We have been in Dinner Key since Feb. 21, 2017. This was longer than planned due to some windstorms, which I’ll talk about later in this entry. Vero Beach may have been the gateway to the tropics, but Coconut Grove (which is a section of Miami) IS the tropics. Everywhere we look it’s palm trees, mangroves, sun, and blue skies. There’s usually a breeze, and it’s quite humid.
We are staying in the mooring field run by the Dinner Key Municipal Marina. It is the largest wet-slip marina on the east coast, and it is enormous and well-maintained. It has a huge dinghy dock, nice lounge with free wifi, a decent-sized laundry room ($1.50 wash and $1.50 dry), many trash and recycling receptacles, and easily-obtained water from a spigot right near the dinghy dock. They can accept mail and packages. The showers and heads are very nice, but with only four showers and four stalls in each bathroom for around 550 patrons, there can be a line.
The marina also has 225 moorings, so the mooring field projects way out into Biscayne Bay. It is extremely exposed and can be lumpy because it is so shallow (7-10 ft). The winds have been blowing a steady 12-18 knots while we’ve been here, and it can get very rolly. My litmus test is always whether I need the pot arms on the stove: in this case, yes. The smaller boats with a shallower draft are closer to the marina, and we ended up being assigned about halfway out of the field. It takes about 5-10 minutes to dinghy over to the dock from where we are, or we can take the free launch that runs on the hour from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (except for 1:00 PM).
The day after we arrived, we had a gale-force storm, so we stayed on the boat. It was perfect timing as we used the enforced down time to recuperate from our offshore passage.
Once the weather cleared up, our first order of business was to get the boat ready to travel again. We refilled our water jerry cans and then discovered that none of the marinas around here sell diesel if you want to put it in jerry cans. After a bunch of phone calls we determined that the only place we could refuel in cans was CG Marina, which is a subset of Grove Harbor Marina and mainly is a boat storage business. When we called, they said that they could help us except that they didn’t have any diesel. That was a first for us. We waited a couple of days for them to get a shipment, dinghied over there, and got our diesel without any problem.
There is a Fresh Market grocery store about a ten minute walk away along the water, and it is great. Like all Fresh Markets, it is a little pricey, but you cannot beat it for fresh vegetables, breads, meats, and deli items. Fortunately I stocked enough non-perishables for the zombie apocalypse before we left North Carolina, so we don’t need to pay the Yuppie Premium for cans of black beans. We also ended up taking an Uber to a Publix for a larger stock up.
We had to visit the library, of course. The Coconut Grove public library is small but has strong, free wifi. It is about a 15 minute walk away in the opposite direction from the Fresh Market. It has strange hours (closed Friday and Sunday), but beggars cannot be choosers. The building is really old and appears to be made out of coral.
As usual, we have been eating a swath through the city, eating Cuban sandwiches and drinking the best café con leche on the planet. I swear I could drink fifty cups of that a day. Think of how much I could get done! One of the highlights of our visit has been visiting Little Havana and, of course, sampling the cuisine.
Little Havana is covered in murals and mosiacs on many buildings. It is so beautiful and colorful.
We had lunch one day at El Pub one day and then lunch at Versailles the next. Versailles is a Miami staple for the Cuban community and has been in business for many years. The lunch was incredible, huge, and inexpensive. We wrapped up our experience with a cortadita (for The Captain) and a cortadita con evaporada for me. These are tiny, powerful Cuban espressos. I had mine with evaporated milk so that my teeth wouldn’t melt.
Political sentiment in Little Havana was on clear display. Cuban flags were everywhere. We visited a monument to those killed in the Bay of Pigs invasion, which was lovely. In the Azucar ice cream parlor, one of the flavors was “Burn in Hell Fidel.” It was chocolate ice cream with a healthy dose of cayenne pepper.
We’ve done two things that I wouldn’t bother visiting again: the Organic Farmer’s Market and Coco Walk. While the Organic Farmer’s Market did have produce, it was more a collection of vendors selling massages, incense, chakra readings, and the like. And Coco Walk is billed as an outdoor shopping mall, but it’s mostly three stories of tourist restaurants and a movie theater. It was mega-touristy and not our scene at all.
We were planning on leaving Dinner Key bound for Boot Key a few days ago but have been stalled due to a large windstorm. The wind has been between 20 and 30 knots, gusting much higher, for the last four days. The waves in the mooring field rival those we’ve seen offshore and are easily 3-4 feet and have been breaking. We can’t open any hatches because we’ve been taking spray over the bow, but fortunately the temperatures have been in the mid-70s. We’ve been sleeping in the salon as sleeping in the V-berth is out of the question; we’ve been using our lee cloths so we don’t end up on the floor in these rolly conditions. Using the head is like riding a mechanical bull but probably less fun as there’s no shouts of a drunken crowd to celebrate success. I don’t know; I’ve never ridden a mechanical bull. Put that on my bucket list.
Random things that have only (could only?) happened in Miami:
“Crazy Donny” the homeless man earnestly told me, “You must be jam, ‘cause jelly don’t jiggle like that.” I took it as a compliment.
A man drove past us with his driver’s side window down; perched on the door frame was a large green parrot. A dog was co-piloting in the passenger seat. From the relaxed attitude displayed by all three, this was a normal day driving.
A very obnoxious older woman in front of us in line at Fresh Market went out to her large and spotless Mercedes. She was met by her young and quite musclebound bodyguard/driver, who took her groceries and handed her into the car.
We passed a car dealership that had about 200 Porsche Cayennes lined up, row after row. Teslas, Lambourghinis, and other cars that cost more that a house are a dime a dozen here.
The wind storm should abate by Tuesday, and we hope to pick up our journey south on Wednesday. We are bound for Marathon, and it should take two or three days depending on weather.
The only calm night we’ve had. Thought I’d get a picture while I could!