Sailing to Miami - Cruisers Guide

2016 Miami Boat show along with the best things to do in Miami. 

sunset in miami

Getting to Miami, however, was another story. This winter season has brought some rather unfavorable weather. It’s an El Nino year, which seems to be jumbling up the weather patterns. So, we left the security of the tucked away mooring field of Vero beach as yet another front carried in strong and unfavorable winds. But, we were eager to press on (as usual). Each morning, we checked the winds and picked an anchorage that would have us well protected. 

Our first anchorage was well off the beaten path but offered good shelter from the 30 kts of wind predicted to blow through the night. We joined two other boats and settled down for the night. Shortly after setting the hook and letting out the proper scope, we were radioed by a neighboring boat. And, invited over for a grand feast. So we shared delicious shrimp, streak and chicken fajitas with new friends Gus and Josh. 

young couple sails

The next  few days of traveling would require many many bridges (which means a lot of waiting). If you miss a bridge by a minute, you have to keep your boat in one place and wait for about thirty minutes. This made traveling a tad slower then usual. 

bridges along icw
florida lighthouses

The night after our fiesta of fajitas, we detoured a few miles for a protected anchorage in Stuart Florida. My cousin, Tim, was traveling south from Jacksonville and we had plans to meet him for dinner. We tied the dinghy off to an abandoned dock and sent Tim our “current location” via iphone magic. He followed the blue dot (thank you Iphone), picked us up in the middle of a field, and we headed to dinner. And a delicious dinner at that! We enjoyed catching up with Tim and made plans to see him again in Miami (where he and his wife Julie live).   

palm tree
zodiac dinghy
restaurants along icw

Night three we made it to north Lake Worth.  We spent two days here letting the worst of the weather pass by. We ventured ashore and grabbed some groceries in an attempt to have our own super bowl party. However, we spent the whole super bowl trying to get our power inverter properly grounded (a job we thought would only take 5 minutes…yeah right).

stories from sailing
storm at anchor
places to go ashore miami

Night four, we pulled into another well protected anchorage to hide away from howling wind. We had the whole cove to ourselves. Which, was especially good since there was only enough room for one boat in the weather we were having. Plus, previous boats anchored here and reported the bottom was soft mud (not the best holding for an anchor).

anchoring outside miami

But, as the sunset we were joined by two (“interesting character”) boats. As the wind howled through the rigging that night, I woke up and check outside. One of the boats had dragged so far across the cove that they were about to (if they hadn’t already) hit someone’s dock. We soon heard them puttering around and yelling to their friends (who were also dragging). We checked outside again just in time to see them right in front of us. The way their anchor was holding, it would only take minutes for them to be knocking on our hull. By then, it was 5am and we decided it was best to get out of there. So, just as we had watched the sun set the night before, we marveled as it rose again. Besides, waking up early had us arriving in Miami sooner then expected. And that was enough encouragement to get us underway. 

miami waterway guide

Putting our way through all the cargo ships and past Fort Lauderdale inlet, the water changed tropical turquoise blue. The front died down and we were embraced with warm weather. We were gleeful at the least. 

boat traffic icw
navigating miami water
Biscayne Bay

The next morning, we pulled the anchor and headed for Dinner Key Marina. Tim (my cousin) was the consulting engineer when the marina’s mooring field was designed (which is so cool to us having used many a mooring field). He had called ahead of time and reserved a spot for Sundaze. Dinner Key Marina is situated in the famous and beautiful Biscayne Bay. And, with a perfect day to sail, we crisscrossed around the bay, taking our time and enjoying the beauty that seemed to engulfing us. 

sailing Biscayne bay

The water was so clear in the mooring field that we decided to jump in scrub the hull.

dinner key
cleaning hull
washing sailboat

Miami is one of those American cities that often finds itself in movies and tv shows. It has earned many reputations. Good and bad.  We weren’t sure what we’d find, but we were excited to give the city a chance. And, we loved Miami with all of it's culture and bustle. It has been one of our favorite stops. With Tim and Julie as our tour guides, we practically saw the whole city in just a few days.  (Thanks for everything Tim and Julie!)

Here’s a recap of our time in Miami

dinner key marina
miami beach

Learning from Tim was indeed a highlight. Beyond knowing the convenience of mooring fields, we now understand some of the physics behind their design. After having traveled down the coast from Norfolk to Miami, we looked through his past projects to find many places we’d stopped or visited. Too cool.  

Our mooring field was located on the water front of Coconut Grove. With bikes under our feet we explored ever street (we always desperately want bikes so we were grateful when Tim and Julie offered us theirs). We quickly found our favorite stop. Tim, knowing we were coffee lovers, had tipped us off on a local roaster that had several shop locations. It was indeed the best coffee we’d had since we left on this journey. I’m pretty sure we were there every morning. If you’re ever in Miami, make sure to swing by Panther coffee. They use an antique roaster similar to the one our beloved Bald Guy (Coffee roaster we worked for in Boone) uses. Which, is enough to impress us because we know using such a roaster is an art form that requires skill, patience, and trial and error.  Kudos to you Panther coffee. 

coconut grove
panther coffee

Julie took us to the art district where a section of the downtown has been portioned off for wall-sized murals. In fact, the area is called Wynwood Walls. We marveled at the spots where many talented artists have transformed the concrete into beauty.

wynwood walls
Wynwood walls

Continuing our Tour de Miami, we swung by the famous South Beach with all of its hustle and bustle. It was a beautiful warm crystal clear day. After walking down the beach, we walked back through the busy street filled with restaurants. By dinner time, we had all walked a half marathon. We happily collapsed into the outdoor chairs of a restaurant. Tim joined us and we were once again spoiled with a delicious dinner.   


Places to see miami
guide to miami
lifeguard miami
tour miami
vacation miami

Without planning it, we had ended up in Miami the same week as the famous Miami boat show. We took it as a sign that we must check it out. Joel was as happy as a kid at a theme park. We toured mega yachts and saw every marine product on the market. They even offered seminars on things such as “Sailing in force 10 storms.” So we attended some and got our money’s worth of knowledge.

miami boat show
boat show
Miami boat show
dates in miami