Tuesday, 10 March 2015

February 24, 2015

We left Florida University Cove, in the morning January 27 and  started south.  Our main goal being to find a pump out as our holding tank was full.  This should have been easy with all the marinas in and around Miami but several we tried didn’t work, or the facilities were only for guests at the marina.  So we continued south to No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne where we knew they had a free pump out, hoping that it was working. The trip south down through Miami takes you by the downtown area of Miami and past all the cruise ships.  There were six giant cruise ships there when we went by.

Key Biscayne is at the south end of the city of Miami and we were heading to the southern end of it.  In the north end is the Olympic Sail Training Centre.  This is where teams from all over the world come to train in the smaller racing sailboats and catamarans.  Now you would think this would be something neat to see as they race around Florida Bay and it would be, if there was only one race going on at a time.  The reality is that they had a least three races in different classes going on, on different courses at the same time.  These racers are well aware of the rules of the road that make big boats give way to little boats and showed no fear of tacking and heading straight for us.  We performed several evasive maneuvers and one 360 to prevent running head long into them before we had gotten south of their race area.  Not fun.
We arrived in No Name Harbor in the middle of the afternoon after emptying our holding tank (thankfully it was working).  We dropped the anchor in a very crowded anchorage.  No Name Harbor is a very popular spot for people waiting for good weather to cross to Bimini and there hadn’t been any good weather windows for a while.

We used our first day here to restock our supplies and fill our water tanks.  There is one washing machine and one dryer here and they are always busy.  We got a bit of a break as one person found a four foot Iguana trying to stay warm near the dryer in the laundry room.  It seemed to slow people’s urge to have clean clothes.  We were able to get ours done sooner making sure the door stayed shut to the wildlife.  

Dave had been noticing the bilge pump running more than usual, so he pulled the cover off the engine and looked in the back.  What he found was a small amount of water coming through the hull.  So he decided to try and put an epoxy patch on it until we could get to a marina, where we could get hauled out and a permanent repair done.  

We left No Name Harbor and headed north towards a marina, north of Miami, that was advertised in the guide books.  This took us back through the sailboat races, bridges and back to Florida University Cove to wait for our appointment to be hauled out.  While waiting, Dave called and found out that there was a great number of hidden costs and getting hauled out was going to be extremely expensive, even without repairs.  We decided to cancel our haul out at this marina and try someplace else.  We called Jay, our friend in Marathon, to ask if he could recommend any reasonable marinas.  He suggested Key Largo Harbor Marina.  We turned around again and headed south to No Name Harbor.  When we arrived back, we noticed that the bilge pump was running every 7 minutes, instead of 40 minutes before.  Dave called Tow Boat U.S. and arranged to have us towed to Key Largo Harbor Marina.  We left No Name Harbor  about 5:00 PM and arrived at  Key Largo Harbor Marina just before Midnight not a fun trip.  We were pulled out of the water Monday morning and found the weld around the strut holding the cutlass bearing had cracked.  It turns out that there was a slight bend in the prop shaft and the vibration from it caused the crack. So 2 weeks later a new prop shaft, cutlass bearing zinc anode and a whole lot of welding later we were back in the water. We had to wait here for another week and half till we got a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream to Bimini.

February 23rd the weather looked good for crossing , we got up early and left about 5:30 AM and headed down the canal. We got as far as the entrance to the channel and came to an abrupt stop, apparently they have 16’ in the canal and only 5’6” at the entrance at low tide. After a leisurely breakfast we floated free and started our trip to Molasses Reef and on to the Gulf Stream. The trip across the Gulf Stream was a lot different from last year as we were a lot farther south than our destination so we felt the effects of the Stream for most of the day. Normally with our boat we are happy to be doing 6 knots but with the motor running a nice breeze in the sails and the Gulf Stream , we saw as high as 9 knots on our GPS chart plotter. Our late start was going to put us into Bimini after dark and the current would be very strong. We anchored at Gun Cay in Honeymoon Harbour just south of Bimini 12 hours and 77 miles later. 

Anchoring in Honeymoon Harbour was very rocky ( missed the small print mentioning the surge in the anchorage). We left late in the morning timing our arrival in Bimini for slack tide ( the time between the tide going in and when it starts to go out) this made for an easy time docking at Brown’s Marina on North Bimini. Anyone who has tied to the dock in Little Currant in the North Channel on Manitoulin Island would be able to relate as the currant was very similar. After clearing through Customs and Immigration we have officially have arrived back in the Bahamas.

Miami skyline from the ICW

Olympic Sailing Teams practising in Biscayne Bay 

No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne

Our new prop shaft and bullet proof strut

The original African Queen completely restored and offering cruises out of Key Largo

New friends we met at Key Largo Harbor Marine

More new friends we met at Key Largo Harbor Marine
Everyone was so helpful when we broke down

Arriving at North Bimini channel. Back in the Bahamas :)

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