Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bienvenidos a Miami

Thursday, December 30, 2010 – Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bienvenidos a Miami! We’ve finally made it to our jumping-off point of Miami, Florida – Pipe Muh Bligh’s last US port of call (we hope) for the foreseeable future! We’ll definitely fly back to the States for visits with family and friends, but we plan to keep the boat in the Caribbean for the next 5+ years.

We left Palm Beach on Wednesday afternoon with friends and buddy boaters, LA & Susan. Winds were mostly on the nose, but the forecasters predicted relatively calm seas and 10-15kt winds – perfect for an easy overnight motor to Miami’s Government Cut. The forecast even proved accurate for the first six hours of the trip, and we enjoyed a beautiful night remaining 2-3 mile offshore. Soon after midnight, however, the winds piped up to a steady 18-20 knots, often gusting to 25kts. The waves joined in the fun, and we all found ourselves getting bounced from side to side by 4-6’ rollers. Susan and the two cats (our Tux and their Lulu) were all seasick, and LA and Susan were likely wondering whether they’d made the right decision to make the trip with us. :-)

We arrived at the Miami inlet around 5:30am and tried to avoid the freighters and other big ships coming and going through the channel. Not long before, we’d heard the Coast Guard put out a securité for a 430’ mega-yacht; they’d placed a temporary restriction zone 100 yards around the vessel, and no one was allowed to come within that zone until it was docked. We later discovered that this yacht was owned by either the Prime Minister or the Emir of Qatar (depends on which website you believe), and it’s one of the largest private yachts in the world. We don’t know whether the PM was on board, but we’re guessing the USGC doesn’t create restricted zones for just anyone!

We reached our anchorage in the Venetian Causeway and dropped the hook near Belle Island. It’s a well-protected spot and offers a short dinghy ride to South Beach and its many shops, restaurants, and opportunities for people-watching (not to mention the 25-cent bus service). After spending the day touring the area and enjoying Cuban food at David’s Café, we all rang in the New Year aboard Pipe Muh Bligh. We were surrounded by at least four different fireworks displays at midnight, and it felt like we had front-row seats. What a great way to celebrate New Year’s Eve! We also got some terrific news – our friends from Kemah who began their cruising adventure just before Christmas have made it safely to Key West. Hopefully they’ll take some time to decompress and enjoy the Florida Keys before they cross over to the Bahamas.

Speaking of the Bahamas…it looks like we’re finally getting our weather window for a Gulf Stream crossing! The winds are right and the seas are supposed to calm down beginning Sunday. There isn’t another cold front in the forecast for at least a week, which means we should have a benign crossing to the Exumas. We plan to leave Miami Sunday night, working our way north of Bimini to Mackie Shoal. We’ll likely stop there for a short rest (you can anchor on the Bahamas Bank if the winds are calm), and will continue on to Nassau to check in with Customs and Immigration. We hope to stay in a marina there for a couple of days, and then it’s on to the top of the Exumas chain. We can’t wait!

We know that internet will be a bit harder to come by once we leave Nassau, but we’ll send SPOT messages during the crossing and each time we anchor off of a new island in the Exumas. Our SPOT messages are automatically posted to Rene’s Facebook page, so hopefully everyone can follow our progress as we move south. We feel like we’re starting a new chapter of our cruising life, finally embarking on a route we’d initially planned to follow when we first left Kemah. We’re so glad we’ve had an opportunity to explore the East Coast and Abacos for the past 22 months, and wouldn’t give it up for anything. Still, we’re so excited to begin our journey down to the Caribbean…maybe we’ll see some of you there!

Pictures with this Blog chapter:

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