Cindy and I were reunited on Monday after spending 29 days apart. It’s been almost 35 years that we’ve been married now, and I still love to be around her. She was missed and I’m glad she’s home. I rented a car and drove to Miami to pick her up. We arrived back at Boot Key Harbor at dusk and made our way back to Beatitude in our dinghy (filled with a couple of inches of rain which had accumulated during the day). The next day, we basically hung out on the boat and in the city marina.
After Cindy’s one day in Boot Key Harbor, it was time to press onward to Miami. We released the mooring lines around 7 a.m., and slipped beneath the 65’ vertical clearance cable as we exited the harbor. A few minutes later we made our way through Moser Channel beneath the 65’ vertical clearance 7-mile bridge. We watched as our antenna scraped the bottom of the bridge as we passed under. I’m getting slightly more used to the narrow margin of clearance, but Cindy still feels a little queasy and won’t watch as we pass beneath.
We decided to make the trip to Miami on the inside route with the Keys to our south rather than taking Hawk Channel on the outside. We had taken Hawk Channel with Captain Dale when we brought the boat to Palmetto from Ft. Lauderdale after our initial purchase over two years ago. We decided to take the inside route for two reasons. First, to experience something new. Second, Cindy likes flat seas. And, flat they were! We had a very pleasant 10 hour and 20 minute cruise through Florida Bay which covered 54 miles. We anchored for the evening in Buttonwood Sound in just shy of 8’ of water.
The water in the anchorage was about the deepest water we saw all day. Almost the entire day was spent motoring in less than 7 feet of water. On several occasions, we saw 4 1/2 feet (our draft is 4’3”). I spent a good deal of time canceling the alarm on the depth finder. It is set to alarm for anything shallower than 5 feet, which we were in for miles at the time. All the guides say that the inside route is fine for boats with less than 5 feet draft. I’m not sure if I’d like to take this route with a 5 foot draft. It was tricky enough with 4’3”. Thankfully, though, we did not once touch bottom.
The water of Florida Bay was amazingly clear. I’ve never had a day on the water in which I could see the seafloor the entire time. I was mesmerized by the bay floor as we motored along. We saw dolphin, flying fish, jellyfish, needlefish, and a few other assorted creatures along the way.
Fatigue had gotten the best of me by the time we dropped anchor. Between dodging the crab/lobster traps all day and watching the depth finder I was worn out. Despite this, however, it was a beautiful day and an enjoyable trip. After anchoring, Cindy made a wonderful spaghetti dinner and we relaxed the rest of the evening.
We both had a restless night at anchor. First of all, it was just plain hot! Despite an increasing northerly breeze, there was no airflow through the owner’s hull and it was uncomfortable. Secondly, that increasing northerly breeze blew up a nice chop which rhythmically pounded Beatitude’s hull all night long.
Despite all this, we did get some sleep and arose bright and early to get Beatitude moving again. Around a quarter after seven, we pulled up anchor (and about 1/2 the seafloor of Buttonwood Sound with it) and continued to move in a northeasterly direction. It was as if, while we slept, someone messed with the cosmic thermostat, turning off the furnace and turning on the air-conditioning. What a difference a day makes! The first day was about as hot, humid, and sticky as you could get. What breeze was present was directly from behind all day, making our apparent wind zero. This day we headed mostly into a cool 10-15 knot northerly breeze. The humidity dropped markedly. I, indeed, had to pull out a sweatshirt to deal with those early morning temperatures in the mid-70s!
In addition to the nice cool temps, the second day’s journey along the inside of the keys was much more relaxing than yesterday’s for other reasons, primarily because the depths were almost uniformly greater than five feet. There were a couple of shallow areas, but nothing like the first day. We saw mainly 7-10 feet all day. We did have to deal with a couple of 65’ vertical clearance bridges. The first was a piece of cake, as we caught it at low tide and actually had 66.5’ of clearance. The second was an antenna scraper, producing the typical feeling of nausea in Cindy.
The second day’s journey was shorter than the first. We covered 42.82 nautical miles in 7 1/2 hours. Just after 2:30 in the afternoon we pulled into the Dinner Key Mooring Field and picked up mooring ball #47. Cindy executed the mooring ball pennant retrieval flawlessly and afterwards we relaxed after a fairly aggressive two days of cruising. After picking up a bit, we went into the mooring field office to sign in, walked over the Chili’s in Coconut Grove for dinner, and returned to the boat to watch Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady.