At first light, we awoke at beautiful Loggerhead Marina and headed out for another long day of travel. We knew when we planned our trip that the first few days would be long, but we wanted to get to the Keys as soon as we could without missing any parts of the ICW. Our goal today is the beautiful Dinner Key/Coconut Grove area. Many of the marinas in this area were heavily damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and either didn’t have any slips at all or had their liveaboard boats in the transient slips. Without a confirmed reservation and a setting sun, we stopped short in Miami.
With the winds picking up, I’m not sure why I thought a small marina on an island in the middle of Biscayne Bay would be a nice stop. It turned out to be one of our worst docking experiences to date. We approached the marina late in the day and noticed a nice rock jetty that we hoped would help with the wind. The marina had assigned us a spot and given us vague directions on where it was. Most marinas along the ICW (and everywhere else that we have been), use a letter and/or number combination to identify the slips. Typically, the docks/piers will be identified with letters and the slips with numbers. If a marina has 5 piers/docks, they may be labeled A, B, C, D, E and then each slip on that dock/pier will be numbered. So D-25 would located on D Dock with a “25” clearly visible from the water. We quickly learned that this marina was different.
There were no identifying marks visible from the water (We later found them on TOP of the dock which is not at all visible from the water). As winds began to gust to 30 knots, several approaches and attempts at more communication with dock hands and other marina staff, someone finally came out to help direct us. We finally found our slip, but getting into it was another story. This marina slip was solid concrete with a steel ladder sticking out to climb up from the boat. Pilings were placed approximately 35 ft. apart and there were no finger piers to assist with slipping in. As a 27ft boat, we could swing freely between the pilings making it easy to swing directly into neighboring boats. After several failed attempts, with no cooperation from the wind (and almost no help from the municipal dock hands), we nosed the boat into the slip. The dock hand held our bow and attempted to keep us off the concrete while I used all my strength and a boat hook to keep us off the neighboring sailboat. A line secured to our starboard piling finally put us at ease.
Y’all, we are lake boaters. Looping a piling on the way into the slip, so we don’t swing into a neighboring boat, and not having finger piers just isn’t what we know (But boy did we get a lesson quick). Oh did I mention we have a single engine? It was a nightmare but we somehow managed to get tied up. Rattled, I decided it was too windy and too risky to have our daughter climb out onto the bow and then climb up several steps to be able to get off the boat. So she and I stayed put until we happily left the next morning.
Now that we’ve covered that, let’s go back to our day getting to this
nightmare marina. There was SO much to see on our journey from Palm Beach Gardens to Miami. We also had a lot of slow/manatee zones and more amazing large homes. We saw over one-hundred 60ft+ sport fishing boats, a helicopter on a boat, and the busiest intersection of channels and inlets that we have ever encountered. You think Miami traffic is bad? It was nothing compared to the water around Port Everglades inlet. I could have had a conversation with the deckhand on the super yacht behind us because their bow hung over our boat so much. At one point I think we were six wide. It was INSANE but also really exciting. Thankfully this is a no wake zone and almost everyone obliged. It was slow getting through this area but LOTS to see.
We then found ourselves in the Hollywood Beach area with more beachy homes and a Margaritaville Hotel, which had a fun ICW side bar/ restaurant. It looked a little precarious to dock and again being short on time, we pressed on. Finally, we entered Biscayne Bay and our approach to our nightmare docking and marina experience.