To The Bahamas, Part 5: Miami

2012-04-06, 21:30 — Miami, Miamarina

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post that our arrival at Miamarina had some minor hiccoughs (“hiccups”) associated with it. Barbara phoned (radioed?) the Marina for a reservation, and the dockmaster and office people were all out. The accountant was there and tried hard to be helpful, saying that he thought that we could safely (we draw 6′ of water) dock on pier C in slip 18. When we got into the marina, however, C-18 was occupied by another sailboat, so we pulled into C-19 and tied up all nice and neat.

When we went to check in, though, we were told that C-19 was already being rented by another boat that was just out for a day sail and that we’d either have to move or persuade them that they had to change slips. We opted for the former, so they gave us slip C-1, right up against the dock. That actually proved to be a boon, as I’ll explain later.

April 2012 Dream SeQueL Trip 005 - Dream SeQuel at dock in Miami -2

Frank got to the boat yesterday afternoon about 17:30. But he saw that our companionway hatch was closed and assumed that we were away from the boat, so he sat out on the dock for an hour, reading, until we realized that he was out there! He came in, got the two-bit tour of the boat, and had a snack with us. We told him all about what had happened so far, including all our tales of woe (especially about the alternator, which is a must-solve problem before I’ll declare the boat safe enough to take to the Bahamas).

While Frank was there, we roughly outlined what we thought the next few days would bring (mostly work on the boat, but also including trips to my home-away-from-home, West Marine, as well as provisioning, and a few other bits and pieces). We started familiarizing him with our procedures, showing him where things are located, clearing out the quarter berth (which will be his while he’s on the boat), etc. In particular, we made sure that he read our safety briefing so he will know how we keep everybody safe while on the water.

Our primary safety actions include: always put a reef in the mainsail before dark, nobody goes up on deck unless somebody else is in the cockpit to keep a close watch, everybody wears their inflatable life vest and harness in rough weather (especially at night), and everybody clips onto the jacklines when going on deck in rough seas and at night. We have both a MoM (Man Overboard Module) and a LifeSling 2 mounted at the stern of the boat, so we instructed Frank on how to use them in case somebody went overboard. (Yes, I know we should have had an actual crew-overboard drill, but we didn’t feel that we had the sea room or the time.)

Barbara and I managed to get some work done (with Frank’s willing help, of course) during the afternoon and evening, and I started trying to find some place where I could get our alternator checked out and perhaps repaired. We talked to people at the marina (employees and contractors) for recommendations, then got on the phone and Internet.

Before it got too late (maybe 19:00 or so?), we decided to get some dinner. Miamarina is kind of adjacent to, or semi-surrounded by, or closely coupled to, a major downtown mall that has several places with loud live and recorded music throughout the evening. We chose to go to a restaurant in the mall instead of driving somewhere to eat, and we selected the Hard Rock Cafe (it was the closest to our slip).

April 2012 Dream SeQueL Trip 012 - Hard Rock Cafe very close to our dock in Miami

The Hard Rock was loud. What? I can’t hear you! It’s too loud in here! Actually, it really was awfully loud, even for an old rocker like me, and worse for an old folkie like Frank. But we persevered. The beer was good, and the inexperienced bartender made my margaritas about triple strength (good value for money!), and the food was more than acceptable. We had a nice evening and a good chat, after which Frank headed back up to Ft. Lauderdale to his hotel. (Oh, I think I failed to mention that Frank actually flew into Ft. Lauderdale, which was cheaper than flying into Miami. So he rented this very cute little Mini pictured below. Cute little thing, although none of us liked the ragtop…and Frank never put the top down.)

April 2012 Dream SeQueL Trip 001 -Mini that I rented in Fort Lauderdale -1

Well, Frank showed up this morning around 10:00, after checking out of his hotel, and we loaded his kit onto Dream SeQueL and got him settled in the quarter berth. I had located a shop not terribly far away (six or seven miles) in north Miami that was supposed to be able to check out our alternator. Actually, “alternators”, as the boat actually has two spare alternators on board, including the original Bosch 65 Amp alternator that came with the engine, and a 100 Amp after-market Ample Power alternator, complementing the 150 Amp Powerline alternator on the engine now.

So all three of us piled into Frank’s Mini with the Powerline alternator and the Ample Power alternator, and headed up the road. It took us a little searching, but we quickly found the shop to which we’d been directed, and we talked to the guy behind the counter. He called their serious tech guy out front, who took the alternators back to check them out while we ran some more errands. (“Be back before 4:00 PM,” they told us, “because that’s when we close and people will be gone like a shot!”)

We came back just shortly before they closed for the weekend, learning that the Powerline alternator was, indeed, bad (although the tech told us that he’d have to take it apart to tell us what was actually wrong with it) and that the Ample Power alternator was good. Hooray! We figure we’ve got a solution — mount the Ample Power alternator, put the Powerline alternator aside to be rebuilt when we get back to our home dock, and get ready to set sail as soon as the weather window opens.

With this, we headed back to the boat to take care of a few more repairs, then to have a not-too-late dinner and an early bedtime. After we got back to the boat, Frank checked with his car rental company (Budget) about keeping the car for a few more days and returning it in Miami. Hah! They wanted $300 to return the car in Miami instead of at the Ft. Lauderdale airport! What a crock of…well, something. He was naturally averse to giving Budget any more of his money, so asked if I might rent a car in Miami (to return in Miami) and accompany him to the Ft. Lauderdale airport in the morning to return his Mini.

I phoned Enterprise, who has a location just seven or eight blocks from here — one that’s open early Saturday morning (but not, unhappily, at all on Sunday) — and got their rates. No problem! Tomorrow morning, we’ll go get a new car and return Frank’s. While we’re up in Ft. Lauderdale, we want to go to West Marine’s new flagship store and perhaps say “Hi” to Pam Wall. Pam is West Marine’s “cruising consultant” and her entire job is talking to customers to help them outfit their boats for cruising! Imagine that for a job! Well, she also speaks at boat shows all over the country, and we’ve taken two of her seminars — one in person a few years ago at the St. Pete Boat Show and one online at Seven Seas University (a part of the Seven Seas Cruising Association, of which Barbara and I are members). She’s also helped us by answering a couple of questions in email. Very cool lady.

After that chore was done, we headed over to the mall again. After walking around the whole place and not getting any inspiration for food, we went back to the Hard Rock. I guess I wasn’t really in the mood, because the music was no longer loud and enjoyable — it was painfully loud and totally annoying! To make matters worse, we were given a table next to a group of a half-dozen adults and two or three kids, one of whom would not stop screaming at the top of his lungs. I said a few rude things about it and a sort of battle-of-nasty-stares started. (At the end of the meal, I apologized, but it really was annoying.)

This time, the bartender was experienced and the margarita was as weak as well water, the waiter was inexperienced and the food was delayed and not precisely what we’d ordered, and I was in a really foul mood. Still am, come to think of it. I gotta get some sleep or I’m going to start yelling at Barbara and Frank, which won’t do much for crew morale.

Time for my sleepy pills and some shuteye. More tomorrow, undoubtedly.

<<All photographs Copyright © Frank Pellow, 2012. Used with permission.>>

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