Miami Part 2

Ambler Isle
V and S
Wed 25 May 2011 12:58
A marine flea market was being held at nearby Watson Island here in Miami.  Watson Island is near our anchorage.  So we climbed into the dinghy and went in search of a place to land it.  The flea market was on the west side of the island, and although there was no dock, a cement seawall provided a smooth surface to tie up.  It was 90 degrees and there was no breeze.  Ah, Florida.  We went ashore and began looking for deals.  Much of the stuff was junk, some was new, but we found a few treasures.  It was swelteringly hot and after a few hours we left to find some breeze.  Tiptoeing through the maze of jet skis and other water craft, we made it back to the boat and ate lunch.  Next stop, South Beach Marina.  A small "mall" at the marina has a ship's store, restaurant, dive shop, convenience store.  We hoped to tie the dinghy up at their dinghy dock, then walk to the nearby Publix grocery.  But first we had to take a peek at the Ships Store.  We bought a few items there, and the sales man carried them out to the dinghy for us.  At Publix we had the usual sticker shock when we first go to a US grocery store.  Stuff seems free.  Compared to Exuma Markets.  But it was too far to carry any heavy items, so I stocked up on lighter goods and we carried four sacks of groceries home.  We could not buy ice cream, we feared it would not make it.  Back at the boat we sat out front on the bow, enjoying the seascape. Several dolphins swam by.  Funny how they seem to like enclosed canals and rivers. 
 After we'd rested, Valt invited me on a dinghy ride.  This time we went down the nearby Collins Inlet which followed South Miami Beach. A second Publix was located right off this canal.  I ran in and finished the rest of my shopping list, including several flavors of ice cream.  It is often difficult to get to a grocery store along the trip home.  So I hoped the supplies I bought here would get us to Panama City, some 2 weeks away. 
Monday morning we checked fuel prices, first on the computer, then by phone.  The highest price for diesel was $5.76 at nearby South Beach Marina.  The lowest listing was Peterson Fuel Barge at $3.85.  We set up an appointment with the barge to meet them off Fisher Island at 11:15am.  We would take some 500 gallons.  At nearly $2 per gallon cheaper, we would save nearly $1000 on this fillup!  We approached the barge which secures itself with huge temporary posts anchored to the  sea floor.  There were two boats at the barge, and one was just leaving.  We set out fenders and lines and were soon secured to the barge.  It is able to fill two boats at once.  The second boat was an Azimut and could only receive fuel at a very slow rate.  Soon another boat was waiting its turn at the barge.  Finished, we headed south into Biscayne Bay, opting to stay inside the calmer side for this leg of the trip.  At 5:30pm we were just off the Ocean Reef Club and dropped anchor.  Several other boats were already there.  It was good to be in calm water. 
Next morning, the winds was even calmer, but we decided to stay on the Intercoastal Waterway route (inside Florida Bay) another day.  Although very shallow at spots, the waterway was well marked and appeared to have minimum depths of over 5' at low tide.  Tides were not very helpful on this interior waterway:  high tide was a mere .7' above and low tide only .1' above mean water.  If grounded, we could not expect much higher water. Our other options would be to exit Florida Bay and run inside the Hawk's Channel.  Hawk's Channel is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a huge reef that follows the Keys.  Water is calmer here than the ocean.  We could also exit the Hawl's Channel through a cut in the reef and run the ocean.  The benefit to this would be fishing.  But the waves were too high today.   Small fishing boats dotted Florida Bay.  At times, the waterway snaked its way through dredged creeks that divided mangroves.  Big white egrets rested in the trees or hunted for their breakfast.  The charts showed 2-3' water along the dredged channels.  We could easily walk to shore.