Leaving the Keys – Miami, Fort Lauderdale and beyond

325 Days Looping
4,964.9 Nautical Miles Total (5,713.5 Statute Miles)
169.1 Nautical Miles This Week
24.2 Hours Underway This Week
7.2 NMph Average Speed
0 Locks This Week, 154 Total Locks

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Monday – Mar 9th – 0 NM – In: Islamorada, FL
Our original plan was to head toward Miami on Monday. The winds were still very strong and Brenda was still not feeling well, so we added a couple of days to our stay in Islamorada. We just hung around the boat for most of the day. Brenda napped, and I read a book and puttered around the boat.

By evening, Brenda was feeling a little better, so I walked up to a local Pizza shop and picked up a pizza for dinner.

Tuesday – Mar 10th – 0 NM – In: Islamorada, FL
Tuesday morning Brenda was feeling better, but she still wanted to take it easy and stay around the boat. I took a walk up the road to West Marine to pick-up a few parts for my bilge pump project and to have something to do. I spent the day working on the boat, the blog, and got in a few more chapters in my book. The wind shifted and steadily decreased throughout the day, by evening, things had calmed down to a gentle breeze.

By dinner time, Brenda was feeling better and we walked across the street to a Sushi Restaurant for dinner. After dinner we turned in early as we were planning an early morning to get underway.

Wednesday – Mar 11th – 50.6 NM – To: Homestead, FL
Wednesday dawned beautiful with just a gentle breeze. We were going to leave early with the Canadians in the catamaran next to us, but they had a mechanical issue and decided to stay another day or two to get that repaired.

At 8:30 we dropped our lines and headed out, following our convoluted course back out through the plumbing pipes, past the pink house, the sailboats at anchor and back to the green marker in the channel before turning North.

We followed the ICW north. We never say more than 12 feet of water for most of the day. There were a few “cuts” where the channel snakes between mangrove islands and aside from a few fishing boats there was almost no traffic. At 11:30 we passed under the Route 1 bridge that connects the Keys to the mainland. We cruised past Key Largo, and then under the Monroe County Toll Bridge (no toll for going under!)

As the day progressed, it had started to get cloudy and as we entered Biscayne Bay, the wind picked up a bit and we started getting choppy waves. Our destination was Homestead Florida, about half way up Biscayne Bay. We were planning on going all the way to Miami, but with the bad weather, there was a backup of boats waiting to go to the Bahamas and all of the marinas and anchorages were full. We made it to the turn to Blackpoint Marina, and made our approach. Blackpoint marina is at the end of a long narrow dredged channel with a rock break water along the sides, again a “pay attention and stay in the channel” route. The channel used to be used by barges bringing trash to the Miami Dade County Landfill, which bordered one side of the marina. The Landfill has been capped and is now a state park.

As we pulled into the marina complex, we stopped for fuel. There was another boat (also a Looper) already at the fuel dock, so we had to wait for them to finish. While we were waiting, a manatee and an alligator cruised by us! Lots of wildlife!

They didn’t have a regular slip for us, however there is a restaurant that has visitor docks for guests, and as it was mid week, they let us tie up there. There was no power, but at least we had a place for the night.

It was 3:00 by the time we finished tying up. We rinsed the boat down to get the salt spray off, and while we were rinsing of the boat, three more manatees came swimming past right next to the boat. After checking the weather, we saw that there would be some clouds and rain in the morning, but the clearing for the rest of the day. Winds in the morning were predicted to be reasonable, so we settled on Fort Lauderdale as our destination and called around to see if we could find a marina. Things in Fort Lauderdale were almost as tight as in Miami, however we did get a space at the Swimming Hall of Fame Marina.

In the evening, we stepped off the boat right into the restaurant and had dinner. Dockside dining!

Thursday – Mar 12th – 43.6 NM – To: Fort Lauderdale, FL

Friday – Mar 13th – 45.6 NM – To: North Palm Beach, FL

Saturday – Mar 14th – 29.3 NM -To: Stuart, FL

Sunday – Mar 15th – 0 NM – In: Stuart, FL