Sunday, 30 December 2012

Bimini

We set out from Miami before dawn yesterday morning and made our way 42 nm across the Gulf Stream to Bimini.  The forcast winds were out of the south at 15-20 but as usual once in the gulf stream they were 25-30 knots gusting to 30 and seas were rolling 6 ft.  We managed pretty well although my careful organization of our provisions was all for naught as despite the cargo netting, everything ended up falling off the Pullman berth.
We also had to heave to a couple of times so Al could tie on the rub rail which decided to come loose during the crossing. Crossing west to east with a 30 knot wind out of the south and 6 foot sea you would think we would sail on a beam reach and make great speed.  Al set off using approx 20deg to south to account for the gulf stream but after a couple of short times hove to (stopping the boat under sail) we were north of our rum line to Bimini.
About 20 miles out we were actually sailing 45 deg to our rum line in order to keep on course.  The concequences of this was we were actually close hauled going directly into the 6 foot seas and our VMG (velocity made good) dropped dramatically.  We actually went 52 miles, 10 more than a direct route  according to the course computer.   





Looks like we will have a couple of days here in Bimini to fix the rub rail and get provisions reorganized while we wait for sailing weather before heading to the Berry islands.  We are anchored out just off the channel near Alice Town where we have free Internet access and a short dinghy ride to town.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas from sunny Florida



Enjoying a hike on a island in the Keys
It's been a couple of weeks since my last entry.  We have been anchored out in Miami completing jobs onboard and waiting for Kathleen ( Als daughter) to visit.  We spent an enjoyable day with Benno and Marlene aboard their trawler Diesel Duck.  They are experienced cruisers and have a wealth of knowlege and shared their cruising experiences with us.  Al and Benno discussed water makers, anchors and other equipment.


This is our anchorage in Miami


This past week we were busy with family visits.  I flew to Tampa to see my Dad and sister-in-law and Al's daughter was visiting so we took some time out from boat improvements to do some sightseeing.


Al and Kathleen took a trip down to Key West where they enjoyed some of the sights.













When I returned from Tampa we sailed down to Boca Chita Key where we tied up in a well maintained marine park.  The small island was once privately owned by the Honeywell family and there are still some of the original buildings standing including a lighthouse.  We collected coconuts, walked the island, talked to other boaters and took the dinghy out to do a little scuba diving.
On Friday morning the winds were quite strong and we decided to wait until high tide to make our way out of the channel.  A number of kite surfers showed up and we enjoyed watching them catch some serious airtime as the winds
were gusting to 40 knots in the morning.  We had an opportunity to talk to a number of them about the equipment and learning curve required and both Al and I agreed we would like to try this sport.


The solar panels are installed and it is delivering about 36 amps in the full sun. I need to install a preventer to keep the boom from shadowing one of the panels. 

 
Our first dive to check out the gear on a reef off Sand key.

We returned to Miami Friday night and as we were entering the anchorage we hit one of the sunken boats.  Luckily there was no serious damage to our boat.  We spent the day Saturday touring Miami Beach before Kathleen left for the airport.

This Christmas Grinch is made entirely of sea sponge.


Sunday Al ran into Michael and Rene from Lagoon City Yacht Club.  We joined them for lunch and they very graciously offered us the use of their car to do some shopping.  Monday was spent grocery shopping and we are now stocked up for the next few months - just need to find room to store it all :).



Later Michael and Rene joined us for dinner and Michael shared some of his experiences sailing in Thailand and Georgian Bay.




Saturday, 8 December 2012

Miami

video
We sailed 74 miles from Port Solinas to Miami under beautiful blue skies and light winds on Thursday. We have anchored out near the Miami Yacht Club where we have use of their facilities. The yacht club has lots of activities going on this weekend and we stopped by for "First Friday" to listen to a live band and have a couple of drinks last night. 




 Al exchanged Club Burgees with Rick Hinton, rear commodore at MYC.
 







Janice and Lloyd Goradesky 






Tonight they have an art show and a DJ.  The yacht club has a huge alligator head floating in the harbour. it is part of an art installation that is being created by artist Lloyd Goradesky and it is quite a sight. It will be approx 200 feet long when finished.  The mouth is about 30 feet wide and opens with the aid of a excavator inside.  Inside the mouth is a dance floor. Click here for a YouTube video explaining the piece

 

Electical upgrading to be self sufficient.

We  rented a van and picked up 4-235 watt solar panels and an Outback 60 amp controller from Sun Electronics. Al is busy planing the installation.  We should be able to produce enough power (44 amps) to sustain us while in the Bahamas without having to dock at a marina. The electrical demands are higher than we expected. The battery banks were refreshed while we were at Stuart at a battery wholesaler..  We replaced 4 golf cart batteries (6volt -235 amp hrs) and 3 group 32 deep cycle batteries at 125 amp hrs each.  We currently have 950amp hrs in 2 banks plus a start battery for the diesel.  That makes it 9 large batteries plus a UPS with batteries for the nav station..   If you shop around there are deals down here.  Al purchased all the upgrades for approx 30% of what West Marine wanted. 

We took a dinghy ride over to the grocery store which is conveniently located beside Collins Street canal with a dinghy dock where we could tie up while we shopped. Tomorrow we will explore a little more of the South Beach area and perhaps take in some of the Art Basel events going on in the city this weekend. Art Basel is an International art festival, the most important art festival in America. It is also one of the biggest annual events in Miami.

There are many derelict boats anchored in the area. It looks like people have just left them to fall apart and eventually sink or get blown ashore.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Manatee sighting

Yesterday was a day for new experiences... We spent the morning hunting down boat parts, then stopped for lunch at Tillsons BBQ truck where we tried out some excellent ribs and pulled meat sandwiches.  When we returned to the dinghy, which we had left at a nearby marina, we startled a manatee that had been swimming right beside the boat. I was glad to have finally seen one; since entering Florida there have been signs all over to warn boaters "Manatee Zone Slow Down". I was a little  disappointed that our first manatee sighting was too fleeting for us to take a picture.


Cool mailbox in Stuart, Florida

 
That afternoon we took the dinghy to the grocery store and on the way back were stopped by a couple of fishermen who offered us some of their catch.  When we returned to the boat we tried our hand at filleting the fish - I think we did pretty well for our first attempt.  We tossed the fillets on the grill and I mixed up a bit of rice and salad to go with it.

Yesterday Al picked up some anchor chain and installed it. I researched what provisions we will need and created a very long grocery list. Al learned of a 7 seas cruising conference that is being held near here next weekend so we will probably stay close by until then.

Today we sailed a little farther down the ICW to Port Salerno where we anchored out at Manatee Pocket. We had a good spot for watching the Christmas Parade of Boats. There were over 50 boats in the parade and a spirit similar to our Santa Claus parade.

This was my favorite as dolphins pulling the sleigh and palm trees, stars etc.  really cool boat!!!