On Becoming Floridians

August 6, 2017

Greetings from South Florida! I know, I know…we were supposed to be in NYC by now, but we decided to make a U-turn. Mata Hari is currently tied up at a marina near Fort Lauderdale and we’re making some progress on figuring out what’s next for us. But first, a recap of what we’ve been up to and a little about how we ended up here.

Hello, Yachting Capital of the World!

A Whirlwind Visit to Savannah
We spent a month in Savannah visiting Lydia and Don, and house sitting while they were away for a few weeks. I had a bunch of freelance to work on, so between that and figuring out what to do with the rest of our lives, we didn’t get to hang out with too many of our Savannah peeps.

Just one of the many beautiful sunsets we saw at anchor in Isle of Hope

We did manage to squeeze in a fun day with Pete and Deb of S/V Delancey, a couple of New Yorkers we met in Vero Beach who just finished cruising the Caribbean. They stopped in Charleston for a few days on their way back to New York and drove up to check out Savannah. We had a blast playing tourist with them.

Fun lunch at Tubby’s with Pete and Deb

A U-turn Back to Florida
After much soul-searching on our stop in Savannah, we decided to high-tail it back down to South Florida. Rich was supposed to be working on a big project in Jersey City, but it was stalled and frankly looking like it might not even happen. We couldn’t get our old slip back. Or, at least not at first, and by the time we found out we could get it back, the signs were already pointing us south. So we took a gamble and decided to try something new. Why not live someplace where we could sail year round and living on a boat would be more practical?

Of course, by now it was already about a million degrees in Savannah with 90 percent humidity so to say that I was dreading this trip down is a serious understatement. Since we’d skipped a lot of the ICW on our previous trip south, we opted to slow down and check it all out this time. Rich rigged up a makeshift shade for the cockpit, which helped immensely, and to my surprise it wasn’t too terribly hot at night when we went to sleep at anchor.

Taking the slow route down the ICW instead of going offshore definitely made for great people watching and glimpses into the backyards of the rich and famous. It made us both really happy to see that giant float toys (swans, flamingos, giraffes, dolphins, etc.) were de rigueur for anyone with a pool, and even some folks with boats.

We loved the pink flamingo this boat had in tow in Lake Worth. Want one!

I can’t remember how many bridges we had to hail on the VHF to request an opening on our way down, but a third of the ICW’s bridges are in South Florida so there were a lot. On our last day, we had to get through 22. Imagine driving your car 6 mph and trying to make it between these bridges. If you’re a few minutes late, too bad! Sometimes the next opening is in half an hour; sometimes it’s in an hour or longer. We made great time, though, and only had to wait for a few.

Don’t worry, we made it!

While we were in Vero Beach, we got a text from Rich’s niece Sarah saying she was going to be in town for a week with her boyfriend Marshall’s family. We had an appointment at Cracker Boy Boat Works just a few miles down the road in Fort Pierce. So while we were on the hard for 24 hours to do a lightning-fast haulout and bottom job, we got to see Sarah and meet Marshall for the first time. It was super-fun to catch up with Sarah and get to know this Marshall character we’d been hearing so much about.

Mata Hari with a fresh coat of bottom paint

Too much fun with Sarah and Marshall at 12a Buoy, a cute little spot near the boatyard.

Our New Life in South Florida
Meanwhile, we’ve got a slip at a marina near Fort Lauderdale. We’ve been sending out résumés like crazy and both just started jobs last week. I’m the new managing editor for a bilingual website in Miami. As the only native English speaker on the team, my Spanish skills have been seriously put to the test and I’m already learning so much. Luckily, it’s a (mostly) remote job, so my one pair of shoes that aren’t flip-flops has served me well.

We Make a U-turn to South Florida

View from my “office”

The nice thing about Rich having a wide range of skills it that he can always find a job anywhere. At the moment he’s doing some yacht carpentry, not quite his dream design job, but it will suffice for now.

As for cruising, we were hoping to head back down to the Caribbean this winter, but that plan is on hold for now. We have some boat work to do and need to make some money. But we’re excited about being based in South Florida for the time being and are even toying with the idea of getting an apartment in Miami. Key Biscayne and the Florida Keys are a stone’s throw away so we have a lot of fun sailing spots to explore. We’ll see how it all pans out!

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  • Reply Susan James August 7, 2017 at 9:31 am

    So good to see what’s happening now. I continue to be amazed by your adventures!

  • Reply Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor August 8, 2017 at 7:17 am

    Oh, the bridges of the ICW. It’s the worst when you miss a bridge by just a minute or two and have to hang out waiting for the next opening. Sounds like you have some fun adventures ahead of you guys in south Florida.

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