Off to Miami

Off to Miami!

Of course, a cruise ship passes us as we sail in.

We never leave Florida and go to the Bahamas without first spending time sailing Biscayne Bay and enjoying “The Grove” and Miami Beach! I have said many times that Biscayne Bay is the second-best sailing and cruising area on the entire USA East coast after Block Island Sound which to us is #1. So, after departing Stuart Florida, our first destination is always Miami. Many people pass right on by this dream sailing area on their race for Marathon Key or Key West.  We love boating around this area! Upon arrival at Government Cut we were met with a cruise ship heading out. But first our route…

Stuart to West Palm

We ran down the ICW inside on the waterway from Stuart to Peck Lake, to Hobe Sound to West Palm Beach where we always head south one bridge past the inlet and anchor between the bridges. West Palm Beach is a dream spot to anchor, except for the reversing current and some boat traffic. We spent a few days here and enjoyed the famous ROCCO TACOS. 

Queue Up to Depart for Miami

We left the town and moved up to the Lake Worth inlet where we anchored just inside the inlet and to the south. This spot is perfect for heading out the inlet at 0500, which is zero-dark-hundred. Being anchored here makes it so much easier to simply get up, brew some coffee and up anchor and set your main sail to a double reefed main and go. This Lake Worth Inlet is short and very easy to navigate. This was a first-time run of the inlet for our buddy boat, 35 JUST DUCKY and it was simple. Still very nerve-racking when you have never done this, but it was a great day.

0500 the view out the galley port

Before nightfall, Steve Job’s yacht motored on by with a route to the Bahamas as the weather was fantastic.  We were planning a direct run to Miami where we could wait for the next weather window to cross on the FULL MOON on March 7th, 2023.

Our Buddy Boat, 35 JUST DUCKY with Steve Job’s Yacht, Lake Worth Inlet

The OFFSHORE run to Miami

Heading out to sea at 0500 it is DARK, and there was no horizon except for the city lights to the shore to the west. That was comforting as we simply headed out the inlet and, at the 35-40 foot water depth past the jetty, we turned south and pointed towards south Florida.  Within an hour and a half,  0630 the sun rose and we had a spectacular day of motor sailing down the coast.

Sunrise is always a joy at sea. This one was great as well.

Hello South Florida

By keeping the beach to starboard and staying close in the 30-40 foot or less water depth, we avoided a south-flowing counter current to the north-flowing Gulfstream and picked up 1/2 a knot of speed closer to shore.

Motor Sailing because the winds were calm, 5-8 knots

Hello MIAMI Inlet, (Government Cut)

Arriving at the inlet we were early with the ebb tide coming out and the east winds blowing in so you know about wind against current. YUP, it was crazy rough going in. Then add to this the insane 50-60 foot sport fishing boats doing 30knots as they pass you on port then another on starboard and they hit your beam with their 4 foot waves, your boat is going midship cleat to midship cleat water to water. Plus all items below deck have now hit the cabin sole and your boat is trashed. Yup, welcome to Miami. Oh yes, add in a cruise ship and this is typical.

Cruise Ship coming out as we are going in

South Beach Hotels and condos as we navigate the inlet

Fishermans Channel to the left

You are not allowed to enter the main channel due to the cruise ships, so you have to turn into Fishermans Channel to the south. This takes you by all the container ships and their cranes busy loading and offloading the containers. Look at the size of these ships!!!!

Miami in the distance as we pass the container ship terminal
19 across and 10 high, that is ON TOP of the deck. There are more below the deck. These are tractor-trailer boxes, and containers. It is how all imports arrive in the USA!!! No, we do not own a single ship. We just allow them to use our many ports in USA. ????

Biscayne Bay Fun #1 BOCA CHITA

With our first anchorage off Virginia Cay and watching the Miami City lights come on, it was a very peaceful night. After a few yacht services at Crandon and a tour of Dinner Key, it was off to Boca Chita for a night. Linda and Mahlon wanted to see this island, part of Key Biscayne National Park and the beautiful building that is NOT a lighthouse. It is a simulated lighthouse built by Honeywell because he could.  Lucky for us a park ranger/tour guide was there and we all got to climb up the lighthouse and take a tour. We really enjoyed our time at Boca Chita.

Hayden, Radeen, Mahlon, Linda atop Boca Chita Lighthouse
Our two Island Packet 35s at the Boca Chita park

Our hero sails by, Jeffrey and family

While we were running south for Boca Chita, our dear friend Jeffrey Cardenas and his family were sailing south to Key West on their new catamaran! So, we all decided to meet up at Boca Chita and enjoy a bottle of bubbly to celebrate their new yacht. We followed Jeffrey for the past few years as he solo circumnavigated the globe on his Island Packet 460 named FLYING FISH! We first met him in person a year ago in St. Croix.  His blog is a fascinating and a wonderful read. Jeffry is the best of the best writers. Please see his worldwide stories here

Flying Fish Sail

Hayden, Jeffrey, Ginny, Radeen, Mahlon, Lilly and Linda. This is a lifetime photo here. What are the chances of this?

Good Bye Boca Chita, you are one special place

Sailing out of Boca Chita, I am reminded of the many, many fun times we have shared with great friends here. Thank you, Honeywell. Thank you, National Park Service.

Next….Miami Beach…OH NO!

From here, we sailed back up to Dinner Key where we enjoyed “THE GROVE” and then…..oh yes….then we moved over to Miami Beach. Well, that is the subject of the next post update, as I try to catch up on this blog……

Meanwhile, please see my menu link for all the great places to explore in the Biscayne Bay area.

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Update from Stuart FL

We have been here in Stuart Florida since Nov 14, 2022, and as we have always posted and said: “This is the BEST Place in the USA to winter your boat!” So here we have been here for nearly three months! We have no complaints.

svIslandSpirit on mooring ball #20 at Sunset Bay Marina, Stuart, FL.

What have we been doing?

That is a very good question, and the answer is, simply living on our boat in one of our favorite towns and upgrading and working on yacht systems. We had thought that all of the refit work we did this past summer in Rock Hall, MD, would have made our boat totally ready for her 5th winter in the Caribbean. Our destination was Bonaire this year, but with a busted KBW10 transmission, we lost a good month or more just with that issue

When you rip out your transmission and it is on the counter….not good.

So, let’s work on da boat!

With the transmission ripped out and sent back to Schooner Bay Marina for Alfred Holzer to review why his repair in June failed, we decided to focus on what else we could rip out. Ha Ha. Well, that led us to…..why not the sewer hoses, as we have not ripped them out in 7-8 years. Oh, that sounds like fun, yea, let’s take the Dremel tool and cut the sewer hoses out. Well, we did, and it took us 6-8 hours, one day only and we had all new sewer hoses and a new head. Now that was a quick turnaround.

New vented loop installed into the head cabinet.
Radeen and the 30 feet of new $$$ odor safe head hoses. KaChing

Well that was fun, what next?

Once the head and sewer were rebuilt and all brand new we decided to look into the water heater which was rusty and leaking. Nothing lasts in the saltwater, salty air of the yachting world. This water heater was installed in 2013 by the Island Packet factory when we gave them our yacht to explore the brilliant idea of creating the Island Packet Yacht Refit program. Well, after 6 months and a full refit yacht, the IPY factory said, NO THANKS, and shortly thereafter they went out of business.  Next, I present the idea of the IPY Refit program to Colin Mack, and being a smart businessman, he decided to go after the work. Today, 2023, I bought my new water heater from Colin because he has now built the ULTIMATE Island Packet Yacht service company. Every Island Packet Owner can no benefit from his work.

Radeen and her new water heater gift delivered by Colin…. also notice those new block!!!

So, with a newly delivered water heater, we went after that job and now we have a new system there:

Why Stop???

With the transmission still not back, and with it getting lost in the mega snowstorm over Christmas, I decided to take Colin Mack up on his new upgraded deck hardware. YUP, we bought all new deck hardware and removed our old 1994 blocks, and installed all new MYS blocks which are made by Garhaurar Marine custom for Mack Yacht Services. This Island Packet Yachts Refit program really seems to be a great idea I outlined back in 2013.  Colin was smart enough to take it up when the IPY factory said no. Great job Colin! Check out these new custom blocks.

Bling Bling $,$$$ new deck hardware for the yacht.

Who wants White sails? I do!

Again, since we were not going anywhere, we dropped the jib and the staysail and sent them over to Mack Sails for upgraded WHITE sun covers. I really do not like the color on the sails, we had blue for many years. I prefer white sun covers, so we had them changed up to white. I know, the white will not last as long as the blue, but I like white sails and so now we are back to all white. Thank you Travis.

White sails, Jib and Staysail now match the code zero.

We test sail the transmission!

Well, the transmission was found lost in a trucking center in Michigan, and it finally made it back to us at the end of December. It took me 3 hours to reinstall the transmission. I then hired Simply Yachts #1 mechanic Chris, to do an engine alignment, and off we went for a test sail.  On  Jan 1, Team Island Spirit was back on the launch pad ready to make her run for the Caribbean Sea…

All systems check out, and the transmission is back up and running.
Radeen is one happy sailor girl. She love to travel and she loves to sail….

Wait, did I tell you about the welded lifelines?

While waiting for the transmission in Nov Dec, we decided to hire the most creative and artistic metal fabricator and welder in the Stuart area. Alexander and his team replaced our top and bottom lifelines around the cockpit with custom hull-matching curved solid stainless steel bars. WOW, I never expected these to be curved to match the hull shape, and he said if they are straight, they do not look as good. Well, he is right. These curved hull matching bars are a work of art, and he is very proud of his work. We are thrilled and we love the added safety of these bars around the cockpit. Look at this work!

Top and bottom lifelines replaced with solid curved welded bars.
Alexander and his team are true artists, and I really admire their work

Did someone say STARLINK?

Well ok then, let’s add StarLink satellite high-speed internet to the boat.  Elon Muck and his company SpaceX have been launching 2 rockets a week with 55 satellites on each launch for a long time now. He has placed these Starlink low earth orbit satellites to provide internet around the world. Well, guess what? It really works and it works very well. It is not cheap, as the antenna and router cost $700 and the mobile RV service is $135/month. The RV version allows you to relocate and move to a new location.  Reports are that this works down the island and nearly everywhere, so we will give it a test run this March and April. We installed this into a standard fishing rod holder and clamped that onto the bimini frame. The power consumption is about 4 amps 12v, but it runs on 120-volt AC, so we have to run the inverter to power the outlets. 

Our Starlink antenna is mounted over the side of the Bimini. I plan to move to an aft location to prevent it from overlapping the solar panel.

So, here we are….on the launch pad

With all systems upgraded yet again, and with some new systems, we are once again on the launch pad and will be heading out soon. We always like to move to Miami and sail Biscayne Bay testing all systems.  There we will also fire up the Spectra watermaker and get that system running before sailing over to the Exumas. We plan to simply sail the Exumas this remaining season and then for a new process, we will store the yacht in-water at Brunswick Landing Marina, May 15-Nov 15. When we return we will set sail ASAP and as fast as we can to return to our Caribbean challenge. For now, Sunset Bay Marina is a dream stop.

Sunset Bay Marina, is our favorite winter home in the USA.

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