Saturday, March 14, 2009

Marathon to Miami

As we began our journey north from Marathon, all of us were sad. We had experienced the most wonderful time during our five weeks at Sombrero Dockside—especially since we had heard from home of the snowfalls and teen temperatures while we were enjoying the fine weather in the Keys! But off we went and “Bella Luna”, for the first time in a very long time, was headed north—the last leg of her journey home. We had encountered a lot of wind in our time in Marathon so we all were thankful that it was a beautiful calm and sunny day as we were leaving. Many boats left that morning, but “C-Life”, “Wanderin’ L & M”, and “Our Turn” left together.

After taking the inside Bay route for about 30 miles, our first night (Tuesday) was on anchor behind Islamorada—we rafted three boats together—“Our Turn” taking the outside route from Marathon through Hawks Channel having plans for the evening up at Tavernier. (We will meet back up with them in a couple of days.) Traveling the Bay side was so visually beautiful—shallow channels and aquamarine waters which can easily be seen from the numerous bridges that cars cross all along the Keys. But being able to look down and see the bottom just a few feet below the boat and have it be so clear was especially thrilling for me. The water was still very chilly here so I wasn’t tempted in the least to get into it—even when we were rafted together and I could see the bottom!

Wednesday morning after we pulled up our anchors, we traveled another 30 or so miles up to another pretty anchorage behind Key Largo—still traveling with “C-Life” and “Wanderin’ L & M”—and all three of us rafted together mid-afternoon for another beautiful night under the stars. Anchoring with a good sandy bottom is such a pleasure—we’ve had enough of pulling the anchor up in black muddy bottoms! Thursday, (Happy 8th Birthday Clay!) we headed up to what-would-turn-out-to-be a 3 night stay at Boca Chita in the Biscayne National Park. “Our Turn” caught back up with us right after we pulled up our anchors that morning and followed us into Boca Chita.

Boca Chita is at the top of the Keys right across Biscayne Bay from Miami and Key Biscayne—what a sight to look across the Bay and see all those tall buildings. It is a destination that many boaters use on a regular basis—a long circular wall, surrounded by palm trees, with no power or water in a state park setting controlled by Park Rangers and absolutely gorgeous. Extremely popular with the locals, we were fortunate to find four spots together alongside the wall there by mid-day Thursday—we never would have been so lucky if we had arrived much later in the day, much less on Friday! Thursday night was so calm and relaxing with maybe 12 boats in the lagoon—little did we know how it would explode in activity by Friday noon. By 2pm Friday, there were 25 boats—some rafted together—and boatloads of campers were arriving to set up tents and gear—must have been a youth church group. As time went on, more and more boats were trying to find space to tie up to—no such luck! And there’s no telling how many boats late Friday and all day Saturday came into the harbor only to be forced to go back out into the Bay for lack of room—it was packed to the hilt and fun to watch!! We walked on the little beach there, found shells and coconuts (opened and ate them too!) and sponges, had pot luck dinners all three nights, and just enjoyed being with a whole different flavor of people. With Latin music booming from some of the boats, cigars and grills smoking, children running around, and women in skimpy bathing suits, Margie accurately named it Little Havana! Wow—what an experience—color Louis happy! By Saturday night, at last count before we all turned in, there were 43 boats that had squeezed into that little lagoon, some rafting three across—amazing!

Sunday morning we left the wall at Boca Chita and headed across a calm Biscayne Bay to an anchorage behind the tall buildings of Miami in Stadium Channel. With long-ago abandoned bleachers rising up alongside the fairly narrow body of water, this setting was once home to a Cypress Gardens type water skiing show. When the sun went down and the tall buildings of Miami lit up illuminating the sky, boy was it a beautiful sight—not quite as impressive as the skyline of Manhattan, but close. Thanks to Robert for steering us to that destination!

We’ve now been “on anchor” for 6 nights—a first for “Bella Luna” and good for Louis and me to learn how to manage our water supply. We’ve done really well—but it’s now time for us to get to a marina and fill back up our water tank! So we’re headed to Ft. Lauderdale today for a two night stay at a really nice (but expensive) marina—Los Almos—just two blocks from the famous beach with restaurants and shops galore—but we hear it is Spring Break, oh dear!

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