So we decided not to go home for Christmas. Too many logistics. We would have to go back north to Titusville to find a place to put the boat. Three weeks of no progress towards warm weather. A decent piece of change, by the time all is said and done. And in our world, money really does equal time.
So we changed plans. We decided to make posthaste for Boot Key and Marathon. Where (it is said) the weather is always warm, the water is clear, and the sunsets are the biggest draw of the day.
Lets get up to speed.
Vero Beach was crowded, with most boats on mooring balls, and some rafted two and three to a ball. This allows more boats to be packed into the available space. We left and motored down the waterway in gusty conditions to Port St, Lucie and up the Okeechobee River and anchored in Hogg Cove. I chose this spot to get us out of the wind, still coming from the north. Spent a peaceful night in front of some very nice homes, sharing the anchorage with only one other boat.
Up anchor around 8:30 after breakfast and went down to North Palm Beach and anchored in Lake Worth. This is a very popular place to stage for crossing over to the Bahamas. Just north of the Ft. Pierce inlet, the lake is surrounded by high end homes and condos, as well as marinas stocked with very large boats. We landed the dinghy beside a bridge and walked the block to Publix where we provisioned. We waited here for the weather offshore to settle, as the next stretch of the waterway has approx. 22 opening bridges we would have had to go through. Offshore, the waves were being whipped into a frenzy by a northerly front coming through.
The weather finally calmed down enough so we could get out into the ocean for the trip down to Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale). Once we started we were committed, as there really is no other good place to duck back in from the ocean. Although the winds were still from the North, we had a pretty good trip down. We went out past the three mile line so we could empty the holding tank, and I noticed the farther out we got, the rougher the waves were and (more importantly) the more our SOG (Speed Over Ground) dropped. We were doing six knots through the water and only four and a half over ground. As I eased closer to shore our SOG increased. It turns out the Gulf Stream is only about six miles from shore in this area. As it flows north, we were beginning to see the effect.
After three nights, again waiting on weather, we left for No Name Harbor on the south side of Miami. This is mandatory offshore passage for us, as there is a bridge just north of Miami that we cannot get under as we are too tall. After crossing Biscayne Bay for fuel and a pump out (something we were unable to arrange in Ft Lauderdale) we dropped the hook outside of No Name as it was too crowded with people waiting for any wind OTHER than from the NORTH so they can cross over to the Bahamas. We had a somewhat rocky night due to passing boat wakes, but managed to sleep well.
Today we left and went down the Hawk Channel to Rodriguez Key, where we carefully anchored on the south side so we would be sheltered from the predicted 15 to 20 mph NORTH WIND that is supposed to arrive tonight around 9:00. If all goes well, we should make Marathon tomorrow.
We plan to stay a month or more there, exploring the area and Key West. Snorkeling should be good, I need to do a little boat work, and it will be fun to have a "home base". Carol is tired of constantly being in "travel mode" and, to tell the truth, this road warrior is a little weary as well. The weather is due to moderate over the next week, so maybe I can reacquaint myself with my flip flops. Heck, maybe we will see winds from...dare I say it?...the south!