DECEMBER--Vero Beach to Miami Beach

At the end of November's Activity Log, I noted that Carl had installed a larger capacity fuel tank. He was now ready to start on the next one---installation of a new radar arch. By the time Carl removed the stern pulpit and the radar pole that held both our radar unit and the wind generator, the new radar arch arrived from Canada. I should explain that when I say "radar arch" it includes a new stern rail, arch and integrated davits for the dinghy. With the help of Craig from TILT, Mac from WIND BORNE and KEITH from CAMELOT, the new arch was mounted in one day. Next, Craig helped Carl mount our radar unit and the wind generator on top of the new arch.  Craig also helped Carl pull the various wires through the arch tubing for connection to the equipment. The radar arch was Carl's Christmas gift to himself! The last part of the job was to install the davit control lines---pulleys, stops, and 150 feet of line!

The following two pictures are from the radar arch installation. The first picture shows DISCOVERY without its stern pulpit. It not only looks differnt but not having a rail there is scary....I felt like I was going to fall overboard. The second picture shows the newly installed radar arch . At Vero Beach, we shared a mooring ball with two Sagas, NOTTUS and CAMELOT, both have radar arches like the one Carl installed..

The following pictures are of Discovery with the completed installation of the new radar arch, davits and main sail stack pack (main sail handling system)..  We no longer have to remove and replace the main sail cover when we want to sail.  We only unzip a zipper and we raise the sail.  We drop the sail and zip the cover closed.

I was in Michigan during the radar arch installation. Arrived in Grand Rapids on a cold, snowy night. My girlfriend, Laurie Forte picked me up at the airport presenting me with a jacket and warm boots to wear during my stay. The purpose of this trip was to see my Oncologist and go to the dentists. It was also time for me to review the mail that Ron and Jackie Baden collect for us--it isn't as daunting of a task as you may think. The great part about having to see my doctor every 6 months is that I get to visit with friends to catch up on things. While in Kalamazoo, I attended "The Sound of Music" at the Civic Theater with Jackie Baden. Stayed with Mark and Laura Eiler several nights--fun to visit with them and spend time with Sam and Ben. During the weekend, I rode up to Ludington with Al and Laurie Forte, and Pam and Brian McLenithan to visit Ken and Sharon Wierenga at their stone cottage. Ken and Sharon are having a new place built next door so all of us had the opportunity for a tour of the construction site. Later in the evening, we drove into Ludington for dinner at Luciano's. Another set of friends, Paul and Chris Kramer, joined us for dinner. Before we started to eat, Ken called Carl on the cell phone to pass on greetings. The cell phone was then passed around the table for each person to talk to Carl since he could not be there in person. Back to the purpose of the visit, all went well with tests......return in 6 months.

While I was in Michigan, my Mother had a stroke. My parents spend their winters in Edinburg, Texas. She was rushed to the hospital and received treatment within an hour of having the stroke. As a result, her chances of recovery were excellent. After a week, she was transferred to a Rehab Hospital where she continued to make great progress. Her goal was to return home by Christmas and she reached the goal. Currently she is doing great!

Two days after I returned from Michigan, the new Stack Pack for the mainsail was installed. We were finally ready to leave Vero Beach! The last day in Vero was spent in the laundry room and at Publix for last minute perishables. I think I have enough food on board to last at least 4 months!

On December 18, we filled the diesel fuel tanks and the water tanks and headed south on the ICW to Fort Pierce. Fort Pierce is less than 10 nautical miles from Vero Beach but it is the first inlet we could use to get out to the Atlantic. The following morning, we left Fort Pierce for West Palm Beach. Winds were blowing from the East at 18 to 22 knots. The seas were around 4-6 feet with a 4-5 second interval. Those conditions can be tough but we were at a good angle to the wind and waves so it was a terrific sail. Put one reef in the sail and later took a second reef. Later, the winds decreased so we shook the second reef out. It was a good sail--averaged 7 knots without getting beat up! Anchored in Lake Worth near cruising friends, Bev and Arnie on SCANDIA.

The next day, SCANDIA traveled with us. We followed the ICW because the weather on the outside was not favorable for sailing south to Fort Lauderdale. This day, we did another short run to Lantana (16 nautical miles and 5 opening bridges). Dropped anchor and went to shore to check out the community. This is a great place to anchor! The town has a library, two bakeries, fruit and vegetable market  and various shops.

From Lantana, we followed the ICW to Fort Lauderdale. The distance was only 27 nautical miles but this time we had 15 opening bridges. The problem with opening bridges is that most of them only open every 30 minutes and in some cases every 60 minutes. Therefore, you often have to wait. Anchored in Lake Sylvia which by Fort Lauderdale's city ordinances restricts you to 24 hours. We were approached by the Marine Police within 1 hour of arrival. They told us we had to be out in 24 hours and that someone would return to make sure we did (they told everyone in the anchorage the same thing). In 2006, the a new Florida law was enacted which over-rules the city ordinance. Because the law is new, local governments are still trying to regulate anchoring.

We did not heed the advice of the Marine Police.....stayed the next day because it was too rough to go out on the Atlantic. Carl and I went on a boat tour of Fort Lauderdale. This city has lots of wealthy people with huge houses. It was fun to see how the houses were decorated for Christmas. Took a picture of a house with gaudy eye sore. The picture did not turn out.

The following three pictures are of the same house. The house is on a corner where two canals meet so one section faces one canal, the center of the house sit on the corner of the canals and the last section faces the second canal. This house is typical of the homes along the ICW and canals in Fort Lauderdale!


From Fort Lauderdale, we have to go outside on the Atlantic to Miami because there is one fixed bridge, Julia Tuttle, which we can not pass under. The weather on December 23 was conducive to making a run to Miami. We made the 31 nautical mile run to Miami in southeast winds (the same direction we were headed). Had to plow our way through 4 foot waves. The worst part of this trip was at the inlet. The waves were directly behind us as we entered the inlet and the current was flowing in the opposite direction as the waves. As a result, the waves pile up and build. For one minute, we thought we lost it when our bow turned to port as a huge roller picked us up.

Shared Christmas Dinner with about 80-100 other cruisers. It was potluck and somehow we had turkey, ham and all the traditional side dishes. Yes, it was Christmas but the main topic of conversation was "When is the next weather window to cross the gulf stream for The Bahamas?" After dinner, we had 2 couples on our boat reviewing weather files and weather reports. Our weather forecaster thought perhaps there would be a window right after Christmas but this did not materialize.

In the meantime, I found out how neat Miami Beach is to visit. Walked to Lincoln Center which is a mall filled with shops and restaurants. Went to South Beach to "see all the beautiful and not so beautiful people". Lots of  guys check out this beach because there are often topless females laying in the sun! Took the metro train to Vizcaya one day. This mansion was built between 1913 and 1916 by James Deering, Vice President of International Harvester. He only lived in Vizcaya during the winter. Vizcaya was designed in the style of the Italian Renaissance villas. It was originally on an estate of 180 acres which included a farm area designed to resemble a typical northern Italian Village with dairy, poultry, mule stable, greenhouse, machine shop, etc. You are not allowed to take pictures inside the mansion. It is hard to describe the rooms. Basically, Deering went to Italy and purchased rooms from existing estates that could not afford the taxes. The rooms were disassembled and reassembled back in Coconut Grove.

The following pictures were taken at Vizcaya. No photography allowed inside which is too bad because it was magnificent.



December 31 arrived and still no weather window for crossing the gulfstream. About 30 cruisers boarded the Miami metro train and went down to Coconut Grove for the King Mango Strut. The King Mango Strut is a poke at the Orange Bowl Parade. It is very irreverent. Almost all the parade entries were political in nature. It was fun to watch.

Had a very quiet, simple dinner onboard. Went to bed early but woke up to the sound of the New Years countdown. I went up to the cockpit to yell out Happy New Year. Miami provided some of the best fireworks that I have ever seen. What a wonderful way to welcome in the New Year!

The following pictures were taken at the King Mango Strut parade. The guy in the second photo is Fidel Castro. He flipped a sign....Still Alive/Just Barely. The nurse was by his side injecting drugs. The fourth photo is of the Grand Marshall who bought his position with a $5600 bid on e-bay.

Submitted by Marilyn Thoreson
January 9, 2007

Trip log