To The Bahamas, Part 4: Key West to Miami

2012-04-05, 14:00 — Miami, Miamarina, slip #C-1

We’re here in Miami, finally. And we’re tired.

Yesterday (only yesterday?) morning, we got up pretty early and headed back over to West Marine to buy some more line to install for our second reef. We were there as they opened, so we were back on the boat quickly. We installed the new reefing line, then fired up the engine to test the repairs we’d made the previous day to the muffler/exhaust hose. Hooray! The fix works!

Getting out of Key West was, ummm, a bit wet. We set sail just about noon on Wednesday, 2012-04-04. As we headed south in the ship channel, the wind was kicking up a bit and the shallow water was amplifying the waves, making it very bouncy getting out of there.

Happily, once we were well off Key West and into the Hawk Channel, the outer reef offered good protection from the swell while allowing a lovely 15kt wind to fill the sails. We killed the motor, put a reef in the mainsail, and went into “Oh. My. God. I’m sailing my own boat in the Florida Keys” mode. With huge grin on faces, we started the long sail up to Miami.

Barbara wasn’t terribly seasick, but she was just queasy enough that she wasn’t much interested in eating, and I certainly wasn’t going to ask her to fix any dinner just for me. So, I made some tomato soup that I put into the big pumping thermos (called an “air pot”) we bought just a week or so ago. The night got chilly, so the soup was very welcome (and I think Barbara had some during her watch, too).

The conditions all yesterday afternoon were great for comfortable sailing at a nice clip — usually near 6 or 6.5 knots over ground. As evening fell, the wind calmed slightly and our pace slowed to about 5.5 to 6 kts, still respectable. However, during the night, we were hit by a squall while I was off watch (and asleep). I raced up to the cockpit to help if needed. Well, Barbara and our new below-decks autopilot had the situation well in hand, but I watched with some awe as the wind gauge showed gusts over 50kts of wind — we were in a true gale! The squall only lasted a half-hour or so, but it was, ummmm, interesting. Once the squall passed, the wind went back to normal (or even less), but it rained most of the rest of the way to Miami. I am happy to report that Dream SeQueL handled the gale force winds without even breaking a sweat! In fact, if it hadn’t been for the hideously loud noise the wind caused, I wouldn’t have realized that the wind was so high. And this was with only a single reef in the mainsail and the jib all the way out.

We finally reached the Port of Miami entrance marker around noon or 12:30, but that required going a couple of miles north of the actual entrance to follow the channel back in. Well, it didn’t actually require doing so, but the chart seemed to indicate — to us tired old sailors — that it did. So we did. We could have saved a half-hour or more by reading the chart more carefully, but “better safe than sorry”, eh?

It was very rough getting into the inner channel, partly because of large swells following us, partly because of the way the jetties reflected and refracted the waves, and partly because there was a sudden increase in the wind. Once in the channel, we dropped the sails and motored for what seemed like miles (it was less than 1.5 miles, in fact) up the channel, past a large container ship exiting the very large container port, then past what seemed to be a complete barricade of the channel (but was merely an 85% barricade for construction work), and then under a bridge or two into the Miami Municipal Marina, cleverly called “Miamarina”. And, once we were tied up on pier C in slip #1, we phoned Frank to tell him we had arrived.

That was about a half-hour or so ago. I’m very tired, as it Barbara. Frank’s motel had a noon checkout time, so he’s committed for another night and decided he’d sleep at the motel tonight, but he’ll come over to see us around 17:00 or 18:00, meet the boat, and help out with all the work we have to get done.

The weather reports do not look promising for crossing the Gulf Stream in the next couple of days, so we may be here for a while. Good — give us a chance to make some more repairs…

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