Marathon to Miami – A Mariner’s Dream

Days 259-267; March 11-19, 2016

Total Miles Traveled: 2617

I posted the other day and yet have so much to blog about that I better get started! This internet connection is the best I have had since we arrived in the Keys. Things are working – humming along quickly – and I love it!

Since we hadn’t traveled in about six weeks, there was much to do in preparation of both us and the Namaste to move on. Engine “things” to check and double check; laundry and provisioning to do; holding tanks to empty and water tanks to fill, charting and navigation to master; and many friends to bid good-bye for now. We are making this leg on our own because as a sailboat we must go up Hawk’s Channel on the Atlantic side instead of the inland waterway or Gulf side due to shallow waters and low bridges.

We planned to leave on Sunday (12th) with a beautiful weather window so we shared our final meal with Vicki and Ron at the Sunset Grill as they too were leaving on Sunday but taking the inside route. There was a chance we might meet up again in Miami but surely not a guarantee. It was an evening of laughs and memories of the 6.5 months we have spent together along with well wishes and promises to meet again somewhere/sometime! As we prepared to leave on Sunday we realized that the speaker on our VHF radio wasn’t working properly and we were headed into high boat traffic territory where this piece of equipment would be essential. Clark, (our PhD electrical engineer and slip neighbor), helped Jim diagnose and create a fix which included installing a new speaker in the cockpit. This took a couple of hours so we postponed our departure a day. Now we were unlikely to meet up with “Sea to Sea” or other friends. On Sunday evening we shared another farewell dinner and evening with Ev and Clark on-board the m/v “Sea Moss” (see next post re boat angels).

IMG_9500Final dinner with the best boat buddies ever Vickie and Ron at Sunset Grill

IMG_9506Final dinner with Clark and Ev on board Sea Moss

As we pulled away Monday morning heading north for the first time in 8.5 months and 2,500 miles, the loopers remaining in the marina were there to assist and wave as lumps developed in our throats and a few tears were shed. It had been a goal accomplished and a more than memorable stay on Marathon.

IMG_9458The view from our slip at Faro Blanco, Marathon – morning, noon and night

The weather was perfect for the sail up Hawks Channel experiencing the long rollers of the open ocean. Our first night out we spent at Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key, where Curt once worked and where we spent the first couple of days with family during their visit in February – likely the nicest place in the Keys. We purchased gifts, enjoyed the adult pool all afternoon and evening including a potent conversation with a couple in their 50’s about raising children, developing careers, and long range cruising.

IMG_9542Adult pool at Hawks Cay Resort – only thing missing in the picture is the tumbler of mojitos!

Tuesday we left at high tide and motored on the glass-like Atlantic anchoring behind Rodriguez island with 20+ other boats viewing our first Atlantic sunrise the following moring!

IMG_9559The Atlantic at glass-like conditions

IMG_9570Our first Atlantic Sunrise at anchor

Wednesday found us at the Angelfish Inlet crossing to the Gulf side and beautiful Biscayne Bay. Here we anchored with three other sailboats behind Pumpkin Key with dinghy rides for Sammy to piddle on the lawn of a most upscale private club. Thursday we began the motor up Biscayne Bay with clear, shallow waters allowing for spectacular views of the sea floor and the Miami skyline in the distance.

IMG_9611Miami Skyline at the top of Biscayne Bay

Captain Jim replaced a frayed alternator belt (we have four more spares), a relatively simple yet unexpected repair. Additionally, somewhere along this leg Jim realized that there was water spraying into the engine compartment from the radiator cap and worse yet it tasted like salt but we continued to purr along with stable temp readings. After reviewing the many confusing marina options (more on that later) we pulled into the Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove, just south of Miami hoping for a restful night before entering the chaos of Port Miami.

After a worrisome and restless night, Jim called our engine gurus in Boyne City and Charlevoix who confirmed his fear – a weld broke inside our heat exchanger which created the potential of compromising the entire system. The Perkins Dealer in Fort Lauderdale was our next call and he recommended a Perkins mechanic Bob (another boat angel) who conveniently lives in our marina. Within 45 minutes we had a confirmed diagnosis and the part was ordered. Our shiny new heat exchanger should arrive and Bob will return from a charter by Wednesday so the replacement may commence. Thus, the Namaste will be docked in Coconut Grove (known to locals as “The Grove”) for an extended stay where the monthly dockage rate is 1/3 the daily rate should we move on.

The good news is that this is a friendly, interesting place with good public transportation and lots to do, and did I mention the great inter-net connection through Xfinity? There is likely no better place to wait out a repair. Friday night we attended a dock birthday party with great people, brats & beer, and a performance/sing along to the fiddle and guitar music of fellow cruisers here. Last night we took the shuttle to Coco Walk with cool galleries, shops, restaurants, and a 16 movie cinema. Any and all reviews of current films are appreciated – we have no idea!

IMG_9614One tiny corner of this massive Dinner Key Marina

Currently Sammy and I are sitting in the air conditioned marina office/lounge that serves 582 slips + a couple hundred additional mooring balls = a huge marina by any standards. It is an exciting spot with the VHF radio loudly and continually monitoring two active channels and a mix of people appearing with requests/a story/a complaint or simply wanting some company. They surely need a social worker behind that desk!

Quote of the day: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” –John Wesley  (I recently came across this quote again – my personal favorite!)

Boat name of the day: “Devocean”

Bad boat name of the day: “Kiss my Wake” (a particularly bad name here in narrow channels where the occasional, inconsiderate boat captains send us awash in their wake)

Birthdays: I don’t think I know anyone with a birthday in the second half of March.  Do I?

3 thoughts on “Marathon to Miami – A Mariner’s Dream

  1. Wow, I am loving your adventure so much! I also love how you guys are rolling with the inevitable issues that make it an interesting journey. If you have a bad weather day, go see Brooklyn the movie. Love and miss you both! p


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