35. Coconut Grove to Elliott Key

Tuesday 6 FEB 2018 – Coconut Grove, FL

Not quite every single day the kid will come out of her cabin holding a small pile of academic books, a ring binder, some pencils, and computer. She will set these things down on the table in the salon, sometimes having to push aside a leftover breakfast dish or damp towel. She will arrange herself in the corner of the setee to be able to read on one side and write on the other. Then, she will start. Today it’s The Spread of Islam, in World History, which means she will put on headphones, watch a video lecture on her laptop and read the articles all the while jotting down thoughts in the binder. Then, if she’s at the end of a section, she will answer the questions formulated for the subject. This whole thing takes an hour or two. Next the kid jumps to Spanish, my favorite because its partly oral, and so I pretend that her speaking is directed at me. In today’s chapter, out of the fat workbook, the kid is practicing the names of family relationships. Son los hijos de mi tíos, she says out loud to herself. Primos, we answer together, me in my head. More notes. I smile at her, tu eres la hija de tu madre, I say. She eye rolls back. Then, a break.

Though my eye-roller has declared that she doesn’t much like this way of learning, there is something that keeps her coming back to this table almost every day. I think sometimes it’s merely the pleasure she takes in her own mark-making, her notebooks being carefully studied graphic design compositions with beautiful lettering and attention to alignments more than the content. But I don’t know. I’ll tell you what it’s not, it’s not her father or her mother. Neither of us ever ask the kid to study on this trip. We weren’t exceptional students in high school ourselves, nor do we care about formal education, particularly out here where there’s so much to learn. No, her seriousness and her fear, is within her, because to her parents, to us, the kid has always been more curious and more forward leaning than they, we, expected. We just don’t worry. We have never worried about the kid.

But the kid does worry. She believes her peers back home, sitting upright in stiff one-armed desks trying hard to not look out of snowy windows, are learning more, taking in more. Of course, they’re not, but the kid doesn’t know it yet. The kid doesn’t yet see her time here for what it is, one long, deep inhalation, only half a breath, that she will spend a lifetime exhaling. She will. One day. One day, we all will. But breathing takes time. I have to remind her/us.

It’s difficult, then, to talk the kid into coming ashore with us. She still has more schoolwork, she says. Leave it, we say. “No, I’m falling behind every time I go with you to land and this only increases the pressure on me.”

I remember this feeling. I remember the desperation to do well using the only mechanism we kids had, school. I, too, once thought I should slave to grades rather than passions, thinking that was expected and rewarded, “it’s not,” I say.

“But, I want to,” she says.




On land we make the necessary administrative stop to pay for our moored stay for the next three days which will, I already know, increase to five days. We are staying for $25/night at the Dinner Key Marina. Their mooring field is large and exposed, so we will suffer. The prevailing winds here come from the east across the Bay of Biscayne building up a hefty little fetch by the time it reaches the underside of our jumpy hull. At least the facility is clean and well maintained.

After showers and some tacos, we take off into Coconut Grove to find the West Marine, which is located a mile and a half away. Like you, to get anywhere nowadays in these cities we don’t know, we rely on our phones’ maps. We take the suggested routes which are usually the shortest routes because we can’t assess value in any other meaningful way. We take what we get. As I walk, I dream up a new app that will offer different routes based on alternative values. The first category I think of (unoriginally) is the architectural routes. This map would show how to arrive at a destination along routes rated for architectural sightseeing. In other words, I might choose to walk an extra half mile on Archi Route #1 if I also got to see a great building or two. Or, shifting gears, I may choose to divert by an extra mile on The Margaritaville Route, if it took me past a fresh margarita being served on a patio, or by two miles to be on the route with a fabulous view.

On the way back, our phone gives us an entirely different route on which to return.



Brand new condos by BIG


Coconut Grove Public Library, 1950’s, architect: T. Triplett Russell and Associates
which had beautiful timber details
and an amazing wrap around porch
Florida, you are amazing sometimes


These houses are becoming…
these houses,
and these houses are becoming…
these houses.


Wednesday 7 FEB 2018 – Coconut Grove, FL

Today I filed our income taxes.



Thursday 8 FEB 2018 – Coconut Grove, FL

We have begun to preparing to leave the country next week. Since we’ll be gone for a while I make arrangements to suspend my subscriptions, download a few more books and talk to a friend. Once gone, we will be rather cut off since we will not have continuous access to the internet. This may turn out to be good, especially for my writing, but for now it’s just making me anxious.


Friday 9 FEB 2018 – Coconut Grove, FL

I spend a portion of the day getting ready for a work call and then speaking to my colleagues. It’s a good, productive call that eases my stress about leaving. The weather back home is horrendous. By the middle of our meeting an expected storm that will unleash 10 inches of snow overnight has begun and the events scheduled for the evening have been cancelled. I listen and sympathize as I move deeper into the shade to stay cool.


Trees trying to escape
Coconut Grove flavor
Coconut Grove flavor
Coconut Grove flavor
Coconut Grove flavor
Coconut Grove flavor

Saturday 10 FEB 2018 – Coconut Grove, FL

We rent a car for the day to help with the large provisioning trip we are making. Mostly we replenish our dry stores and beverages but also get some perishables for the next few days and some liquor. Consumption on the boat is more conspicuous than on land. In part this is because we have less space and so the disappearance is more visible. We also consume more “at home” here than on land where we would be eating out more frequently. All in all today’s trip yields two and a half dinghy-fulls of stuff that we pack away in every nook and cranny.


Coconut Grove flavor
Coconut Grove flavor
thinking about shopping
thinking about eating


Sunday 11 FEB 2018 – Key Biscayne, FL

In the afternoon just before the 3PM check out time, we motor across the bay and anchor on the west shore of the much calmer Key Biscayne. We sleep like babies for a change.


Key Biscayne anchorage
With a great view of Miami


Monday 12 FEB 2018 – Billy’s Point, Elliott Key, FL

We rise without urgency because our distance will be short to Eliott Key today. The hot sun is overtaking last evening’s coolness earlier than usual. As I step into the cockpit I am again arrested by the turquoise water. No matter how many times I see it, or palm trees for that matter, it feels exotic, out of my world. Man, look at that color, I want to say to Glenn, for the hundredth time. The winds today are from the southeast at 15-20kts or maybe a bit more, so we put up both sails and Netzah zooms above 6kts for the ride. We are smooth and pointing well. Our moods soar. It’s been weeks since we’ve sailed and so it’s thrilling again. I am always surprised by my surprise at how good it feels to be moving with the wind.

On our way down we pass an area where some small UFOs hover just above the water. I had seen them in the far distance on our way in to the bay, now we get a little closer. “Stiltsville,” is an area of seven or so buildings, each one lifted on spindly legs above the shoals that collect at the entrance to Biscayne Bay. Starting in the 1920’s structures were built here on the almost land, one mile from the coast, in order to avoid being regulated by the laws of the land. Gambling and drinking were said to be the most frequent reasons. There used to be many more structures, twenty-six or seven in total, but the hurricanes and neglect have wiped out all but the most robust. Today, the National Park Service has ownership of the area, thus some wholesome activities are being schemed for their future occupation. Artist residency wins my vote. Too bad, though. Only outlaws could have dreamed this magic.

We are at Elliott’s by late lunch. Drop anchor. We gather the sails and put up a little tarp of shade for the cockpit. In one fluid motion I head inside for my bathing suit and jump off the tail end of Netzah. The seas are clear and shallow here for miles. I stop for a sandwich and a read and to knock on some wood.

Stiltsville on our way south
we didn’t get very close…
and my camera is not so good at zoom, but WOW!

11 thoughts on “35. Coconut Grove to Elliott Key

  1. The passages about Ava at the top of this post are beautiful. Breathing does take time. It took me until my early forties to stop chasing something that didn’t exist. The energy wasn’t waisted, but oh what other use could it have been put to.


    1. Thanks, D. I feel the same way about the energy I have (mis)directed. In many ways I’m writing to myself in the passage because I so often feel that tendency cropping up again.
      By the way, we are about to depart here for the Bahamas in about an hour. We will send contact info from there since we will likely not have the same phones. Chat soon.


  2. Beautiful post as always! Per my earlier comment my wife (Monica) and I (Carl) met you and Eva in a coffee shop in Port Washington. We were on Salty Dog the Nordhavn trawler and you guys were still heading across the pond. I grew up in Miami, learned to sail in Coconut Grove and spent many happy days tooling around Elliott Key in the late 60s. We are in St Pete, FL. If you sail that way one day come say hello. I am enjoying your journey – at the moment from Ushuaia, Argentina where we are visiting.


    1. Hi Carl and Monica! Carl, did you ever check out Stiltsville??? It’s amazing. I had never heard of it until I saw it on the horizon. I’m assuming you know all about it.
      Enjoy your travels to Argentina. One day I would love to get there!


        1. They are rentable!?!?! I may have to figure out a way to make a studio course out that, so I can spend some time studying them. Thanks so much for the link. I am fascinated with the place and will watch as soon as I get some wideband.
          Thanks for the note too!


  3. Hey Ho!
    So happy to see posting. Missing you and your s-capades. Loved passage on child. Such a beautiful one, at that. And hello to Stiltsville. Going to check out PBS link. I am breathless from first letter to last punc mark. Just in ❤️ With your phases, words, concepts, vision, intelligence…well 45 years…what’s new??? Sail safe. Keep pens and paper dry. XO


  4. As always, I loved your blog, especially the section about my beautiful Ava. I do think she pushes herself too hard and tends to be too serious at times. She needs to relax and enjoy the entire experience and fascinating surroundings, but that’s easier said than done. After all, she is a teenager! Is she keeping a diary of her adventure? You’re right in that she will eventually appreciate her experiences this year later in life. Have a safe and fun sail to the Bahamas. Love and hugs to all of you. 😻❣️❣️❣️


  5. Unbelievable blog and photos. As you can see I am behind in reading. My excuse is the trip to California. Be safe. Love and lots of kisses to all of you.


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