After an uneventful crossing from Cuba, we arrived back in Key West harbor in the middle of the night. Luckily, having anchored in the same spot twice before, it was an easy place for us to drop the hook in the dark.
Wet Foot, Dry Foot
Once we woke up, it was time to check-in to the US with my Homeland Security friends again. Coming in from Cuba, I wondered if we would get additional scrutiny or even a possible boarding, looking for communist propaganda or 1,000s of cigars.
I expected to follow the same SVRS process as our last arrival from BVI. However, when I called the CBP call center they said that I needed to use the new ROAM (Reporting Offsite Arrival – Mobile) smartphone app instead. Luckily I had an inkling this was soon deploying in Florida and had already downloaded the app and entered our traveller and boat info. The new technology within ROAM is the ability for a CBP officer to conduct a video interview with each arriving passenger, if necessary. Since we were all Global Entry pre-screened travelers, we were approved quickly online with no video required.
Prior to our Cuban trip, I had filed a Form CG3300 “Permit to Enter Cuban Territorial Waters” with the US Coast Guard. So to close the loop on that process, I sent the Key West Coast Guard office an email notifying them of our return – to which they replied something along the lines of “OK, whatever”.
For all of the anxiety about the travel restrictions to Cuba, it turned out to be very easy with zero flak from the Homeland Security folks. Just need to follow the rules, which are not very burdensome. All y’all should go to Cuba!
Since there was a good weather window for us to do an overnight up to Miami, we only had one night at anchor in Key West, never going ashore. In the morning, Miami’s skyline emerged from the low lying, less populated area of the Keys. That sight really cemented that we are back in the gleaming US.
Boundless was berthed at the Miami Beach Marina, right at the south end of Miami Beach. So we were surrounded by shiny, expensive condo buildings and big yachts. We noted that Boundless seemed to be the only boat on our dock that was owner-operated. All the others had paid captains and assorted other paid help running around daily. Not really our scene since for the most part we like to do things ourselves.
And one of those things is fixing our mainsail furler. You may recall from our BVI to Key West passage that the in-mast mainsail furler got stuck with the sail all the way out. So since then, the sail has been off in a bag on the back deck. With our busy May visiting home then Cuba, we only now got to dig in and diagnose the problem.
I pretty quickly found the problem: a bolt that connects the winding tube running up the mast to the furling motor slid out such that it was getting stuck as the furler rotated. The bolt was bent – and the nut, that may or may not have been on it, was missing.
It was a tight space, requiring two of us to get the new bolt and lock nut secured through mast openings around the partially removed furler motor. But all and all it was an easy fix with a $3 part from the local hardware store. I’m happy that I didn’t end up paying a rigger $500 to fix it.
The Boundless crew is always on the lookout for local theater productions in each port. We were able to catch the Miami City Theater’s “Summer Shorts”, a collection of nine 10-minute plays – mostly comedies. Some were great, some not – but a really fun concept.
We spent the rest of our time in Miami “recovering” from our time in Cuba – laundry, grocery store, deck washing, and going for a run to work off some mojitos.
Doing the Cha-Cha in Charleston
Next it was time to do some serious northing with a 440 mile trip to Charleston, South Carolina. I grossly overestimated the duration of the voyage given that we were in the north-running Gulf Stream current almost the whole time and we now had a mainsail again. That added 4 knots to our speed, resulting in us doing 10 knots speed over ground most of the 2.3 day trip.
Our last visit to Charleston by boat was when we went down the ICW on our boat Desiderata in 1999. So entering the harbor from sea past Fort Sumter was familiar – but seeing the new Cooper River Bridge on the horizon was confusing since we thought that bridge was in Savannah! The new Cooper bridge was built in 2005, and at the time was the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America. And it looks just like the Talmadge Bridge in Savannah – so we are not going crazy.
We pulled in to a T-head dock spot at Charleston City Marina, where we had front-row seats to watch all of the activity on the Ashley River. There is a lot of recreational boat traffic – and a variety of tour boats like the pontoon boat powered by a group of cycling guests. Seems like a good future business idea for me and Kristin on the Chesapeake!
Two docks down from us were our friends Larry and Janet who are in the midst of a Bahamas & east coast cruise aboard their beautiful new Kadey-Krogen Open 50 trawler. We did a walking tour of Charleston with Larry & Janet, led by Sue Bennett.
We covered a lot of ground in the 2.5 hour tour. Sue showed us Charleston’s fantastic homes, churches, and historical sites. Charleston has strict historical preservation regulations which dictate that owners need to keep their properties exactly like the original structure. One example is that this building used to be a haberdashery, thus the painting of the man made entirely of hats on the outside (16 hats of 12 different styles, if you’re counting). That picture originally painted in 1892 will be maintained there for eternity!
Charleston is known as the “Holy City” due to the large number of churches in the town. We saw a few beautiful ones, including this one at the Unitarian Church of Charleston with an elaborate ceiling.
One afternoon, we went to see the Footlight Players decidedly un-holy production of Heathers: The Musical. The show is filled with teen angst, school violence, suicide, and general raunchiness. As you might expect, there were some signs warning about the mature theme, gunshot sounds, etc. The warnings didn’t scare us off, especially since Erin already knows every word to the musical, being a Broadway-obsessed angsty teen.
However the signs were a bit excessive compared to other shows – and someone came out on stage before the show to reiterate the warnings. We later learned that this is somewhat typical in Charleston, being an exceptionally “proper” city. Apparently many residents don’t like plays with naughty language/themes – and the Sunday matinee performances are often toned down to suit that audience. Glad we went on Saturday…
Charleston was fun, but it is time to keep moving north. Next stop: our home state of Virginia!