Miami Style

After a day in No Name Harbor off Key Biscayne, we learned several new anchoring techniques from the power-boating locals. For the uninitiated, the standard for anchoring is to drop your anchor until it hits bottom and then let out at least seven times that length. You then ideally put your boat in reverse to secure the holding. The idea is to use leverage to dig the anchor in. (For a better overview, see this nice little guide from West Marine.) But here in Miami, they have their own ways of doing things, such as:

1. The Hershey’s Kiss: in this style of anchoring the captain decides where he wants his boat to be, then drops his anchor. Directly on top his anchor he proceeds to drop 50 feet of chain, forming a Hershey’s Kiss-shaped heap on the sea floor.

2. The Forward Drag: we watched one captain showcase this style by first roaming around the harbor with the anchor hanging down the side of his boat at the waterline, so that it was dragging along the surface (and often knocking against the side of his boat). Once he identified his ideal anchoring location – about 20 feet ahead – he dropped the anchor and then proceeded to drive over it. Naturally, his boat then slipped backward twice as far as he anticipated, and we watched as he repeated the maneuver – about five times. Greg eventually asked if he wanted help, noting that he worked for Tow Boat U.S., at which point the captain drove his boat to another area of the harbor where he could practice his technique without onlookers.

3. The Barely There: this is a common technique which merely requires the captain to drop his anchor until it hits bottom. This is a high-maintenance technique, however, requiring the boater to move his boat forward every 20-30 minutes and re-drop the anchor.

Halfway through the day our friends Dennis and Idalie, who live in Sweden but were spending Christmas in Miami, came out to visit us on the boat. They gave me a lift from the Winn-Dixie with ice and groceries, and helped me buy an extra iPhone charger, then joined us for a lunch of sausage stew and bread with more sausage(!). We sat sunbathing in the cockpit, drinking beer as we watched the locals practice the above anchoring techniques. It was lovely and relaxing – until we got a text message from our friends who were supposed to land that evening in order to go sailing with us: a medical emergency forced them to land in Idaho, delaying their flight and their arrival. They would not arrive until the following day.

We said good-bye to Idalie and Dennis and curled up in our bunk to look at the winds and weather prediction, so we could plan our departure to the Bahamas.