On Friday October 19th we flew to Miami to meet Tracey and his Maine Cat 41 for the last leg of his annual migration bringing the boat from it's summer home in New Jersey to it's winter home in Bradenton, Florida. My wife and I and another couple are taking a combination ASA 104/114 course as we crew the cat down thru the keys and then up the Gulf Coast. There are also two other gals on the boat that are accompanying Tracey just for fun.
We don't arrive in Miami until the afternoon, so we spend a little time going over the particulars of the boat and getting settled in. The Maine Cat is a very utilitarian designed boat, you won't find a lot of pretty woodwork on it...or doors separating the berths. But it has ample galley space, enough room for 6~7 to live aboard for several days, and a nice open patio style saloon/cockpit.
We spend the night on the boat at Dinner Key Marina, enjoy our last infinite hot water shower, and head out early the next morning as the sun rises. We depart the marina and motor across Biscayne Bay, passing Stiltsville as the sun rises.
We follow the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW) thru the upper Keys and over to Florida Bay. Winds were light and we tried putting up the sails, but other than a small leg, we were forced to motor-sail or steam (play motorboat) most of the day. From a learning perspective we each got our turn at the wheel and coaching on how to stay in a channel when there are currents, etc. to deal with. We also did a fair amount of navigation work, looking for appropriate anchoring spots using the charts, Skipper Bob's guides, etc.
It ended up being a long day and at dusk we still had a little bit more to go. To make things more difficult, it is stone crab season and the area we were in just adjacent to the Everglades park was full of crab pots.
We then hung out on the cat's trampoline enjoying the pristine night. Not a bad ending to the first day of class.