A Spirited Sail South

Fort Pierce to Lake Worth Inlet / Palm Beach to Miami.

It was time to move on. The weather windows have been few, far between and brief. To improve our chances for a near-term crossing to the Bahamas we set off for Miami with an intermediate stop in Lake Worth / Palm Beach.

Leaving Fort Pierce we had great conditions and a very comfortable and sunny sail to Lake Worth Inlet. Palm Beach was much busier than Fort Pierce with a mix of commercial and recreational traffic. Temperatures were in the high 30’s overnight and low 70’s during the day.
Our anchorage in Palm Beach was very crowded but still pleasant with plenty of shelter to the east. On one side of us was a row of mini-mansions and an endless parade of megayachts. You could hear the waves crashing on the beach just behind these houses.
On the other side was the heavy industrial section including a substantial container terminal and the I-95 bridge. The visual contrast between the working port and the homes of the idle rich was pretty dramatic. I’m OK with either view — I find working ports really interesting and spent a few hours staring though binoculars watching the cranes unload this ship.

We left Lake Worth early the next morning. The gusty east wind made for a sporty sail with seas building from 3-4 ft in the morning to 5-7 by the evening. It was lumpy and at times uncomfortable but the conditions made for some of the best pure sailing we’ve had on this entire voyage. We made great time with typical speeds above 7 kts and seeing 8-9 kts occasionally when surfing down a wave. Good fun.

A boat that had anchored near us in Lake Worth also departed around 0400 and we stayed in touch both visually and by radio. Here they are to the east of us just before sunrise.
Shortly after sunrise the seas were still pretty mild
Later in the day the wind and seas built and we spent a good portion of the afternoon with a shoulder down going very fast with the starboard rail in the water.
Even though the conditions were pretty sloppy there were a large number of small boats out kite-fishing for sailfish along the edge of the Gulf Stream. The kite is supposed to impart a desirable motion to a suspended bait at the surface of the water. I didn’t see anyone catch anything but I did see one fisherman leaning over the side orally chumming. Interesting strategy.
Entering Government Cut in Miami. Miami Beach is on the right and Fisher Island is on the left. The east wind interacting with a strong ebb tide made navigating the entrance channel challenging. Our arrival at the “wrong” tide was a consequence of sailing ridiculously faster than anticipated. Next time I’ll know to plan for a faster transit.
Because of the many cruise ships berthed in Miami traffic is diverted south of Dodge Island in Fishermans Channel. We cruised right under those big cranes and got up close and personal with the big container ship. I wonder if they’d let me use those cranes to load groceries?
Finally anchored in Biscayne Bay just south of the Rickenbacker Causeway. I still find the Miami skyline breathtaking, day or night.

After picking our way through the shallow waters near the mouth of the Miami River we anchored just off the beach south of the Rickenbacker Causeway. This less-than-perfect anchorage (noisy, smelly, wavy) is intentional and temporary. Because of the recent weather there is a substantial population of boats down here waiting on a window to cross to the Bahamas. Rather than try to squeeze into a more favorable but crowded anchorage late in the day we chose to hang out somewhere easy and well-protected. But definitely not quiet. And definitely smelly (Virginia Key sewage treatment plant is nearby and upwind). Tomorrow morning we’ll move to a more peaceful and secure location to make final preparations for the jump across the Gulf Stream.

Temperatures here are consistently in the 60’s and 70’s. Barefoot at last.

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