Calumet Dreams
Chapter 15

January 24 - February 15
Mail from Home * Captain of the Dinghy * Dinghy Surfing * Manatee Up Close and Personal * Cold War JKF Bunker * Snorkeling with Barracuda * Manta Rays * Yellow-finned Snapper * Wild Parakeets * Jewish Holocaust Memorial Back to Home Page

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Day 187 - Wednesday, January 24
Stuart, Florida
Mile 6 on the Okeechobee Waterway

Today was a calm, beautiful, sunny day. In the morning we went to the Palm City dock so we could do some more e-mail at the library. It was great weather for Tricia's first chance to practice the docking routine as first mate while Zion stayed down in his cabin. She did a good job.

I'm happy to report that Zion has been spending a lot of time holed up in his cabin READING BOOKS! Before this trip, reading books was never fun for him. He would read magazines or encyclopedias, but novels were rare. Well, he got hooked on Edgar Rice Burrough's "John Carter from Mars" series. It's action- packed adventure for boys, and best of all (to me) Burroughs uses an incredibly large vocabulary to describe all of the action. He has now read all twelve books in the series, and he's starting on "The Land that Time Forgot". His reading speed has increased from three minutes a page to two minutes a page, so he's very happy. He's hoping it will get him through his homework faster when he starts high school next year.

In the afternoon Zion went to visit Daniel on Dreamworld. We pulled our big boat up to theirs and Zion jumped off. Then we went on our way to get water at the city dock.

After that we tied up to Sea Kid's Six and visited for awhile. At 4:00 we headed into town hoping that our mail from home had arrived. We've been checking every day all week.

On our way to the dock, we passed a new boat on a mooring, the Margaret Lee. The man and woman on board waved to us, and we noticed that the woman was wearing a Green Bay Packer Superbowl t-shirt. We had to stop.

We pulled alongside and met Bill and Marge from Cottage Grove. They invited us on board for a visit, enticing us with refrigerated juice and M&M's. They had had a sailboat for twelve years and have been to the Bahamas and the Caribbean islands many times. Just recently they sold their sailboat and bought a trawler. The trawler was in Washington state. They had a truck haul it to Texas, then they went aboard in Texas and they've been heading to the Bahamas ever since. That means they've been in cool weather for quite awhile. In fact, this is the coolest winter in Florida that they can remember. They may not even go to the Bahamas this year because it is so cool. (But it still reaches the 60's every day, so we're happy.)

In fact, there are lots of advantages to the cool weather. There are no bugs around to bother us, and all of our food keeps really well without refrigeration. Mildew doesn't grow in the cold weather, either. The only bad part about the cool weather is that we don't want to go swimming or snorkeling, and you have to be brave to take a shower.

While we were visiting with Bill and Marge on the far end of the mooring field, suddenly Sea Kid's Six came zipping up in their dinghy. They were looking for us, and our boat just happened to be cleverly hidden behind the Margaret Lee and they couldn't see us from their direction. They were on a seek & discover mission for Zion. Daniel and his mother from Dreamworld had taken Zion home in their little rubber dinghy only to find that his home was missing. We weren't in our regular anchoring spot and no one knew where we were. We had anticipated picking Zion up after getting our mail, and then forgot all about him as the time flew by fast in our fun visit with the other Wisconsinites.

After they located us, we waited until they brought Zion to us in their dinghy. Then the rest of the family went ashore to check for our mail while I made dinner.

They came back with packages! We got all of our mail since October and an extra package of Christmas presents from Grandma Sherryl. We were all very happy and excited. We went back to our anchoring spot, ate dinner, then enjoyed an evening of opening mail, including lots of Christmas cards. I really enjoyed the cards that included a family newsletter. It's usually the only way I get to keep up with everything going on in their lives.

Day 188 - Thursday, January 25
Stuart, Florida
Mile 6 on the Okeechobee Waterway

Now that we have our mail we are ready to leave Stuart. We spent today saying good-bye to our new friends. Zion went sailing with Frederick, while Normand and the girls came to our boat for lunch. Dan played a rousing game of "What is it?" with them. He would call out a word in English, and if the girls knew what it meant, they would be rewarded with an M&M. He mostly called out body parts. The girls knew a few, like "ear" and "nose", but for everything else they usually pointed to their elbows first. Normand got harder English words, like "calendar" and "mahogany plywood". Tricia got French words from the kids.

Tricia had made plans to meet Mitzi one last time before she left, so at 5:00 Sebastian gave us a ride to shore. Tricia gave Mitzi a funny little scrapbook she made about their adventures together. I took the opportunity to dash off to the nearby drugstore for a few odd items I needed. At the Family Dollar store, I found the item that I had most hoped for - a big, warm comforter for our bed. Dan and I had given our extra blanket to Tricia and our sleeping bags just weren't enough to keep us warm and comfortable at night. We were using them as blankets, but since they were mummy bags that didn't open up flat, they weren't working too well. We thought we could get through a few cold nights, but we're realizing that the cold nights are pretty much a regular thing now.

Day 189 - Friday, January 26
Manatee Pocket, Florida
Mile 988 on the Intracoastal Waterway

We pulled anchor in the morning. We stopped by Sea Kid's Six to say "good- bye" to the whole family. We really will miss them. Then we headed east along the Okeechobee Waterway. Our destination was Manatee Pocket. Dan needed to stop at West Marine for a few small items. I went along and strolled around town. We left the kids on the boat because it was one of those days when everyone needed a little time by themselves. I think Tricia was suffering from I've-left-my-friends-and-now-I'm-stuck-with-just-adults- again. Zion applied himself wholeheartedly to studying Spanish, leaving enough time to share some mutual annoyances with his sister.

During my walk through town I saw my first starfruit tree. It looks just like an orange tree, but the fruits hanging down are yellow-orange starfruit. If it hadn't been in someone's yard, I probably would have picked up a few because ripe ones had fallen off the tree and were lying underneath. I also stumbled upon a little farmer's market and bought some nice tomatoes, peppers and lettuce.

We had some good BLT sandwiches for dinner, and that seemed to cheer everyone up a bit. We met the couple in the next boat, Sea-esta. They were from Michigan. They run a nautical gift shop seven-days-a-week during summer, then they spend the winters on their boat down here. They are headed to the Bahamas, too (just like everyone else we meet around here -except for the ones that just came back from there). They have a son and daughter that are out of high school now.

They said they never could get their kids interested in cruising with them. I know we are lucky that our kids have been such good sports about this adventure. In fact, Zion enjoys it a great deal. He talks about working as a sailing instructor or in the Coast Guard later in life, and maybe living on his own boat someday. Believe it or not, Tricia even talks about owning her own boat someday, but hers will be small and have a big engine. Just a party boat.

The biggest fights in our family occur when the kids argue over who is the captain of the dinghy. I don't really want to get into it, but I do want to record one of the important outcomes of those discussions. As a sign of good faith in his accomplishments at seamanship, Dan has awarded Zion ownership of our Jet 14. It is our little 14-foot sailboat that is now stored in our barn. It is a beautiful wooden boat with a blue hull and red sails. Zion is very happy that it is now his.

Tricia passed on inheriting the 16-foot Hobie cat in the barn. She would rather have Dad's old motorcycle.

Day 190 - Saturday, January 27
Peck Lake, Florida
Mile 993 on the Intracoastal Waterway

Dan was up early this morning. We were anchored nearby the Chapman School of Seamanship, and from 9-12 this morning they were having a garage sale of old boat stuff. Zion and Dan came back with ropes and chains and other hardware. We saved a bundle of $. Zion bought some foam life vests to cut up and make model boats.

After lunch we headed south. Tricia stayed up on deck with Captain Dan to practice her first mate skills. She noticed a spot where a group of boats were anchored. Dan checked his charts and saw it was Peck Lake. The barrier island is very narrow at this point and it's a good place to walk over and play in the ocean. It's been awhile since we played in the ocean, so we decided to stop. The anchorage was large and nicely protected and six feet deep, even though the charts said it was only one foot deep around here.

There were two other catamarans anchored here so we felt right at home. Lots of small boats had pulled up to the island for the day, but they left before sunset. We decided to stay overnight and spend the next day at the beach.

Zion worked on making his first model boat, a small tug with old batteries for ballast.

Day 191 - Sunday, January 28
Peck Lake, Florida
Mile 993 on the Intracoastal Waterway

We got lucky and were greeted by a warm, sunny day. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, so we took advantage of the sunlight. We hung our wet clothes out to dry, we filled our solar shower bag with fresh water so we could have a warm shower after the beach, I put a coffee cake in the solar oven for breakfast, and our solar collector quietly pumped electricity into our battery.

In the morning Dan and Zion visited a neighboring catamaran, the Tern. It was a bit smaller than our boat, but the captain said it had crossed the ocean three times.


Zion riding the ocean waves in the dinghy
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Zion riding the ocean waves in the dinghy
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

After brunch we hit the beach. We all worked on sand sculptures of various sorts. It was even warm enough to play in the water, but the waves were pretty powerful. Just for fun, Zion and Dan brought the dinghy over to do some wave riding. It was pretty exciting. Tricia tried it, too. The waves were so big that if you hit them head-on, you would get bumped up about four or five feet, like a wild carnival ride. If you didn't hit them head-on then you were in trouble. The boat would tip and become swamped. Zion was thrown out twice but always came up smiling from ear-to-ear. I made him stop, though, because my heart couldn't handle those long seconds he was underwater in the waves.


Zion riding the ocean waves in the dinghy
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Zion riding the ocean waves in the dinghy
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

While Tricia and I were waiting for our dinghy ride back to the boat, we searched the shore for shells. Most of the shells were ordinary ones that we had seen many times before Then, Tricia found the shell of her dreams - the one she has been hoping to find since the beginning, an irregular worm shell. It looks like a long, twisty worm and it's very fragile. She felt very lucky.


Ultimate Sand Forts
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Ultimate Sand Forts
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Ultimate Sand Forts
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

Day 192 - Monday, January 29
Peck Lake, Florida
Mile 993 on the Intracoastal Waterway

Today the sky was cloudy and the wind was nasty from the south. We decided to stay put and not fight the wind all day. Dan had a chance to paint the cockpit floor while the rest of us were busy with school and other pasttimes.

Tricia has taken a strong interest in improving her drawing ability. She drew some portaits of Dan and I over the weekend. The we pulled out our "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" book that we got from Grandma Sherryl years ago, and Tricia decided that she wanted to work through all of the lessons in the book. The premise of the book is that you have to use the right creative- image side of your brain to draw well. To do this, you have to quiet the left side of the brain, the verbal-logical side, that is usually in charge. So far the lessons have been fun and going well. Tricia is very pleased with her progress.

Zion is busy making flash cards for learning Spanish. He knows he'll be using it soon on our trip.

Day 193 - Tuesday, January 30
Stuart, Florida
Mile 6 on the Intracoastal Waterway

There is still a stiff wind from the south, so we decided to stay in our protected anchorage for another day. Dan is painting the top of the cabin today. We did some more school and spent some time at the beach for exercise, even though it was too cloudy for swimming.

I was amazed when I saw the beach again. It was completely different from two days ago. On Sunday, there was a large section filled with thousands of shells. Today, all of those shells were gone. I don't know if they were buried, or swept up the coast on the Gulf Stream. I couldn't find them anywhere. Sunday there were bits of seaweed laying everywhere. Today it was all gone. The beach was very barren today, except for hundreds of little blue baby jellyfish. Each jellyfish was a little oval, less than one inch long. It was a beautiful bright blue and laid flat on the ground. Then it had a wide blue rainbow of jelly attached to it like a sail, sticking straight up in the air. Strange.

Zion had fun making a race course down the sloping beach for his golf ball collection.

Day 194 - Wednesday, January 31
North Palm Beach Marina, Florida
Mile 1014 on the Intracoastal Waterway

Today we left our nice anchorage and headed down the Intracoastal Waterway again. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day with little wind. Because it was such a beautiful day, lots of boats were out. There were also lots of drawbridges to go under.

On this part of the Intracoastal, the shores are often lined with beautiful, huge expensive homes with docks and boats in the back yard. There was a lot of activity in many of these yards today - lawn crews were cutting grass and trimming palm trees, carpenters were working on doors and roofs, painters were painting. Occasionally you could spot a homeowner - they were the ones dressed in white shorts with a cell phone to their ear.


Lighthouse at Jupiter
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Funky Cat
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

When we reached Jupiter the water turned from brown to a startling clear aquamarine. We could see the bottom nine feet below us. At this point there is a big inlet from the Atlantic. We actually head west for a short distance until we pick up southbound Indian River.

And then it happened - we saw manatees for the first time. Dan spotted them and called us on deck. There was a group of them casually swimming by. They were huge! Imagine trying to put your arms around a big cow's belly - that's how round they were. I even saw one flip their back tail out of the water. It was a smooth round shape. As we went further west, we spotted a few more big noses come out of the water for a breath. The bridgetender said the manatees were really on the move today. It must be the warm weather. They don't like the cold.


Manatee Up-Close
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Manatee Up-Close
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

In the afternoon we stopped at the North Palm Beach Marina. It was time for laundry and groceries and phone calls and all that jazz again. For the first time, we had to motor forward into a regular slip. (Usually the marinas don't have slips wide enough for us and we get to pull up sideways on an end dock.) There were big boats on both sides of us. We did OK, though. We didn't bump anything and eventually Dan and Zion got some good spring lines hooked up so we stayed in place just right.

Day 195 - Thursday, February 1
Peanut Island, Palm Beach, Florida
Mile 1018 on the Intracoastal Waterway

This morning we got a chance to walk over one of the drawbridges that we had passed under yesterday. Apparently, they don't have many pedestrians around here. We had to walk on a little two-foot wide curb next to four lanes of busy traffic. Luckily, there was a two-foot high rail for safety! Not a place for people afraid of heights. We met a bike rider who got off and walked her bike across for safety. After we got back, we heard the bell ring to raise the bridge. We sat and watched. We counted two lanes of traffic backed up seventy-five cars deep by the time they could cross again. It's a busy place.

This afternoon was the time for errands by boat. When we left the marina at noon we headed down to Palm Beach. Our first stop was the Coast Guard station. Dan had talked to them on the phone and arranged to pick up the forms we needed for going to Cuba.

There were several Guards on the dock and they were very helpful. While Dan was up at the office, one of the Guards pointed out a manatee under the water near the docks. We would never have noticed it, because it was just a dark spot in the water. To our delight, the lone manatee leisurely swam under the docks and we were able to get a good look at him. We could even see all of the thick green algae covering his back. And we had time to get our camera. Zion got some good shots.


Manatee Up-Close
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

After the Coast Guard station, our next stop was the Customs Office. I've never seen such a busy waterway before. Although the waterway is wide, the channel that is deep enough for boats is very narrow. That means we had big power boats zipping by us at close range. The wakes were huge and there were enough of them that Tricia and I started feeling a bit seasick.

We stopped at a marina near the Customs Office and they said we could tie up at the end of the scuba dock for an hour. Dan and Zion went ashore while I watched the boat. I felt like I was downtown in a big city.

The end of the scuba dock was lined with big air compressors and other equipment right at the edge of the dock. It wasn't a place that boats usually tied up to. Fifty feet to the north was the marina's gas dock, and that had boats coming up to it constantly. Beyond that there were hundreds of boats anchored off the narrow channel. In the distance I could see the big arching bridge with four lanes of traffic passing over us. To the east was Peanut Island. It was small and full of trees, but it had sandy beaches where small boats pulled up for swimming and hiking around the island. On the south end of the island were some small dredging barges doing their noisy work.

Fifty feet to the south of our boat was a tugboat keeping a working barge tucked up against the shore. On the barge was a Manitowoc crane. Men were busy moving big concrete objects into place along the shore. Beyond them was a shipyard, then a loading dock. Three big cranes were loading containers onto a six-story ocean vessel from Hamburg, Germany. Each container was the size of a semi. They said "Tropic" on the outside. I think they might have been full of oranges. By the end of the afternoon I counted at least twenty of these containers on the top of the deck. I don't know how many had been put below.

And in the middle of all this activity, boats were constantly going past. There were sailboats, commercial fishing boats, sport fishing boats, huge luxury yachts, salvage boats, sheriff boats, pontoon boats and jet skis. And the manatees were on the move again through all of this traffic. Every once in a while a small boat would be shouting and pointing at them, and following them around.

While I was watching all of this commotion and getting a headache for the first time in months, a sailboat came up and said "hi". It was our friends from Michigan in the Sea-esta. We had anchored with them in Manatee Pocket last weekend. They had come to get gas. They were all ready to head across to the Bahamas tomorrow.

While I was sitting on our boat watching them get gas, I turned my head to the side and saw a group of four manatee frolicking in the water just ten feet from our boat. Some were small and some were large, and they were playing on the surface of the water. It was so cool to see them so well and so close. But before I could even call Tricia, they slipped under the water and went on their way again. I can't imagine why they were all hanging around this Grand Central Station. It must be a lot quieter under the water than it is up here.

When Dan and Zion came back we crossed the channel and anchored off one of the beaches on Peanut Island. There were signs on the island for primitive camping, and there was a nice restroom and swimming shower near the beach.

We had to do a triple anchor, one in front and two in back, because of the current and the wakes. A man was relaxing onshore with his cocker spaniel and he enjoyed watching our efforts. Anchoring is a tricky maneuver requiring lots of teamwork. We actually did pretty well. When we were done, he invited Dan up for a beer and he let Zion drive his engine-powered dinghy around. He said Zion was a good crew - he knew how to take orders well. I'm still working on developing that particular skill.

Zion and I did some swimming in the clear, beckoning water. I took a walk around the island. A ten-foot wide brick path circles the whole island. There are beaches and picnic tables everywhere. There is also a chain fence with barbed wire on top that runs 100 feet from shore all around the island. I guess they don't want anyone running into the woods. On the other side of the island is a big dock for daily use and a well-groomed group camping grounds. The sands are raked and the palm trees are all aesthetically placed. I'm having a hard time reconciling primitive camping and manicured greenspace in my mind. There is also a little maritime museum of the Cold War JFK Bunker. We'll check that out tomorrow.

Day 196 - Friday, February 2
Peanut Island, Palm Beach, Florida
Mile 1018 on the Intracoastal Waterway

In the morning Dan and Zion took the dinghy to town looking for engine parts. They didn't find the right parts, but Zion picked up some more fishing tackle at a pawn shop. Now he has some heavier line so he can troll with his fishing pole.

Then they went snorkeling. They wanted to check out a sunken sailboat on the other side of the island. While they were down there, they got up close and personal with some barracuda. They are shiny and silver, have big eyes, and swim with their mouths open. They have a few sharp razor teeth. But they didn't want to get too close, thank goodness.


Portuguese Man 'o' War Jellyfish
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

In the afternoon we went to the Maritime Museum. The guide on our tour answered a lot of questions about this strange little island. It is a man- made island, made from dredgings done in the 'twenties. A manufacturer made plans to build a peanut oil warehouse on the island, hence the name "Peanut Island". Well, the Depression and WWII interfered with his plans, and the warehouse was never built, but the name stuck.

In 1936 the Coast Guard built a station here. We got a tour of their boat garage and their station house. It's all been refurbished, and it looks very nice. We especially liked the three large garage doors made of windows to give a good view of the outlet to the Atlantic. In 1995 the Coast Guard left the island because it was expensive to keep hauling food and supplies out to the island for the eighty people that worked there.

The highlight of the tour, though, was the JFK bunker. The Kennedy family had a second home in Palm Beach. Because of the Cold War, the military decided that they needed to build a bomb shelter for the President in the Palm Beach area, just in case the bomb would drop while he was on vacation there. They chose the secluded island for the site, right at the Coast Guard station. All that you can see of the bomb shelter is a heavy metal door in the side of a hill. It's painted in camoflage colors. You walk through a tunnel, then enter the radiation detection stall and the shower stall. After that you are inside a large room. There are desks, bunk beds and lockers, and the Presidential Seal painted on the floor.

We got to learn a bit about Cold War history in the Palm Beach area. In 1962, when Kruschev started sending nuclear missile parts to Cuba to be assembled there, Kennedy responded by sending 200,000 servicemen down to southern Florida. It was the largest mobilization of men in peacetime. All of the hotels in the area had to give up their rooms to the servicemen. Eventually, the red alert ceased when Kennedy agreed to take out the nuclear missiles that we had installed in Turkey, aimed at Moscow.

With Kennedy's death, Johnson became president. He vacationed back home in Texas, so there was no longer a need for the JFK Bunker on Peanut Island. It basically was forgotten and fell into disrepair. The whole island was a popular place for boaters to go for picnics and parties. Some of them found the old shelter and moved their parties inside. During Hurricane Camille, the bunker flooded with water. It was just during the last few years that the site has been restored and preserved. In fact, the work is still going on.

The good news about this exhibit is that bomb shelters are no longer needed. In fact, this bomb shelter wasn't even below ground level. It was merely covered with ten feet of dirt. It would not have withstood a direct attack from an atom bomb, but then, nothing would, not even the missile command station that we have buried 6000 feet below the mountains in Colorado.

After the museum we continued our walk around the island. We saw some bizarre plants in the landscaping. Inside a ring of oval, compound leaves, there was a large cone-like stalk. When they were ripe, they started breaking open to reveal large, red berries inside. The park rangers didn't know what they were. Maybe we'll find out someday.

On the other side of the island we met a father and daughter that had just canoed to the island. They showed us a large starfish they had found. It was yellowish-brown and about twelve inches across. We picked it up and it moved a little. It was hard, but flexible and it had prickly bumps all over. We saw one little snail stuck in its mouth that it was in the process of eating. The sea certainly is full of strange creatures.

Day 197 - Saturday, February 3
Peanut Island, Palm Beach, Florida
Mile 1018 on the Intracoastal Waterway

Today was cloudy all day, with occasional drizzles. It kept the number of boaters down, but there were still some hardy souls that came to the island to party and camp.

Captain Billy, the guy we met on Thursday, came by. He took Dan to his favorite engine parts store in town and helped him get the parts he needed. He knew a lot about engines, and he said we should take an extra water pump with us because that is always the first part to fail on the engine. Captain Billy also gave us some cooked barracuda to try. The kids said it tasted like chicken. Zion tried all day to catch some for us, but he didn't have any luck.

In the evening, Tricia was out on top of the boat and suddenly got excited. She saw a large manta ray swim by in the shallow water. It was at least three feet wide and the water is so clear around here that you could even see its long stinger tail. She and Zion clambered into the dinghy with the camera, and went after it to get a good picture. But it got spooked and skittered back to the deeper water.


Stingray at Peanut Island
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

Day 198 - Sunday, February 4
Delray Beach, Florida
Mile 1039 on the Intracoastal Waterway

Today was windy, hot and sunny, thank goodness. We were able to hang up all of our wet towels and rugs and sandals and life jackets and let them dry out. We spent most of the day in our swimsuits to get a good tan, just like all of the other boaters going by. Imagine that - tanning on February 4. Usually we're getting out our ice skates or skis this time of year.

We took off later in the morning and started heading south again. Only a few more days until we reach Miami. There were lots of boats and boaters out today so we had a bouncy trip from their wakes. Tricia was feeling a little seasick. Zion was trolling with his fishing rod. He had pretty much resigned himself to never catching a fish with his rod when he suddenly got lucky. He pulled in a fifteen-inch fish with yellow fins. We searched our fish books to figure out what it was, but we couldn't find a good match. We asked a rubber dinghy going by if they could identify it. They two couples looked at it and said it was a yellow-finned snapper, very good to eat. They also told us that we would have a great time in the Bahamas, especially if we were in Georgetown in April. They have a big island festival then. It sounds like fun.


Zion and Yellow-finned Snapper
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

We were very happy to finally be able to eat one of Zion's fish. Dan gave our new fillet knife its first challenge, carefully following the steps in our seafood cookbook. I cut the meat into small pieces, rolled them in bread crumbs and fried them in a little margarine. The kids called them fish nuggets, and they were very good. I wanted their first experience with fresh fish to be a good one, so I was very careful that they didn't have any bones to worry about. Luckily, the fish was big enough that it was easy to cut out boneless pieces of meat. The pile of bones and flesh that was left got cooked into soup stock, and we had fish chowder for supper. (The nuggets were more popular.)


Rainbow over Lake Worth
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

Late in the afternoon some dark clouds showed up in the southeast, over the Atlantic. We even saw a double rainbow in front of them. Dan was monitoring his radio and he heard some boat captains further south begging the bridgetenders to open the bridges immediately because the wind was blowing so hard they couldn't keep their boats still to wait. That was enough to make Dan decide to anchor in the next available spot. All of the waterway had been lined with homes all day. In fact, these weren't just big houses. Most of them were either mansions or estates. We managed to find a little spot where the waterway widened beyond the channel. We pulled out and triple-anchored right in front of an impressive white mansion. We stayed nice and still all night.

Day 199 - Monday, February 5
Maule Lake, North Miami Beach, Florida
Mile 1078 on the Intracoastal Waterway

Dan and I got up early (by our standard) so we could head out at 8:00. We have to go another 50 miles, and through about 20 bridges, to get to Miami. Monday mornings are very quiet on the waterway. We only passed three other boats before noon.

I enjoyed sitting out and looking at all of the gorgeous homes. They are packed tight, side by side, all up and down the Waterway here, and each one is a work of art. They each have unique architecture, often with a colorful tiled pool tucked into the small yard between the patio and the dock. Most have clay tile roofs and they are painted white or light pastel colors. They've even figured out how to grow a pastel hedge. One beautiful light coral home had a dusty gray-green hedge as a perfect highlight. There are lots of perfectly trimmed palm trees in every yard, often framed with a ring of bright impatiens. Hibiscus bushes are popular, too.

Most of the homes are big castles with two-story windows, but every now and then there is a small ranch home tucked between that actually looks affordable. Occasionally there are huge new homes under construction. Since I can't imagine that there were any empty lots along this waterway, I have to guess that someone bought one of the old ranch homes, tore it down, and made room for the castle of their dreams. All of the new homes are built of concrete blocks on a concrete slab. Wood doesn't do well down here with all of the termites.


Cruise Ships Anchored in Fort Lauderdale
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Cruise Ships Anchored in Fort Lauderdale
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Cruise Ships Anchored in Fort Lauderdale
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

At noon we reached Fort Lauderdale, the self-proclaimed Yachting Capital of the World. Well, after seeing it I believe it. We stopped at a marina to get gas, water, pump-out. The young dockhands were impressive - they could wrap a rope around the cleats at their feet just by giving it a flick of the wrist, kind of like a cowboy's lasso trick. At the dock in front of us was the largest yacht I've ever seen. It was the Ilona from London. It could have been from a James Bond movie. When we pulled out and headed south again, we saw that another yacht, the Limitless, was in front of the Ilona and it made the Ilona look small.


Sailing Class being towed to sea in Fort Lauderdale
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

After these giant personal yachts, we went past several of the luxury ocean cruise boats. They made us feel like a peanut. One had an open hatch at sea level. There were a dozen Asian sailors standing in the doorway there with some ropes. They smiled and waved at us.


Fort Lauderdale - Yachting Capital of the US
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Fort Lauderdale - Yachting Capital of the US
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Sunken Boat
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

After Fort Lauderdale we headed into Hollywood. Here the Waterway was lined with two-story apartment buildings and commercial properties like restaurants and stores. There was even a small grocery store with a dock in the back, but we decided to wait for Miami. We anchored in a little lake off of the channel. It used to be a quarry, and now it's a perfect anchorage. The small lake is surrounded by six-story white apartment buildings, one after another.

Day 200 - Tuesday, February 6
Belle Isle, Miami Beach, Florida
Mile 1089 on the Intracoastal Waterway

Today our destination was Miami, the end of the intracoastal for us. The channel was narrow with lots of shoals just outside of it, and the day was warm and sunny so the boat traffic was heavy. We had a rocky ride from all of the wakes of the passing boats.

Around noon we reached our destination. Miami Beach fills a large barrier island that runs alongside Miami. Between the two is a wide waterway dotted with lots of small islands. Most of the islands are developed, with big houses or tall apartment buildings on them. They are all connected by long bridges that run from Miami to Miami Beach. We pulled into a nice anchorage between one of the small islands, Belle Isle, and Miami Beach. It was already full of other anchored boats but we found a spot to fit in.

Dan went out in the dinghy to find where things were. He found a public boat ramp up the shore a bit that the boaters used as a dinghy dock for going ashore. On land he found the Chamber of Commerce and got maps for the city, including directions to the grocery store and the all-important library. We made plans for the family to take a trip into the city the next day.

Day 201 - Wednesday, February 7
Belle Isle, Miami Beach, Florida
Mile 1089 on the Intracoastal Waterway

In the morning, Dan rowed Tricia and I to the boat dock in the park. Then he went back to get Zion. Only three of us can fit in our dinghy at one time. While Tricia and I were waiting for the boys to come back we sat on a shady park bench under a small tree. We heard a raucous chirping up in the tree. When we looked up, we saw three yellow and green parakeets working on building a nest together. We watched them cut small twigs off the tree with their strong beaks, then take them back to their nesting area. They didn't seem to be very expert at nest building. Only some of their twigs stayed where they belonged. Some fell to the ground. Then some noisy black birds came over and tried to intimidate the parakeets out of the tree. There was quite a racket going on when the boys finally showed up.

Our number one mission today was to find valentines for Tricia to send to her friends. We also wanted to find the library. Along the way we stopped at a lot of different places to get a taste of Miami Beach.

Our first stop was the nearby Publix grocery store. It was smaller and much more crowded than the other deluxe Publix stores we have been to in Florida. But it had a great deli so we picked up some subs and tortilla wraps and ate lunch in a nearby park. Actually, it was the edge of a beautifully landscaped municipal golf course. It had green grass, palm trees for shade and mounds of colorful impatiens. As we ate we watched the six lanes of heavy traffic go by.

A few blocks down the highway was a Jewish Holocaust Memorial. From the road, you could see a giant hand reaching into the sky, like it was reaching up for help. As you got closer you could see figures of people crawling up the hand, and a tattoed number on the wrist. The statue was surrounded by a serene pool of water covered with lily pads. In the back was a black stone wall that resembled the Viet Nam War Memorial, except this one formed a circle around the statue and the pond. There was a curving walkway next to the stone walls that was shaded by wooden trellises covered with flowering bougainvillea. Names of the victims of the Holocaust were inscribed on the walls, but only half of the inscriptions were completed. Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, so it will take some time to complete the inscriptions.

Some of the walls contained pictures and a history of the Holocaust. We saw pictures of the Warsaw ghettos and of the concentration camps, where women were lined up to be shot by firing squads and piles of dead, starved bodies were waiting outside the gas chambers to be cremated in the big furnaces.

It was all sobering and disturbing, but the beautiful, peaceful setting, with fallen flower buds floating on the water, made it all endurable. Most stirring of all, however, was the place beneath the water. In the middle of the wall you could walk down a small white marble hall back to the base of the hand statue inside of the water pool. As you entered the hall, sunshine shone through the open arches and haunting Jewish melodies came through hidden speakers. At the end of the walkway, beneath the hand, was the life-size figure of a little girl, huddled under rags, reaching out for help. As you walked past her you came to a circular courtyard of human statues, some sharing life and love, some sick and dying, all of them starved to skin and bone. It is a sight I will never forget, a very fitting memorial.

From the serenity of the memorial we moved back to the busy street and the heavy traffic. We sought out Lincoln Mall, a street that runs across Miami Beach to the ocean. It is closed to vehicle traffic. Fountains and palm trees and flowers run down the center, with wide, paved avenues for walking on each side. There are stores and restaurants and art galleries up and down the Mall. Most of the restaurants run out onto the street with tables and chairs set out in the sun.

At the end of Lincoln Mall you run into Collins Avenue, the street that follows the ocean beach. Collins is lined with high-rise hotels and apartments for blocks and blocks. Miami Beach is a historical preservation district for all of the Art Deco buildings there. Many of them are hotels or other commercial establishments. Their vertical lines and rounded corners have been preserved in pastel shades of lavendar, pink, yellow and mint green. It's a very colorful place.

We found the library on Collins Avenue and learned that internet use was a hot commodity. They had a librarian working full-time at the internet sign-up desk. You had to sign-up for 15 minutes or 45 minutes, then sit in the waiting area for an hour or two until your name was called. The waiting area had about forty chairs lined up in rows. When they called your name, you had to pop-up quick. If no one arose, the librarian would say "Going once - going twice" then the name would be crossed off and the next person would be called. This wasn't quite as straight-forward as it sounds because of the wide mix of nationalities involved. Sometimes Latino librarians would be calling off names in heavy accents that were hard to understand, or African-American librarians would be butchering the names of the Latinos signed-up to use the Internet. Despite the difficulties, everyone seemed to get along amazingly well. We quickly realized that checking our e-mail would be an all-day affair, so we put it off for another day.


The Beach at Miami Beach
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

Next we took a stroll along the beach. There are miles of sand, and every so often you would find a brightly-painted lifeguard stations (bright, as in yellow and purple and pink). Yes, there is topless sunbathing at Miami Beach. It seems that people from all over the world come here for some winter sun. As you walk along you pass groups of people talking in every language you can imagine. If you see a family with children, they are almost always talking in a different language. I'm not sure where they hide the local children, or if there even are any. While we were walking along the beach, Trish got a kick out of seeing a real live n' sync concert. "it was really cool!" she gushed, "they were dancing and everything! the only problem was, it was all in my head. that was a bummer." Actually - she saw a real, live model shoot.

As we walked back to the boat we wound our way past some of the big hotels. Since it was dinner time, many of them had their specialty dishes on display along the sidewalk. There were lots of artful sushi dishes and some big sandwiches layered with beef, but the one I'll never forget was the fish fry. First, the plate was artistically covered with stripes of french dressing criss-crossed with stripes of mayo. In the center was half an orange, cut face down. Three small fried fish, each on its own skewer, were stuck into the orange, creating a fountain-like display of fried food. I think there were some cherries and kale stuck on there, too, somewhere for color. It was certainly eye-catching, but I'm not sure how you would eat it.

None of these places had packs of valentines. Finally, when we neared home, we hit the jackpot at a Walgreen's store. Tricia was very relieved that she would be able to mail out her cards in time for the holiday.

Day 202 - Thursday, February 8
Belle Isle, Miami Beach, Florida
Mile 1089 on the Intracoastal Waterway

We decided that our anchorage was too far away from the boat ramp. Most boaters have engines on their dinghies so the distance isn't a problem. But there are strong currents here and the rowing can be difficult, plus we always have to make two trips to get everyone ashore since our dinghy is so small. We needed to find a spot closer to shore.

Dan found a good spot, just a short way from all of the other boats. It was near the Venetian Causeway bridge, just 100 feet from the small park-like island that part of the bridge was anchored on. On one side of our little island was the East Venetian Drawbridge. We got to watch it go up and down all day. On the other side of our little island was a low white bridge that ran to Belle Isle. Belle Isle was larger, but not too large, just about ten high- rise apartments in total. Belle Isle was connected by the Venetian Causeway to Miami Beach. With just a short dinghy ride and a healthy hike we could quickly get to downtown.

This was an ideal anchorage for many reasons. First, the island kept us protected from the currents. They went around us on both sides as the tides came in and out, but our spot stayed pretty calm. Second, the big power boats couldn't zip by us. They had to slow down for the drawbridge, so that kept the wakes from being too bad. Third, we weren't near the other boats so we didn't have to worry about our anchor slipping or anything like that.

Zion, Tricia and I decided to hike to the library on our own now that we knew where it was. We were anxious to read several weeks of e-mail. We took a different route there and passed by several large, beautiful synagogues, the impressive Jackie Gleason theatre, and the colossal Miami Beach Convention Center. It's so big it covers several blocks.

When we reached the library our eyes were greeted with a note taped to the door "Internet is down today". Bummer! They didn't know when it would be fixed, so we decided to cut our losses and head back to the boat. Dan had told us that we could use internet for half an hour at the Chamber of Commerce, so we stopped there and let Zion have the time to do his correspondence so at least he wouldn't have to make another long hike to the library. Thank you to all of our friends who leave us e-mail about what's going on back home. We enjoy them so much.

We found another Publix grocery store. This one is only a few blocks from the other one and it's even closer to our boat. It's odd that Publix has two giant grocery stores right next to each other. It looks like the older one was getting too small, so they built the new one. Since land is at a premium here, they had to build a store with the parking lot up on top. There are moving ramps that will take you and your grocery cart up to the parking level. The whole thing is shiny silver and glass and it looks like something out of the "Jetsons". Even more amazing, both stores are so busy that their ten check- out lanes are backed up with customers any time of the day. I'm not sure that they'll ever have to shut down the old one.

Day 203 - Friday, February 9
Belle Isle, Miami Beach, Florida
Mile 1089 on the Intracoastal Waterway

Tricia and I headed to the library today. A friendly librarian there helped Tricia get on the children's computer. She was very interested in our trip. She told us about a good book to read, "The Dove". It's about a sixteen-year- old boy who sails around the world on his own on a four-year trip.

When we got back we found that Zion had made some new friends. A boat named Choice was nearby with a family from Colorado. They had a fifteen-year-old son name Jason and a nine-year-old girl named Tory. Dan spent the day getting everything ready for our crossing to the Bahamas.

Day 204 - Saturday, February 10
Belle Isle, Miami Beach, Florida
Mile 1089 on the Intracoastal Waterway

Zion's new friend, Jason. stopped by in the morning to pick him up in his motorized dinghy. They were off to spend the day on their own. Tricia was extremely jealous that she wasn't old enough to go off on her own yet, and they didn't want her to tag along. She was stuck with Mom.

Tricia and I went on a shopping trip to Walgreen's to stock up before leaving the U.S. We bought extras of some items to use as "thank you" gifts when we get offshore, things like shampoo, toothbrushes, Advil, Aleve and miniature candy bars. We also bought a perm kit for Tricia. She wanted to try out some wavy hair in the islands.

As we were walking back to the boat we passed through the park and saw Zion in the playground with his friends. We waved, but I didn't stop to talk. I didn't want to embarrass him in front of his friends. He didn't make any effort to come over and talk to me either. When he came home later that night he asked why I didn't stop to talk to him. I told him and asked why he didn't come over and talk to me. He had a good excuse. He was playing freeze tag and couldn't move.

The city was beautiful in the dark of the night with lights shining everywhere. We could see the big buildings of Miami and Miami Beach from where we were. Because it was Saturday night, dinner cruise boats passed under the bridge occasionally. They were all decked out in lights, playing soft rock for everyone to hear. You could see couples dancing on the top deck. We even saw one of the ocean cruise boats slowly and majestically pull into harbor in Miami. It was decorated with long strings of white lights. It was so big that you could see its stack and top decks from where we were on the other side of the islands.

Day 205 - Sunday, February 11
Belle Isle, Miami Beach, Florida
Mile 1089 on the Intracoastal Waterway

Today it was hot and sunny enough for our family to go swimming around our boat. It's been a long time since we've done that. I guess Miami is having a bit of a winter heat wave. The daily temperatures are in the eighties, and during the nights it doesn't get below seventy. On the news they say that these are record high temperatures for this time of year. It feels great.

I spent some time inventorying all of the food we had left in the bilges. I was preparing for a big grocery shopping run. Since the stores were so busy, I decided that Monday morning might be the best time to roam the aisles in peace. From what I've learned, it will be easy to find bread and meat/fish and fresh fruit and veggies in the islands. What I need to stock up on are things like snacks, pickles, olives and popcorn. Zion measured his bilge and calculated how many cans of soda it can hold. He says I can fit in twenty 12- packs, so I added that to my grocery list.

Day 206 - Monday, February 12
Belle Isle, Miami Beach, Florida
Mile 1089 on the Intracoastal Waterway

Since the grocery store was only one block from the public boat ramp, our plan was to pull our boat up to the boat dock for five minutes, load our groceries on board, then pull away. The boat dock also had water faucets. Most boaters dinghied over there every day to fill water containers and dinghy the water back to their boats. Since our boat has such a shallow draft, we figured we could pull up to the dock for a few minutes and fill our water tanks quickly before we got in anybody's way. We had to pull anchor anyway and pass under the drawbridge to get the groceries, so we pulled up to get water first.

Several boaters were on the dock and they helped us pull in. We got our tanks filled with water, then Tricia and I walked to the grocery store. Zion and Dan pulled the boat away from the dock and anchored nearby to wait for us.


Tricia and Tori with Statue Lady Mime
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

Two hours later Zion tracked us down in the grocery store. He was with Jason and Tory. Luckily, they were willing to help us push the grocery carts back to the boat since we had four full carts. One was filled just with soda. Dan pulled the boat up to the dock, then we formed a little assembly line to unload the groceries. It was Tory's job to stand in the cabin since she could fit without any stooping. It worked like a charm, and we were back off the dock in ten minutes. The kids took the carts back to the store then spent the rest of the afternoon in the park together. I went with Dan back to our nice anchorage on the other side of Belle Isle.

In the afternoon Dan went to the park to watch the girls while I stowed away the groceries. They took a walk down Lincoln Mall and had fun with Statue Lady. She stood frozen until someone put a coin in her purse, then she would shift into a different position, like a human mannequin.

By the time they returned at the end of the day, I had all of the groceries stored away and I felt I was ready to leave for the islands any time now.

We have to wait for winds from the south before we can cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. Winds from the north blow against the stream, causing large, rough waves. Many people have told us to remember "North-No, Don't Go". It looks like we will have good southerly winds for the rest of the week. We will probably stay here a few more days because the kids are having fun with their friends and Dan still has a few things to take care of before we leave the States.

Zion was planning to go fishing with Jason in the evening, but Jason showed up and said he couldn't go because it was a school night. They made plans to go snorkeling around our boat tomorrow afternoon instead.

Day 207 - Tuesday, February 13
Belle Isle, Miami Beach, Florida
Mile 1089 on the Intracoastal Waterway

I treated myself to a day on my own and walked around town again. I spent some time at the library so I could do some more e-mail.

Jason came over to our boat with his snorkeling gear. Two other boys showed up, too, Taylor and Zach. Taylor is nine and Zach is eleven. They both have long hair and look a lot like the Hanson brothers. They live with their dad on board Southern Comfort. They've been anchored here for three years. They couldn't go swimming, though, or even get wet because they were in the doghouse with their Dad at the moment. Unfortunately, even with all their good intentions to stay on the straight and narrow, they forgot that they were supposed to pick up their Dad at the dinghy dock this afternoon. They left him stranded there for several hours. I don't think they'll be swimming for awhile.

Day 208 - Wednesday, February 14 - HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY
Belle Isle, Miami Beach, Florida
Mile 1089 on the Intracoastal Waterway

When we woke up, Tricia treated each of us to lovely Valentine gifts. She gave a chocolate heart to Dad, gummy bears to Zion and a beautiful rose sculpted out of white chocolate to me. I gave a few gifts, too, and when Dan came back from errands in the afternoon he had a treat for each of us.

During the morning Dan took care of some final errands on shore, like getting cash at the bank and more forms from the Coast Guard. I spent the time cleaning up the boat. The one big chore that was left was laundry. All of the laundromats were several blocks from shore. Since we had so much to carry, we decided to go to a marina for laundry instead, and get some last long, hot showers before leaving the states.

Well, we lifted our anchor and went off in search of a marina with a laundromat. There are boats everywhere down here, and lots of marinas, but we learned that none of them had laundry facilities. And none of them had propane, either. We ended up back at our anchorage site with our dirty laundry. It was too late in the day to start dinghying the laundry to town, so instead we invited the family from Choice, Tim, Mary, Jason and Tory, to join us for Valentine's dinner on our boat.

There was a beautiful cake at Publix that caught Tricia's eye. The top was covered with glazed strawberries. We decided to make one like it on our own. We backed a Bisquick cake in our sun oven, then covered it with buttercream icing. Tricia cut the strawberries and arranged them on top, and I made a glaze with cornstarch and cherry Kool-aid. It turned out pretty good. We also had chili dogs, potato salad and baked beans.

The evening was a lot of fun. The kids ate on top of the boat while the adults sat at the table inside. We learned that Tim and Mary are from Durango. Colorado, but they have been on the road with their kids for three years. They spent the first two years travelling in a motor home, then they traded their camper for a sailboat. They spent a lot of time in the Chesapeake Bay area. That's where they bought and fixed up their boat. Then they sailed their boat down the east coast to Miami. Next they are headed for the Everglades and the Florida Keys. They'll keep travelling as long as the family is all happy, and so far they are. They'll be in the Chesapeake again next summer, so maybe we'll meet them again.


Zion and Jason at Miami Beach Park
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

Day 209 - Thursday, February 15
Belle Isle, Miami Beach, Florida
Mile 1089 on the Intracoastal Waterway

This morning we dinghied our laundry to shore and got that task done. It only took $21 worth of quarters, which is pretty typical for us.

The weather report said that the wind would be from the southeast and the south at 10 knots on Friday, turning to south and southwest on Saturday and then northwest Saturday evening. Everything looked favorable for leaving on Friday. We decided to go to bed early and get up at 3:00 in the morning. Then we could fill up on water at the boat ramp and head out to sea while boat traffic was light and we would arrive in Bimini in the early afternoon.

Knowing that we would be leaving during the night, the kids spent time with their friends in the afternoon. We went to McDonald's for one last American treat before heading offshore.

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