Thursday, February 26, 2009

February 25, 2009 The small beach below the bridge at the north end of Lake Worth is a convienent place to beach a dinghy. Shopping and a state park on the beach are both nearby. Our dinghy is the leftmost one.

Nice little boat, huh? We are waiting fora bridge to open and the wind is slowly blowing him down on us.

We motored out of the gap and around to her stern. Can you make out her name, hailing port, and flag?

The section of the waterway through Miami is a little more developed than the parts in Georgia, but there is actually less boat traffic. It is Wednesday and everyone must be at work. Poor people.

Hello from the Venetian Causeway Islands in Biscayne Bay near Miami, Florida. Since my last blog entry, Bill and I have moved the boat from the Matanzas River to Miami, 300 miles farther south! We have motored most of the way but still sailed a fair distance in the waterway when the wind was behind us.
We anchored off Daytona Beach one night, and we spent the next in the Titusville Municipal Marina where I caught up on our laundry and Bill went to West Marine. In Jensen Beach we had one more cold night, or at least a forecasted cold night. With forecast lows in the forties it was cold enough for the local freeze shelters to open for homeless folks and those living on unheated boats. We decided we would survive on our unheated boat. The low on the thermometer inside the boat was that night 57° which was higher than the in-the-boat high of 53° while we were in Carolina Beach. I will have to admit that we did put on our light weight long underwear in the morning for the trip to Lake Worth. But, by the time we arrived in Lake Worth (Palm Beach Gardens) it was warm enough for just a short sleeve shirt, long pants, and no socks! What joy!
We spent two days in Palm Springs stocking up on the groceries, beer, liquor, and the sundries we need for the next few months. The Lake Worth anchorage had a great little beach for landing dinghies with a wonderful Publix Supermarket just across the road and a block away. I made two trips for groceries, and Bill made numerous trips for beer. Remember he can only carry two cases at a time, one in his left hand and one in his right. The dinghy outboard motor was running poorly, so Bill cleaned the fuel filter and carburetor and replaced its spark plug restoring it to health.
We left Lake Worth Tuesday morning headed as far south as we could go in a day. The guide book said there were 28 drawbridges between Palm Beach and Miami. Most had restricted opening schedules that caused us to stop for up to half an hour waiting for an opening, so there was no way we could make the whole trip in one day. The scenery was varied only by the size of the houses along the way. In Palm Beach itself there were actual estates bordering the waterway. These houses were more than large with several acres of manicured lawns and gardens bordering the waterway... think of Biltmore House but with palms. Continuing south, we saw the now usual overly large houses, the typical Florida trailer parks, the large neo-Spanish style houses, the modern high rise condos, and everything in between.
Irish Eyes had been cruising along without any mechanical problems on this trip until we went under the Atlantic Ave Bridge in Delray Beach. All hell broke loose while we were under the open span. The motor suddenly began shaking enough to jar the teeth from out of my head! I was in the process of making a loaf of bread and said, “What the heck(?) is wrong”. Bill, being more mechanically minded, opened the cover at the front of the engine and announced, “The damn thing is jumping off its mounts. Shut it down”. We coasted through the bridge which closed behind us. Bill pulled up the floor in the cockpit and discovered the coupling between the transmission and the propeller shaft had come apart. Three of its four bolts were in the bilge and the last was holding the two halves of the coupling split, one to the left and one to the right, and the engines was cranking itself around and around the propeller shaft. We tossed out an anchor in the middle of the ICW and Bill disappeared with wrenches into the engine compartment while I waved at the all the boats that went past. Bill got the coupling bolted back together in under half an hour, and we were on our way; no damage done! We anchored that night in Lettuce Lake, actually just a wide spot in the ICW for the night. Bill worked on the shaft packing which was badly treated by the errant engine and was leaking water into the bilge at a good clip.
This morning we began the canal trip to Miami looking at the colorful variety of houses and waterside businesses along the way. It was early with very little traffic which was good because the concrete retaining walls on both sides of the canal make the motor boat wakes bounce back and forth. The total effect can be worse than Boone Lake on a summer weekend. We arrived at the Sunrise Bridge drawbridge all alone with a thirty minute wait and no other boats to go under the bridge with us. Just beside the bridge was Sunrise Marina. We had been circling around waiting for the bridge to open when a 156 foot yacht, Vajolioja (pronounced like The Jolly Roger), home port Bikini and flying a Marshall Islands flag, came out of the marina and into the ICW to wait too. Vajoliroja was absolutely beautiful! We have seen any number of large yachts, but this one was spectacular. Not a spot on her, gleaming white, all wood varnished within an inch of its life, a really beautiful boat. We admired the boat from all sides as the wind blew it slowly sideways down on us squeezing us in the gap between it and a similar size Australian yacht tied to the marina’s outside dock. Bill at the helm got us out of the hole to give the big boys lots of room. The bridge finally opened, and we followed in the stern wake of Vajoliroja to Ft Lauderdale where it went out to sea and we stopped for fuel. In talking to the dock hand I learned the Vajoliroja belongs to Johnny Depp, thus the name. The dock hand was impressed by the $30 an hour wage being paid to the boat’s wood varnishers, one of whom is kept on board as a permanent member of the crew of eight! It really was a beautiful boat.
Irish Eyes continued down the ICW through the northern beaches of Miami with their suburbs full of high rise dwellings set among the older beach houses they are replacing. By late afternoon we had gotten to the Venetian Causeway Islands just north of the port of Miami where we anchored between San Marino and Di Lido Islands. We are planning to go through the last Florida drawbridge in the morning then on to No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne to wait for good weather to cross to Bimini. Julia, Josh and Isabella will meet us there on Saturday. They are to take away our winter coat, hats, gloves, scarves & long underwear. I am looking forward to Isabella’s first stay on Irish Eyes. With a baby on board I’ll be a grandmother for sure!

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