Wednesday, January 06, 2016


We are anchored across the bay from downtown Miami.  I must say that Miami was one of the busiest ports we have ever entered. We went out to see to avoid the last 20 miles of the ICW because there were too many bridges to cope with, and when we came in Wow.  There were sport fishers by the dozen, ferries, cigar boats and the thrill seeking go fast tourist boats, tankers and cruise ships (they were at the dock, thank heavens). Oh, did I mention the helicopters, sea planes and there was even a blimp. The only other port in the world to come close was Sydney, AU. 
We survived and found a decent anchorage, right next to the spot where they hold the Miami boat show, on Virginia Key.  It is not very convenient but we have been able to tie our dinghy up and grab a bus to get out chores down and do some exploring.  We have been trying to get things we don't think will be available in Cuba, boat parts and favourite food stuffs. We went to the Maimi Casino and took in a game of Jai Alai.  I have heard of the game and always wanted to see it played. 
It is kind of like raquetball except they use a scoops thing attached to their right hand to catch the ball and fling it at the wall.  There are only three walls and you have to scoop up the ball before it bounces twice.  This was a professional game and there were groups of men betting on the outcome.  I googled it and a good player could make over $100,000 a year. There are no lefties in the game, or if you are a lefty you still have to scoop and throw with your right arm.  They really whip the ball, apparently it is the fastest game in the world. They played singles and doubles, once the player  lost a point he had to retire, so if there was a good player he could stay on the court for 15 to 20 minutes. Very interesting! 
We strolled around downtown Miami and marvelled at the architecture and the skyline. 
The last night at anchor on the ICW was an interesting one. We were in Boca Raton, when we arrived it was New Years Day, and the party boats were all there. Young people were swimming and drinking and whooping it up. Then we were awoken at 0330 when a huge motor yacht pulled in and proceeded to crank up the tunes and give a drunken display of dancing to the anchorage.  Being unable to go back to sleep I watched off and on, soon the revellers were asleep and the wind picked up. Guess what, the drunkards did not set their anchor very well and a $1.5 million boat was drifting around the anchorage.  The next thing I heard we the 35 foot sailboat next to us blowing their horn, I went up on deck and there they were fending off the 70 foot motor yacht. Once they could be roused it took a few minutes for the motor yatch bunch to figure out what was going on and the hapless sailors were heaping abuse on them, quite the early morning entertainment. 
We spent the next day racing from one bridge to the next. They have it timed so that if you go about 6.5 knots you can make it from one to the other without having to wait a half an hour for it to open again. We had the motor revved to top speed for most of the day, once we hit Fort Lauderdale we had had enough and since the weather was benign we motored the remaining 20 miles to Miami in the Atlantic.  It was very restful and we had a great view of the Florida coastline.  The last view miles of the ICW saw some very opulent houses.  
                                 One of my favourites on a corner lot. 
 We particularly like this one because it had a basketball court on one side, a soccer field on the other and, of course, the pool in the middle. 
                              The family boat parked at the front door. 
                                  Inspired Christmas decorations! 

We will spend a few days in the Florida Keys and then wait for decent winds to head to Cuba. We are hoping to get some snorkelling and perhaps even a dive or two in before leaving. 

Sailing Info.

We are using "The Intracoastal Waterway, Norfolk to Miami, A Cockpit Cruising Handbook" by Jan and Bill Moeller. It is a small guide with few pictures and has references to bridges, anchorages and marinas by the mile number along the waterway. We just purchased some old cruising guides Waterway Guide published by Boating Industry Magazine. We got it at a Sailor's Exchange and it covers Florida, east and west coast, the Keys and some of the Gulf Coast.  We are using it only for anchorages and ideas of what to see in places we visit. 
Boca Raton, FA  26*20.7 N  X 080*04.4 W
We anchored in about 3m. of water, very good holding.
This spot was party central on New Years Day. Very crowded. 
No info. on services. 

Virginia Key, FA     25*44.9 N  X 080*10.3 W 
We anchored in about 3m. of water, very good holding. 
There is good protection except from NW and W. 
Decent access to buses to downtown Miami, restaurants available, marinas are not friendly
We secured the dinghy to trees on shore when we left.