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26 December 2007 to 04 January 2008
Miami Beach, FL
Anchored just south of Belle Island (N 25° 47.25' W 080° 08.85')
Trip: 76nm Total: 1134nm Eng: 1542hrs

[Note: My anchor rode was fouled when I left this place on 05 Jan 08. I had 80' of chain out and was turning around the anchor for a week. At some point I coiled the chain around a sailboat main boom. That's what I saw come to the surface when I tried to hoist the anchor. I got free eventually, but it was touch and go for a while there. So there may be a whole boat down there, within 100' of that grid above.]

I slept most of Christmas day. Then sat around getting the boat cleaned up. I did manage to get into town with Tom. I showed him the places to tie up his dink and showed him were some of the cooler spots were in Miami Beach and South Beach.

26 December 07, Miami Beach, FL

I received a visit from the Miami Beach Police. They were making the rounds of all the boats anchored here. They were more than nice; they were almost apologetic.

Another little digression here. Lets talk about laws limiting anchoring in Florida. Many small towns, especially along the coast have enacted laws with the intent of keeping the riffraff moving. They pass laws saying that a boat can only anchor for x-days inside their city limits. They don't want boat people cluttering up their pretty views of the bays and rivers. But, the State Of Florida recently passed a law that essentially said, "Hey, cities: you can't make laws like that." Now, Miami Beach has such a law. The last time it was tested by a cruiser who said "I don't have to move after 7 days" the city took him to court and the judge threw the case out, citing the state law. So, the city has a law that they really can't enforce. The cops are caught in the middle.

Essentially the cops are saying, "we have to administer this law. Here's a copy of the law." but then they sit there and give you every possible excuse that you might use to stay longer. They say, "If you have mechanical problems, you can stay longer. If you have medical problems, you can stay longer. If you are waiting for weather, we aren't weathermen and we won't second-guess you on departure criteria." So you can stay as long as you like.

Jerry on s/v Ethel V (pronounced 'Vee') asked if I'd mind giving him a hand. It seems his dink sprung a leak last night. He awoke to find his dinghy upside down and the engine under water. He had flushed the engine with fresh water and oiled the heck out of it. And he had a mechanic friend who would help him get it started if he could get the motor to the shore. So I went over and gently loaded his motor into my dink along with a box of parts and, of course, Jerry. Then a few minutes later unloaded it all at the dock.

Tom invited me over to s/v Evergreen for dinner. He was using up the last of the frozen venison. I supplied the wine and we had a nice evening. I loaded some charting software onto his computer for him. And I showed him how to move some of the routes from and to his GPS. Tom had made arrangements to have Evergreen hauled and bottom-painted. He was concerned that there was too much paint scraped off during his several groundings. He would be out of the water for a week or so so he was flying home. As it would turn out, this was the last I would see of Tom and Evergreen until I returned to our home marina in May of '08.

I might have a good weather window on Monday. I hope it holds. I really don't want to be stuck here for a month like last time.

28 December 07,Miami Beach Anchorage

Cloudy and cool day. Tom left about 0830hrs. That leaves about 20 boats anchored here. Some showers pass by. I'm going to get cleaned up and head into town.

Anchored a few hundred feet away is the most awesome looking power cat. it's a "Passagemaker 48" but I don't know who makes it. It's bare aluminum and looks mean as hell. If I ever had a powerboat, this would be it.

Mean-looking Trawler Cat

30 December 07,Miami Beach Anchorage

I might have a small weather window on Tuesday. The winds will clock S, then SW, and then NW. If I don't get out on Tuesday I'll be here for a week or so. This cold front is really big. They're forecasting gale force winds Wednesday night through Friday.

I wandered down to South Beach. Explored Ocean Drive and Washington Drive. Aside from finding that a beer can cost a fortune around here, I also found the famous tattoo parlor, Miami Ink.

The first time I went by there was a crowd of people getting their pictures taken in front of the store. It's just a little store front in a strip of store fronts. Not very impressive at all. But here's the obligatory picture.

Me in front of the window

Longer shot from across the street. See? Just a small shop.

31 December 07, Miami Beach Anchorage

The weather windows has completely collapsed. At best there would be 10hrs of reasonable winds followed by 20 gusting to 40. I might be able to make it, but if not, I'd be stuck out there in a gale. I don't need that. So I'm stuck here in Miami for another week at least.

01 January 08, Miami Beach Anchorage

Happy New Year!
Weather is reasonably warm with no wind (the front is coming over and that kills the wind until it passes).
By 1500 hrs the rain came down. Heavy rain! Followed immediately by North winds steady at 20kts with gusts easily over 30.
I let out more rode. Now I have about 100' (I'm in 12ft of water).

I found a discount solar panel store nearby. They have small panels that are B's. That is, they are 'seconds.' Still have the 3-yr GE warranty, but there are "...minor cosmetic imperfections."
The small ones that I might be able to mount on Galena's stern pulpit are about 28" X 20" and rated at 30W. Normally these are about $250. But these blems are only $125. I might get a set and see what they do with respect to making up that 25-Ah deficit I'm running each day.

02 January 08, Miami Beach Anchorage

The forecast for high winds has really come to fruition! It's blowing like made out there. Easily 25 kts gusting to 35 kts. But Galena's 35# Bruce and 100' of chain are holding without a problem.

Along with the high winds came cold temperatures. The nights are about 40° with the daytime highs only about 55°.

03 January 08, Miami Beach Anchorage

High winds all last night. I got up about five times to check the anchor and the GPS to ensure that Galena was right where she was supposed to be. The wind has stayed out of the Northeast.

By afternoon the winds were down a bit and the temperature started to climb. It was just too rough out there to dinghy in to shore so I sat aboard Galena and watched DVD's. Before I left home, my daughter, Michelle, had given me all 10 seasons of Stargate SG-1. I finally finished the last episode today. Now I can watch something else, or start over again with season one.

04 January 08, Miami Beach Anchorage

Much warmer today and the winds are now Easterly and down to less than 10kts.

Oh, when I say that I'm at 'Miami Beach' don't get the wrong impression. I'm not sitting off the beach on the ocean side. I'm on the bay side. All I see is the back side of hotels and resorts. The beach is a mile to the east of me.

Galena at anchor in the Miami Beach anchorage

I got up early enough (0630hrs) to listen to Chris Parker's weather forecast for the first time this trip. He's calling for a little bit of SE wind in the middle of all this E wind on Wednesday. He's recommending a Gulf Stream crossing Wednesday. Looks good to me.

I need to get fuel and water before I cross the Gulf Stream (which is now looking like maybe Wednesday). So I made three runs to the marina just a mile south of this anchorage. With three fuel jugs and needing over 40 gals, that means three trips.

But as with any boat project this one didn't go exactly as planned. My little outboard (Tahatsu 5 hp) and dink (Mercury AirDeck 8 ft) can just barely get up on plane when it's just me aboard. She will move in displacement mode at about 6 kts. Once up on plane she'll zip along at 14 kts. Big difference! So I make the run to the marina. I fill up the three deck jugs and head back. Half way back to Galena the engine sputters, looses power and dies. I've heard that kind of death before: Bad Fuel. We've had rain. I probably (no, I know I did) left the vent open on the dinghy fuel tank. So there was probably water in the fuel. I didn't have any tools with me so I rowed back the half mile to Galena. Once there I off-loaded the fuel and poured it into Galena's internal fuel tanks. I disconnected the fuel hose from the outboard and with the priming bulb pumped some fuel into a container. Yep, water. Lots of water. So I took the carb off the outboard and cleaned it out. Then I scrubbed the fuel by pouring it back into the fuel jug through my Baja Filter. Then poured it back into the dinghy tank again through the Baja Filter. Then I purged the fuel lines and hooked it all back up. Ran like a top.

Then it was two more runs to the marina for the remainder of the need diesel fuel.
So now Galena is at 32/32/15 (stbd/port/deck tanks) The 38-gals of fuel (plus a few gallons of gasoline for the dink) cost $188.

Again, a simple concept, "Get fuel" turned into a 4-hr operation.

I just need water and I can go.

Back to the issue of the solar panels. I considered scrapping them for a high tech regulator. My alternator will put out 45 amps. But for only a few seconds. Then it rapidly ramps down to 20 amps. After about 15 minutes it's down to 12 amps. But the battery monitor still says I'm down 80 Ah (from a bank of 240 Ah). If I could get the standard alternator to put out a little longer, I'd be set. A Balmar regulator costs $280. But to convert the Hitachi alternator from internally regulated to externally regulated is not a simple task. Probably not beyond me, but I don't feel like taking it apart, cutting wires inside and soldering others, when I'm so far from home. So back to the solar panel idea. It's a simple act to wire it in and see what happens.

05 - 06 January 08
Miamarina at Bayside (marina)
Miami, FL

I dinked to shore and did a quick grocery run. Then, about noon I got Galena ready to go into this marina. I had been here before back in January of '05. Nice place. The price has gone up a bit. Now it's $2.45/ft. With electric and taxes it's about $82/night.

I set up all the dock lines and fired up the engine. I hauled the anchor. Well, I started to haul the anchor. As I got about half the chain up, it got real heavy. I looked down and what did I see? The end of a sailboat main boom, complete with sail and rigging coming up from the bottom. I'd caught a sailboat!! All the spinning around had wrapped my chain around at least a part of a sunken boat. Well, it took some effort but I got free. A lot of lifting and releasing, lifting and releasing, and finally it just popped off and I was free.

So I motored over to the marina. It had been so long since I had gone into a marina I was a bit rusty. But it worked out OK.

On the 6th I was up at 0400 (I don't know why). I added water to Galena's main tank and made a big breakfast. I did laundry; the usual pile of shorts and T-shirts. I even hooked up the cable TV and watched football all day.

The Wednesday weather window is collapsing. The projected SE wind is gone. But there's a light ( less than 10 kts) ENE wind on Tuesday that, maybe, would let me at least motorsail across the stream. For several days before and after that, nothing but 15-20kts out of the east. I might try to make that Tuesday window just to get out of here.

Current plan: Leave this marina Monday morning. Head over to the water stadium anchorage (N 25° 44.8' W 080° 10.3') to stage for a Tuesday morning departure through Government Cut with a goal of heading to Bimini.

We'll see...

07 January 08
Water Stadium anchorage (N 25° 45.46' W 080° 10.42')
Miami, FL

I got up early again today. I put most of the things that were cluttering up the deck where they belonged. Yesterday I connected my cable TV and watched football and news. I had not had TV on Galena since I left Mears Point back in early November. I don't actually have a TV on board. What I have is a USB TV receiver (WinTV) for my laptop computer. Works OK.

At 0830hrs I walked over to the Sun Electronics store. I was intending to buy those 30W solar panels I mentioned earlier in this log. They opened at 0900 and that's about when I got there. Unfortunately, they only had the two display models left. So I took them at a $5 discount. The two panels and an 8Amp charge control was less than $300.

Back to Galena and shove off. I departed the marina at about 1000hrs and headed over to this anchorage. I had heard that this was a good anchorage and a good place to wait for weather for a crossing of the Gulf Stream. But that turned out not to be the case.

There are about 15 other boats here, but none of them as far as I can see are cruisers. They are all just anchored here. I base that on the complete lack of dinghies tied to any of them. Also, for the whole day, I didn't see another soul in this place other than small power boats heading to and from the local marina.

I decided to try out the solar panels. First I just hooked up a volt meter and, with no load and bright sun they were putting out the advertised 20 volts. So I dug out my 10AWG wire and connectors and wired the solar panels and the charge controller up to a breaker on the main electrical panel. The solar panels were just laying on the foredeck, propped up against the staysail boom. They were putting out between 2.5 and 3.2 volts, depending on the way Galena was swinging at the time. I'm impressed. These things actually work! I'll have to just stow them below when I'm not anchored, for now. But that's OK. I've plenty of room.

The next good window is forecast for Friday. The winds are supposed to clock from east to south at 10-15 kts. If that holds I'm definitely out of here. If not, I'll consider Wednesday night. But Wednesday night would be a motoring crossing heading directly into 5-10kt east winds. But that's better than sitting here for another week.

Maybe tomorrow I'll move over toward NoName Harbor. This place, although calm and fairly quiet, doesn't really appeal to me. Mostly because there is no place to land the dinghy and go ashore. Everywhere there are signs "No Dinghy Landing." And the one place there is a dinghy dock, they actually want $50 to tie up the dink! Do you believe that? This place is just an isolated spot to wait on the night before you leave; nothing more.

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