Sunday, March 8, 2009

March 8, 2009

The restored Cape Florida Lighthouse at the southern tip of Key Biscayne. We can anchor in the nearby harbor for $15 a night. Not bad for such a pretty place. I bet the hotel rooms in town are a bit more!

Isabella with her hat and new umbrella stroller taking in the sights on the beach.

Mother daughter and grandaughter sitting in the cockpit. We are anchored. Notice how close the mangrove lined shoreline is behind us. It got closer as the wind shifted and the boat pivoted around its anchor.

This creature, a green iguana, was resting on the ever closer rocks under the mangroves behind us. He is not a spectacularly large one, only three feet. The guidebook says they grow to five feet and can stand up and run on their hind legs. It doesn't say anything about swimming - thank goodness.

We are anchored in No Name Harbor, on Key Biscayne in Florida having arrived here on the 26th. This is a most interesting place. The harbor is part of the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park which is at the southern tip of Key Biscayne. The park is a natural area with walking paths, nature trails, bicycle paths, a beach, two very nice restaurants, and the beautiful white Cape Florida Lighthouse with its reconstructed keeper’s cottage. Just outside the park gates and down the sidewalk past really expensive houses and condos are a grocery, hardware, post office, drug store, and library with all the things I need, and lots of shops with things I don’t need but which are no doubt necessary for the people who live in the expensive houses and condos.
Bill and I discovered shortly after we arrived that on Key Biscayne English is the second language. People on the street and in the shops speak Spanish first and English second. The local folks are doing more than fine with their incomes, and the place is beautiful. The streets are lined with palm trees set among tropical plantings, the sidewalks are pink, and the soccer fields in the park look like golf course greens. They don’t need our WalMart, K-Mart, Target or other discount stores. CVS, Winn-Dixie, and Ace Hardware seem to be the only chain stores on the island.
Julia, Josh, and Isabella joined us our first Friday night here. Isabella didn’t mind her life jacket, but her ear infection kept her from feeling her best. She was a trooper and viewed the lighthouse and wildlife then spent two nights on the sailboat. Julia brought Bill his birthday present, a 2009 Defender catalogue which he has gone to sleep reading every night since, and a couple of replacement parts for the head (toilet) that is absolutely necessary for me. Josh treated us all to a delicious dinner at the Boater’s Grill.
No Name Harbor is not far from Miami, so on the weekend lots and lots of boats came into the harbor to enjoy the park and dine at the Boater’s Grill at the head of the basin. In spite of the signs saying no tying to the wall between 11pm and 8am, dozens and dozens of boats were rafted up three and four deep Saturday night with their engines idling, blue lights shining underwater, playing Spanish rap while everyone milled about and had a good time until the sun came up the next morning.
Sunday, after Julia, Josh, and Isabella left, we did our usual daily running of the engine to freeze the refrigerator’s holding plate and charge the batteries, only to discover an injector was loose, leaking exhaust and soot into the engine compartment. Bill, the fixer of all things mechanical, tightened the injector hold-down bolts to stop the leak. He said we needed some new gaskets for the injector in case it started to leak again. Those things are not in our spare parts inventory. Bill did an internet search and found the Yanmar dealer in Miami, Anchor Marine. He even found a way to get there with public transportation and just a little walking. On Tuesday we took the bus from Key Biscayne to Miami then the train across Miami to within six or eight blocks of the store. We managed the bus/train part of the trip flawlessly. We got off the train and started walking to the parts store. Little did we know we would be walking through Little Havana! The substandard housing, trash in the streets, cars randomly parked with dudes discussing whatever, barred windows, growling dogs, and razor wire on the top of the chain link fences let me know that I wasn’t in my kind of neighborhood! The internet map also didn’t show that we would need to cross both a canal and a river. The nearest bridge over the canal was barricaded and located in the middle of a fenced off construction area. Bill asked one of the fellows in a hard hat if we could walk through, and we did… right in front of an advancing bulldozer pushing a pile of gravel. To find a bridge over the river, we called the store, and they gave us directions for a six block detour to a four lane drawbridge with traffic whizzing both ways, but eventually we did make it to the shop although we were both dusty and hot. I was shocked to find the two little copper parts that we spent a whole day getting were the size of coins and cost a grand total of $3.00! We safely made it to a somewhat closer train station then back to our bus stop amid the skyscrapers of downtown Miami. Being hungry and thirsty, we decided to have lunch in a pizza restaurant before taking the bus to Key Biscayne. It was a very nice place, a mere stone’s throw from the ghetto. We enjoyed our $20 sandwiches while being served by three waiters. It was an entirely different world. I was happy because the sandwich was delicious, the glass was heavily frosted, and the beer was very cold! A walking trip with Bill is always an adventure, and so far they have all turned out all right in the end.
We have entertained ourselves nosing around the park, walking to the local stores, reading, and, in my case, knitting. I just finished an argyle sweater for Ann’s son Ely and put in the mail to him along with sheet of stickers for his sister, Kaelyn. For mid-week entertainment, Wednesday night, after the rangers left for home, the boaters had a cocktail party in the nearby picnic shelter. It is always fun to meet fellow cruisers. I have never met a boater I didn’t find interesting (and a few are too interesting); Americans, Canadians, couples, singles, people without a nickel to their names, owners of gold plated boats, the sane and the insane, dreamers and doers. I wonder if they find me similarly interesting.
The weather forecast is for the wind to slow down and shift to the southeast Sunday night as an area of high pressure spreads out over us. That should let the seas drop to two feet or less although the wind and waves will still be on our nose. So, we may get to make our crossing to Bimini either Monday morning or maybe Tuesday morning. Anyway, that is today’s plan. We will keep you all posted.


Margaret said...

Meanwhile, we have enjoyed a mostly sunny weekend with temps in the 70s here in Kingsport. It won't last, though, and we will be back in the 40s with rain later in the week. We do not have two foot seas or 5 ft long walking on two leg iguanas, though, so I'll take the rain. ;-)
I was thinking that, for an adult, there isn't much comparison between a sheet of stickers and a handknit argyle sweater. I suppose the kids have the right of it. Any present, especially from Grandma, is a treat. That'll preach!
I'm loving your trip and glad to know you made it safely through Little Havana. I think that curious air of Bill's kept you safe. Bill, you always look like you're sure there's an adventure waiting for you.

Margaret said...

Okay, it's two weeks since we have heard from you and we're starting to get worried. Jay, John, Tim, Karen and Marquita and I got together for dinner Saturday night and you all were the hot topic! Have you sunk? Should we alert the Coast Guard? Inquiring minds have watched too much television and are imagining the worst. ;-)