We definitely made a mistake arriving in Miami on a Saturday! As we entered the ship channel to proceed to the InterCoastal Waterway and then our marina, so many big, muscular powerboats (recreational) were roaring around in tight quarters that we had some of the roughest seas we’ve seen on the trip, just from the wakes!
The ethic seems to be, buy it big, buy it white, and put the pedal to the metal, wherever you are. Devil take the manatees! And speaking of manatees, we actually saw two of them playing (or whatever it is that manatees do) right in front of our slip in the marina, when we finally reached it.
The other unusual thing was that we were proceeding down the main channel to enter the ICW, when a police boat of some kind pulled up in front of us, with blue light and an industrial-strength bullhorn, and shouted “Captain, you are entering a restricted area! Turn your boat around NOW!!!” It sounded like the next step was that they would open fire.
Since they were right in front of me, and the only way our boat will turn is if it has some forward motion, it led to an immediately tense situation, with several more very loud repetitions of “Now!!” We had no idea what was going on, since as far as we knew the main channel was the only way to get to the marina.
A radio call to a passing tugboat cleared things up – fortunately, since the cops would neither talk to us nor respond to radio calls requesting clarification. Of course it was a “Homeland Security” thing. No reason to be polite when “Homeland Security” is at risk (from a, possibly, torpedo laden 36 foot, slow-moving sailboat). What it was, the tug captain explained, is that whenever more than one cruise ship is tied up in Miami (and there were 5) the main ship channel is closed to all but “authorized” traffic. We had to wind down through the main working port, ducking tugs, container ships and two dredging operations. Interesting but a little stressful.
What struck me, though, was that in all the time we were in Cuba, I never saw anyone in an official position yell at anyone. Isn’t being treated respectfully one of those basic rights in a free society? Which, by the way, relates to the question of one being assumed to have violated the “Trading With The Enemy Act” if you visit Cuba, unless you can prove you haven’t. It’s not being seriously enforced now, but still…
Oh well, you might say, shut up and enjoy the palm trees… Yeah, I know.
We’ll spend a month here getting ready for the Atlantic crossing, and fortunately we’ve already had great help from our dear friends Peter and Nancy, who have been mail drop, tour guides, and increasingly, a home away from home.
The to-do list is long, from replacing failed pumps and buying spares to stocking up on food for at least a month at sea. Today we bought 19 flags, to be flown as a courtesy when you enter a new country (after clearing in). Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece, of course, but also Albania, Morocco, Cyprus, Croatia and many others. For some reason, the Azores has the most expensive and hard to find flag.
Hannah will rejoin the crew at the end of April, and we’ll be glad to have her back.