Monday, March 19, 2007

The Beach

Miami Beach, N 25 47 54 W 80 09 00

Monday, March 19

Last night the winds increased to the point where even our single headsail was too much. We took it down and put up the staysail only. We had a secondary motive. If we could slow down our progress enough we could arrive after first light. It worked, but not enough. We arrived at Government Cut at 0500 instead of 0300. Oh well.

Preparing to enter I studied the chart book a little. I found a notation saying that private vessels may not be allowed to use Government Cut after 9/11 because of possible terrorist threats to all the cruise ships docked there. Uh oh. I decided to call the Coast Guard and ask. They were nice. After asking about my ETA and noting that two cruise ships were entering the channel now, they said, "OK you have permission to traverse the cut, provided that you not come within 100 yards of any cruise
ship." Good enough. In we came.

Everything went fine until we found our way blocked by a cruise ship cross way in the channel. He was turning around and his bow was on one shore and his stern on the other. We stopped dead to wait for him. Modern ships like that don't need tug boats any more. They have thrusters and steerable propulsion pods that allow them to turn in place on their own. It takes time however, about 15 minutes for this guy to complete his turn.

After passing the cut we turned right toward the Venetian Way bridge. It was about 6 AM. We called the bridge on the radio. No response. We tried again. No response. A third time. No response. Finally we heard another voice on the VHF. A man asked what bridge we were calling, so we told him. A few seconds later we called the bridge again, and this time we got a hasty response. I'm certain that the bridge tender had been fast asleep, and that the man on the radio probably ran a buzzer or
dialed a cell phone number to wake her up.

By 0645 we were securely anchored on the back side of Miami Beach near Venetian Causeway. We were both dead tired. The ride had been very bumpy and noisy and neither Libby nor I managed to sleep at all during the past 24 hours. Also, Libby's back hurt. Rough seas and bumpy rides don't treat her well. We need a way to protect her back during bumpy rides. Perhaps an elastic back brace.

We were soon asleep but in an hour or two we heard a loud honk. The annoying Miami Beach police were there to remind us of the anchoring ordinance. We have been reading in the boating magazines that Miami Beach continues to try to enforce their 7 day limit, despite the Florida State Law that invalidated the ordinance. Clearly, Miami Beach wants to make it as hard as possible for any boater to challenge them and win. They made me sign an acknowledgement of being informed. (I was angered later
to read in the fine print that I acknowledge that we are a "Live Aboard" boat or a boat "not in transit." That's not true. They are using the acknowledgement form to hoax boaters and discourage them more from challenging their ordinance. They even gave me a copy of their city ordinance. Four pages of single spaced text.

Around noon we were caught up on sleep. I went ashore to sample the delights of the famous Miami Beach. Libby wasn't interested. I chained the dinghy to a wall up one of the canals, and stepped ashore. I took a local bus down to South Point, the southern end of South Beach. Then I walked back about 4 miles, two miles on the beach and two miles in the heart of downtown. This place certainly validates the images of Miami portrayed in Miami Vice, CSI Miami, and other Hollywood productions.
It is filled with the rich, the young and the beautiful people. They dress in skimpy outfits, not much difference between beach wear and street wear. Here and there on the beach one could even spot a topless woman. The wealthy Jews who live in the condos were mostly not visible on the beach or in the streets. Miami Beach was impressive, fascinating, but at the same time excessive, decadent and repulsive. I'm glad I took the time to see it first hand, but I have no wish to spend more time here
than necessary.

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