After spending several lovely days in Oleta River State Park, it was time to move down to Miami to wait for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream. We had passed up an earlier window because it was a bit short for our taste and we just didn’t feel mentally ready for it. That turned out to be a good call. We later learned that a cruiser who had done the crossing over a dozen times considered it his worst ever, and we also heard of a few other boats that turned back. That was NOT something we cared to experience.
We dropped the anchor at Marine Stadium on New Year’s Eve and ended up having a great stay in Miami.
Some people complain on Active Captain about Marine Stadium on the weekends. It gets pretty busy with power boats coming over from the city and anchoring out, partying with Latin music pumping, but we loved it. People were courteous about not anchoring too closely and everyone was obviously having a great time. It was impossible not to enjoy it. And boy those boats can party! We went to bed after the fireworks at midnight (we had a great view of them from the anchorage) and when I woke up at 7:00 a.m the next day I could hear the bass thumping. I looked at Jeff and asked, “They’ve been partying literally all night?” It was pretty funny. Oh to be that young again.
Entertainment aside, Marine Stadium anchorage was very convenient for cruisers. There was a place to drop our trash and the bus stop into the city was literally right outside of the facility. We downloaded day passes onto the Miami Transit app and took the ten minute ride into downtown (and beyond) several times. We didn’t get to see everything we had planned (when do we ever?), but we had a fun time walking around South Beach in the Art Deco district.
We also went to Little Havana which I found to be a bit disappointing (too touristy), but we did have fantastic cuban sandwiches at Sanguich de Miami, just north of the main tourist area. Overall we really liked Miami. It had a great vibe, and it definitely goes on the list of places we could live.
In addition to doing a bit of sightseeing we were finally able to spend an evening with our friends on S/V Duchess, sharing stories and laughs before they left the next day for the Keys. Hopefully it won’t take us 17 months to do it again!
Finally after a week of waiting we had a short, but doable weather window to cross the Gulf Stream. Based on the forecast we felt we didn’t have enough time to make it the full 110 nm to Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands, but we could certainly get to Bimini and wait out the next weather system in a marina. We talked about the pros and cons of taking the window (Cons: we were going to have to spend at least a full week in a marina in Bimini. Pros: We would finally be across the stream and in the Bahamas!) and decided to go for it.
Given our plan to spend hurricane season in Luperon, it felt kind of strange when we dropped the anchor outside of No Name Harbor. This was going to be our last anchorage in the U.S. for at least 18 months (maybe longer), and our last time in the U.S. until August. But it was also exciting knowing that we were heading off for new adventures.
By the end of the evening over a dozen boats had joined us, not counting the ones inside No Name Harbor itself. Clearly many people had been waiting for this window. It was going to be an armada heading over.
The alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. and by 5:30 a.m. we were motoring out of the channel. The forecast held with under 10 knots from the north and lumpy seas of around 3-4 feet with a 6 second period. Surprisingly we both felt a tad queasy and had to take Bonine, but it WAS our first real trip outside of the confines of the Chesapeake or the ICW since we went down the New Jersey Coast in late August. Clearly we didn’t have our sea legs just yet, but we didn’t feed the fish so it was all good.
We were entertained watching Portugese Man o’ War go by along with an abundance of flying fish. Happily the waves settled down as predicted around 2/3 of the way through the trip, and by 2:00 p.m. we were pulling into a slip at Bimini Sands Marina. Not before pushing our way through a sand bar though! Looks like our water-reading skills are a bit rusty too. Welcome to the Bahamas!