go down and assess the damages, and found that although a couple of things had fallen to the floor, no harm was done.  I made us a couple of sandwiches, grasping for the peanut butter and the cutting board as they slid from one side of the galley to the other.  I came back up triumphant, but white as a ghost.  No lunch for me today.  The rocking and rolling continued all the way to the Miami inlet, healing over so much as to take in water through the gunwales.  When we finally got to the inlet and started heading in, the rocking and rolling turned into following seas, surfing Layla all the way into the harbor.  Surfing may sound like fun, but on a sailboat with too much speed, pitching can bury the bow.  Bud slowed down Layla to make for a more comfortable ride, and we made it into Miami Harbor well before dark.

Bud holding Layla on a steady course from Fort Lauderdale to Miami.

Sunset at our first anchorage along the Venetian Causeway.

North Miami lights at night.

We spent the first week anchored along the Venetian Causeway, exploring Miami Beach, and the second week anchored just outside the Bill Baggs State Park on Key Biscayne, exploring all that nature had to show us.  We had beautiful sunsets most evenings, some incredible storms passing through, and some wonderful adventures as well.   

Miami Beach

Miami, as we found, almost felt like a foreign country, with an interesting mix of latino culture and language.  I loved it.  We got a taste of the Cuban culture in Miami Beach, munching on a Cuban sandwich at the local deli on our first day.  On the day that we decided to do laundry, the skies opened up, flooding the streets of Miami Beach.  We took cover at a little restaurant serving latino faire, and had the best food since starting this trip; starting with some horchota and arepas, and ending with chicken mofongo with this creamy cilantro sauce.  Below are some of our favorite shots of our time in Miami Beach.

South Miami Beach.

One of the many large homes in Miami Beach.

Of course we couldn't have claimed to have been to Miami Beach without finding a local hardware store.  This hardware store definitely was a treat.  The shelves were packed from floor to ceiling with every possible item that a hardware store could have.  And unlike some hardware stores, had at least ten different varieties of each item.  We found our 16 foot dinghy cable and lock here.

 The day the skies opened in Miami Beach.

  Bud and I enjoying chicken mofongo with home made black beans waiting for the rain to end.

The flooded streets didn't stop any of the Miami Beachers from driving around town.

Bailing out about 15 gallons of water from Zoe after
the storm passed.

Double rainbow over Miami Beach after the storm.

Key Biscayne

Key Biscayne brought us close to nature, and gave us a very different view of the Miami area.  While enjoying a drink in the cockpit at happy hour, we watched as Eagle rays jumped up through balls of schooling fish from the cockpit.  And on one particular calm evening at low tide, Bud and I explored the grassy flats off of the state park with our dinghy, Zoe, finding sea biscuits and sea urchins (yes, Lytechinus) and sea stars and conch living right below our boat.  Below are some of our favorite shots of the week off of the state park.

Layla in her new home off of Bill Baggs State Park.

The lighthouse at Bill Baggs State Park.

Iguanas in the mangroves in the park.

Flamingos flying past our anchorage off of Fisher Island.

Happy hour at our anchorage off of Key Biscayne.

Exploring the grassy flats at low tide near our anchorage off of Key Biscayne.

A living conch.

A live sea biscuit.  The first one I have ever seen in the wild.

Investigating a live sea star.

The waters were so clear, you could see the invertebrates from afar.

A double rainbow after a storm passed our anchorage off of Key Biscayne.

 Sunset at anchorage off of Key Biscayne.

Watching weather pass through Miami.....

Watching weather pass through Miami.....

Watching weather pass through Miami.....

And then the skies opened.....

We very much enjoyed the culture, the food, and the nature we found here in Miami, and really didn’t want to leave.  However, the Keys have their own appeal, and our plan is to head to Marathon when the weather permits.  With our six and a half foot draft, we won’t be able to take the intracoastal, but rather will take Hawk Channel, which runs between the Keys and the near shore coral reef.  We actually are happy to not follow the ICW, as we are looking forward to doing some more sailing on Layla, hoping for a more kind passage next time.  We will fill you in on our transit when we arrive in Marathon.           

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