We’ve been to boat shows in several cities – from the sailing mecca in Annapolis, to its smaller cousin in Newport, RI, and the powerboat-oriented ones in DC and Baltimore – but we’d never made it to the boat show in Miami. So, we decided to time our trip to Miami to learn more about this event and start the process of looking for our next boat (more about that later).
After some consideration, we decided to go to the show on Saturday. This would allow us to meet up with Tom and Dau, who would be spending the night on Orion. We would meet up that evening at Strictly Sail which was the site of the Lattitudes and Attitudes party after the show. We decided to start with Strictly Sail to check out some of the boats there, then travel to the Convention Center to talk to Lewmar about portlights (again) and Skandvik about a faucet problem. Then come back to Strictly Sail mid-afternoon to finish up with the vendors there and be in place for the party. The plan worked pretty well. We saw the boats we were interested in, found the information about replacing our broken portlight handle from Florida Rigging, got tips on fixing our squeaking faucet from Skandvik, and learned more about composting toilets from a couple of vendors. (It’s a dirty topic, but may be necessary on our next boat.) By 6pm, we were ready to sit down, enjoy the music and pizza from the concert. It wasn’t long before we saw Tom and Dau. By 9:30pm, we were dragging and made our way out to the car for trip back to the marina. It was a long day, but we had a good time.
Tom and Dau headed back out the next morning for their 2nd day at the Boat Show. We took a day off, but returned on Monday, sticking with Strictly Sail and the Sea Isle venue. We wanted to get another look at some sailboats and check out the Ranger tugs at the powerboat venue. By mid-afternoon, we felt we had done the Boat Show well enough to call it a day and head home – our heads swimming with information about boats.
8927 Seaward 26Rk
So, why are we looking at sailboats? We already have one, right?
We have been thinking for a while that we wanted to do something else, having traveled up and down the East Coast for nearly 5 years. We had once considered doing the Great Loop and have talked about the west coast of Florida. Although we can do this in Orion, it would be problematic. Orion’s draft in the shallow waters of Florida’s west coast would keep us out of places we would like to see. Traveling the Great Loop would require her mast to come down and sit on deck, possibly more than once. This would require professionals to lower (un-step) and raise it (re-step). So, we started thinking about getting a smaller sailboat. One that could be trailered and had a shallower draft. We had first come upon this idea when talking to a couple in Vero Beach, who cruised half the year in a Jeanneau Tonic 23. Although it wasn’t in the water where we could see it first-hand, they sent pictures of her and described the modifications they’d made. So, it seemed it was possible. We talked to Tom and Dau, who have a Mark 23, which they are looking to sell. Maybe we could transform something like this into a cruising boat. Another couple we met at Dinner Key had cruised on a Westerly Pageant 23. They had sailed Alaska’s inside passage on it, among many other places.
There seemed to be lots of possibilities, but we needed to get on one. We didn’t even know if we could stand up inside a smaller boat. Plus, could we make the smaller space work after life on the relatively spacious Orion?
So, when we went to the boat show, we were looking at actually getting on some of these boats and getting a feel for them. The one that had the most potential was the Seaward RK 26. It is trailerable, has a retractable keel, giving it a minimum draft of about 2 feet and a maximum draft of 6 ft. The mast can be un-stepped by a single person, and the cabin below looked well-appointed, but would need some modifications for cruising. We were serious enough about it that we spent quite a bit of time on board, coming back for a second day (thanks to the generosity of the Tim DeVries, the Seaward sales manager who provided us tickets) to get more information. The Seaward is extremely well-built, but this would be another major investment, meaning we would have to sell Orion first. We have been planning to put Orion up for sale at some point, the question has been when to start the process? Could we live on Orion while fixing up a new boat? If she sold first, what would we do? Lot’s of questions.
Which is where we are now, mulling over the options. In the meantime, if you are looking for a boat that’s ready to go cruising, take a look at Orion, for the right price, she could be yours.
In the middle of busy downtown Coconut Grove, there is a small sign about The Barnacle, an award-winning state park with a remnant of the “real Florida”, meaning life around the turn of the 20th century. We finally found a day to travel down the path to this oasis in the midst of the city. The winding path leading back from Main Highway takes you into another world and another time. Surrounded by a marine hammock, the path eventually opens up to a clearing with a house and a stunning view of Biscayne Bay. This was the residence of Ralph Monroe, an early settler of Coconut Grove, who built the house that still stood, having weathered several hurricanes, along with many boats that sailed the bay. The guided tour gave us an interesting glimpse into the Florida that existed over a century ago.
The same weekend as the Boat Show, was the Coconut Grove Art Festival, that literally surrounded the marina, closing roads, snarling traffic and causing us to get permission to leave and re-enter the marina through the Festival grounds. )We just told the security guards we were on moorings at the marina and they let us through.) It was very hot, so we kept our strolling through brief, but the show is apparently a very competitive venue for the artists selected to present their works. The works are judged in a number of categories and prizes awarded. Artists come from all over the country. These are not your typical arts and crafts from the typical street fair. I sneaked a peak at a price tag at a booth that won the first prize for the “Fiber” category. It was a ladies jacket. Price tag: $2700. This was obviously a world that was way beyond me, but it was interesting to get a glimpse at some of the fare.
It’s a two day trip from Miami to Marathon. We chose a weather window with a little more wind, that would hopefully allow us to sail most of the way. The winds were going to be moving from ESE to SE, as our course moved from S to SW to WSW. If the wind was the strength and direction forecasted, we could sail most of the way to Marathon.
We motored across the bay and then as we headed out the Biscayne Channel, the winds and waves increased. Once we ducked in behind the reef in Hawk Channel, the waves would be reduced, although on the beam, Cathy’s least favorite angle. The wind stayed up initially, allowing us to sail on the headsail alone, but by mid-day, the winds were dying (contrary to forecast, which had them building). We used this opportunity to pull out the mainsail for the first time since Pat repaired the webbing back in November. The sail unfurled without incident and the repair held well. As the winds built over the afternoon, our speed increased and we sailed all the way to Rodriguez Key, our stopping point for the first day. We managed to tuck in behind the island far enough for protection for the still higher 20 knot winds overnight.
Although we had an uneventful night on Orion, Lunar Sea was not so lucky, Around midnight, Dave poked his head up to look around and saw that Lunar Sea’s anchor light was pretty far away. After Cathy confirmed this observation, he hailed them on the radio. Dave on Lunar Seasaid he would check it out. We went back to bed, but the next morning, we saw Lunar Seaback where she used to be. Apparently, re-anchoring in the middle of the night made for a pretty tired crew. So, as we approached Marathon, we agreed that if there was only one mooring available, it would be theirs. We would do fine anchoring outside. Sure enough, after first hearing that there would be no moorings available, then hearing that 2 were available, the final answer was that there was only one. We had Lunar Seatake it and we anchored outside. However, to get our name on the waiting list for the next day, we had to dinghy in and go to the office in person to put our name on the list. So, as soon as the anchor was down and set, we launched the dinghy and Dave hustled in to the office. Despite our speed, Orion was 2nd on the list. With the next day’s settled weather, it seemed a sure thing we would get a mooring. So, we were dismayed to learn that only one mooring had come available. By Wednesday, the forecast was deteriorating and winds were up. It seemed unlikely that we were going to get anything, so we were looking at possible bailouts --- heading to Key West, anchoring somewhere else along the Keys, when we got the call. We got our mooring.
We headed in just after lunch, right on a low tide. Since our mooring was in the eastern part of the field (row D), we had to take Orion around the inside of the mooring field. At the narrowest part of the channel, the depths were dropping rapidly and started going below 5.5, which is our draft. We were apparently too far to starboard. We powered on through, seeing depths as low as 4.5ft, before getting back into deeper water as we cleared the narrow part of the channel. Picking up the mooring was pretty straightforward after that. After a quick trip to shore to register and take showers, we had Dave and Renee over to celebrate with some frozen margaritas, our first of the season.
Welcome back to Marathon.