Wednesday, February 4, 2009

While we are waiting in Miami

In our last few posts we talked a lot about what we did, mostly on the boat, but not much about what we saw and now that we are in Miami there are a few things worth showing. By the way, we added a few new videos and lots of pictures under our “video” and “picture” buttons at the top of the page. Go have a look.
At our arrival in Miami we were greeted by the skyscrapers of downtown Miami that stand like giants as if they were guarding the long channels leading from the ocean to the city shores. On this picture you can see the south channel that we were forced to take instead of the central channel called “The government cut”. The reason we couldn’t take the Government Cut is not quite clear but if you could see the docks on each side of the channel spreading over 3 to 4 kilometers with all the giant cruise ships docked one after the other this may give you an idea. Our Chocobo may be a decent boat when it comes to sailboats but compared to what floats out there, we look more like a cork with a stick on it!

As we understand it, Miami has three types of public transportation; the regular buses, the metrotrain as you can see on that picture and the metromovers as shown on the next picture. The metrotrain play the role of a subway but seems to be entirely in the air. They don’t have snow to shovel here so it is practical to leave it outside instead of underground. People get in the train with their bicycle, which makes it way more convenient to use public transportation, the same with the bus where the bicycles are attached at the front. Another aspect to notice on this picture is all the tall buildings that cover the city. Almost all buildings in this picture are apartment buildings, not office buildings. Obviously, there are office buildings in downtown but the vast majority is for living. It is actually interesting to notice that Miami doesn’t cover much surface but has all these tall buildings.

This is the third kind of public transportation in Miami; the metromovers. This is a completely automated system of shuttles that continuously travel around two loops in the downtown area. It links the major connection stations to the bus and metrotrains as well as stopping at many stations along the way. The access to the metromovers is entirely free! We don’t see that much often these days. The trick with them is that the two loops they follow have a common section. Therefore, when a shuttle arrives you need to check on the light panel what loops it belongs to. Of course, Danielle and I knew nothing about this and we took the wrong the one. We would have asked people about how this works when we noticed that the shuttle took a definitive wrong turn that was taking us on the other side of the city. But you have to remember that Miami is a Cuban city where the vast majority of the people here are unilingual Spanish. Everybody we saw here who are either bus drivers, construction workers, cashiers, waiters or working at the fast food restaurants are Cubans with some rare exceptions who are black. And they all speak Spanish, including the black peoples. So because we haven’t done our homework yet and didn’t learn the basics in Spanish, we had to figure it by ourselves and managed as usual to get where we wanted.

This picture was taken at one the major metrotrain stations. We have no idea what these chickens are doing there but they really live there as we saw them at this exact location on different days. With the number of homeless people in Miami it is quite a miracle that these juicy chickens survived that long and never finished in the stomach of someone tired of eating the popular soup!

As you probably already noticed by looking at our “Cost” page, one of our favorite activities is to buy boat parts! Here you can see Danielle in front of our favorite store with her new marine dress. J We actually had to buy this 225ft long line after we talked with other peoples about sea anchors and realized that what we had was definitively inadequate. Since we had to go back by metrotrain and bus you can imagine that Danielle didn’t go unnoticed walking everywhere like a wool ball. It was a good thing we didn’t cross any cats!

When we first arrived in Miami we went at anchor next to South Beach (Miami Beach) just south of the Venetian Causeway. However, on our way there at one point the boat almost stopped as if we were hitting the ground even though the depth sounders were both showing a depth of at least 8 feet. We struggled a bit with the engines but managed to get away and continued without completely understanding what we just hit. Once at anchor and the boat secured, we used our “Fish TV”, an underwater camera that we received from Danielle’s dad before our departure, to look at the propellers to see if everything was fine. You can see the video of this in our “Video” page, it is called “Helice enroulee” and is in French but don’t worry don’t need to understand the words to see what’s going on! It turned out that we had this line tangled around our starboard propeller. We have no idea how come the propeller didn’t cease and brake but I guess we got very lucky. The next day, I dove to remove the line as you can see on this picture. What you don’t see though is how cold the water was! When I jumped in the water I first twinkled like a cat when you walk on its tail and then I managed to control my hypothermia and went on with the task I had to do. After the dive I took a cold water shower and actually found it warm!

In our blog we often talk about “mooring balls” that we use to attach the boat but for most people this doesn’t mean anything. This is a picture of the mooring field of Crandon Park Marina where you can clearly see the balls to which the boats are attached. Obviously, the floating balls theselves aren’t holding the boat! They are actually attached with a chain to a very heavy weight of 500 to 800 lbs that is practically impossible to drag with a boat. The point of these balls is that they are way cheaper than a dock and if you ask us they are much more comfortable as the boat is not continuously pushed against the dock but just turns following the wind or the current.