Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Anchored in Lake Boca Raton we were treated to a rainbow which brightened our spirits after a frustrating day of motoring down from West Palm Beach and dealing with the drawbridges and other boats.

Fidelity retirement advertisements always have gaily painted Adirondack chairs in their pictures. This house along the ICW south of Boca Raton has the necessary chairs. Also, notice the concrete walls. Like the palatial houses, they are continuous on both sides for miles and miles. Boat wakes reverberate back and forth in the enclosed concrete canyon making it a very rough place to be.

Too big for one photo, Navigator of the Seas is one of the four largest cruise ships in the world. It was docked at Port Everglades.

This drawbridge stayed stuck in this position for two hours or more. We just anchored and waited.

The walls in Mango’s Tropical Café in Miami Beach were colorful and matched the atmosphere of the place.

From our boat we have nice view of the Miami skyline to our west. One day the Goodyear blimp entertained us as it flew over the city.

Espanola Way in South Beach came alive at night. We ate at a sidewalk café there.

The house and gardens at Vizcaya were impressive to say the least. The house was built in the early 1900s and now belongs to Miami-Dade County.

Hello from warm and sunny South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida. We have been anchored here for ten days or so soaking up the warmth, enjoying the area, and attending to a medical issue of mine. More on that as we go along.

The trip on the ICW between Palm Beach and Miami included 31 bridges, 27 of which were drawbridges that had to open for us. There was a small craft advisory for wind and waves in the Atlantic so rather than sail outside and avoid the bridges we opted to motor down the waterway. It was a long two day trip spent waiting for bridges to open, jockeying with other boats at the bridges, and dealing with faster boats. More than once a faster boat would first get in front of us and then slow down preventing us from going the necessary speed to make it to the next bridge’s opening. And then, when the faster boat knew how fast he needed to go to make the opening, he would speed up and pull ahead leaving us running full speed but unable to get to the bridge in time. We would arrive late and have to wait a half hour for the next scheduled bridge opening. It got old fast. The trip took us two days. We spent the night anchored in Lake Boca Raton and left early the next morning mistakenly hoping to beat some of the boat traffic and shorten the trip. It did not work out that way. The faster boats were back in force. Their wakes bounced back and forth between the concrete sides of the canal. At times it was worse than the ocean. To add insult to injury, one drawbridge broke! It was stuck part way open with no electricity. There was nothing for us to do but toss out an anchor and wait. The bridge tender called in reinforcements from the maintenance department. Those guys looked at this and that, tried to start an emergency generator, then called for more help. A fellow wearing a white shirt arrived. All the other workers gathered around him and whatever he did or said got the generator going again and the bridge open. At another bridge, the gates holding the cars back were down, the lights were flashing, and the bells were dinging when some idiot driver went around the gates and slowly drove across the bridge just before the bridge tender raised the leaves! We were amazed. The bridge tender was amazed. Again, we had to wait. We finally made it to Miami Beach and anchored. Whew! What a trip. A beautiful full moon was rising as we grilled our dinner. That made up for hassles of the previous two days. Maybe, just maybe, it was the moon that brought out the crazies.

In Miami Beach we became total slugs. We lazed about on the boat all day. We did launch the dinghy, but we didn’t go anywhere. Saturday, we packed all our winter clothes and bedding into two large duffle bags. We carried the bags to the UPS store and sent them to the Julia. It was good to see the down jackets, socks, and comforter go somewhere else. It gave us room on the boat to move around until Bill buys beer and fills up all the space again. We filed for a six month extension for our income tax then went over to the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall for a beer and pizza lunch. We walked around in the Art Deco District, took a little stroll on the beach, and bought a few groceries before heading back to Irish Eyes.

The Miami International Boat Show was going on that first weekend. No excuses Bill says. We are on a boat. We have to go. We spent all day Sunday looking at sailboats, boat stuff, motors, dinghies, big metal things, little metal things, big plastic things, and little plastic things. A day of that and I was ready to drop. We managed to buy nothing but lunch. Can you believe Bill didn’t buy a thing? It’s a miracle! We went aboard a 48’ catamaran that had four sleeping compartments; each with its own head and separate shower. Four separate enclosed showers; I was awestruck.

At Christmas time I developed a red spot on my chest. Whatever my reasoning, I chose to ignore it. As time went on, the spot grew into an ugly growth. Bill urged me to have it looked at by a doctor. Monday morning I called and got an appointment for that afternoon with a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital. Rather than sit around on the boat waiting, we took the dinghy into town. We wandered down the Espanola Way. It was a quaint old Spanish area with small hotels, restaurants and shops. A mile or so later we were in the Art Deco District and it was lunch time. We stopped to eat at Mango’s Tropical Café with its overly made up and suggestively dressed waitresses. We ate at an outside table where we could watch both the sidewalk outside the dance stages inside. It was a perfect spot for people watching. Our sandwiches and beers weren’t bad either. We took a cab to the doctor’s office where he removed the growth and sent samples off to be analyzed. The doctor left the wound open and said it could be closed in a few days when the pathology report came back. We took a bus back to the boat, and other than a red blood stain on my yellow shirt that looked like I had been shot in the chest, everything went well.

I spent the next three days recovering, knitting, and waiting to hear from the pathology. Bill worked on a shower system for our head. He made a trip to the hardware store and came back with a shower curtain, a spring loaded rod, and little thing to hold the telephone shower head on the wall. It works just great and keeps the water mess in the head to a minimum. Only half of the compartment now gets wet. (I keep thinking about that boat with four separate showers.) Bill sanded and varnished the starboard side of the boat interior. He got three coats of varnish on the teak woodwork and it looks much better.

The pathology report came back on Friday saying all was well. The dermatologist suggested I see a plastic surgeon to have the wound closed. After spending most of Friday on the phone, we finally found a surgeon who had Saturday hours and was in our insurance network. At that point I was getting a little stir crazy and was ready for some excitement; anything to get off the boat and off the telephone. We took the dinghy into town and walked around sticking our noses into the shops but buying nothing. It isn’t that the stores didn’t have anything I liked; if I bought something, there would be no place to put it. The boat is already full. We had a delicious Mexican dinner at a sidewalk café on Espanola Way. We put navigation lights on the dinghy and zipped back in the dark to our cozy floating home.

We trooped to the plastic surgeon’s office at Mercy Hospital early Saturday, but he decided that rather than doing the procedure that day in his office he would do it Monday in the hospital – more waiting. We left and started walking north toward downtown Miami. Along the way we found Vizcaya, an Italian style villa built by James Deering, vice president of International Harvester. The house and gardens are now owned by the City of Miami and are open to the public. The house is huge with great views of both Biscayne Bay and the gardens to its south. Bill and I spent several hours wandering through the house and gardens. We continued our walk, passing through a section the signs called “Historic South Miami Avenue”. The houses were pretty and the yards colorful. It was hard to believe it was February with all the flowers. We stopped at a restaurant for a sandwich then caught a ride on the free elevated bus-on-rails thing to the Omni Center. There we caught a bus back to South Miami Beach and our boat.

Sunday was a chore day. I did laundry while Bill transported 50 gallons of water in plastic jugs from the nearby park to the boat. We were back on board Irish Eyes in the afternoon and were “entertained” by the jet skis and motor boats that zoomed through the anchored boats while the 2000 hp 100 mph speed boats flew by at a distance. Fortunately, they all go home at dark to watch TV and then go back to work on Monday leaving us in peace.

For us Monday was surgery day. We took a taxi to the outpatient surgery center at the University of Miami Hospital (our third hospital in one week), and I had the week old wound closed. The medical care was first rate and everyone we met was more than kind. Leaving the hospital, my wheelchair pusher turned to Bill and told him to bring the car around. Bill said it would be a long walk to get the car. We convinced him I could walk across the street to the train station, and although he objected, he let us go. A trip on the train, the bus-on-rails thing, a bus, and the dinghy brought us back to the boat. My brain was a still little befuddled from the anesthesia, so Bill brought back a pizza from town for supper while I just sat around. What a saga!

Tuesday, we began shopping for food in preparation for the Bahamas. It rained during the night, but it is sunny and warm again. It is too windy and the ocean waves are too big for us to cross the Gulf Stream right now, but that should fix itself in a few days. For now we will do the shopping and listen to the weather forecast. Hopefully, we will be able to leave soon.


s/v Windward said...

Thanks for the update. Adair, I'm glad you're doing OK. When cruisers talk about personal growth, I'd assumed it was figurative, not literal! Walking home after surgery is pretty hard core. Hope your complete recovery is swift, and that you guys have a safe and uneventful voyage across the stream.

We missed you at the Blahs Party last Saturday. Robert & Susan came up from Oriental for a Bon Voyage segment and sold Well Heeled to Todd & Tami while they were here, Todd having sold Rimshot that morning. Imagine: T&T had "the two happiest days of a sailor's life" on the same day!

Fair winds and safe passage,

Margaret said...

I finally have enough down time to catch up on your blog. This has csrtainly been an eventful trip but not always the kinds of events you were planning on, eh? I'm very glad you have survived them all. Stay away from those high speed boats as everyone who watches tv knows there are drug runners on board each and every one. ;-)