During the past week I’ve been spending a lot of time planning for our trip to Miami to attend the Miami Boat Show. We’re taking Tahina down there for several reasons. One reason is that our boat builder (St. Francis) has brought a passarelle (it’s basically a “walkway” from the dock to the back of the boat when you are at a marina parked “stern to” or “Med moored”) for Tahina. St. Francis will be showing another new boat at the show, which they brought over in December from South Africa, which will have our passarelle on it. We also plan to make some purchases at this show, and it will be convenient to just load the new stuff on the boat. And, we wanted to do some sailing in warmer waters!
We’re planning to leave early enough to take our time getting down to Florida. But, I’m finding it can be difficult to find good anchorages along the Florida coast if you have a mast height greater than 65 feet. The Intracoastal Waterway (aka ICW) has bridges across it, and they must either be draw bridges or have a clearance of 65 feet. Draw bridges are fine, but fixed bridges of 65 feet are the same as a wall for our boat. There are only a few inlets along the east coast of Florida, and of those I’m finding only about 6 seem to have good places to go for our boat: Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Ft. Pierce, St. Lucie, Lake Worth, and then Miami. Of course there are many more places further south down towards the Keys.
I find using Google Earth to gain familiarity with locations can be very useful. First you can spot the inlets pretty easily. And, you can easily see bridges. You can’t always tell what type of bridge they are. Also, you can’t always see overhead cables. But, that’s what charts are for. I use chart data from EarthNC in Google Earth, and also these charts at Demo Garage for Google Maps. These are only for planning purposes, I will of course check paper and current electronic charts before making final plans. Also in Google Earth you can sometimes get an idea of the water depth (depending on water clarity when the aerial/satellite imagery was taken). And, you can often see where other boats are anchored to judge where some anchorages are located. Once you pick an anchorage,Google Earth is great for finding sights to see, places to eat or stores you’ll need.
We’re also going to be taking a load of new stuff for the boat (pillows for the salon, new anchor for the dinghy, spare parts for the engines, oil change kit, tools, sewing supplies, books, and more). And, we’ve been preparing a list for things we plan to look at or buy at the Miami Boat show. It’s going to be a very busy few days as the list is getting long. Not only that, but I hope our credit card doesn’t melt.