Biscayne Bay

After departing Fort Lauderdale, we spent most of November in Biscayne Bay, where we swam, hiked, explored, and endured Hurricane Nicole.

Boca Chita Key

We sailed several hours south from Fort Lauderdale to Boca Chita Key, where we tied up our boat in a well protected concrete harbor. Boca Chita is a small, uninhabited island with a small campground. There is no electricity or running water.

After a couple days of swimming and exploring Boca Chica, we learned Hurricane Nicole was heading towards us. It’s unusual for a hurricane to form so late in the season. In fact, it was only the third hurricane on record to make landfall in Florida during the month of November. We were unable to find any slips available in nearby marinas, so we decided to ride out the storm in Boca Chita Harbor. 

As the storm approached, the ETD (energy transfer device) in our Sea Recovery water maker failed. I contacted the manufacturer, who informed me that the ETD was not repairable and that a replacement would cost nearly $7,000. On top of that it was on backorder and would not arrive for 4-6 weeks. Since we were almost out of fresh water and couldn’t leave Boca Chita, Ashley set out every container we had hoping to catch rain water. I don’t like being told that I can’t fix something, so I spent the next 24 hours uninstalling the 150 pound water maker from the port engine room, removing the ETD, and carefully disassembling it. Eventually, I found the problem. A small O-ring had split, causing a valve to stick open. Fortunately, we had a similar O-ring and by the next day we had a full water tank!

Sea Recovery ETDs are serviceable after all

By then, the weather had already begun deteriorating. We quickly put out additional dock lines and fenders. Before long, the water level in the harbor rose two feet, submerging the concrete bulkhead and cleats. We had to fill our fenders with water to keep them submerged so that our boat wouldn’t be pushed up onto the concrete. It was a long night.

The next morning, the wind died down and the water receded. The kids searched the island for all the sea life that had been washed ashore by the storm surge. They found hundreds of fish, eels, lobsters, and even a sea horse. We spent a few more days on Boca Chita before finding a slip nearby at Crandon Park Marina on Key Biscayne, where we could stock up groceries and refuel before heading off to the Bahamas.

Key Biscayne

Our time on Key Biscayne wasn’t quite as eventful as Boca Chita. We made a several trips to nearby grocery stores and took an Uber to Costco in Miami. We picked up a few spare parts, filled our fuel tanks, and sampled lots of Cuban food. Then it was just a matter of waiting for the right weather to cross the gulf stream to the Bahamas…

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