Laundry is always a challenge while aboard. At Pennekamp I did laundry at the facilities which were shared by the campground. Only one dryer was operational, so I ended up carrying the wet laundry back to the boat and hung it out all over on the bow, cabin, and cockpit. Luckily there was a strong breeze – it still took a good six hours for it all to dry in the humidity.
On Thursday morning, March 28th, we took the glass bottom boat tour out to the reef aboard the ‘Spirit of Pennekamp’. We saw 4 manatee in the channel between the Sound and the Atlantic, a sea turtle, octopus, lots of different forms of coral (actually animals, not plants), and many fish. It was a fun trip in good weather with only a moderate chop.
We got back to our boat about noon and quickly prepped to head out.
We drove through Biscayne Bay and its beautiful aqua water to Key Biscayne and pulled into a very protected spot – No Name Harbor, crowded with many other boats. The skyscrapers of Miami were in the distance. We set anchor near the mangroves, cooked steaks on the BBQ, watched the sunset, and saw an amazing shooting star.
The next day we dinghied over to the sea wall, then walked along the paths to the lighthouse at the tip of Key Biscayne in the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. It’s a beautiful park bordered on the west by Biscayne Bay and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean.
We climbed to the top of the 95 foot lighthouse, around and around the circular staircase, and outside to the most spectacular views of both the Atlantic and Biscayne Bay. We checked out the beach, enjoyed lunch at the crowded Lighthouse Café, then hiked back to No Name Harbor. There was an ‘at sea’ rescue which involved the coast guard boats, police boats, and a helicopter. All the hubbub happened at the sea wall in No Name Harbor.
We spent another night anchored out in those protected waters, and enjoyed the many local Cuban boaters with their families, swimming and playing in the warm secluded waters.
Saturday we drove across Biscayne Bay to Coconut Grove and got a mooring ball with the Dinner Key Marina. We took the dinghy into town, and dress shopped at Coco Walk (I have to get a dress for our son’s upcoming wedding). We had a slice of nummy pizza at a sidewalk pizzeria and enjoyed mojitos and bruschetta at Brio’s. It was a different shopping experience and a fun night. We took the dinghy back to the boat in the dark. There was a sailboat moored next to us from North Pole, Alaska named ‘Bye Polar’, which I thought was pretty humorous.
Easter Sunday we cooked our own special dinner aboard – pork roast on the grill with au gratin potatoes and green beans almandine. We prepped to head out in the morning – the boat is still leaking lower unit fluid, so we made arrangements to have Marine Max in Miami service the boat (this is our 4th go-round; definitely more than a burp).
This morning we set out after going into the marina for a pump-out. We met a great couple from Maine with a sailboat who were stranded because the shuttle boat was on the fritz. We gave them a lift back to the mooring field, then set out. Going through downtown Miami was a treat – under all the bridges and seeing the big cruise fleet.
We made it to Marine Max and unloaded the fridge contents into the cooler and packed our bags. Off to the Best Western Oceanfront in Miami Beach via Jose’ in the Marine Max van. While the boat is being worked on (hopefully for the last time), this is home. We couldn’t check in until 3pm, so had lunch at Flanagan’s, and Jim decided to get a haircut while we waited out a downpour. The hotel is a great old place, right on the beach. Our room is actually an entire apartment with living room, kitchen, and ocean view.
This evening we walked along the beach , and met our Jewish neighbors who come here every year from New York during Passover. They are originally from Israel.
I’m feeling a little spoiled, enjoying the hotel experience, and all this space! We’ll probably be here for another couple of days until the boat is fixed (once and for all, I hope)…
While we are here we will try to prep for an upcoming trip to the Bahamas. We need to get the charts, the GPS chip, our US Customs sticker, and wait for the right winds. Our plan is to go through customs in Bimini, and do a little island hopping. We have heard from others that it is outrageously expensive, so our tour may not be all-inclusive. Since fresh water is such a commodity (it costs $1 per gallon), and gas prices fluctuate daily, regulated by the government, we will have to wait and see.
Until then, we’re enjoying our hotel stay on Miami Beach. We may explore South Beach (SoBe as it’s called by the locals), or just hang out here. With the longer days and the warm temperatures, it’s truly a wonderful life!