Coconut Grove to Manatee Pocket, Florida
Days 299-303; April 18–April 23
Total Miles Traveled: 2733
After a roller-coaster month in Coconut Grove, Dinner Key Marina, we left on Monday, March 18th from Biscayne Bay headed into the inter-coastal waterway (ICWW) in downtown Miami. We shared a wonderful Sunday morning breakfast and wander through Coconut Grove one last time with Bob & Carol, Deb and Drew before saying farewell until next time. “Time Enough” would head up the outside (Atlantic) after her new engine was installed and ultimately meet us in Indiantown. Shawnee would head up the outside on a 72 hour sail in the Gulf Stream to North Carolina (more about that later). Jo Ann decided that she wanted to travel the inside or ICWW to see the sights of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
The Miami skyline had been our front yard view all month and we made several visits into downtown Miami but ushering the Namaste through the confusing channels and heavy traffic was quite another story – even on a beautiful Monday morning.
This is where the endless bridges begin. Car traffic must travel between the barrier islands along the coast from the incredible beaches back and forth to the mainland. Hence, we orchestrated 42 bridges on the four-day trip. Namaste needs 47’ of clearance to pass and the bridge range was 65’ down to 9’. A few bridges we could chug right under but for the rest we needed a lift, often waiting up to 45 minutes drifting around with several boats, often mega-yachts, waiting in both directions. Some tenders opened on the hour and half hour; some opened on the quarter and three quarter hour; some opened on the hour; and some upon request so as we approached each bridge we were required to call the tender on the VHF radio, identify our boat and request the timing of their next opening. We would then line up to march on through. On occasion it was clear that some captains had not gone to kindergarten as taking turns was not necessarily their strong suit. However, for the most part our fellow captains and the bridge tenders were helpful and friendly. We did note that at the end of a day everyone got a little testy. One day we traveled with the boat, “Entitled” and when they announced their name the female bridge tender replied, “Entitled. Really? Entitled?” No response from the captain but an imaginary chuckle rippled through the dozens of boats that were listening in on the transmission.
The Inter-Coastal Waterway was everything we anticipated and more. Clearly this is where the 1/10th of 1% chooses to spend their time as the mansions majestically go on and on and on. Loopers ahead had posted pictures to FB but pictures do not tell the story of the wealth, beauty and decadence of this segment. On the other hand, given the absolutely gorgeous weather there were almost no people about except the occasional gardener or construction worker building yet another immense structure. A pleasant diversion would be the occasional play-scape or busy park.
Above and below are two of the more modest lifestyles available on the waterway
Second only to the homes were the boats, no yachts, no mega-yachts! We are trying to keep our boat envy under control. The pictures below do tell it all but again, our sense is that these mansions-on-water are usually moved about by hired captain and crew. The people must be off somewhere making more money? Probably the biggest and our favorite was “Limitless” a navy-blue hulled beauty who truly fulfilled her name. Most often the impact was multiplied by a multi-million dollar mansion with the multi-million dollar yacht docked out front.
On the flip side let me tell you about the “Annie Murray” – a salty, wooden, 25 foot, last of her generation, cutter captained by a beautiful young woman from Nova Scotia. We traveled under a couple of bridges together so learned that she had been living in the Keys for five years and was headed to Maine with no crew and thus could not sail the outside. Her engine was overheating “a bit” so her speed was slow but she navigated the helm standing up and using her toes to guide the wheel.
We hadn’t seen barges since leaving the river system in early December but the ICWW has its fair share, mostly construction barges for new bridges and buildings. So along with the pleasure craft there is a mix of barges, tows, dredges, freighters, dive boats, water taxis and cruise ships.
This was a very slow trip of 115 miles over four days but it was a great trip and I am so glad we did it. If there is a next time we will likely join the others on the “outside.” We anchored each night enjoying peace and a full moon: Lake Sylvia in Fort Lauderdale, a beautiful basin lined by aforementioned homes and yachts; Southern Boulevard Anchorage, a wide spot on the waterway; and Southern Hobe Sound Anchorage where we put down the hook with “Pearl,” a looping, tugboat we last saw in Green Turtle Bay, KY. On the fourth day we were back into the rural mangroves with only two bridges arriving at Manatee Pocket, a small lake off the inter-costal. Here we where we are staying at the Mariner Cay Marina. It is quiet and complete with pool (89 degrees today) awaiting “Time Enough’s” arrival this afternoon.
Quote of the Day: “Weather reports show 10 knot winds and we have 20 knots with green water coming over the bow – staying seated or lying down the whole time!” -Text from Deb and Drew aboard “Shawnee” in the Gulf Stream. (We are happy to report that our open ocean sailors have safely arrived at their destination a little weary but accomplished and happy!)
Boat Name of the Day: “Mustang Sally” on a boat we never saw but heard from all day on the VHF radio.
Bad Boat Name of the Day: “Sexy” on an all silver go fast boat with as much red trim as could be added to a boat.
Happy Birthday to: Norma Neumann and Emily Spindler (belated)