It was our plan to set off from Cuba to Miami 24 hours before a front came
through, when the wind went around from the east through to the south, to give
us an easy passage to Miami which was 220 miles to the north east. Well,
that was the theory anyway! What actually happened was that the low pressure
intensified just before it hit the florida coastline, and we got some rather
unforecast wind. So, with thunder and lightening and a steady 35 knots of
breeze, we had a bit of a wild night! This was intensified by the gulf stream,
that was pushing us along at a very nice 3 knots, but gave us a 15 ft short
sharp head sea that got us dropping off the waves and doing some nasty slamming.
Luckily though, the moon was out and we were able to steer around some of the
larger breakers, but occasonally we got walloped with a greeny over the
sprayhood! We arrived in Miami 24 hours later in driving rain, and with the 2 of
us having spent 24 hours up and handsteering, we caught up on some much needed
Many people have commented over the months that we were very brave
to be setting off as a couple on a trip like this. It is nights like this that
have in many ways made this trip as fantastic as it has been; it was wet, cold
and we were tired...the only indication that Jennifer was not too happy was when
she asked me whether we could suspend the moratorium on her clicking her
knuckles (a very bad habit that she has!), on the basis that she was 'just a
little bit scared'. Just a little bit scared or not, Jennifer was on deck all
night, helping reef, trimming the sails and hand steering through the waves
without a single complaint...how can you not love someone with spirit like that,
and how can it not make you closer as a couple?!
Miami was a bit of a
shock to the system after having spent a month in Cuba. We went out for
supper on the night that we arrived, ordering a single starter to share; by
the time we had finished that, we were full, and then arrived two massive
burgers, and two buckets of 'fries' that must have been 4 ltrs in volume.
We went home feeling very very sick, having only eaten a fraction of what we
ordered! On the way home we passed by a local convienence store packed full of
fruit and vegtables...so we went inside just for the novelty
Even the kids think big in Miami!
Following a good sleep we headed off to customs and immigration to
check in. After our telling off in San Juan, we had been very good and
reported straight to customs by telephone when we arrived. So no more
tellings off - or so we thought - this time we received another telling off for
coming straight from Cuba to the US - you are supposed to travel via a third
party country (what difference this makes, we haven't quite worked out).
This was actually quite a worry - we really did not want to be sent back out in
35 knots of wind. However, on the basis that we were already here, we were
stamped in. The next question ended up being a little more
tricky than we thought:
Customs man: Do you have any supplies on board?
Miles: Well, yes, ship's supplies.
Customs man: Do you have any fruit or vegetables?
Miles: Well, yes - but only ships supplies.
Customs man: What exactly do you have?
Miles: Well, about 8 bananas
Customs man: What are you intending to do with the bananas?
Miles: Well, I was thinking that I would eat them.
Customs man: OK sir, we'll send someone round to deal with the
At the immigration desk later, as our passports were being stamped, a man
with a very big gun came over to us and asked us if we were the boat with the
bananas. We decided that we'd best not joke this time. An appointment
was made for them to come to the boat later and seize the bananas.
I started eating all of the bananas and intended to leave them with
just the skins. Jennifer, the voice of reason, suggested that it would be
a shame to be thrown out of the country quite so soon. Mr Man duely came,
filled out a lot of forms, seized the bananas, and told us just to lie next
time! The issue is apparently due to the embargo with Cuba - they were
concerned that we would be selling our 8 bananas on the streets of Miami!
After a day or so of recovery in Miami, we had to head north to Fort
Lauderdale - the marina charges were exhorbitant in Miami. We had a 30 mile
motor up the coast with no wind and lots of sun..it was a nice contrast to the
A little calmer Miami beach backdrop!
On the way we saw an amazing sight of a ray that was at least 4ft in
diameter being tossed somersaulting several feet into the air; this went on 4 or
5 times, and we could only assume that it must be a shark flipping it out of the
water. This even beat the two sets of Whales that we saw on the
journey across from Cuba. The first, just outside Havana was a pod of
about four small, blunt nosed whales (not quite their technical name). The
second, about halfway across the straights of Florida was two whales, possibly a
mother and daughter. One was about the size of the boat, the other about
10 ft long. Both just a few feet from the boat.
Fort Lauderdale proved to be an extroadinary place - we had
to wait for a bridge to be raised, and we had access for the first time into the
intracostal waterway. After a couple of days doing the touristy thing, as well
as visiting some 'malls' (the shopping still being a great novelty), we hired a
car and headed back to Miami to catch up with a Jennifer's friend from the BVI,
Aisling & her boyfriend. We went to a fantastic Brazilian steak house, that
very much made up for my lack of red meat over the last few months! Thank
you both so much once again. It was great to catch up again. Maybe
we'll meet next time in New York?!
The following day, we drove up to Cape
Canaveral. We had, through a friend of Tom (one of my colleagues from Digicore),
been offerend some amazing VIP tickets to the launch of the space shuttle
Discovery. This allowed us into a site that was 3 miles away from the
shuttle....this is 3 miles closer than anyone else gets, and to re-inforce what
an opportunity this was, we were sat with Fred Gregory and Bob Crippen (two very
distinguished astronauts), and Neil Armstrong was sitting two rows away
from us! We were amazingly lucky, with the night being totally clear, and a 3/4
moon lighting up the sky. Over the tannoy they pointed out the international
space station as it passed between the moon and the earth, and is where the
astronauts were headed to. The launch itself was one of the most amazing things
that I have ever seen, with the ground shaking, and the pulses of sound hitting
you right in the chest. It happened just as it was getting light, and was
absolutely stunning. Thank you so much Linn, it was an incredible
experience. We managed to get some amazing video footage of the launch,
which I will happily bore you with when we get back! It really was one of
the highlights of the trip so far.
In the Saturn 5 building, before the launch
At the launch pad with Fred Gregory and Linn. Thank you once again
Lin - the experience was incredible
Neil Armstrong is that an alien behind you?!!
The whole sky is lit up
Even the rockets are recovered:
After the launch we drove back to Fort Lauderdale and following a
nights sleep, set off for the 24 hour passage back to Cape Canaveral with the
boat! This time, it was to go to a dinner that Tom had very kindly invited us
along to. To be continued...