|No Name Harbor - busy weekend|
|South Beach Dining|
We shipped out the autopilot from Miami on Wednesday, July 6th and knew we had a 10 day wait for its return. Our decision was to have the unit returned to us at Marathon City Marina in Boot Key Harbor. We would stay five days in Miami, two traveling down the keys, then a few days on a mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor. The city of Marathon is on Vaca Key which is considered part of the middle Keys and at the northern end of the 7 mile bridge. This would be our fourth visit here as we'd stayed twice on the 2009 trip and again on our way to the Bahamas back in May.
|South Beach Street Scene|
Miami was fun. Its entire purpose for existing is tourism. It was basically not much more than a trading post until Flagler decided to extend the Florida East Coast Line south of Palm Beach and brought it to Miami and Key Biscayne in 1896. The grand hotels he built, or bought, along the railway created the idea of south Florida as the American Mediterranean. To support his idea and provide the infrastructure needed, he encouraged farming and helped to build hospitals, schools and churches.
|At the Beach|
Obviously the idea worked even better then he expected. People came to visit and decided to move to the warmer climate, at least for part of the year. In 1925 the first fully planned community in the United States was laid out and the selling of Coral Gables began. At one time the city had over 3000 agents selling property and giving tours.
Even earlier a town separate from Miami was developed as a small ocean front community. In 1915 it was incorporated as the City of Miami Beach. It was the southern end of this island where the raging Art Deco architectural style came into its own in the 1930s. Trendy South Beach has weathered its rough times and become, once again, a mecca for tourists.
Vizcaya Home and Gardens was
one of the attractions we visited. It was built by James Deering VP of International Harvestors in the early 20th Century. It was designed to look like a 400 year old Italian villa that had been remolded over the centuries. He incorporated doors, gates, walls and ceilings from estates all over Europe. Viacaya overlooks Biscayne Bay.
|Terrace looking at Biscayne bay|
On Monday morning we started on our way down the keys. Wahoo with its 5 foot draft travels the Hawk channel which is on the Atlantic side of the keys. Due to our draft there aren't many places to stop; but by now we know our way around and enjoy the trip realizing too well that the beautiful waters won't be ours much longer.
Leaving No Name Harbor, our first stop is near Key Largo. Rather then traverse the narrow canal and "crash corner' that takes you to one of the 3 marinas lining the canal into Key Largo, we opt for a semi-protected area off of Rodriquez Key where we swing at anchor and enjoy the sunset. No Name Harbor to Rodriquez Key is a 45nm trip mostly motoring as the wind is not our friend today.
|Somedays it soooo bright!|
The next morning we head for Boot Key Harbor, another 45nm away. Roy is helmsman for most of the trip both days with me spelling him for short periods of relief. On this day we can set the jib and gain a knot making the trip both quicker and more fun.We arrive around 3:30 and easily attach to a mooring ball. Before you know it we're having visitors. ZigZag, a lovely 42' Whitby with owners Cheryl and Jack are there ( had met them in the Bahamas off Norman Key). So are Matt and Julie from the Island Trader, Coup D'Amour (had met them several times on our way to the Bahamas). Amazingly so are a young couple from Houma who had looked at the "for sale" Wahoo in New Orleans, they ended up buying a smaller boat and are happy living their dream. That's the fun of Boot Key Harbor, everyone stops there - some for a night, some for weeks and some never leave.
We spent time some visiting, partying and made a road trip to Key West while waiting for the autopilot to arrive on Friday. Roy spent Saturday morning and then Saturday afternoon installing and reconnecting only to discover it still wasn't working correctly. So very, very disappointing!! It was the weekend, no way he could talk to anyone until Monday so the decision was made to move on. Besides we really thought Austin would be meeting us at last. We wanted to be able to pick him up in Ft Myers.
|I swear that's a Roseate Spoonbill|
On the way down to Key West we'd made the offshore run in one long passage, 85 nm Marco Island to Key West. But with the autopilot not working we figured we'd better break it up even if it added up to more miles and more days. So this time we went 40 nm from Marathon to Little Shark River, interesting as this anchorage is on the edge of the Everglades and the wildlife is amazing. I think we saw a crocodile, definitely saw a Roseate Spoonbill and some kind of furry creature who kept popping up from the river and looking around, Muskrat??
Then 55 nm to Marco Island and finally about 30 nm to Fort Myers. John Edward had sent us the first Harry Potter book as an audio file so we started catching up with the rest of the world.
And yes, we picked Austin up Tuesday night at midnight. Yeah!!
|An early birthday present|
So now here we are meeting a repairman for the autopilot and another one for the generator, which annoyingly keeps burning up a control module every few months. But that's ok as we're at Fort Myers Beach and can walk with sand in our toes everyday.
|Dinner overlooking the Gulf - yes with a surfboard|
|Sometime a guy just has to surf!|
Tomorrow its on to Captiva island to enjoy a more relaxing beach scene. Hopefully the autopilot sea trial will let us know that that problem is over.
Its past time to be heading for home.
from Belize - she's not only the girl with the surf board but she's a Price from Belmopan.
The shirt was a little "brata", that's lagnaippe for us New Orleanians.