East Coast of Florida

Marathon to Ft. Lauderdale

Florida, in case you haven't noticed, is a LONG state!  

When you get ready to head up the east coast, it takes a long time!


We FINALLY departed Marathon, Florida (aka as the Marathon Bermuda Triangle) on Tuesday, July 7, 2009.  We tried to leave a week earlier, but the sea gods had a different plan for us.  We detached from our mooring ball at Boot Key Harbor on Sunday, June 28, and headed to the local fuel dock.  We got diesel, gas, water, ice, beer... all the necessities of heading out on a cruise to the next location.  We pulled away from the dock and the transmission started slipping.  We just looked at each other, turned the boat right around, and went straight back to our mooring ball at Boot Key.  The transmission was 12 years old.... it was time for a new one.  Yes, we were disappointed.  Disgusted, even.  I looked at LA and said "Hey, let's don't let this ruin a perfectly good day.  It's Sunday.  There's not a thing we can do about it.  Let's get in the dinghy and go have a picnic out on the water".  And that's exactly what we did... we packed a lunch, hooked up to a mooring ball out in the Atlantic, swam, and had a great time.  We spent three hours and traveled all the way around to the bayside. 

When you are cruising, you have to be ready for anything.  Stuff is going to happen.  It always does and it is going to happen at the most inconvenient time.  But, it's how you handle it that makes the difference.  You can sit around and mully-grub about it, or you can make the best of it.  A new transmission was ordered on Monday and we bided our time and got a tennis fix watching Wimbledon.  LA installed the transmission, then we had to call a guy to realign the engine with the transmission and the shaft.  We were ready to start again.

July 7-July 9, 2009:  Key Largo (Rodriguez Key)

So, finally, on Tuesday, July 7, we traveled from Marathon in Hawk Channel to a little island off the coast of Key Largo called Rodriguez Key. This was a 46 mile trip.  It was very hot, and there was no wind so we had to motor along and finally dropped the anchor 9 hours later.  We started the generator and ran the air conditioner for the night and slept in cool comfort. The next morning, we dinghied to shore at Key Largo, tied up at a dive shop dock and took a cab ($42 round trip!) to a shopping center to run some errands: West Marine (new handheld VHF), ATT store (new phone), haircut for Susan, cigar shop for LA, and lunched at a Gyro restaurant. 


Key Largo is often the first stop upon heading south by land toward the Keys.  This is the sport-diving capital of the world with many dive shops available to dive the nearby reefs.  John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is located here.  A journalist for 50 years, John Pennekamp brought the reefs' plight to the forefront and he played a large part in the establishment of the Everglades National Park.  The park is America's first undersea park and its focus is the preservation of the ecosystem within North America's only living reef.  The park extends three miles into the Atlantic Ocean and is about 25 miles long.  Rodriguez Key, our anchorage, is located in the park. We didn't do any diving, but enjoyed our anchorage and the beautiful sunsets there.

July 9-July 13,2009:  Key Biscayne, Florida

We departed Rodriguez Key at 8:30 a.m. Another day of no wind.  Motored 43 miles to the southern end of Key Biscayne.  Dropped the anchor at 4:30 p.m. in No Name Harbor in the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, famous for its beaches, sunsets, and views of Miami.  The Cape Florida lighthouse welcomed us to the harbor.

The Cape Florida Lighthouse

The Cape Florida light has had a tough history.  First, it was fraudulently built with hollow walls, secretly saving the contractor half the cost of the bricks.  Then the lighthouse was damaged in the Seminole Wars and couldn't be repaired due to Indian raids.  Then, the Confederates destroyed its illumination light.  However, in the 1970's the Coast Guard refurbished the lighthouse.  We climbed the 109 steps to the top of the lighthouse and had a panoramic view of the beach, Miami, and Biscayne Bay. 


Who was Bill Baggs??

William Calhoun "Bill" Baggs was editor of The Miami News from 1957 until his death in 1969. Bill Baggs was one of a group of Southern editors who campaigned for civil rights for African-Americans in the 1950s and 1960s. Others in this group included Ralph McGill at the The Atlanta Constitution, Hodding Carter at the Greenville Delta Democrat-Times and Harry Ashmore at the Arkansas Gazette. Baggs became an early opponent of the Vietnam War. In 1967 and 1968 Bill Baggs traveled to North Vietnam with Harry Ashmore on a private peace mission. While there, they interviewed Ho Chi Minh about what conditions would be necessary to end the war.Unknown at the time, Bill Baggs was also one of the journalists involved in the CIA's Operation Mockingbird. Bill Baggs died of a heart attack in 1969 at age 48.

Genesis at anchor in No Name Harbor

We rode bicycles around the 46 acre park and had lunch at "Boater's Grill" overlooking the harbor.  The harbor is a hangout for powerboats, particularly on the weekends.  The park had few facilities for cruisers...no fresh water supply, no shower facilities, but surprisingly, had a small laundromat.  Not one to bypass an opportunity to do laundry, I washed a load of clothes while we watched all the powerboaters whoop it up.  On Sunday, July 12, we met Dan Savell, who previously worked with me at St. Dominic in Jackson, who had recently moved to Miami Beach.  Being the good guy that he is, Dan picked us up at the marina to run a few errands.... we never miss an opportunity to get more groceries, fuel, and water.  Miami Beach really agrees with him.  He looked tan, fit, handsome, and happy! 

Southern Biscayne Bay was a refuge for early sailors:  a source of drinking water during their travels along the coast from Key West and or the Caribbean.  During the 1800's, freshwater springs occurred in the middle of this brackish bay.   Native people and explorers filled pots of sweet water by dipping them overboard.  After the everglades were drained, sheets of fresh water no longer flowed into Biscayne Bay.  Now, Key Biscayne Bay is a power-boater's hangout.  Hundreds of boats intentionally ground themselves into the shallows, and everyone walks boat to boat partying.  When the tides rise, the boats float (hopefully.. if they don't... there's always a SeaTow boat lurking about), and everyone goes home until next time.


We stayed at Key Biscayne for four nights, then traveled on to Fort Lauderdale for an overnight stay.

The skyline of Miami Beach as seen on the way to Ft. Lauderdale   

The "Miami Cut" sea buoy marks the entrance to the Miami Harbor; Lots of commercial ship traffic around Miami

July 13-July 14, 2009:  Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Another hot, no wind day in the Atlantic.  30 miles up the coast to Fort Lauderdale.  We entered the inlet at Port Everglades and made our way to a small mooring field next to the Las Olas Boulevard Bridge.


 Port Everglades Inlet, gateway to Ft. Lauderdale from the Atlantic Ocean


Mega Yachts.... Mega Mansions..... Mega Money

Notice the size of this mega yacht in relation to the building behind it and the Hilton..... this is a 300 ft. yacht.  It is only about 50 miles from Ft. Lauderdale over to the Bahamas.  These mega yachts can make the trip in a couple of hours. 

Yes, the rich really are different.


Cheoy Lee Shipyards, Ft. Lauderdale, a famous shipbuilder

Expensive, luxurious marinas filled with mega-yachts were everywhere, but this is no place for a cruising sailboat to be.  We got out to the Atlantic early the next morning and headed for the Palm Beach area.

Ft. Lauderdale skyline view as we traveled back into the Atlantic Ocean

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