Cruisin' The Loop Aboard Kibon
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Saturday, December 28. 2002
Well, it looks like we just can't keep hiding under a palm tree here in south Florida... we're back aboard Kibon and off for a short tour of the Keys. The holiday season was the best it could have been considering that we are fifteen hundred miles away from children and grand children.  Kay's Mom spent the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) with us, so we weren't without some family connection.  As we toasted the health of everyone who could not join us around the table, Mom said that last year alone had been one of the most difficult holidays she had known.  She was thankful to have some family this year, and we were thankful to have her with us.
I'm sure that many of you Loopers have found yourselves in foreign ports during special times of the year.  The adventure of  being in new places is a high point, but missing family at those times is a low point.  It is good to visit with new friends during these holidays, and we have been fortunate to enjoy these friendships.
Now that Christmas is over, we put the live spruce tree out on the patio to absorb sun and rain, and loaded Lucky (our parakeet) and food for a week onto Kibon.  We're heading south to a Key or two -- can't go too far because Kay has to be back to begin a consulting job on January 6th.  We have spent many winter vacations driving up and down this area, but it was quite a pleasure to traverse the Intercoastal and look into everyone's backyards.  We look at the For Sale signs and wonder.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to park our boat in front of one of those beautiful homes???
We left our berth at Palm Yacht Center this afternoon and traveled ten miles south to Pelican Cove in Delray Beach.  The guide books call this "about as good as anchorage gets in southeastern Florida."  We are surrounded by homes and their docks in this quiet anchorage which is far enough off of the ICW to keep the wake down.  We had no trouble anchoring even though the bottom is "very soft and muddy."  We toasted the setting sun and remembered the many setting suns we had enjoyed on our trip this summer.
Sunday, December 29, 2002
It was a bit crispy this morning when Pearce woke up... during the night the temperature had dropped below 60. Since he couldn't go out for his morning walk, he turned on the heat to coax Kay out from under the blanket. The smell of fresh coffee and banana pancakes finally did the trick.  We headed south again at 10 am, following a group of vessels headed for the warmer climes interspersed with boats merely out for a Sunday cruise.  Since the cruising speed varied from "Minimum Wake" to "No Wake" we could become good friends during the passage.  One of the boats ahead of us asked a bridge tender, "Do you open on demand?"  The tender replied, "I open on request from 6 pm to 8 am.  From 8 am to 6 pm I open on the hour and every 15 minutes thereafter." 
I guess it is all in the language!  We passed magnificent home after magnificent home.  It was a pleasure to see the homes that were built in the early days (read that 1950+) that are still gracing the waterway.  They were a relief from the huge estates.

We met friends from home at a restaurant in Deerfield Beach.  Virgie and Tony Politio have a condo on the ICW.  Unfortunately it does not have dockage, so we met them, their son and grandsons at the Cove Restaurant.  We had a great time exchanging stories, and then we took a short trip down the Waterway to see everything from a different perspective.  They have been coming south to Florida during the winter for about the same time that we have, but it was only recently that they bought a place right on the Intracoastal.

After leaving the Politos at the dock we continued down the waterway at minimum speed.  As we were cruising, Pearce said he thought he had had enough of everything looking the same.  He even had the audacity to compare this portion of the ICW to the Mobile River!  Kay pointed out the obvious differences, and he agreed that there are different definitions to "boring."  We continued on past Bahia Mar, the site of the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show.  Actually, we turned in there to inquire about their rates.  More than $2 a foot/night is out of our ball park.  Then they added electricity on top of that!  This is an expensive area, but we traveled less than a mile further south into Lake Sylvia and joined a large group of sailboats and a few cruisers to anchor for the night for free.   This is a legal anchorage within the city limits of Fort Lauderdale.  There is no immediate dinghy access in the Lake, but we watched several tenders come back into the Lake from the Bahia Mar area, so it seems possible to access restaurants and shopping.  We have been anchored here for several hours.  The wind had died down, there are no wakes from passing boats, and we are resting calmly in the water.

Monday, December 30, 2002
Since we had decided that we wanted to find a place in the Keys today, Pearce got up before sunrise, made the coffee, warmed up the engines, and pulled up the anchor by 7 am.  Needless to say, Kay woke up earlier than usual and delivered fresh grapefruit and hot coffee to the Captain as he made his way through Port Everglades.  We watched the fishing boats head out toward the ocean, spray was flying, and bows were dipping and rising.  We decided that although the run down the outside would be faster, we didn't appreciate the wind from the southeast that made the chop a bit strong.  We were able to go through most bridges, but we had to wait for some openings.  The "Little Wake" and "No Wake" zones kept us awake as we speeded up, slowed down, and tried to make headway.  It was interesting (and Pearce agreed) to appreciate the old waterfront homes and gape at the new high-rise towers tucked into every little corner.  Kay wanted to stop at the grocery store in Hollywood Beach that advertised fresh food and meats and had waterfront docking -- we've never seen anything so convenient.  Unfortunately, we haven't made a dent in our larder and had to pass on by.

We were in a line of several boats headed into the Miami area when the port shift cable broke.  The engine was still in forward, so Pearce was able to maneuver Kibon  to the North Beach Marina where one of their mechanics patched up the broken cable.  He suggested we ask Silverton to replace all the control cables...  We figured he was making sense and tried to call Silverton, but they were not answering -- probably at the New York Boat Show. A few days later we contacted Silverton's service people and, as usual, the problem was quickly solved. Nice folks, those guys in New Jersey.

We continued on down the ICW, passing the sites of the Miami Boat Show (where we hope to meet everyone at the Looper exhibit in February).  The waterfront area where the sailboats congregate for the Boat Show was beginning to kick up the carnival and adventure rides that attracted the tourists.  The Government Cut was quiet, so we could cruise slowly by the huge ships getting ready to head out to the high seas.  We passed under the last bridge in Miami, the Powell/Rickenbacker Causeway, and headed down Biscayne Bay toward Boca Chita Key.  It is part of the Biscayne National Park where boats can tie up for minimal charges.  The docks were full, some boats were doubled up, and there was a waiting line anchored outside of the basin.  We decided to head further south to Elliott Key, another part of the National Park a few miles down the Bay.  The charts show 3 feet within a quarter mile of the shore, but we were able to approach very slowly, and made it to the dock with only a bump or so over the sandy bottom.  Our trip was during a rising tide, so we intend to reverse the procedure under a similar tide when we leave in a few days.

After we inserted out Senior Park Pass and $7.50 into the automated machine, we decided to follow the trail to the ocean.  After a few hundred yards, we reversed our steps -- the mosquitoes had discovered us, and we needed to return to the boat for our repellent.  The sun was getting low in the sky, and Pearce decided that it was time to take a few more sunset pictures.  The ocean will be there tomorrow.  We got a phone call from the broker who is trying to sell our boat.  Someone had made an offer last week, we had made a counter offer, and the potential buyer was still dickering.  We decided that the sunset was much more interesting than talking to a broker.  Kibon is a beautiful boat, and we only want to sell her to someone who appreciates her potential.

Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Pearce was able to take his morning walk -- the 1.1 mile Interpretive Trail that circles around this part of the Park.  He said it went across the island to the ocean where the high tide brought the water within a few feet of the built-up boardwalk.  Several groups of campers had their tents pitched here where they could look to the east toward Bimini.  There were signs along the way as the trail continued its circle back to the bayside.  They explained the flora and fauna along the way, along with some interesting facts about the area.  Maybe that is what the Interpretive part means.  Meanwhile Kay went up to the bath house to take a shower and wash her hair.  After testing the water for many minutes, she concluded there was no hot water and returned to Kibon's hot (but limited) water.  There are no services here at the dock, but drinking water is available from a faucet several hundred feet from the docks.  After breakfast we walked around the campground and talked to the campers.  Some of them come over in their own boats, and some come over on the daily ferry from the Biscayne National Park headquarters on the mainland.  There were people snorkeling on the bay side, and later in the day several of the children were paddling in the swimming area.  The water temperature today was 76 degrees and the air temperature was only 72 degrees.  We decided to leave the swimming to the younger folks.  The coral that made this island surrounds the area, and there are only a few places where the beach has some sand.  We walked over to the ocean side and were nearly blown back to the middle of the island by the wind, which has been picking up all day.  This evening the gusts are over 30, and the prediction is for more gusty winds tomorrow.

We got a phone call from the boat broker early in the evening as we were finishing dinner.  A deal was made.  Kibon will have a new owner if the survey goes well.  We are in the market for a new boat.  Although we would have liked to take Kibon back to New York in the spring, she is not the size boat we want for cruising on Great South Bay.  We were happy with slightly smaller boats before, but more important, we need a shallow draft boat to access the shallower spots on the bay.  Looks like our slip in Boynton Beach will be empty until we can find a new boat!

On that note, we wish everyone a very Happy New Year.

Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Since we didn't stay up last night until midnight, we had our champagne for breakfast.  It was good with an apple, a pear, and some cheese.  We watched the Rose Bowl Parade on TV and spent the rest of the day just enjoying the quiet of this Key.  Pearce decided to try out the swimming hole.  You have to either walk over large coral rocks or squish through the seaweed.  He and the other potential swimmers elected to climb over the rocks.  Even the ones that are submerged at high tide were not slippery, so it was a good choice.  There is a sandy beach with a few feet of water, then the weed and coral encroach.  Pearce did not stay in too long.  There was a stiff, cool breeze blowing that made it uncomfortable once you were wet.  Kay decided that it was nicer to sit in the sun on the deck.  We had watched some snorkelers swimming off the ferry dock yesterday.  The water is so clear that you can watch the bait fish swirling around.  The snorkelers said there were some big fish schmoozing around under the dock.  We saw a Gar, but that was all.

Many of the campers spent the afternoon taking down their tents and cleaning up the campsites.  Their methods of stowing gear ranged from the simple backpack to the large storage boxes on wheels.  When the afternoon ferry came in about twenty groups left, including a couple carrying their two kayaks.  Four people got off, so the few of us left on the island amounted to only five groups enjoying the rest of the day on Elliott Key.  The wind, which had been from the east yesterday, had shifted to the south, west, and north before dying at sunset.  The front which had brought last night's storm and today's choppy seas has passed, and calm seas are predicted for tomorrow.

Thursday, January 2, 2003
Today is another beautiful day here in South Florida.  It is sunny, there is a slight breeze from the north, and the Bay is calm.  We are heading back to Fort Lauderdale to set up an appointment for the last of the warranty work and to repair the damage caused by the boat collision back on the Mississippi River.
Leaving Elliott Key wasn't quite as touchy as arriving... we waited until the tide was higher. And we already knew where the lumps were and could steer clear. Approaching the city of Miami from the South and watching it rise out of Biscayne Bay is much like seeing Chicago come up out of Lake Michigan. It is awesome to watch a entire city seem to grow into life before your eyes. We were too close inshore and the day was rainy when we entered New York harbor, but it must be the same feeling. We are a nation of waving wheat and purple mountains, sure, but watching our seaside cities grow slowly out of the horizon is a sight that cannot be compared. Biscayne Bay was a mirror today, definitely not sailboat friendly, but perfect enough for Kay's taste for calmness that she allowed Pearce to talk her into running outside from Miami to Ft. Lauderdale. We ran the thirty meter line offshore so never got into the Gulf Stream (where we would have picked up about four extra knots... almost like running down the Mississippi) but it was the first time Kibon had tasted the Ocean since the Jones-Beach-to-Manhattan run last June. Many's the time we've sat on the balcony at Boston's Restaurant in Delray Beach watching the pleasure boats cruising the coastline... it was a real kick to finally  be one of them!

We came back to earth at Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale) entering the same inlet where the huge, huge, (say it again) HUGE cruise ships come and go. A stopover at Sundance Marine, the Silverton dealer in South Florida, where Lee, the Service Manager took a listing of  Kibon's minor glitches that need fixin' and set up an appointment, a little shopping at the next-door Winn Dixie (and local spirit shoppe) took up only about an hour or so, then we were on our way a little further on to the Lake Sylvia anchorage in Ft. Lauderdale... just in time for cocktail hour. A tiny bit of New Year's caviar was still in the fridge. We'll be back home in  Boynton Beach tomorrow... time to plan the next cruise. It's gonna be a good year!!!

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